lördag 28 mars 2015

Flat hunt

Today for the first time since I came here I woke up happy.
All these day, all these weeks has been filled with stress, worry and resistance, but finally I reached a day when I woke up happy and relaxed.

One reason is the I finally found a place to stay, and not just anyother place: I found the most beautiful duplex in a place that is like a jungle resort but 3 metro stops away from where I work.

To find a place has been an interesting journey, of course things work differently here than what I am used to.

I had been investing on the internet a lot, starting already from Barcelona and understood that here it is condo living that is the thing, so no use even thinking about a normal flat. After searching for a while I realised all the places has more or less the same concept; the difference is more about interior design of the flat, the pool area and the location. My biggest concerns was that I want to live close to work, preferably in a nice area where it is safe and I want a nice pool. I do nothing more than work and go home so for me finding the right place where I really can feel at home was top priority. At first I was obsessed with finding Europe in KL, I wanted a place like my Palace at home. I wanted a place where I can go out in the morning, go to a nice cafe with a terrass and have my coffee, or just go for a walk on the streets and all the stores I would ever need is just there. Thats not how they roll down here, everything is located in shopping malls and what you want is to live close to a mall. On the streets there is nothing, this city is not made for pedestrians or street life.

The streets I walk  
(N.B this is central KL in a nice area)

So basically I just had to push down the European in me and accept the way of the road down here.

First place I went to was set up by this super sweet guy at work, he heard I was looking so he wanted to help and his friend had some flats he could show. Friend came pick us up with his car and his Russian girl, traffic was jammed as always so you go a distance that would take less then 5 min without jam took us about 20 min but meanwhile the Russian girl was entertaining. She spoke with very strong accent and was ranting on about how bad everything was in KL, people did not speak proper english - I mean common she had ordered a burger without cheese and when she got it there was cheese on it! She also told me about how great Putin is, that we in the west did not understand what a wonderful man and leader he is. The bad guys are NATO and USA and Putin did everything right, even Ukraine was right of him. Everything in Russia is perfect and all the people are very happy. Very interesting to hear the other side of the story, I mean from our end its the other way around; Putin is the bad guy and NATO/USA the heroes saving the world. Now, probably the so called "truth" is some were in the middle, usually the world does not consist of bad guys and heroes but human beings with very different view of the world and how it should be ruled.  But I can assure you it was a very interesting car ride...
Once we got there the building is next to highway in an area that felt dirty and very impersonal. A high rise condo complex made of concrete, the corridors where dark and when we came to the pool area all the people, including men, where bathing with their clothes on. I knew immediately I would not feel comfortable. First of all the place was so cold, so impersonal and second, I do´t want to go swim with my clothes on, but neither would I feel very relaxed with being the only one in bikini having a beer by the pool. Luckily the owners never showed up so we never saw the actual flat but it wouldn't have matter, that was not the place for me.

Once home again I felt very upset, thinking is this what there is? Is this how I have to live? I would not feel neither safe or at home in a place like that. I decided to see what other expats does so I posted on an expat side on FB and immediately got contacted by a person having a flat that seemed really nice. I loved the photos from the page, it is like a Sci-Fi luxury paradise and everything felt much better, this is more the place I am looking for: http://setiaskyresidences.com.my/
The flat was all new, so beautiful and big. 2 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, big kitchen and a balcony with KLCC view (that is very valued here)

View from the living room

I  instantly fell in love, but there where some issues: No furniture, too high rent and worst of all there is no metro station close, the way I could walk to work is not safe or nice (its along a high way) The residence has foreseen those objections from future tenants so they offer a shuttle service so they drive you to the closest metro station 1.5 km away. But still I would lose my freedom and always have to organise my wishes according to their time table or pay a taxi every time I want to leave my house. Also the rent could be fixed, the owner was willing to negotiate since, as the very embarrassed agent told me: They prefer people like you as tenants (referring to me being European) 

Shortly after the owner contacted me with an offer that was still to expensive for me even though he added in furniture, I told him and it did not take him long to accept to rent it to me for the sum I suggested. I was all thrilled: I had my flat! In a Sci-Fi paradise! However I had already made some appointments the day after to see some more things so i thought I might do it, just to compare. Bu I should have know nothing could compare to Setia Sky, the place where my condo was located. Or so I thought... 

The most striking here at my office is that everyone is so incredibly nice and considerate, so when they learned I was looking for a place to stay everyone gave their tips and tricks. And one guy actually took it one step further and decided he would find me a place. He heard me complain about that I wanted Europe, that I wanted to live in an area where I had a cafe  close to where I stay. So Monday this week he took me to see a place, it was nothing like I had ever seen, the idea is low rise, village like feeling: http://www.propwall.my/setiawangsa/kampung_warisan?tab=photos (just so you can se the pool and the surroundings) And there is a small mall just beside where they have cafes and restaurants. The actual flat was a duplex with wooden floor and really nice interior design.

