From The Archives: 5 Anecdotes From The Month I Moved Across The World To Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Home / Travel Story / From The Archives: 5 Anecdotes From The Month I Moved Across The World To Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Wow, here’s a serious blast from the past…

As I sat here, early this rainy Saturday morning in Vancouver racking my brain for an interesting blog topic to write about, I had a faint memory…

A glimmer of a personal blog I kept back in 2008, the year I moved to Malaysia.

Well, thanks to the power of Google, within minutes I was looking at my Blogger dashboard…

And there they were. 5 dusty blog posts that haven’t seen the light of day since, well, probably June 28, 2008 (the day of my last post).

First of all…

1) Good job, Alex, for really sticking with the whole blogging thing (insert sarcasm here if you don’t already get my sense of humour).

2) 8 fucking years ago? Seriously. I can’t even.

Reading through these posts brings back some serious memories, with a side-order of emotion. What a little treat left for me by the big G. It’s hard to believe I wrote these before… well, everything. 

Back then, I truly had NO idea the journey I was in store for (heck, I thought I’d still be attending Law School), the unforgettable life-long friends I would meet, the enormous growth I would experience, both personally and professionally, the business I would one day start… “WOW… just WOW.”

So rather than keep these little delights to myself, I thought I’d share them with you.

Below are 5 nostalgia-inducing (and completely un-edited) anecdotes from my blog in June 2008 [along with my present-day commentary for pure comedic relief because, well, some of the shit I say is stupid]

”Reality Sets In”
Published on 6/4/08, 11:45 PM Malaysia Time

hkkMy Asian adventure all started when I departed Calgary International Airport at 8:30pm on Monday, May 26th. Even as I stood at the Air Canada check-in counter and watched my three abnormally large and over-stuffed suitcases [worst packing decision ever… you couldn’t wear half of that stuff in the super-humid, super-traditional country you were moving to] get laboriously lugged onto the conveyor belt and disappear out of sight, it still had not hit me that I was moving to Malaysia. Perhaps it was because my mom still reassuringly stood next to me, or because I was too preoccupied wondering what country my luggage would end up in but, for some reason, I still hadn’t felt that gut-wrenching, stomach-turning, heart-stopping feeling that often comes with the fear of the unknown.

In fact, even as I hugged my mom good-bye for the last time in months and started making my way through the long security line, the journey I was about to embark on was merely an outrageous idea I had entertained the thought of, and no where near to reality. Every couple steps I would turn around and wave at my mom, just to make sure she was still there. Step, step, wave. Step, step, wave [you’ve always had such a flair for the dramatic]. Every step I took she got smaller and smaller. More and more impatient travellers started lining up behind me. Now I would only catch slight glimpses of my Mom’s waving arm as I stood on my tip-toes trying to see over the heads of those people between us. One final wave and she was gone.

It was my turn to pass through security (and, at the same time, lose my entire sense of security). The customs officer nodded me through, I got my things together, put my backpack on… and then there it was. That utterly terrifying dose of reality I had been avoiding for days. I was moving to freaking Malaysia. OH. MY. GOD. What the hell was I thinking? [You weren’t thinking Alex, and that’s why I love you. You silly, silly girl.]

”Arriving in KL”
Published on 6/6/08, 9:08 PM Malaysia Time.

My plane finally landed on Malaysian soil at 12:30pm on Wednesday, May 28th. After calculating in the 14 hour time difference between Kuala Lumpur and Calgary, you will find that I spent a total of 26 hours traveling. In fact, for me, Tuesday, May 27th, 2008 is a day that never happened. I hope I didn’t miss much [according to Google, you missed some aftershocks from the May 12th earthquake in China, and the passing of a Hollywood director. So you good.].

The 26 hours were pretty uneventful. They involved a lot of waiting, sleeping, reading… and thinking. My mind was racing a mile a minute and I don’t think I have ever felt so many emotions at once. Excitement, anxiety, confusion. I had a lay over in Hong Kong, which was cool… but mostly just because I could now say I have been there… “technically.” [Oh, you’re one of THOSE people].

