A New Life in Malaysia
Having to pack all of your belongings into two suitcases and one backpack is not the easiest of things to do, despite my usual techniques of shoving, swearing and sitting on everything until it fits. I arrived in Kuala Lumpur early morning after Boxing Day, slept for hours before waking up and venturing for the first time into the city. My first real experience of the city was celebrating New Year’s Eve with my new work colleagues in Changkat, watching the lights of the Petronas Towers and fireworks exploding high into the sky.
You know that you’re in Malaysia when the one question you are asked first is ‘Have you eaten anything yet?’ Malaysia LOVE food, and it is the backbone of their way of living, from the moment the sun rises until late into the night.
Two Malaysian delicacies that I was told I had to try was the fruit Durian and the national dish Nasi Lemak. I much preferred the Nasi Lemak for one simple reason; it did not taste like shit. You think I’m kidding? Durian is a spiky yellow fruit that is very popular here, and once bitten into there is an explosion of tastes consisting of burnt tyres, smelly eggs and diced garlic; don’t ever sit downwind from a Durian stall, as you’ll think someone farted. I almost didn’t survive my first taste!
My picture on a milk carton
It is incredible how kind people are here and how much they want to learn about you. Grab and Uber are the most popular methods of hiring taxis, and there are two types of drivers you will meet. One being the inquisitive and curious type, and the other being drivers who really just don’t care. Some will love asking you questions about your home, favourite malay food, weather conditions, favourite football team, and my particular pet hate is whether I’m married.
Yes, I’m married with two kids. My husband’s name is Tom Hardy.
Once a taxi driver deliberately took a 15 minute detour as he loved my ‘BBC voice’ and wanted to hear me more. Late one night I asked a taxi driver if he could drop me off at a 24 food court near my condo, to which he obliged but asked if he could join me. My mind flashed to an image of my face on a milk carton in my local supermarket. His name was Chae, and we spent nearly an hour chatting about our lives and hometowns.
This spontaneous encounter happened again when I spent hours in a Tea Shop in Chinatown, talking to the shop owner Yeoh Wah, who supplied me with free cups of Green tea and invited me to his house one day for dinner. In London, they would probably report you to the Police.
Beauty and tranquillity
Chinese New Year is a huge holiday day here, and without hesitation, I took advantage of my five day weekend by going to Langkawi, North West Malaysia. Famous for its beautiful beaches and stunning views of the whole island. I spent many hours basking in the sun and splashing in the water. An island hopping excursion brought me to so many stunning beaches in Langkawi, ones you would only see on postcards.
Thanks to the Sky Bridge I saw a breathtaking panoramic view of green forestry and hills that went on for miles. All encompassed such beauty and tranquillity that I knew I craved so much before, and now I was finally getting it.
A bloody expensive city
In order to validate my work visa for Malaysia, I had to spend two days in Singapore, which was not cheap.
Marina Bays Sands is the only place I have encountered where there is a man-made whirlpool display, and a lake that runs through the centre of a shopping mall with the option of a Gondola ride. Absolutely ridiculous. Seriously, what’s wrong with a simple water fountain? I felt at home when visiting Haji Lane and Arab Street which displayed an array of captivating street art and cute little boutique shops full of vintage clothing and accessories. The Botanical Gardens are absolutely remarkable, with each flower and leaf kept in pristine condition, so much so that not even a bee dared to pollinate in case the Singaporean Police arrested it.
After finally overcoming my addiction to Almond milk lattes, I felt that I was ready to delve back into coffee. Sitting on the corner of Nanyang Coffee Shop in Chinatown with my black coffee and half boiled eggs with toast, I reflected on how it had been nearly 5 months since my fiance left me. In that time I have already visited 5 countries. I got a spontaneous job as a teacher and have now made one of those countries my home.
Call me anytime Tom Hardy
That very evening as I sat in the rooftop micro-brewery LeVel 33, overlooking the harbour with an ale in one hand, I truly did believe that everything would be okay.
My instinct to follow adventure and my decision to take the opportunity to live in Kuala Lumpur really did save me. I vow never to underestimate the power of travel and adventure in discovering the kind of person you truly are. I can’t wait to see more of what Malaysia has to offer and despite all that has happened in the last year, life really is good.
Just call me Tom Hardy, I’m still your girl.
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Always wanting to have different experiences and learn new things (and a good strong coffee), Clare currently lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia working as a teacher. She loves living life to the full and completing new projects, whether it’s running a half marathon, hiking or visiting a new country.