We’re on our way: The men visit Malaysia

Someone recently told me that January is the Monday of months. They were not wrong- I always used to blame it on the British weather- but now I am in year 3 of hot Januarys and I realise there is more to it. It is straight after christmas and it is certainly a long old month.  Luckily now we’re at the end and the rest of the year can begin with more purpose!

At some point in September last year, I woke up to a fancy new whatsapp group which only meant one thing- David and Adam are coming to Malaysia!

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This year, we were treated to a four day weekend in celebration of Chinese New Year. Winner. As life has this knack of flying in a blink of an eye, by the time I got round to looking at flights everything was 5 times more expensive than usual. Therefore a road trip was the obvious choice. At this point I drafted in Ron, our resident Malaysian photography expert for David and also Sarah. A team of 5: 4 Angmohs and our tour guide.

Before setting off I had a bad feeling about the traffic. This was mainly caused by the faces made by Malaysians when I said where I was planning on going for CNY. You know that face when you’re smiling but your eyes are wincing imagining the pain? Eyebrows raised trying to think of something positive to say? Yes that face. ‘Are you really going on that day?’ Why yes….

But the plan still went ahead. Setting off at 6am wide eyed and bushy tailed (well those of us who had not arrived in KL a mere 12 hours before) ready to take on this traffic. I made a load of brownies the night before and bought enough snacks for the day. We made a bet: I said it would take 6 hours, Ron 4 and Sarah 2. Normally it takes an easy 2 hours.

Well I’d love to say that the Malaysians I had spoken to were wrong. I’d also love to say that we zoomed to Malacca without a care in the world.

It took under 2 hours. We arrived in Malacca just before 8 and it was absolutely dead. We had to wait for breakfast! Becca’s Tour: 1- Malaysia’s traffic: 0. I didn’t win the bet but I’m  ok with that.

Coffee-breakfast-walking-lunch-walking- dinner proves to be a winning Melacca combination.

In the evening we headed to the Portuguese settlement a little bit outside the main area- which is where at some point in the past Portuguese people came and never left: people now who look Malaysian Portuguese and serve what seems to be seafood a little bit like Chinese food. They are largely catholic which is reflected at christmas by the amount of christmas lights!  The night consisted of a huge dinner, firecrackers and fireworks. So much fun. Nobody got hurt.

Tour Guide Becca

Of course I also brought them around the city: China Town, Sentral market, a Hindu temple, a Buddhist temple, the City Gallery, hipster coffee shop, thai food. The main things. Of course we went to the helipad, however unfortunately it was raining so we didn’t stay long. Fortunately the Skybar had a beautiful view in the dry! David now will have enough photos to last him a few weeks.

 

The next morning we left our condo at 5am to hit Broga Hill for sunrise. I thought it was worth it- not sure about how the boys felt! I am loving the short hikes to the beautiful views, and luckily Malaysia has an abundance of such things.

While I worked for the next week the boys went to Penang, Langkawi, the Cameron Highlands and everywhere in between. I’m masking my jealousy by ignoring it! They came back to KL with Gin and Tea so all is right with the world.

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Miss you guys already! Hope you come back soon!

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas Lah!

Of year two in Malaysia, term one is nearly over.

This term I’ve hit Ipoh, Bali and Malacca and it’s been great. Malaysia you are beautiful and you are forever surprising me. There has been survival of the first term of School of Leadership- even managing to complete the majority of my tasks, and as I haven’t been asked to leave my job yet I must’ve done ok! Overall I would consider it a success.
Considering Malaysia is a largely Muslim country it certainly looks pretty christmassy. The Malls are looking beautiful and Micheal Buble is playing around every corner. Everyone is going all out.

