5 Years in Malaysia – Come and Gone

As of February 11th 2009 I’ve been living in Malaysia for 5 years, that’s quite some time. Although due to my accent people tend to think I’ve been here much longer.

Yes I never had a Hugh Grant accent in the first place, actually only a minority of English people actually have what we call the Home Counties accent known around the world as the Queen’s English or BBC English (the technical term for this is Received Pronunciation or RP).

I always had quite a mixed accent due to moving around England a lot when I was growing up and having to ‘fit in’ lead to my accent naturally changing a lot.

I first visited Malaysia in 1999 with a friend of mine when I was studying during my summer break, he was working in his Uncle’s Chinese Takeaway which was being renovated so we both had about 3 months to spare.

We did the normal SE Asia thing, visiting Thailand and checking out places like Malacca and Penang and the normal KL sites like KL tower, KLCC, Batu Caves, Templars Park and so on.

This was us in Thailand, yes I was a skinny whip then and I had hair on my head!

Thai Boat Ride

My friend Chiu on our rented bikes (yes I have an amusing story about those bikes I may tell another time).

Chiu on the Bike

After the trip I went back to UK and decided I really liked Malaysia, I loved the food, the melting-pot culture, the weather (the grey skies of UK get very depressing after some time), the friendly people, the beautiful beaches and the abudnance of nearby locations to visit (Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam etc.).

In the interim I visited Malaysia 2-3 times more and got to know and love the country even more.

I finished out my studies (in between which I worked in London for about a year), after graduating I worked for about 18 months back in my hometown of Worcester (I had 3 jobs to pay off my credit cards and get everything settled) then I sold off my car and on February 11th 2004 I moved to Malaysia.

One of which was working in a Chinese Takeaway delivering food.

Chinese Takeaway Delivery

Worcester was flooded to hell when I left, a grim reminder of how miserable the weather was in England.

Flooded Worcester - River Severn

I sold off my car and everything I could on Ebay, packed my life into 6 huge boxes, took what I need in a suitcase and off I went – this was my parting shot from Birmingham International Airport.

Leaving BHX

I took up diving almost immediately and went very often, I loved Tioman – the basic accommodation, the beautiful beaches and the exotic diving sites.

Tioman Island

Which reminds me I haven’t actually been diving since 2005, which is very sad – time to revisit the wonderful past-time I think (once I get into better shape, and no ROUND is not a valid shape).

Diving October 2005

I got myself an apartment in October 2004, which was sparse – but I filled it up with some furniture slowly piece by piece and it became home.

Empty Apartment

From there on you can really read what happened in my blog archives, as that was around the time I started blogging.

Life from then on had a lot of work related trips, Brunei, Colombo (Sri Lanka), Manila, Singapore, Dubai, Jakarta, Riyadh.

All in all Malaysia like anywhere else has it’s positives and it’s negatives, I really don’t see what the fascination is with migrating to the west and making your fortune.

You’re far more likely to stand-out here than in Europe or USA, if you’re happy to be average, a Dilbert in a cubicle then yah by all means head over there and pay 25% of your salary in tax to support a bunch of immigrants from Eastern Europe.

But for me? No thanks, I prefer it here.

You can say it’s corrupt, but to me it’s more transparent that way – you know exactly what’s going on.
You can say the currency is weak – but if you earn and spend here you can live much better than you can in the UK with an economically equivalent salary.
You can say the weather sucks, it’s too hot and it rains too hard – try living in a country where it’s grey and drizzling for almost half of the year.
You can say it’s backwards here, but do you really want things to be so developed everything is bound in red tape and shrink-wrapped. It destroys the character and soul of the human essence.
You can say it’s racist or biased here, but that’s just a bullshit excuse – if you want to make things happen you can.

Basically you can say what you want, but I love Malaysia and so should you.

I’ve met a lot of people, some I liked and some I didn’t. Some I’ve kept in touch with, but most I haven’t.

I’m most grateful for my close friends, most I knew before I even got here through the wonder that is IRC – they have been with me through thick and thin and supported me when I needed it. I admit I may have been a bad friend at times, but I realised that and tried to change. I hope it worked.