Master bedroom, upstairs

Guest bedroom, downstairs

Kitchen, downstairs

Living room, dining space, downstairs 
with Muhammed the agent smiling to the camera

The best part with this place is that it is 3 stops away with the metro from where I work, and below photo is taken from the metro station. You see the bridge taking you cross the road and then the buildings you see is where the duplex is located.


Of course I fell in love with the place! But of course nothing is ever a walk in a rose-garden: The price was to high and what about the snakes? I asked everyone I met at the place about the snakes, and they told me this is with a lot of green just beside the jungle so there are snakes, but don´t worry they don´t come here. One guy told he had seen 1 snake in 7 years, but you know me, that was enough to make me panic and sweat and decide I could not live there. Everyone was laughing at me but Im dead serious, me and snakes don´t match. I hate them with a frenzy that would put the most dedicated white supremacist to shame. I can not live with snakes. However the price for the condo was negotiable so at least that obstacle could be solved, but what about the snakes?

It took me many hours of thinking, many hours of taking advise from my friends and an offer I could not refuse on the rent before I finally decided, snakes or not this is my place. In the end of the day Malaysia is full of snakes, they are everywhere so I might just face it and try to challenge myself. Once again, isn´t that what life is all about? How can we ever grow if we never go outside our comfort zone and do things that scare us? This whole moving to Malaysia thing is just one big scary adventure so I guess I will just learn to go with it, let go of safe Europe and start embracing Asia.

tisdag 17 mars 2015

What makes it worth it all

So after all my whining yesterday I feel so much better today, I guess I just needed to get it out of me. Thank you all for listening.
So now I want to tell you what makes it worth it all. As I already told we went drunk and decided to go to Perhentian islands last weekend.  (Perhentian Islands - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

We booked a plane super early on Saturday morning so very tired we got into a taxi towards the airport at 4.30 in the morning. On our way there my Boss told that someone told him that this is actually monsoon period in the Perhetian´s so the hotel would probably be closed. And if it was opened it was very likely it would rain all the time, and that there would not be any alcohol served at the hotel, and maybe if we got there we would not be able to get back... So facing this horrible scenario of being stuck on an island in the rain with out even some liquor to ease the pain we started to contemplate of just not going. The trip was rally cheap so in the end of the day we would just loose like 100€ each, but be safe and warm and close to beer in KL.
Anyhow somehow we decided to go for it, what the heck you need to be adventurous right and take chances?  So off we went, with Air Asia, scariest air line on earth considering their latest statistics in accidents, but if your going wild why not go all in?

We landed safely after a short flight and then it was next adventure, to get a taxi to the port from where our shuttle speed boat would pick us up and drive us over to paradise. Thankful for travelling with my Boss who is an experienced back packer he organised it all while I was focusing on getting breakfast, You who know me well know how obsessed I am with breakfast and that I refuse to basically do anything in the morning before I get food. So I had a nice cup of tea and some samosas while he organised the next step of our ride. I am seriously thinking to myself, how will I ever manage to travel on my own? Well maybe if I do it in a decent hour, after breakfast, but still...

The taxi ride was about an hour but I loved every second, it was so cool to ride through the Malaysian  country side with cows and goats and monkeys eating, jumping, running around. I realised I am actually in another world, everything is so different here I get the sensation of being separated from reality. I can´t believe it is real, I am really here.

In the port next adventure, find the travel agency where we would get our boat passes, nothing is never easy here and once again I was so happy to travel aside my Boss. I would have freaked out if I was on my own,  I'm definitely not used to the way of the road here. But the port was beautiful, I just love the colours and the simplicity of things.

Next step of the journey was speed boat over to the actual island and that was an adventure indeed. Boat was small and full of happy Malaysian youngsters going on vacations, (even though it´s only me looking happy in the pic) we flew over the waves and bumped down so hard on the sea you would think the boat would break. But it didn´t and finally we reached our final destination: Paradise.

What to say about the island? Not much, you know we landed there and it was just peace, the place almost empty, the sand white, the water crystalline. We got a bungalow straight on the beach and I had the best siesta of my life, sleeping in a chair on our veranda, listening to the sound of the sea and of the jungle. I slept for like 4h then down to the beach again, sun, swim and then it was already beer o´clock. So yes, not to worry there where no monsoon and there was liquor to be found on the island, so in the end it was all good in da hood!