It cannot be argued that it is a little strange. Last week we had sports day (it is december, that just NEVER happens in the UK, with the weather and all) christmas party in quick succession, and christmas party at the weekend. Throw in the tropical weather, the sweat and the continuous frizzy hair and then ask me why I’m a little confused! My body has had about 22 years of seasons, and is used to cold weather (wearing countless layers and mostly darkness) on the build up to christmas. I do have very kind friends that encourage this christmas excitement by making their AC in their car freeeezzinggggg and singing christmas songs at me. It does help a little I guess.

So with this in mind I took matters into my own hands: dug out the old spotify playlist- whacked up the AC and commenced the creation of christmas bunting. My icy attitude is beginning to thaw… I WILL get excited no matter what it takes!

Having said all that, I’m totally gearing up to hit the only place I want to be at christmas. This girl is flying northwest for the winter! At home in the shire with the Gatland clan. (In Sussex, England with my family- for all of you who don’t speak Becca!) I can’t wait to catch up with all, bake a ridiculous amount of treats (including the annual alternative gingerbread house) eat meat again, see London all lit up, breathe fresh air, drive again and let’s not forget enjoy the beauty of the Sussex countryside. You can take the girl out of Sussex but you can’t take Sussex out of the girl.

This is our ‘Dinsoaurs have invaded’ gingerbread house from last year.

Oh yeah, there is the small matter of giving Ying Ying her first english christmas. Are you ready for the social media frenzy that is Ying Ying on tour? Because it is certainly coming whether you like it or not!

I cannot forget how lucky I am that I am even able to travel home. It is a big journey and it certainly is not cheap. I would not be going if it wasn’t for my super generous grandfather and parents who I appreciate so much! Every christmas that I am living abroad but am able to make it home I will value so so much.

 

4 days and counting! Sussex we are coming for you!

Weekend // Contrasts

Yesterday I cried in a random KTM train station in the face of difficulty.  

Today I can laugh in the face of the love of my Father.

Let me rewind a bit. I love to embrace the weekend, and yesterday I was excited for a packed day of celebrations, good food and lovely people. First stop was a birthday brunch in Bu9 round the corner. Delicious. Easy. Next stop was a pool party in Kajang for the late afternoon.

On paper it looks easy, and I thought ‘Yes time for an adventure!’ Perhaps I was a bit ambitious.  Kajang is a bit further out than I have travelled alone before, but I knew you could take public transport. It would take an hour max.

3 hours involving one taxi, one lRT then one train journey later, I arrived at the station I needed.  After 3 cancelled taxis with one on the way to take me to my final destination, my phone decided it was the perfect time to completely die. I had no idea where I was and I had no idea what to do. Even if I had a working phone who would I even call?

Fortunately I had my charger, so I resorted to going back into the station and (fighting back tears) I asked the attendant to help me. I have never felt so vulnerable in Malaysia as I did at that moment.

Looking back, it was the loss of control that got to me. I am proud to be an independent woman- able to deal with most situations, and I love being able to do so without asking for help. On the other hand, I also do ‘damsel in distress’ extremely well. Friends have told me so. But it depends on the situation. At this point at this remote station I couldn’t even reach out due to lack of technology and language barriers.

 

Today is a different story. Just reaching HopeCity church and getting back into the family groove re-aligned my thinking and my priorities. Giving to the ‘first fruits’ offering gave a new perspective that is bigger than my small problem of  getting stuck in a station. Seeing what is above eye level.

You’re probably reading this thinking,’Big deal Becca!’, but it taught me some important lessons.

In the words of the one and only Ying Ying Tan; you don’t need a man, you need the MRT. She is not wrong. Also that it’s ok to be vulnerable. I’m definitely still learning how to balance between ‘strong independent woman’ and ‘damsel in distress’. Thank you Malaysia for always pushing me and teaching me.

 

On a happy note, my weekend ended like this (like it started):

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Monday we’re nearly ready for you!

Time for round two.

KL, I’m back!

The end of the last term at school left me exhausted in every way, but here I am back in the place that feels so like home right now. The Island-UK-Island holiday sandwich filled with copious amounts of sleep fixed it all.

