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We have been in Malaysia for a week now, although it seems much longer and have settled in nicely. We thought we would try to blog about our adventure over here to keep family and friends up to date on what we are up to. Hoping to share more about Malaysia, the expat lifestyle, our travels, food, what the kids are up to and regular mundane life.
No need to rehash a long story, but our adventure didn’t start out that well. We literally did not finish packing up and cleaning our house more than 15 minutes before our ride to the airport arrived. It was quite a relief to get in the van, relax and let the adventure begin. However, after spending 1.5 hours going through security, we arrived at our gate to find that our flight had been canceled because the pilot did not show up – we were delayed a full 24 hours – argh! Not fun with two sick little kids and 8 suitcases, 2 car seats, a large stroller and numerous carry-ons. However once we got going, the flights went fairly smoothly and we definitely enjoyed the perks of flying Business class. After landing in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia a van was waiting for us to take us a 3 hours ride to Ipoh, our home for the next 2 years. Although I had been to Malaysia before, I forgot how incredibly hot and humid it is here – 35+ every day! Yes, it was nice to get away from the snow, but it takes a while to get used to the heat and humidity here.
Ipoh is a large Malaysian city of 700,000 people and we live a few minutes drive outside the city at Meru Valley Golf & Country Club. With the heat, we are not sure who would want to golf here, but the course looks quite nice and most expats in Ipoh live here. It is very lush here, thanks to the daily downpours that happen without fail, usually in the late afternoon/early evening. When we arrived at our new house, we were greeted by Nini, our “maid”. I am still having a hard time getting used to having a “maid”, although I prefer to call her a housekeeper. But this is extremely typical here and in fact many people have live in, full time maids. Nini is Indonesian and comes a few days a week to help with the housework and childcare. The kids right away took to her, which was great. The house is a 3 bedroom furnished townhouse with a garden, which is apparently very difficult to find here.
The first week we were here, Paul was not working and we were very busy buying things for the house, unpacking and getting settled. Paul has a company car and he has been doing a great job of driving on the left here where there are minimal rules of the road and you have to regularly dodge scooters. We have organized a rental car for me and the kids, while we figure out what we want to buy. They have a couple of large grocery stores here, Tesco and Jusco, which are well stocked. They have a “Western” aisle, but don’t carry a lot of products we have at home. For example, the cheese section is tiny and Ella is quite distraught that there is no orange cheese. We are enjoying all the amazing fresh fruit – mangoes, watermelons, papayas, dragon fruit, etc. All pork products are kept in a completely separate (non-Halal) area of the store, which you pay for separately due to the large Muslim population here. We ate out most of the first week and enjoyed lots of yummy food. Ipoh is well known for its food and the kids have been troopers about trying lots of different things. Ella does still prefer to eat hamburgers and french fries, but she is eating lots of rice and noodles too! Malaysia has three groups: Chinese, Indian and Malay and there is lots of great choices of food available. We’ll have to start taking more pictures of the food we eat here. It is very inexpensive to eat in restaurants here, with a meal costing about $2-3/person.
We had to buy kitchen supplies, linens, a crib for Gavin and some other things for the kids. We headed back to Kuala Lumpur to stock up at Ikea: ahh familiarity! We also toured around the International preschool where Ella will be starting at next week. The school looks great and is very progressive, although I wasn’t thrilled that she has to wear a uniform and won’t be able to wear all the nice clothes I brought for her! Paul’s coworker has a 3 year old daughter and they live just down the street. Ella and Tasha hit it off right away and have already had numerous playdates. The kids get a lot of attention here where ever we go, especially Gavin with his big blue eyes and curly hair (seems the humidity has brought out the curls). In fact we ate last night at a hawker stall and the two women picked up Gavin carried him back to their stand and played with him the whole time we ate – awesome! I have met a few other Moms and wives and it is nice to have adult interaction! They have a Mom’s group here too which I will start meeting with as well. It is interesting for me to adjust to being a stay-at-home Mom and it was hard to think of what to do with the kids for the first full day on my own, without a car. Paul works about 25 minutes away; he leaves just after 7am and doesn’t get home until just after 6pm, so it makes for pretty long days.
- On my arrival card, I had to tick off my occupation. Felt kind of funny to check “housewife”.
- Teaching poor Ella to use a squat toilet
- You have to remember to bring your own toilet paper when out in public
- For now, I cannot get a bank account because I am not employed and not Malaysian. Hmmm…Paul can I have some money today???
- Ella woke in the middle of the night and asked Paul why Mommy was taking a shower in the middle of the night? The rain on the metal roofs is very loud and she thought I was showering!