As I stepped onto the tarmac in Kuala Lumpur, the humidity and heat hit me like a Tsunami [Great use of simile, Alex. Well done. No wonder you became a copywriter]. Imagine stepping into a tiny bathroom after someone took a boiling hot, six-hour shower [Analogy! You’re a literary machine]. Every wrinkle in my t-shirt disappeared immediately and every hair on my head spiralled out of control. I cleared customs (a bit nervously because I am not technically legally allowed to work here yet) [Great Alex, why don’t you tell the whole world you’re “not technically legal”. I hear Malaysian prison is nice.] and headed into the arrival hall.

I was lucky enough to be be greeted by two really nice AIESECers named James and Emily. For those of you who don’t know, AIESEC is the organization through which I applied for the job over here. I must admit, I was a tiny bit embarrassed when I saw the looks on their faces as they watched my 1, 2…. 3 pieces of luggage head towards us on the baggage claim belt. I think James said it best… “WOW… just WOW.” [I’m happy to see you’ve gotten better at packing since then. No really. No really. No really.]. For those of you who know me well, 3 suitcases is NOTHING. Especially taking the length of my stay in Malaysia and my shoe addiction into consideration [Because you’re a high-maitenence girl who LOVES shoes, I get it.].

banana-leaf-nirvanaIt took about one hour to drive into the actual city of Kuala Lumpur. After we arrived in my neighbourhood, James and Emily took me to a traditional Indian restaurant for lunch [this restaurant is called Nirvana and was the best place to eat]. My meal was served on a giant banana leaf. I had rice and veggies in a VERY spicy curry sauce. I soon realized that revealing I liked spicy food was a BIG mistake. Insanely spicy back home would be considered bland here. I also noticed that if you order a glass of water here, they serve it to you warm. The whole theory behind serving spicy food and warm water is that it raises your internal body temperature so you are better able to cope with the blistering heat.

After lunch James and Emily took me to my new workplace, MindValley. I got to meet all my new colleagues and see where I would be spending my days. I then headed back to my apartment, a place called Bangsar Permai, and managed to take a much needed nap. The heat made it almost impossible to get any rest the first night… but I managed. As I lay with my head on my sticky damp pillow, I couldn’t help but think…. the next chapter of my life had begun [#terrified].

”My Job At Mindvalley”
Published 6/9/08, 10:53 PM Malaysia Time

I realize the reason I came over to Malaysia in the first place might be a little unclear to some, and probably completely unknown to most. So, right here, right now, I am once and for all answering that million-dollar question I get asked almost everyday… “so what exactly are you doing in Malaysia?” Well I guess you could say I am doing a lot of things in Malaysia… but I know what you all really mean is WHY did I come to this random country in South East Asia [You’re a mind reader, I see].

I work for a company called Mindvalley, a relatively new internet marketing company that was founded in 2003 by two young entrepreneurs living in New York City [yeah, Vishen & Mike!] Within the following few years, Mindvalley grew from a two-man ‘start-up’ operating out of an apartment bedroom, to a full fledged profitable business based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia employing young, bright marketers and programmers from all over the world. Recently, Mindvalley was awarded by WorldBlu the title of “One of the World’s Most Democratic Workplaces of 2008.” That’s pretty cool if you ask me!

So where do I fit in you ask? My precise job title is “E-Commerce Project Manager” [Ooooo so fancy.]. My job will basically be to manage an online business for a publishing partner. It all sounds pretty cool… and it is! I can tell already that this job is going to be great. I have learned so much within the first week so I can only imagine the amount of experience I am going to walk away with [understatement of the century]. If you are wondering how I managed to secure such a tight gig [remember when people said “tight”? I do]

I got the job through AIESEC, the largest student run organization in the world. It has chapters in over 200 different universities around the globe, each making it their mission to facilitate students to work abroad. I applied for AIESEC’s Global Internship Program through the Edmonton office in September and was able to start applying for jobs abroad in December. For those of you who are interested, definitely check out the AIESEC Chapter closest to you.

mv-officeMy office is great! It is 1km away from my apartment and located in one of the nicest areas of Kuala Lumpur, Bangsar. The best part about my office is that it is in a house [old-school Mindvalley, before the new super tight office]. So there is a kitchen and a living room which makes the atmosphere really relaxed. My work hours are really flexible. Since my job centers around my MacBook, I can work from anywhere and work anytime [not much has changed there]. I can work from home, the office or even Starbucks. The days I work are also really flexible. This is so great and really caters to those of us who love to travel!

