And what exactly IS a "candle princess," you're wondering? Apparently...it's me!
Allow me to explain. Candles are made of wax, correct? And what does wax do in the heat? It melts. What do pathetic westerners (such as myself) do in the heat? We also melt. The Malaysians call people like me "puteri lilin," which literally means "wax" or "candle" princess. I'm fairly certain it's the way they make fun of us high-maintenance, I-can't-believe-how-hot-it-is types, but as long as they say it to my face, I'm okay with it. I'll even laugh along with them (as long as they make fun of me first and THEN take me inside where it's air-conditioned).
Besides, it's true. I figured since I spent the first 27 years of my life in Florida that I'd have little problem adjusting to the heat and humidity here. In the week that we've been here, I can say with confidence that Malaysia makes Florida look like the arctic. Have you ever stepped into a bathroom right after someone got out of the shower and experienced that suffocating blast of hot, wet air that envelops you and instantly makes you feel sticky and sweaty? That's what it's like
here. Everywhere. All the time. Day and night. The locals, of course, are completely impervious to it. The Muslim women are covered head-to-toe. The rest of the locals wear long sleeves, long pants, even light sweaters as they walk around. They dine and shop in open-air establishments, and only the more affluent locals have air-conditioning in their home (and even if they do, they'll only run it in one room, and only at night). The average temperature inside the homes we've been staying in is probably 85-90 degrees, or whatever the outside temperature happens to be. I am simultaneously shocked and awed at the way they've adapted to a climate that - to be honest - is absolutely kicking my butt!
Last week was kind of rough for both of us. Jeremy developed a cold/cough/sore throat from all the plane rides, jet lag, etc, so he was pretty much down and out. I managed not to get sick but instead developed a lovely case of heat exhaustion on Wednesday (after being outside for about 3 hours). Pounding headache, weakness, dizziness, and rapid, shallow heartbeat. No matter how much I drank or how many cold showers I took, I just
We looked at several units in this building, but the pool was the best part.
couldn't cool down. (Translation: a "cold" shower is probably 80-85 degrees. That's as cold as the tap water comes out!) Finally, after about nineteen gallons of coconut water and ice packs strategically applied to my head and neck, I started to feel halfway human again. Not a fun experience. I hope never to repeat it!
By Friday both of us were starting to feel better, and good thing, too, because it was a very busy day! We spent the morning and afternoon viewing several different apartments in and around Subang Jaya, a western suburb of KL where our friends are located. Some of the units were quite nice - one even had a rooftop pool and garden on the 24th floor - but all were a little lacking in the security department. Now, I'm not a paranoid person by any stretch. Ask our friends in Colorado, and they'll tell you we never locked our doors. You can get away with that in a small town like Vail. But here? Whole different story. While violent crime is exceptionally rare, breaking-and-entering is exceptionally common. Many of our friends here have had their homes broken into multiple times and had electronics and
Brand new condos where we'll be living soon!
jewelry stolen. And they're locals. We're westerners, which is a double whammy because 1) we're going to stand out, and 2) it's automatically assumed that white people=money.
So. More than anything else, we were looking for a high-rise with good tight security in a safe neighborhood. And then...we found one! We got a call Friday afternoon from a realtor who had a unit in a brand-new building that we'd been scoping out online. Did we want to see it today? Absolutely, we said! Half an hour and one taxi ride later, we arrived in Ara Damansara, an upscale neighborhood about halfway between Subang Jaya (where we were staying) and downtown KL. The building is part shopping mall (bottom three floors) and part condos (top 22 floors), and it is so new that there are in fact NO stores in the mall yet! They actually just started leasing these apartments two months ago and expect the mall to gradually fill with shops over the next six months or so. In addition, there is a new light-rail train station being constructed next-door, which will provide a direct high-speed link right into downtown KL. Basically, in another six months, this area is
View to Die For
This will be our view from the 23rd floor!! Overlooking KL city and Petronas Towers.
going to be a rocking new shopping center and a major thoroughfare for people going in and out of the city. Once everything is completed, apartment rentals will be at least three times higher than what they're charging now.