View from the reception

View from the bungalow

View from the veranda

View from the beach

View from the bar (N.B Danish flag)

View from our way from the bar (N.B Swedish flag)

Night falls on paradise

Beer time in paradise

Moonlight over paradise

The next day we where off back to KL and reality again, but on our way back we stopped by an Buddhist community with a giant Buddha. And once again the magic of Asia made it self reminded. After all, this beauty, these contrasts, these paradise islands just around the corner is what makes it worth it all.

lördag 14 mars 2015

The beginning is always the hardest

It has been two intense first weeks for Maggan, 10-12h working days topped up with 4-5h sleep every night so it has been tough to keep the spirits up. Work wise it is so much I need to learn and understand, and since my Boss left me alone in the chaos here it has gone from bad to worse, so to be honest so far I have not been able to walk on the sunny side of the street. I have basically cried myself to sleep every night and am super emotional all the time. Missing home so much and the strongest feeling I have right now is: I don´t want to be here. I do not belong here. But I knew it was going to be like this, so not to worry: The beginning is always the hardest.

The culture differences are huge, this is Asia and on top of that muslim country. Every day I more and more see myself in my own cultural context, how extremely European I am. And to be honest I have never been attracted to Asia, so I have never been travelling here or been specially interested in the culture or politics of this area so I am totally off.  I realise how deeply culturally shaped from Europe I am, how I look at everything here through my euro-glasses and how therefor everything seems so strange and scary to me. In the end of the day that is a deeply human behaviour to be scared of what we do not understand, so thats where I am right now.

On the other hand that is also a good thing, the reason we get scared is linked to our urge to survive and the fact is that this is not a safe city. You need to be very careful with everything you do, once again here I see how European I am. Im so used to able to walk as I want, to just wave down a taxi on the street and everything is more or less safe. Thats not how they roll here, you need to know where to go and what hours of the day it is safe to be there. You cannot just take a taxi from the street you need to order and pay by an app to make it safe. In addition to getting to know all of this add that I am unable to read the culture here. What I mean is in BCN if I turn a corner I can quickly read if it is a "safe" street or not, cause I recognise certain factors that rings an alarm (or not) in me. Here I can´t - I don´t recognise the signals and that makes everything become suspicious and scary in my eyes. And I hate the feeling of not being safe, and above all of not being free.

What I do like about being here and all the cultural differences is that I would really love for all the  muslim-scared people from Europe to come here and be in minority for once. To live in a muslim county and to see and meet all this nice, cool and just perfectly normal people who live here. I understand that in a Swedish context their way of being and dressing seems strange and as mentioned before, we tend to be afraid of what we perceive as different or unknown. However here they are the norm and then all of the sudden you are the strange one, a good lesson to learn.

In regards to the question in my last post: No, I will probably never ever to be able to love Kuala Lumpur, but I will survive. And I will be fine, after all everything is not painted black, there is great beauty here and the I am sure that in just a week I will be more positive.

Some pics from my first weeks here:

Breakfast, the best moment of the day

Jungle in the middle of city centre

Fresh fruit cheaper than you can ever imagine

View from the pool side

My beloved pool at night, this is magic

Traffic jam, but painted beautifully in red

onsdag 4 mars 2015

Her I go again...

So after a very tearful and heartbreaking goodbye of my loved ones I was on my way. I had dreaded this moment for so long and it was hurting more than I could ever imagine, but I just had to do it.
Some liquor on the plane helped take the pain away and after quick stop over in Doha I was here. In Kuala Lumpur again. The air smelled the same as I remembered it, every city has its specific smell and somehow you can never forget it. When it runs down your nostrils you just now, Im here. And this time its for real, Im going to stay here, Im going to make a new life here. All feelings get mixed up, the pain of all you leave behind with the scare and the excitement of what is lying ahed. You just have to keep yourself together and go with the flow. And in the end I did it, I survived the worst, the goodbyes.

Doha airport

We landed super late and all exhausted by the flight, got some beer and pizza (no, not typical Malaysian food this time) and went to bed. After the delicious breakfast they always serve at the hotel it was straight to the office and a hard days work. So many new faces, so many new thing to learn, I realised this will really be the biggest challenges of my life.

Another day at the office

Luckily my boss felt my pain so directly after work we where going to this place with the best mojitos in KL and I just felt Asia coming down on me. We where walking there, like a 5-10 min walk and the pavements where all broken, big holes in them. I was chocked; we are in the KL CC business barrio so you expect things to be neat and nice. But no, this is Asia, baby - you go by car or you don't go. No one ever walks no where except tourists and us. 
But we got there safe and sound and managed to down 4 mojitos before we realised we had no more money and had to head for the hotel.

Drunk as fuck we managed to get home, wisely enough we always live near by the office so however drunk you are you can always make your way back, and ordered room service along with some Singha beers. In our drunkness we also decided that this weekend will be spent in Perhentian Islands in a nice resort, you know: Because you are worth it. (Or maybe she´s born with it) Just to relax on a beach and get sunburned, in the end of that day thats what Im here for isn't it?

But after all this crazyness and all this emotions and after finally being here the question still remains: Will I ever be able to fall in love with KL or is my love forever lost in BCN?