I’m ready. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind:  I flew in on a friday night, little sleep then straight to the first ever ‘She Is’ conference in Asia! A big sleep after that meant no jet lag to speak of at all.

So what’s new? Well, back to the same city, same apartment and the same school for another year. But everything is new.  I’m now teaching in the EAL department (english as an additional language), once I’ve figured out the rabbit hole that is timetabling it’s going to be the best thing.

It looks like ‘adulting’ is the theme right now as I navigate the confusing waters that is the Malaysian tax system for expats. Am I a resident or non resident? At this point I don’t think anyone knows. To further my progression into adulthood, I’m looking for a car and maybe will join a gym. I will try to take it a bit easy as I Don’t want to break any more limbs thank you very much!). I’m also planning on sewing myself a new wardrobe.

At church, I’m going to start helping to lead a mid week ‘Connect’ group as Hopecity is expanding rapidly! Daniel and I will be in SS15 (all I know is it’s very near Sunway Pyramids, the best mall in KL) if you’re around please join us! I’m also considering the HopeCity School of Leadership. Trying this new thing, getting serious by going for it! Why not just do everything you can right?

2 weeks in and it’s not until taxi drivers ask me where I’m from that I remember that I’m not from around here. How can just a year make you feel so at home somewhere on the other side of the world?

I’m so looking forward to the routine and getting stuck in, in every area. I can’t wait for my brother Dan to visit KL in October, and then to take Ying Ying with me to the homeland at christmas! And all the other trips not yet planned.

So yeah, that’s what new with me. What have you been up to?

From bicyles to Mojitos and everything in between: Lily comes to town

Rewind a few weeks: loving the job but craving some adventure.. this ‘half term/long weekend’ just passed was exactly what I needed. What a difference a friend from the homeland makes.

Lily arrived in the way she always does, looking as beautiful and as stylish as ever, not like she’d been travelling for 16 hours plus. Of course, she wasn’t jet lagged and jumped into Malaysia life straight away! As soon as we arrived at my apartment from the airport we got packing for our weekend road trip. No sleep? No problem.

That first evening I took her to Taman Megah with some friends, a chinese food court where she tried everything that was thrown at her. Prawn Mee was her fave. We’re pretty sure there was no meat… ? We may have accidentally ate fish head curry- though afterwards promised not the head part thankfully! Oh, and witnessed a nice British man eat a fish eye.. which I will never unsee.

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Melaka

The next morning we jumped in the car  of the one and only Ruth and road tripped it to Melaka, 2 hours away. The drive was beautiful, empty roads, great music, the best company.

It was so very easy. We simply spent the day cycling round the city. Melaka seems to be like a mini European/Asian Penang type situation with an abundance of cute cafes and street art. I’ve never been to Amsterdam, but it’s like what I imagine it to be. These beautiful bikes, a throwback to my beloved Uni bike, only cost 8 Malaysian ringos for the day. I absolutely wish we brought them home, just to decorate the flat, not being funny there are way too many hills in PJ!

I can truly say this was one of the best days in a long time, cycling around a gorgeous new place with no plan, nowhere to be except for all the uh-mazing coffee shops and restaurants. With two of the greatest people I know!

Our hotel, the Baba house, recommended by the living legend Ying Ying was absolutely gorgeous. A super old Chinese house with corridors and corridors to explore. I think we were pretty comfortable as we slept TWELVE HOURS. That’s a personal highlight of the weekend, I’m not ashamed to admit!

The city

As we weren’t flying anywhere I decided to book a hotel in KL city centre in order to be a better tour guide. Somewhere central and simple. That plan changed in a big way when I found a deal for the traders hotel.. I couldn’t resist! It was incredible, our room had the biggest view of the Petronas towers, along with the colourful fountains and a fab glimpse of the city skyline.