And of course to that one special person who has made everything worthwhile – thanks 🙂




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48 Responses to 5 Years in Malaysia – Come and Gone

  1. Joe Lancaster February 16, 2009 at 1:42 am #

    Respect! I’ll post this more to my mates here in Manchester…currently stuck in depressing London…

  2. ShaolinTiger February 16, 2009 at 1:48 am #

    Joe Lancaster: Hope you’re enjoying the snow mate 😀

  3. Yatz February 16, 2009 at 2:15 am #

    lol..i love mah country..it’s just good..but could be better 😀

  4. Lydia February 16, 2009 at 2:31 am #

    Hello there!
    I have been studying in Manchester for 3 years now. My friends are talking about looking for jobs and settling down in England.
    For me, I just CANNOT wait to return to Malaysia. It is home, after all!

  5. slacker February 16, 2009 at 3:58 am #

    hey there, nice to hear someone having nice things to say of our country for once… and i must say that i miss posts like this on your blog.

  6. joshuaongys February 16, 2009 at 5:05 am #

    this post should be forwarded to all those Malaysians who kept on thinking of migrating elsewhere and think that Malaysia sucks so much. Anyways, awesome post. Glad that someone like you love this country. xD

  7. David February 16, 2009 at 6:28 am #

    hi, just dropping by… nice blog!! hahas

  8. Meng February 16, 2009 at 6:29 am #

    Malaysia has a lot of natural beauties. I didn’t realize about it till I return to visit on my vacation trips. The food variety is awesome ranging from Malay, Chinese, Indian to western. I live in Florida. The weather is nice from Novmember till March. The food in Florida is no where near what KL has to offer. I have visited London. I will agree with you that the weather in London is less desirable. I may consider returning to Malaysia when I am ready to retire. Enjoy the rest of your stay, Shaolin.

  9. cc February 16, 2009 at 8:12 am #

    Er .. watabout the natural beaotiful women ? And wat does your mum thinks about you moving so far away?

  10. Xidu February 16, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    Home sweet home!
    There’s no place like home…

  11. kevin February 16, 2009 at 8:37 am #

    huhu you were thin once.

    see. SEE! msia makes everyone fat!

    with all said and done, the grass is forever greener on the other side, no?

  12. JJ February 16, 2009 at 8:38 am #

    Did you have a job lined up before you moved to Malaysia? How hard is it to get your visa renewed?

  13. KY February 16, 2009 at 9:53 am #

    “one special person” wooooo
    she must be feeling less grumpy today after reading this? 😛

  14. kaswira February 16, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    good om ya,, and may there be many many more years to come,,,we need people like u here shaolin tiger

  15. pik February 16, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

    bah… just got back from msia last week.. thinking of the same thing you did ( should i move there for good ? )

  16. michaelooi February 16, 2009 at 12:24 pm #

    good to have you here dude

  17. tim February 16, 2009 at 12:43 pm #

    hey st, always wanted to ask you this question.
    why m’sia, and not singapore?

  18. ShaolinTiger February 16, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    Yatz: Yah everywhere could be better, but trust me it’s better here than most places.

    Lydia: Yah good for them, more space and money here for us 🙂

    slacker: I miss posts like this too, I do have them in my head – it just takes a lot of effort to write them down.

    joshuaongys: Haha do it!

    Meng: Yah it’s a great place, I guess a lot of people don’t realise until they go overseas and miss home so much.

    cc: Beautiful women indeed, that helps too 🙂 My Mom? She enjoys visiting here, and even if I was in UK in a different city we wouldn’t see each other that often anyway.

    Xidu: Home is where your heart is!

    kevin: Yah the food here is too delicious, that was 10 years ago tho haha and I was a poor student with nothing to eat.

    JJ: No I just came here first on a social/tourist visa which lasts 3 months (but you can pop to Thailand/Singapore and grab another 3 months). If it’s under an MSC company it’s not too hard.

    KY: Haha, yah 🙂 She wasn’t grumpy at all yesterday!

    kaswira: Thanks, I hope so too although all this wonderful food and lack of walking is making me unhealthy.

    pik: It’s something you need to think about long and hard, consider the pros and cons.

    michaelooi: Thanks bro.

    tim: If I wanted an environment like Singapore, I may as well just stay in the UK. It’s so sterile, too organised, the business market is saturated – it’s boring. I find Singapore doesn’t really have any character, the food is bland or salty, there’s no real heritage there, the racial melting pot is very much subdued.