Do we mind living above a now-empty mall and a soon-to-be-train station? Not in the slightest, because the second we walked into this unit, our chins hit the floor. You know how houses and condos ALWAYS look better in real estate ads than they do in real life? In this instance, we had the bizarre experience of realizing that the ads didn't even BEGIN to do this place justice. We walked into this 23rd floor, 700-square foot flat that looks like it belongs in Manhattan or Paris. The living room and kitchen are all open, high ceilings, mirrored walls, a 50-inch flat screen TV, and a little balcony that overlooks the city. Ahead of you is a "hallway" of sorts that leads back to the bedroom. On one side is the bathroom (all frosted glass) and an ENORMOUS shower with a rainfall head (in its own funky glass cube). The other side is a spacious walk-in closet/storage area. And then
50-meter infinity pool on the 7th floor of our new building.
you emerge into the bedroom, which is made almost entirely of glass. The king-sized bed and wood furniture are an afterthought compared to the view - a panorama of Kuala Lumpur's skyline, including the famous Petronas Towers. It looks like a wall mural, because there's no way it's real. Except it is! (Search "Eve Suite Ara Damansara" for photos; every unit is exactly the same).
It took us about 0.7 seconds to tell the realtor that we were interested. (At this point, we hadn't even seen the 50-meter infinity pool, the cabana lounges, the bamboo garden, the gym, the "cold" jacuzzi, the BBQ areas, or the multi-purpose rooms that could be rented out for private parties). After viewing all the lovely amenities listed above, we went ahead and put in a deposit to hold the unit. Tonight - about two hours from now, actually - we have a meeting with the owner to walk through the unit and make sure everything is understood/agreed upon. If he approves our offer, we will be moving in on Saturday!!
As if that's not exciting enough, we've also located a car to lease for the duration of our stay, or until we
Meet Viva, the newest addition to our family. (The brand is Perdua Viva).
decide to purchase one. It's a Malaysian brand called Perdua Viva - it's small, but it's a zippy little thing! Perfect for the chaotic highways and tiny parking spaces so common here. We were hoping to be able to get by without a car, but unless you're smack in the center of downtown KL (which is way out of the budget), it's virtually impossible to get around with a vehicle. Our friend Danielle helped us locate a private renter, and we signed a lease agreement with them on Friday night (right after putting a deposit on the apartment). Like I said...Friday was a big day!!
We celebrated on Saturday by (you'll laugh), joining Danielle and her family for lunch at Chili's. What surprised me was how many large parties of LOCALS were there! At the table next to us were six Muslim women wearing full burqas. Directly behind us were at least twenty Indians in traditional garb celebrating their son's birthday (with noisemakers and confetti guns bursting around the restaurant, but that's a whole other story). To us, a meal at Chili's is...well, a meal at Chili's. A burger and a margarita. No big deal. But for many locals,
dining at a western place like Chili's is a major splurge, something to do only on very special occasions. After dropping their four kids off with their babysitter, Danielle and Jason took us to one of their favorite restaurants, Wip, where we proceeded to hang out and chat over a few rounds of surprisingly great mojitos! Afterwards we went back and crashed in their wonderful, blissfully air-conditioned guest room. I awoke at 6am to listen to the Belmont Stakes via Internet radio (unfortunately I wasn't able to watch it live), so from my darkened bedroom on Sunday morning, I at least got to hear the announcer's call for the first Triple Crown winner in my lifetime! About five minutes later someone posted the race footage on YouTube, so I got to see it only a few minutes after it happened. All I can say is...go American Pharaoh! Woohoo!
So that's what we've been up to during this very busy week. If all goes well tonight, we'll likely be spending some time this week shopping for stuff for our new place! More updates to follow! (Don't miss the fun pictures of local fruits/foods below).
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