Anna: Mum on the move
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Malaysia, etc.
I’m an Australian married to a UK diplomat. Together we’ve been roving the globe and are currently living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We have two small children and love to travel as a family. When I’m not busy looking after our little family, I am a freelance Japanese translator and volunteer teacher.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
During my second pregnancy I was very ill. I started to write to take my mind off my condition and soon discovered a burning desire to keep on penning articles. That was just over a year ago.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
- Surviving The Family Road Trip;
- Monkeying Around In Bukit Melawati , just because this is such a fun and easy day trip from KL.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Malaysia differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Overall I think Kuala Lumpur is an easy city to transition to. With the tropical climate, green spaces and amazing travel opportunities on the doorstep, there are lots of reasons to smile. That said, learning to navigate my way around the roads and the local style of driving has been something of a challenge! I still find I generally maintain a running monologue whenever I get behind the wheel! Having lived on four continents now, I didn’t really experience culture shock with this move, but I have to say that even two years in there are still plenty of things that surprise me every single day.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Malaysia? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I think I was over-prepared! You can get hold of almost anything here, right down to Vegemite for Australians and Clarks shoes for children. I was, though, perhaps a little naïve about the sort of lifestyle I would lead here. In my imagination we would be spending every waking moment exploring the great outdoors. The reality is that we spend a good deal of time indoors to escape the heat, but it’s nice to know the sun nearly always shines, even when you are sitting inside in the aircon!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
There are too many to recount! Upturning a stroller in a pothole along one of KL’s busiest roads? Dropping my expensive prescription sunglasses down a long drop toilet? Having a stranger procure a comb from his pocket to sort out my two year old’s unruly hair? I could go on!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Malaysia?
- Buy a good guidebook! There is so much to discover in KL, from diverse cuisine to beautiful architecture to bustling markets. Making friends with a local always helps too – word of mouth is the best way to discover many of KL’s top spots.
- Try to embrace the local pace of life. Things don’t always move as quickly or as efficiently as you might wish here, but getting frustrated by it rarely achieves more than elevating your stress levels. Be prepared for red tape and long waiting times as you set things up in the early days.
- Start booking weekend breaks! It’s entirely feasible to visit Thailand for a long weekend or escape to one of Malaysia’s stunning islands for a couple of days. In fact, there are so many incredible places to visit in the neighbourhood that you need to start booking them in now!
How is the expat community in Malaysia? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It’s huge! I have been lucky enough to make some wonderful friends from all over the world here in KL. And because most expats live in condos, you are likely to find an instant international community right on your doorstep. However, because it’s such a large expat community, it can be hard to find your ‘place’ in it all. The best ins for meeting like-minded people are through expat organisations or through clubs and hobbies.
How would you summarize your expat life in Malaysia in a single, catchy sentence?
A daily adventure featuring potholes, good food and friendly faces!