Early thoughts on Kuala Lumpur

We did it.  We made it through three flights to arrive clear across the globe.  (Oof, those flights.  More on that later.)

Kuala Lumpur, or KL, is the capital of Malaysia.  The greater KL area has more than seven million people.  It feels like it.  Especially when you’re driving.

KL is 12 time zones different than Eastern Standard Time.  This is farther away than Rome, but I’m finding it to be easier.  It’s a snap to know what time it is back home.  Also, instead of just one call window, I have time in the morning and evenings now when I can call.  I’ve been trying to hype this as a positive for the grandparents.  I’m not sure they are convinced.  Yet.  Muhahaha.

There’s a lot of great stuff here.  And some things we’re finding challenging.  You know, the usual.  Here are some of my early thoughts on KL.  This is my first time in Asia so much newness all around.

I’m having to get used to that car life

We’d been warned that sidewalks are bad here.  I admit I scoffed a little.  Sidewalks are terrible in Rome, I thought.  How bad could it be?

Bad.  I get it now.  There are places where sidewalks don’t exist.  Or are torn up.  Or turn into a miniature lake during the rain.

Even if there are sidewalks, motorists don’t seem used to pedestrians.  And crosswalks are a not so much.  I spent more time than I care to admit navigating across a light, trying to peer at the signal and wondering if cars would ever stop.  Eventually, I had to cross kind of blind.  Not something I want to do with the kids.

We are super close to James’s work.  The kids’ school is just across the street from there.  Unfortunately, “the street” in this case is a massive 6-8 lane behemoth that you have to cross by pedestrian overpass.  So even if I was up for navigating the missing sidewalks and lack of crosswalks in a stroller, it would be difficult on the overpass steps.  We did a trial run with the kids walking on our first day here.  Let’s just say it will be awhile before that happens again.

This puts us in the position of having to drive to something half a mile away.  Oh, and did I mention they drive on the left here?  And that driving rules seem even more “fluid” than in Rome?  And the motorcycle drivers are even crazier, if you can believe it??

Not gonna lie, this was crushing to me.  I had panic attacks.  Full freak outs.  I had pictured our life here, and regular daily driving wasn’t a part of it.

But you have to hold those plans lightly, right?  Things change.  You can be miserable or adapt.  After a few more nights sleep and a few more good meals in my belly, the situation didn’t look quite so bleak.

I’ve been practicing.  We have a new to us Honda Fit here, and I’ve forced myself to make the trek to school.  It’s rough.  The school parking lot doesn’t make it any easier either.  It’s tight, and you need to back into a spot.  I wasn’t amazing at backing into spots BEFORE.  It hasn’t gotten any easier when I’m on the other side of the car and trying not to nick the Maserati beside me.

There is a bus you can pay for to take the kids to school.  I’m hesitant on this for reasons I can’t even fully articulate.  We’ll try driving a bit more and reconsider what is the best option.  The bus would definitely make our lives easier, but I hate the thought of being more checked out at school.  Also, if they bus, I’ll probably quit driving all together and just rely on Uber.  Which I’ll still probably do some, but I don’t want to completely revert.

BUT the commute took over thirty minutes in rush hour traffic the other morning.  I almost cried in frustration.  This is not what I want to have to do.  This is not what I want my kids to have to do.  We shall see.

Our place is amazing

Our apartment is incredible.  It’s twice as big as our place in Rome.  The ceilings are even taller.  We have more storage.  It’s insane.

No playground, but we have our own pool!  And not just any pool, but a pool surrounded by flowering tropical plants and cabanas.  It seriously looks like a resort.  I pinch myself every time we stroll downstairs for a dip.

The amenities are also pretty fantastic.  I have a spot for the car in a parking garage.  We have a storage room.  Instead of schlepping trash to the dumpsters on the street, I have a room right outside my door where you put the trash and it magically disappears.  I feel like a princess.

Why is it that the mind automatically goes negative though?  Everything is still very beige.  Light switches are behind doors.  The hot water isn’t as plentiful or forceful as I would like.

GAH.  I hate that I have these thoughts.  Our place is incredible, and we are VERY grateful to have it.

Many things are cheap

Malyasia uses the Ringgit.  Because of the exchange rate, I’ve gotten good at dividing by four.  (Or sometimes diving by two twice if I’m being honest.)

Not everything is dirt cheap, but a lot is shockingly so.  James and I enjoyed a four course, delicious Thai meal for about 20 bucks.  Not per person.  TOTAL.

We purchased some plants for our place.  Several massive plants with stands AND delivery were less than 60 bucks.

We did a grocery delivery.  The delivery fee was 50 cents.

So far goods in malls and grocery stores seem to be about the same.   Ikea as well.  Avocados are still expensive.  Broccoli is now too.  (I have to work on my cooking techniques for all the local veggies.)  Not everything is cheap.  But many things are so cheap that I constantly check my math a few times over in my head.

I’m rethinking my wardrobe

Malaysia is a Muslim country, but we’d heard KL would be pretty secular.  I think that’s true, but I’m still finding myself thinking harder about what I put on every day.

You see people wearing all sorts of things.  Particularly in the malls downtown.

I generally feel comfortable wearing my dresses, but I haven’t reached for my shorts.  I usually like to do a long/short pairing.  Tank tops with pants.  Sleeved tops with shorter shorts.  Here, even with more coverage on top, I haven’t felt like doing the shorter shorts.

This may change after we spend more time here.  We’ll see.  There is one mom at school who wears shorter shorts.  (She’s from New Zealand.)  For now, I’ll be grabbing my joggers and paying attention to what others are wearing.

The weather isn’t as bad as I thought

KL is almost at the Equator.  We’d been told to expect year round weather of temps at 85 – 90 with lots of humidity.

So far, we have had some muggy moments, but it isn’t nearly as brutal as I anticipated.

First, we spend more time indoors than I thought.  See not walking as much, prevalence of shopping malls.  This means I’m reaching for pants not just for modesty but for comfort in the plentiful AC.

Second, the clouds are usually rolling through.  Frequently, they dump rain, but they also provide shade.  And it generally cools off right before or after the rain.  You even get some breeze.

Third, spending the summer in SC was good prep for this.  There, the temps hit 90 and just keep on climbing.  Simply by contrast, this feels better.

I will say that year round weather will probably feel weird.  People back home are talking about jacket weather.  We’re having a welcome pool party at the end of September.  Weird.  When everything turns pumpkin spice and crispy back home, I think I’ll miss the change.

The same sunrise and sunset also feels strange.  No daylight savings here.  This means no long summer nights, but no crushing darkness in winter either.  “Winter.”  Hehe.


More thoughts to come, but this is the unvarnished first look.  Any questions?  Have you had to get used to any big changes on a move?

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