After free drinks in the executive lounge we set off for a night in the city. After a slight hiccup of leaving Ruth unattended in a bar for an hour (I am so sorry lovely!), we were joined by my current favourite couple Hannah and Deejay.  Hello Mojito buffet! The next day, after the most glorious breakfast spread of my short life, we did the typical KL shopping experience: Chinatown for the fake handbags, Sentral market for the fabric, and Suria Mall for the brands.

Then Lily came to church with me! Lily, it was so great having you in my current world! I really appreciate you taking the time to come along and I can’t wait for you to return the KL for a few more days on thursday. Helipad and sushi here we come!

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My KL Bucket List

I love lists.

I make lists for every aspect of my day; to-do lists, future plans, what food I need to buy, what I am worried about, what I’m happy about. And so on and so forth.

With that in mind I have complied a small list outlining what I would love to achieve in my time here.  I can’t believe I haven’t done this sooner! I have decided I will achieve these 30 things in the next 16 months. Who wants to help me!

  1. Climb a mountain. Preferably an easy one. You know, broken ankle and all. ✔
  2. Take a road trip. With a car. Malaysia. Tunes. Sunshine.✔
  3. See the fireflies. Find out how to get there. 
  4. Go on holiday by myself. To quote Miss Henderson AGAIN, ‘ I am a strong independent woman and I don’t need no man’.
  5. Pass grade 1 saxophone. In July a bunch of staff at BSKL are taking up a new instrument for charity!  You can sponsor us here. I need to tell more people so I will practice more!✔
  6. Learn to cook a good plate of fried rice.
  7. Take a train. North/South/East/West don’t care!
  8. Go to Gili Islands in Lombok. 
  9. Take a boat in Vietnam
  10. Go up the Petronas towers.  
  11. Go to the Phillipines.
  12. Visit New Zealand. 
  13. Meet a monkey in Borneo. Not get too friendly. Becca doesn’t share food!✔
  14. Full moon party. Tick off Darshi’s #30thingsbefore30 list!
  15. Hike to a Waterfall.✔
  16. Get a tattoo. And another piercing. 
  17. Write my name on public property. ✔
  18. Turn off my phone for at least 24 hours. ✔
  19. Climb a tree. ✔
  20. Try Lobster. I am from Sussex after all.✔
  21. Meet a famous Malysian. I’ve seen a prince from afar- does that count?✔
  22. Sew a quilt with African and Asian fabric. 
  23. Go to Tioman and Perhentian Islands. One’s already booked. Wahoo.✔
  24. Tie dye all the things. Housemate goals.✔
  25. Have a Spa day. ✔
  26. Be able to run again.✔
  27. Drive a car in the city. Live to tell the tale.
  28. Bake a cake for someone special. Just because. As colourful as humanly possible.✔
  29. Spend an evening listening to Jazz in no black tie. ✔
  30. Try Surfing. 

Let’s do this!

Jeremiah 29.11

So I may have news! The details are boring but the fact is I’m staying here in KL next year. I’m going to be doing something that I really want to be doing. This means two years in the same city! I’m content that I’ll be starting a new academic year in a familiar place. The job will be new and definitely challenging, but I’ll know exactly where to buy my favorite coffee and hand bags straightaway. All those important things!

There was a time of waiting and worrying on my part while I was waiting on news… but this verse came to mind..

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And that absolutely happened. I feel like I’m finally learning that these things do not need to be dealt with in my own strength!  Love it when a plan, of which I have no idea about, falls into place so easily around me. I love standing here and looking back at the pattern of my life so far. School, my impact year, university, and even Dakar last year is building on something for the future. Who knows what it will look like. My past relationships and experiences will add up to something.

Now I have a new lease of life and a love for this city. Although I don’t think it will be forever (Africa I miss you!), this country girl is embracing the city life! I have made some incredible friends, I’m getting involved with Hopecity church as much as they will allow me, even work is finding its own rhythm.