  19. Rachying February 16, 2009 at 2:02 pm #

    I have always wanted to study abroad, just to experience it. After moving out from home, I realised that living alone is not easy at all but I’m very lucky to have a bunch of good friends (like my brothers & sisters)advise and support me along the way.
    Going abroad would be just for travel I guess… till the end of the day, home is always the best!!
    p/s: Happy for you & someone! =D

  20. ls February 16, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    i just left the states for good upon graduating. when i decided that i wanted to be back here i coudnt think of why. theres just smth bout msia i really love. when i read this post of urs, i knew exactly why i left. good post =)

  21. mahagurusia February 16, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    Sigh… and I have been trying to persuade my sister back from from Malvern Hill…. Will get her to read this post!

  22. Pat February 16, 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    Well said buddy! 😉

  23. davidlian February 16, 2009 at 6:45 pm #

    Hey, thanks to your post, suddenly I feel all patriotic! 🙂

  24. Xidu February 16, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    Re: Tim’s Singapore – Exactly! I used to live there for about 3 years, couldn’t wait to get out of there. Life’s too organised, future of Singapore is well planned, programmed by local government – every day is pretty much the Groundhog Day, as in the film. On the other day, Malaysia is more chaotic, in terms of politics, economics, racial equality. It’s this sort of “unsteadiness” that makes life more challenging, easier to pass. Just my 2p…

  25. tim February 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    yeap, i too find that it’s too organized here (sg).

    like there’s something missing.. i think as some ppl would have already said, it’s lacking in character.

  26. sim February 16, 2009 at 9:00 pm #

    You make me feeldamn patriotic.. but i definitely like my own country.. Msia it is!!!

  27. Harmony February 16, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    Ah, indeed, Msia is good, it’s slow paced.

  28. NatC. February 16, 2009 at 11:26 pm #

    I am SO glad to have read this post of yours. I am constantly surrounded by young people my age that chooses to let negativities rule their opinions on M’sia… I hear a never-ending “How I wish M’sia is like (insert Western country)”… “I’m ashamed to be a M’sian”… “M’sia should be more (insert adjective)”

    I say… “If you want a change, BE the change”.

    As a true blue M’sia, THANK YOU for the post. I love my country and I’m glad you love it too 🙂

  29. Jeff February 16, 2009 at 11:52 pm #

    Cool post ST. Good to hear an opinion from a white guy’s point of view. Can understand the English weather is one thing you want to escape from…bloody cold..hate it haha…I’d love to visit Malaysia sometime and check it out. Give me tour man! Jeff in Oz.

  30. Marcus February 17, 2009 at 2:23 am #

    Now this is what I call a well written post and interesting blog. Very well written, two thumbs up.

  31. ShaolinTiger February 17, 2009 at 3:04 am #

    Rachying: Yah travel is good, it expands our minds and personalities. Thanks!

    ls: Yah most people don’t realise what they have in their lap.

    mahagurusia: Malvern is very beautiful though, might be hard work to get her out of there. That’s a very nice part of UK.

    Pat: Thanks!

    davidlian: Haha good, hope more people feel that way.

    Xidu: Yah, depends on your personality though. If you love order and regulations – Singapore is great.

    tim: Yup lacks soul and real essence.

    sim: Malaysia rocks!

    Harmony: Yah why do people get frustrated, it’s nice like this.

    NatC.: E-mail them my post 😀 But yah, if people really care they should stick around and start making changes in themselves – stop taking bribes, stop dropping litter, start caring about what’s happening.

    Jeff: Yah at least it’s more temperate over there in Aus. Come visit – it’s awesome here.

    Marcus: Thanks, glad you appreciate it.

  32. Marcus February 17, 2009 at 3:38 am #

    still awake eh, I’m gonna go sleep anyway. Nite dude.

