I have been in Malaysia for a week now and these are my first impressions and random thoughts (in no particular order) …
- Tons of Lights … everywhere. On buildings. Roads (funny enough this is one of the first things we noticed driving into town from the airport). And apparently on rickshaws in Malacca too (this is on my bucket list of places to go)
- Access Cards … your key to freedom. Or not being stuck in condo jail somewhere between the 6th floor that you don’t want to be on and the pool that you can’t get to. They are ubiquitous in the many high-rise condo living complexes. Luckily, the place we will be living in doesn’t require them!
- Food … in one word, awesome. Everything you could ever imagine is available in KL. From fine dining to hawker stalls selling anything and literally everything. Fried pineapple slices, check. Grilled frogs, check.
- Shopping Malls … in case you need to buy a diamond or designer underwear. I don’t love them and don’t see myself spending too much time in them, however they are impressive feats of engineering and do look stunning (not to mention that since they are all air-conditioned they are a great way to escape the rain and/or heat for a little bit)
- The people … smiling, friendly, and polite are the first words that come to mind. We took the light rail during rush hour and people were lining up neatly in rows to get on the train. It is also surprising how easy it is to strike up conversations, from the person smelling your armpits on the Monorail to the person sitting at the table next to you while eating out.
- A cultural cornucopia … make KL (and greater Malaysia) very intriguing. The mix of influences from the Malay, Indian, and Chinese communities infuse the city with a distinct character where individual cultures are respected while also being allowed to mix and mingle.
- Nature … surprisingly present and accessible. KL is greener than I expected, with many tree-lined streets, and tons of parks and hiking trails nearby. A definite plus in my book and I can definitely see myself exploring many of the trails on the weekends.
- Traffic … it doesn’t seem fitting to write about KL without mentioning the traffic. It’s bad I guess but I haven’t been here long enough to really know better. Though I do know from experience that trying to cross the road as a pedestrian is like playing real life Frogger with no chance to press the reset button. What I have come to appreciate is that many people talk about the traffic like the Brits talk about the weather. Everyone has their special routes, special times they need to leave buy, and local “tips and tricks.” In spite of it all however, everyone seems to be staring at each other’s bumper. “24 hours” in Malay is “24 Jam.” Coincidence?
- Size … watch your head! On a good hair day I am 172cm tall, so about as average as average heights come – and yet I have found myself ducking under street signs and bumping into others all placed in very awkward places. If I were another 10cm taller I might need to walk around with a helmet just in case.
In a nutshell, loving all of it and excited to learn and explore more!