There are a few plans I would like to start setting in motion now I most certainly have the time…

  1. Operation decorate. Make the appartment a bit more homely. Hello sewing machine, it’s about time you were put to work!
  2. Expand the travelling net. I would LOVE to visit: Japan (all the sushi), the Phillipines (Mum has a friend there and I’ve heard a rumour of a missionary boat!) and lastly New Zealand (to visit family on my dads side! They came to visit us in England when I was about 15… would be great to see them again!).
  3. Somehow acquire a car. Would love to be more independent. Even just for going to waterfalls, food shoppin and helping out with church things. Looking at the money situation, I am currently praying in faith for a car!

 

 

 

Visitors from the West, and travels to Cambodia

This month South East Asia was invaded by a couple of old university Friends. Frankie and Olly arrived at the beginning of the month, a week before the break for Chinese New Year. They spent the first week at my pool and exploring KL while I worked. That was harder than I thought it would be, as all I wanted to do was join them, but every evening we went out for dinner somewhere fun. As soon as I was done working, we headed to Cambodia. We visited three places: Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap.

Phnom Penh

With a 3am wake up we flew to Phnom Penh on Saturday morning. The first thing we noticed was that the beers were a dollar each! Olly had one for breakfast. Wasting no time we gained a lovely tuk tuk driver that took us to the Killing Fields, Genocide museum, Russian market and Royal Palace. Arriving at the Killing Fields I had no idea that in my lifetime Cambodia was torn apart by the Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot. Basically he killed thousands of innocent people because he thought they’d be a threat…. he wanted a communist like society so he got rid of all intelligent people, foreigners etc. You are given a audio machine to listen to as you walk around the different places. The most haunting part for me was the fact that clothing, bones and teeth are still surfacing now, but it’s a very clear reminder.

The Genocide museum was equally horrendous which was an old high school with cells unchanged from the regime. There were also lots of survivor stories and photographs. Hard to see but so very important to know.

In the Russian market I felt right at home, it was very similar to the markets in Dakar…. Everything you could ever need all piled together, car parts next to tourist souvenirs, fresh fish next to electronics. I loved haggling for things I didn’t need.

Sihanoukville

The next day we took a 4 hour bus to Sihanoukville (6am wake up… lie in!) which is south of Phnom Penh on the coast. The journey was surprisingly easy, the bus even had wifi which kept Olly happy! When we arrived we took a tuk tuk along the coast to a beach called Otres. It was lush. Our hostel consisted of little cabins right on the beach (ours was a jump away from the sea), a bar which played the chilled out Kygo remixes which I love, and sun beds.

We were absolutely back in my happy place. Barefoot by the sea.  We watched the sunset with a beer.

Siem Reap

We spent the next day bumming about on the beach until we took a flight to Siem Reap. Yes, we could’ve taken a bus but we only had 6 days to explore! That evening we explored the massive night market. On our first full day we took the tuk tuk sunrise tour (4am wake up) which was absolutely gorgeous.

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For the rest of the day we explored numerous temples and ruins. I can’t understand how there are super old trees that are still alive and kicking on top of these ruins! How?

In the evening we found pub street and celebrated pancake day with a one dollar banana and chocolate pancake from a cart. Absolutely exhausted, in our final day we mostly hung out at the pool and ate rice for every meal. Hello carbs!

The next morning we flew back to KL. And just like that our 6 days were over. The following morning Frankie and Olly returned to the UK. Malaysia misses you both!

This trip was one of the best so far. I’m addicted to flying. Trying new things. Working out where and how we all fit in. Watching the sun rise and set. Wearing bright clashing colors. The beach is most certainly my happy place.. wading into the water on my own in an empty sea is where I feel closest to God, the most peaceful and my soul is calm.

Counting down the days until the next holiday, and the arrival of my Mum and Dad!

The beginning.