  33. Suertes February 17, 2009 at 4:01 pm #

    I really like how you can see this country for what it is, the good, bad and ugly. You’ve got a great sense of how one can navigate around and make a good life here… probably better than someone who’s lived here all his/her life (like me). Sometimes it takes a visitor to show how to become a better citizen..

  34. moons February 17, 2009 at 8:50 pm #

    Interesting post and points in it.

    I guess like they always say, the grass always seems greener on the other side.

    I for one am pretty critical about Malaysia, although there certainly are some things in it which endears it to me. Although I guess, without any critics, there won’t be change therefore it all is kinda good on its own.

    Guess maybe that is why I decided not to take up my hons degree in UK and instead try to get it the hard way with barely any guidance through e-learning.

  35. janelgrace February 18, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    been reading your blog silently for years but dropped my first comment. somehow i hardly hear some foreigners like msia due to lots of unpleasant events happening here. wonder what makes u stuck 5 years and still enjoying every moment of it 🙂 must be someone special… er, do drop by east malaysia sometime.

  36. dylan lim February 18, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

    Malaysian Sultans owe you a Datukship 🙂

  37. YH February 18, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    Hi~It was an interesting post. i’ve been staying in Malaysia for 2years. i went back to my country few weeks ago.. and when i got Malaysia home.. huh~ I feel that “it’s my home!” funny things..maybe we fell in love with Malaysia ~..

  38. ShaolinTiger February 19, 2009 at 2:35 am #

    Marcus: Haha yah I was just about 🙂

    Suertes: Perspective is a strange thing, plus when you are brought up in a place you are indoctrinated in the system making it much harder to see things objectively.

    moons: Well it really depends, ‘armchair critics’ or idle mamak gossip about politics or issues really doesn’t help. Unless people are willing to give involved in positive organisations and movements to make changes things will stay the same and people will keep on moaning.

    janelgrace: If you’d actually bothered to read the post you’d know.

    dylan lim:
    Haha I wish.

    YH: Yah, not hard to fall in love with the country – it has such character.

  39. vss3t February 19, 2009 at 10:16 pm #

    *grumpy* you’re back in my country, while im stuck here in this miserable country of yours. jealous….
    I was once back in msia with a bloody good job wif a good pay but had to relocate myself again (countless of times now) since my boyfren is working here. wtf….

  40. moons February 20, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    True as well ST. Unfortunately like what we’re seeing, politics is a very very dirty game. Worse part is that it still is getting dirtier!

  41. headsteadi February 22, 2009 at 9:53 am #

    interesting! so u planned to settle down here or move back later in your life?

  42. Terrence February 22, 2009 at 1:10 pm #

    Finally, a person spoke up for Malaysia.

    I have no second doubt of going back after my studies :).

  43. ShaolinTiger March 4, 2009 at 1:44 am #

    vss3t: Hahahah, such is life!

    moons: Yah, oh well sometimes things have to get worse to get better right?

    headsteadi: So far plan to stay here, but if things keep getting worse Australia might be a good idea.

    Terence: Yah, more Malaysians need to stick up for their country!

  44. pinolam March 5, 2009 at 1:36 am #

    suddenly feeling even more proud to be malaysian.
    now i know more abt u. u looks great from ur old photo at thai 😛

  45. ShaolinTiger March 5, 2009 at 3:00 pm #

    pinolam: Hahaha thanks, I don’t look great now eh?

  46. pinolam March 6, 2009 at 1:28 pm #

    oh u looks even better, in term of wealth probably? lol.

  47. Vern April 16, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    hey, Shaolin, I liked your practical comments on the NDS Lite. I think the DSi rocks eh? Anyway, its too cool to know you love Malaysia. I’m from Ipoh.

    But love the Char Koey Teow in Penang…. you make me love my country even more and yes. I own a Wira too 🙂 – wonder if the new Exora will be nice.

  48. jojoba (My Makeup Reviews) February 27, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    Like you, I am a foreigner living in Malaysia. I moved here because my husband is Malaysian. I love your comment about not moving to the western countries and so on. Yup, after moving about in many countries, I now call Malaysia home and i truly love it here. (I’ve moved at least 26 times in my life and I am 39.) I am glad that I stumbled on your site. It’s so ever interesting.