It’s been almost two months since we moved to Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia. How time flies. The transition has been quite smooth, thanks to Jim and Shannon, who really helped us understand what to expect, and the fact we pretty much just took over their lives – home, helper, cars and the girls school.
As I sit here writing, a pesky fly is doing it’s best to annoy me. Each time I flick it away, it finds it’s way to another part of my body. I’m quite positive his whole purpose is to drive me insane. And then I think…
We live in a hot and humid climate, it is what it is.
Thankfully my shrine of citronella incense and mosquito coils are keeping the mosquitoes at bay.
Life here is really about embracing an it is what it is mentality and letting things go. I for one, have become more resilient, patient, I laugh on a daily basis, and I sweat more than I ever have in my life.
Remember the little frog that you tried getting across the logs in Frogger, or the little creature that you need to get across the roads on Crossy Road? Well that’s driving here. Resilience, creativity, patience and time are a must. The rules of the road are, well let’s just say there doesn’t seem to be many. I’ve lost count of the amount of people who run red lights – especially scooters and motorbikes. There’s no need for distraction laws here, I can’t imagine trying to talk or text on the phone while driving. You need to be 100% present at ALL times. Thankfully there’s an app called WAZE, the computerized female voice has become my best friend, my girls look at me weird when I talk back to her and thank her for getting us home safely.
Each day I’ve been venturing out to discover a new location. I’ve taken so many wrong turns, ended up in areas that have been a cool surprise, and some not so cool surprises. I laugh a lot while I’m driving, watching three lanes become seven, motorbikes travel toward me on a one way off ramp, roads swamped with water like a flood after a heavy rainfall (okay maybe I didn’t laugh so hard driving through that one!), and so many other occurrences that could make a good case for how not to drive. In saying that, I always arrive at my destination, and home again.
Patience is a trait that if you don’t have before living in KL, you will need to adopt it quickly or you will go mad. Our air conditioner in our bedroom has water pour out of it at least every two months – waiting for the service man can take up to a week.
Grocery shopping is something I will never take for granted in Canada again. Sometimes I need to go to three different stores for one item, and even then it may not be at any of them – like sweetened coconut flakes (any KL expats know where I can find it – please let me know).
The language barrier for the most part isn’t much of a challenge, although when it is – it is! At a garden nursery last week, I spoke with three different people, all of whom nodded when I asked “do you deliver?”, finally the little Chinese lady pushed her phone into my ear and there was a translator on the other end. It took a bit of time, lots of laughter and sweat, and the plants arrived the same day.
Now manila folders, you would think that would be easy right? Think again – I miss picking up my manila folders in a box of 100 at Staples, now for the life of me I can’t find them anywhere.
It is what it is. And it’s all an opportunity to not take life too seriously and choose a healthy reaction.
KL is a very diverse city, it’s one of the reasons I love it so much. Within our community the diversity is evident. The security guards from Nepal keep our community safe and secure, they have the most welcoming smiles and always salute us. The groundskeepers from India (or Malaysian Indians) are always hard at work, sweeping up leaves, beautifying the gardens and keeping the community common area clean. Almost every home has a helper, and these Filipino ladies are so kind, hard working, friendly and always greet me with a smile.
Overall life here is great. Our family has settled in nicely. We have made some wonderful friends, Saturday afternoon drinks around the pool are always a highlight of the week. The girls are enjoying school and are making some great friendships, in all honesty they will probably complain about the amount of homework though.
Miss A got on the Varsity Volleyball team which trains three days a week after school, their first game is this week, and the final tournament at the end of October might be in Singapore, far cry from Three Hills, Alberta.
Miss T loves having a pool right next to us, at every opportunity she’s in there. She is doing very well at school which is such a huge relief for us. She’s made some great friends and the tears of missing family and friends every night are easing off a bit.
Neil is as busy as ever at work, and then comes home and more often than not is working on understanding math problems and helping the girls with them. Friday nights has become a massage ritual for him to relax after a busy week – helps that it’s just across the road and at a bargain price.
Me, I am enjoying the freedom that I am blessed to have, having a helper still feels a little awkward to me. Unlike many of the expat Moms here I don’t have any young children at home, so my time is fully MY time, I’m loving it! A few people have asked if it’s too noisy living next to the green space, personally I love hearing all the kids playing – it’s so entertaining hearing all the different accents: French, Dutch, English, Australian, American and Canadian. I’ve become accustomed to, and love cold showers once or twice a day, my skin has never felt so alive, I’m drinking more water than I have in my lifetime. I’ve loved transforming our patio area to a private zen retreat. Planning and booking holidays and long weekends, has brought me back to my days as a travel agent. I feel so enthused, calm and at home here.
Life as an Expat family here in KL is what it is – a wonderful community, incredible opportunity and an amazing adventure.