Well, so, I recently moved to Kuala Lumpur! After the most amazing experience of being upgraded for the first leg of my journey from Economy to Business class things have been crazy! A massive thank you is in order to my hairdresser Emma’s legend of a sister who works for the airline I travelled with! There I was in my leggings and nikes queing as normal to board, when the guy at the counter ripped up my ticket and sort of whispered ‘keep it quiet.. you’ve been upgraded’. So there I was with a different class of people. I loved it. The food was on another level, not to mention champagne on lift off, all the drinks AND macaroons!

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The first couple of weeks since we touched down at the big KL were non stop inductions and socials. Although it was relentless it really helped to establish a new body clock due to the 7 hours time difference and mean meeting alot of people.

I was absolutely blown away by my condo. I share a 3 bed apartment with one other person, we each have our own bathroom and theres even a maids room and maids bathroom! theres a gym, two swimming pools, tennis courts, shop AND a hairdressers! Slightly unneccessary to be honest! After Immeuble Airfrance in Dakar (which I loved!) I feel like I live in a palace!

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Jet Lag

Now, I previously thought jet lag was a myth (not having travelled through many timezones Dakar was largely an hour different). My first night i slept right through the night and felt rather smug the first morning thinking jet lag was not a thing. I think that was due to not sleeping at all during the flights as the next day it hit me like a ton of bricks which seemed to worsen every day. It affected my brain, and weirdest of all my handwriting got really bad. I felt like I was on another planet with no concept of what the time was. Sleep became that unattainable goal that I would dream about all day, but when it came down to it at bed time there was no way that I would sleep! Rather hellish.

However jet lag thankfully came and went! Although I’m not jet lagged anymore I still have no concept of the time, and no idea when a good time to eat is, I sort of feel hungry every few hours. Unfortunately this time difference is a bit of a pain as skyping people seems to be a challenge, to skype people in the UK after they’ve finished work would mean I need to stay up until 1am. Physically a bit tricky as I have to be up around 6am my time!

Back to school

In my new school we start at 7.30 am. What even is that time? I honestly don’t remember the last time i had to be up for at this hour and to say it was a shock would be an understatement. I finished on friday (at 2pm wahooo! ) absolutely exhausted, my legs were ruined from boot camp (serves me right for not exercising much in dakar), feet ruined from real shoes and brain ruined from doing some actual work. However I survived! The first few weeks were spent observing classes and trying to gauge which students would benefit from extra literacy help, in addition to decorating 4 classroom displays. Not a mean feat! The laminator and I are now at one after the amount I have had to do!  With the observing It was so good to get an idea of what is good teaching. All the styles are different but they work very well! Hopefully i can channel some of them when I get to start training, if i train 🙂

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The weather

I wouldn’t be a real british person without some comment on the weather. I do not enjoy the rain in the UK in the slightest, and i was so lucky last year to see rain ONCE in my entire stay in Senegal, which made me a bit uncertain about Malaysia. However, so far in my four weeks I’ve been caught in the downpour twice. The first time it was so hot, and the second I had just finished bootcamp so it wasn’t too bad at all! If it rains every day it will only rain once so the chances are I’ll be at school Who knows, maybe I’ll be converted to the cause of the rain…. The less said about the Haze the better to be honest!

So far i’ve had the best time. done a bit of sight seeing, some shopping, and hella eating. All the other TA’s and teachers are legends and there is always something to do, for example we are off to see elephants next weekend! I’m so glad to be here. Having said that, many people have commented how random it is going from Senegal, West Africa straight to Asia. I’m beginning to feel that way just a tad, especially when things are a bit tougher. I’m still waiting to find out the link in the grand scheme that could be my life but we will see. I know I’m here for a reason and I hope to see clearly the purpose! In the meantime I’m super excited for this haze to be gone and to explore what KL has to offer! I do feel a bit more legit- I have a bank account, a Visa, a fancy appartment, and I do exercise now! Even did some ironing the other day. In two weeks time I will be going to Langkawi, an island here in Malaysia, and Bali in halfterm! Excited is not the word.

I’ll be in contact soon!