After two intense years in Shanghai, I relocated to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in 2013 for the second time (I first moved 5 years ago).
It was an apt choice: Kuala Lumpur (KL) is Malay for “Muddy Estuary”, and I’m a foreign worker now muddling along, sometimes getting it right, occasionally getting it wrong. I don’t believe there is an “ideal” country as such for expats (international surveys and what not will tell you differently). It’s about what or where works for you, and Malaysia was the decision I made at the time.
Many of us will have heard of Malaysia because of the famous “Malaysia, Truly Asia” campaign. I think a more appropriate country slogan might be “Malaysia, Truly Malaysia” , for it is what it is — unique — and that is definitely an ok thing.
Typically overlooked as I see it — neighbouring Thailand gets the tourists and Singapore the suits — Malaysia unexpectedly received a surge of international attention last year. I’m not going to analyse the nation’s challenges. What I will say is that the country has special strengths that are perhaps under-recognised — from an extraordinary gastronomy to a rich biodiversity — that I want to write about. I want to do this because it’s fun and therapeutic (my GP last year recommended that I do more creative things in my spare time).
On this basis, a local friend suggested that I travel around Malaysia and document my journey. Not a bad idea, I thought. So I will endeavour over time to visit all 13 states and the three federal territories, and try to do something witty and brilliant in each beyond simply trying the provincial food. If you have good suggestions (all three of you), let me know ☺
Trees and townships
It might make sense that I begin this odyssey in my new home city and the nation’s biggest, KL, known internationally for its fabulous twin towers and a passable Hollywood blockbuster starring Catherine Zeta Jones.
An intriguing city, there is more to KL than iconic skyscrapers. In fact, I don’t believe there is a definitive centre as such. Sprawling and rambling (not unlike this post), Greater KL — or Klang Valley — raggedly yet tantalisingly opens up over forested hills, revealing a mesh of trees and townships. But I’m not going to talk about this now — maybe that’ll be my next post.