It is still fresh in my memory: That early morning in March 2012 when I started my journey as an expat in Malaysia. It was exciting as it was my first time to be out of my Motherland (born and raised in The Philippines) on my own.
Getting Around Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur
I felt the difference immediately on our way to our accommodation from the airport. They have KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) for international flights and LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) for budget airlines. Both of them are located about 45 minutes – 1 hour away from the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
During my first 2 weeks I stayed in KL Sentral and behind it is Brickfields, or what they called Little India. Before I walked around the area I was warned to be vigilant and to be careful. But I believe that it is simply a common precaution anywhere in the world. KL Sentral is also one of the transportation hubs in Malaysia, it has bus stations and four different train lines, with one of them going to the airport.
My job site was in Petaling Jaya, this area is already part of Selangor, which is another state. The good thing about Malaysia is that I have different modes of transportation to get to work. For convenience, a taxi (written as TEKSI) is your way to go. If cost is your priority, you can opt to take the train, which is widely spread out. Buses have numbers that indicate their route and are convenient to travel around in.
I personally like the weather here. Not too cold but not too hot or humid. When it’s Monsoon Season it would rain, usually in the afternoon, for an hour or less but never the whole day. When their neighbor country, Indonesia, is burning their forest is when the Haze starts to happen. In this case, they will perform cloud seeding for it to rain that will help to clear the smoke.
Religion and Culture in Malaysia
Before coming to Malaysia, I though they only have Malaysian Muslim (common misconception). I was informed that there are 3 races in Malaysia: Indian, Chinese, and Malay. It’s amazing how rich and diverse the culture is here in Malaysia.
Malaysian food was a little bit of challenge for me. They love spicy food, but I cannot handle it! I either go to a restaurant or cook at home.
Fast-forward 5 years later, I am still an expat here in Malaysia and I can tell that a lot has changed. Some of the good things are additional train lines that cover Shah Alam, Subang Jaya, Damansara, etc. (areas outside KL).
New shopping malls and condominiums inside and outside Kuala Lumpur. IKEA Cheras has opened. This means at least half of the crowd visiting IKEA Damansara can now visit the other store.
KLIA2 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2) is also operational. Initially it’s the replacement of LCCT but sooner catered both Domestic and International flights.
A 6% GST (Goods and Services Tax) was introduced. And yes, as an expat this affects us too. Unlike tourists, they can claim a refund at the airport before they depart Malaysia.
So what it’s like to be an expat in Malaysia? It feels like my second home!
This is a guest post by Niel, a Filipino freelancer based in Malaysia.