As I continue my travels through Asia while working remotely for US based clients, Malaysia lives up to its tagline “Malaysia – Truly Asia”. Kuala Lumpur has a population as diverse as Los Angeles, with third generation Malaysians of Indian and Chinese descent, expats from Europe and the US, and the ethnic Malay – All offering their unique cultural take of a Malaysian patriot.
English is widely spoken as it’s taught from a young age so I enjoyed getting to know the locals who were incredibly nice. Malaysians of Indian heritage have influenced the Malay cuisine; dishes such as Nasi Lemak, Nasi Goreng and Roti are all Malaysian staples with distinct Indian flavors. Chinese Malay are the largest minority in Malaysia, a very entrepreneurial community who own 85% of Malaysian Retail Outlets and a large percentage of local mines. The ethnic Malay are eager to share their culture, without asking – you’ll get recommendations on where to go, what to eat, and offers to help.
The food has been spectacular. This will sound bizarre but some of my best food experiences were at shopping mall food courts. A variety of freshly prepared food, at incredible prices, in a convenient/clean environment. The best seafood we had was in Langkawi Island, a short flight from KL, at an outdoor casual restaurant.
I was pleased to meet other travelers working remotely at hipster coffee joints. Some regular patrons I conversed with included an online marketer and a virtual teacher. The marketer was travelling through Asia and the teacher migrated to Malaysia a few years ago. She tutored high school students from Europe and the US during the week and local students on some evenings and weekends.
I asked, why Malaysia?
She advised of the extensive research she had done before deciding to move there on a permanent basis. Foreigners can buy real estate, there is an easy visa program (MMSH – Malaysia My Second Home), English is spoken by everyone, the food is great, and the weather is tropical year-round.
One of the challenges we faced was the poor pedestrian infrastructure. We found it very difficult to navigate through streets with a baby stroller – broken pavement slabs, unmarked manholes and pavements would just end into busy roads. I felt bad for anyone who was wheelchair bound. Uber was a life saver, very cheap and abundant alternative to walking the busy streets.
Outside of this small annoyance, Malaysia surpassed all of my expectations. I’d recommend a visit to one of its many islands, we had a great time in Langkawi. Other must do’s are: Jalan Alor (Street food heaven), KL Bird Park, Historic District, and Batu Caves.
A few thoughts for consideration:
- EST work hours in Malaysia were 10PM – 3AM. The Wi-Fi wasn’t great at my apartment so I either worked from the local coffee shop or tethered from my local sim card which came with an excellent data plan at a low price.
- Food is cheap and tastes great, two can eat at a high-end restaurant for $40 or regular restaurant at $20 or less.
- It’s hot and humid year-round so bring light clothes and drink lots of water.