pool-sideThe people I work with are great. They are all brilliant and hail from all corners of the planet. I have colleagues from Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Argentina, Canada, USA, Iran, Malaysia, Finland, Estonia and Saudi Arabia. Everyone in the office is really close and we literally do everything together [those were the days]. Next weekend 9 of us are planning a trip to Penang, a city Northwest of Kuala Lumpur. So now you know how it is I spend my days in Kuala Lumpur… or I hope you at least have a good idea. I really could not have asked for a better place to work or opportunity to experience. As my roommate would say… everyday is just another day of living the dream [Mr. Mike Williams, everybody]… and I think I will have to agree with him.

”Life in Bangsar”
Published on 6/24/08, 10:25 AM. Malaysia Time

If you were to ask 10 locals what kind of city KL is, you would most likely be answered with 10 totally different descriptions. Neighbourhoods here vary like squares on a chess board, each one being totally different from the ones that surround it [Ok Alex, I take my last comment back. This is the worst analogy ever. All squares look the EXACT same on a chess board. Maybe you should reconsider the whole copywriter thing].

Some people may describe Kuala Lumpur as a dirty, noisy metropolis with over-crowded streets lined with bargaining merchants, much like KL’s China Town district. Other’s would tell you Kuala Lumpur is a colorful and cultural city splattered with ornate Hindu temples and Mamacks (traditional Indian restaurants) that serve delicious, but surprisingly cheap, home-cooked meals, such as in KL’s very own Little India.

petronas-towersStill others would portray Kuala Lumpur as a bustling and energetic economic hub where buildings are as high and taxis as plentiful as those in Manhattan. These people would most definitely be describing KL’s sparkling City Center. If you were to ask me, I would tell you that KL is a vibrant, diverse and eclectic city that offers great shopping, dining, and entertainment [muggers, racists and thieving taxi drivers] for anyone who strolls down the street. Oh, and not to mention the constant supply of Iced Grande Sugar-Free Vanilla Soy Lattes [eye roll emoji face] from the many Starbucks generously plunked around the city. My perception of KL, however, like many others’, is somewhat skewed.

The truth is, it is impossible to describe Kuala Lumpur in just one way. You will have to see it for yourself to truly know how diverse this city is. I am lucky enough to live in the swanky neighbourhood of Bangsar, a high-class westernized expat haven filled with cafes, boutiques and lounges [and too man white people]. The only downside about living in such a neighbourhood is that the prices are comparable to those back home and when you are earning Malaysian Ringgits, paying $7 CDN for a beer is a bit outrageous (especially when you can get a huge meal in Little India for under $2!). Nevertheless, I could not have hand picked a better place to live in KL. My apartment is walking distance from work, the gym and a massive array of restaurants to fulfill any craving one might encounter.

My apartment building itself is also quite nice. It is a gated and guarded condominium complex called Bangsar Permai and is equipped with a decent sized swimming pool that I can conveniently access from my back patio. I am not going to lie, my apartment needed a lot of work when I first moved in. Lets just say it was a bit single-guy-who-lives-alone-and-doesn’t-care-what-his-apartment-looks-like-ish [You sure know how to make friends, Alex]. This describes my roomy Mike, the sole inhabitant of my apartment before his lucky day, the day I moved in [I’m sure he felt the exact same way]! After some serious tweaking, hanging, scrubbing and sweeping I am now almost able to call my apartment kind of cute. Nevertheless, it is my home for the next year and I feel quite comfortable there, even though my room is the size of a broom closet. I will say that I am really lucky to have a great roommate [redemption?]. It definitely makes living in a unknown place a lot easier to deal with.

I will finish by letting you all know the very best part of my apartment, two nice big comfy couches in my living room that make perfect places to sleep for traveling Canadians who miss me so much they have to come visit [thanks to those of you who saw this desperate plea for what it was and came to the rescue]!

Saved As Draft on 6/28/2008, 1:35 AM Malaysia Time

[WHAT?!? Omg way to leave me hanging, Alex.]

I guess no one will ever know what happened next. 😉

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