Feeling homesick, lonely or just bored in Kuala Lumpur? Whether you’re new in town or have been here for a while, these are all common “ailments” of Other Expats like us. If you’re feeling this way, here are a few reminders and tips to make your stay here a little more enjoyable and comfortable.
GET TO KNOW YOUR HOSTS
Still one of the best things about Malaysia is the diversity – there are three main ethnic groups here: Malay, Indian, and Chinese. That means at least three different kinds of culture, people, food, customs and traditions, languages, music, religions, and holiday celebrations throughout the country that you can learn about!
Can’t afford to make fancy travel plans? No problem. Thanks to the many holiday celebrations (mentioned above), if you work for a company in Malaysia, you also get to enjoy give-or-take 19 paid public holiday leaves, at which time you can take advantage of the many low-cost travel deals on offer by Air Asia and a few other low-cost airlines. Plan a trip to one of the neighboring Southeast Asian countries, or just stay and take a trip to one of the many interesting destinations in different Malaysian states.
USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
While yes, it’s just so much more convenient – and at times, cheaper – to get an Uber or Grab to get around (if you don’t drive), taking the train or the bus is one of the cheaper ways to get to know the city. Pick a day when you have time on your hands and explore the city while at the same time learning how to take public transportation, as that’s a tricky thing to do all on its own! Get off at several train or bus stops and walk around, just don’t forget to find your way back home!
PRO-TIP: Learn some basic words in Bahasa Melayu so you can at least read the signs even if they’re not in English.
FOOD TRUCKS AND HAWKER STALLS
Take a break from your usual lunch or dinner spot and try the local food trucks or hawker stalls at least once, if you haven’t already.
PRO-TIP: The best time to go is just a little before lunch time when the food is freshly prepared. It’s also right before the onslaught of people trying to get grub. Food truck and stall owners are also friendlier at this time and more accommodating with any questions you might have about the food and its ingredients.
BUKIT BINTANG AND CHOW KIT
If you’re really jonesing for some home cooking, you might as well head on over to Bukit Bintang and Chow Kit. You’ll find imported foodstuffs and ingredients, especially for African or Arab fares. Keep in mind, though, that since these are imported, prices will be higher than what you’re used to, and there might not be a variety to choose from.
GO FOR THE FRUITS!
Try the fruits, especially if they’re unavailable or usually expensive in your home country. There’s a huge variety to choose from, and each season brings in new kinds you can try.
TAKE UP SOME PHOTOGRAPHY
It’s probably time to take your selfie game to the next level and try some real photography. Do a photo walk and take pictures that capture the spirit of Malaysia for you. Learn some composition and photography tricks so you can really play around with your photos and tell good stories with them.
PRO-TIP: If you’re taking photos of people, don’t be intrusive, especially if they are busy or occupied. Most people are okay being photographed, especially by foreigners or tourists, as long as you don’t creep on them – smile and gesture towards your camera if you feel you need to ask permission. If you’re going to take photos of a food stall or shop, pick one that you purchase something from as well, as goodwill.
SIGN UP FOR A MARATHON
Dust off those running shoes and get your cardio on! There are tons of marathons you can sign up for throughout the year, as it is very popular in Malaysia. It’s also a different way to take in the sights of the city, and to learn routes.
GO ON A ROAD TRIP
Drive or get on a bus and go to the next town to try something different, if you haven’t already! You can visit the local museums, and check out their most popular dishes or restaurants. Cameron Highlands, Melaka, Ipoh, and Johor are just some of the places you can visit.
ATTEND FREE CREATIVE AND NETWORKING EVENTS
There are so many, like the popular Cooler Lumpur festival that happens every year. You can check the listings on Eventbrite or even Facebook Events, attend and make a friend or ten!
It’s can be very hot and humid almost everywhere you go. And it rains often, too, so pack an umbrella and dress comfortably.
Learn to use a squat toilet! Most public bathrooms only have squat toilets, so brace yourself (if you’ve never used one).
People will stare. It’s a thing. Try not to pick a fight or be offended – sometimes, people just have never been exposed to cultures and races outside of their own.
Do you have any tried-and-tested ways to beat homesickness? Let us know in the comments below, or email us a story we can share here! Or even better, just connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and let’s meet up!