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Published: March 10th 2013
The thing about living abroad is, that it's not always comfortable, there's a lot more isolation and you miss family and friends, being a part of their day to day life. But, the thing about living abroad, is, it teaches you so much about what you take for granted as being "normal" for you. And the thing about "normality" is, you don't even know you appreciate it, until it becomes something abnormal in your day to day living.
So, my new learning, over the course of this week, is that diversity really is the "spice of life".
I was in KL for the past week and Helen and Jo were down for the weekend. We were sitting in a jazz bar, when the lead singer of the Stevie/Lionel tribute band, a total Diva, walked up to two of her entourage and asked how her gig was. Her response to their coos of how fantastic she was tonight, was "you wouldn't tell me anyway, because you're too scared of me".
While Helen was getting her hair cut and having conversations about London with her hairdresser, he leaned forward surreptitiously and said he really enjoyed going to a mardi gras!
She recommended he watched Priscilla and is waiting for our next visit so we can discuss it.
And then, on the way to the airport, I stopped off in Putrajaya to pick up my e-reader I'd left in the hotel. The very camp housekeeping guy asked where I lived and when I said KB he giggled and jumped back in surprise/shock/horror. I thought he was perhaps from there, but his wide-eyes and wildly gesticulated "no no nos" assured me he wasn't!
It begs the question of whether you just start to notice things because it's not what you're used to seeing anymore, living in a very homogenous society or whether it just came from hanging out in a different area of KL? Boh!
And then, when you travel, there are the things that aren't normal, but become normal. In every country, it's the typical questions you get asked when you're a foreigner, and number one all over the world is "are you married?" and in Malaysia, like the rest of the world, the reactions to your "no" range from pity to disbelief, but sometimes awe and respect!
This is quickly followed or preceded by "how old
are you?", though usually asked with a glint of cheekiness. But, the other typical questions took a bit of trying to figure out what they meant. "Are you alone?" What? now? here? in life? Though I've now learned to understand this means are you here with your family, I choose to answer it with "no, there are 5 of my colleagues here", which causes confusion right back and stops the pitiful looks 😉. And the next question is "where are you going?" though, I'm really not sure they're interested in the response to that one. It's more of a "how's the weather" question, just to get you to stop and talk.
(8 days later, i've returned to this blog post). So, while KB may not have been the "Malaysia we signed up for", there are places that superscede any expectation of what we could have found here. Langkawi was one and I've just returned from Kapas Island ... the other one! I'll talk about that in a moment.
So, I went to my first ever live football game at the weekend. T-team Titans (the team we were supporting) were playing terengganu and doing well, right up to the
90-minute mark. Unfortunately, in injury time, Terengganu scored a goal, much to our despair (I got well into this football malarky). It was deemed to be a good time to escape the city, and retreat to the tropical haven of Kapas. So, without toothbrushes or changes of clothes, we jumped in the car and headed off to Marang.
The boat was organised and 20 minutes later, we were stepping off it, into the sea and heading towards the guest house that we would stay in. The outside tables were lit with candles and it was really like something you only see in films. We left our shoes at the door and I didn't become reacquainted with them until the time we left (ha ha, I can see you Italians grimacing at that ... yes, barefeet in the communal toilets!!) Run by a Dutch couple, the hospitality was amazing. There was food on the table and beers in our hands within seconds 😉 The island is idyllic and we soon met everyone that was in the place.
That evening, there was an unfortunate incident of a late-night swim that I wasn't expecting as I was still in my jeans
but the next morning, Helen and I wandered off to another bay to have a swim (without jeans this time!), which was full of coral and beautiful tropical fish swimming with us.
It was so relaxing and tranquil, that by Saturday lunchtime, we decided to "have another beer" and "stay another night!"
It's back to "normality" today. Home in KB, working again .. the call to prayer has just started, reminding me I'm back here, but with the knowledge, there is a little bit of paradise, just down the road. Now, where can I find a saxaphone?
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