Majestic by Day, Dazzling at Night – The Petronas Twin Towers

Guilty as charged.  I have had another significant gap between blogs, BUT I am now 35 weeks pregnant and so I am going to use that as my excuse!  To be honest, had I blogged more it very well could have been disastrous as ‘pregnancy brain’ has been in full effect for me…just ask my husband who I know can and will wholeheartedly attest to this!

We were however, extremely blessed during the month of April to have family come and visit us from the opposite side of the world!  Our cousins from Washington, D.C and our family from Madison, WI made the long trek over.  Being able to spend time together as a family in the city that we currently call home was the absolute best part, but we were also able to get out and about and explore this beautiful city together!  Since we moved here we have quickly accumulated a bucket list of the places we want to see and a checklist of the things that we want to do, but knew that we should hold off on checking them off our own list because we were confident that at some point we would have family come visit.  I remember when we lived in Atlanta, GA that if I would have had to put the tourist cap on and go to the Georgia Aquarium or The World of Coke or Centennial Olympic Park one more time, I may or may not have been at the brink of deciding to drop our guests off and go to a local watering hole for a glass of wine or two until they finished up! My point is…you don’t want to overdue it with the touristy spots when you relocate to a new city, as you want to be able to truly enjoy them and so waiting until family came to visit actually had us excited to become KL tourists for a few days!

I think we can all agree that a city’s skyline can be one of the most amazing things about a city, well depending upon the city, but some cities have skylines that are absolutely breathtaking.  You can see a picture of a skyline and immediately know if it is New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, London, Atlanta, Miami, Dubai, Brazil or even Kuala Lumpur.  A skyline encompasses not only the city’s natural beauty, but it’s buildings and its own distinct architecture.  They are truly picturesque.  And we are extremely fortunate to be living in a city that boasts the 17th best city skyline on the planet!

http://www.thisisinsider.com/25-best-city-skylines-in-the-world-2016-6

There is no doubt that what truly makes the Kuala Lumpur skyline one of the best are the landmark Petronas Twin Towers.  They, along with the Kuala Lumpur Tower literally dominate the sky! The Petronas Twin Towers were the tallest in the world from 1998-2004 until the Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan was completed in 2004, but the Petronas Twin Towers still do remain the tallest twin towers in the world today! If you are interested in reading more about the history of the Petronas Twin Towers, please feel free to click on this link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petronas_Towers.

Prior to moving to Kuala Lumpur, I have to admit that I had never heard of the Petronas Twin Towers.  I literally knew nothing about them.  That realization has since forced me to want to know more about the WORLD that we live in, not just the world that we think we live in when we are in the United States. There is so much beauty and splendor in the world and Kuala Lumpur is no exception…the KL skyline has literally become a part of our daily life, Ariane’s backyard and playground, our family room’s only necessary art work displayed through a wall of glass, our bathrooms backdrop, a landmark to know that we aren’t lost, but close to home the moment we see the strikingly beautiful towers, whether during the day or late at night and we don’t for a moment take it for granted. The Petronas Twin Towers are a visual jaw dropper, you can’t help but just stop and look and admire.

Here are the Petronas Twin Towers from our family room – a wondrous work of art! Oh and don’t mind the tropical swallowtail moth, also called the Laos brown butterfly in the last pic! They visit our window from time to time, typically during April through August. Our summertime window clings!

Our backyard

Bath time with an incredible view!  Except when the weather is rainy, the Towers literally vanish!

Or the tops of the Towers disappear into the stormy skies!

So this became the perfect time to take our very first Petronas Twin Towers tour when family came to visit. An opportunity to see the city from within the Towers and experience the KL skies from way up on the 86th Floor!  We had been advised by many people to purchase our tickets in advance and to book the 9:00am time slot so that is what we did and it worked out perfectly with regards to being the very first tour and being the first tour group to view the observation deck and the 86th floor on that day.  On the tour we learned that the 88-story Twin Towers soar to an incredible height of 451.9 meters (1482.6 feet).  The first stop on the tour is a short elevator ride 170 meters up where you are welcomed to the Skybridge.  The double decker skybridge is the ‘connecting’ structure between the two towers and the world’s highest 2-story bridge.

What I found to be the most interesting part of this tour stop, aside from being able to see the beauty of the city was that the skybridge is NOT attached to the main structure. It was designed to slide in and out of the towers to prevent it from breaking.  Um….I wasn’t so sure how I felt about this! Did it make me feel better that the 2-story bridge we were standing on is not supposed to break or can I not get over the fact that I was told that it is NOT attached?!  We were then free to begin taking in the impressive sights and take pictures from behind the glass of the skybridge, along with many ‘selfies’ and ‘usies’ (or group selfies).  I did, however, require myself to look a bit further into this unattached, swaying bridge situation and found that it is because the towers sway several feet towards and away from each other during high winds.  Another fact I will enlighten you with is that the skybridge also acts as a safety measure should there be a fire or emergency in one tower.  It can act as an evacuation route from one tower to the next. I will conclude the skybridge portion of this blog by acknowledging that clearly I am not an architect because I still find no comfort in the unattached, swaying bridge situation. Okay….moving on.

Getting our Petronas Twin Towers tour started! The skybridge and a couple of KL view shots

Family ‘Usies”!

From here we were escorted up, up and away to the 86th Floor or the Observation Deck. Here you are given another opportunity to take pictures of the breathtaking views and they do not disappoint!  You can also get a good close-up of the opposite tower’s spire, which is extremely exquisite, along with the opportunity to learn a bit about the tower’s history through digital displays, timelines and exhibits.  Ariane also did a bit of modeling while up there, so feel free to also strike a pose!

 

So what purpose do these towers serve besides being majestic by day and dazzling at night?  Well Tower One is completely occupied by the Malaysian state oil company, Petronas and then Tower Two is filled with global companies like Bloomberg, Boeing, Microsoft & Reuters, just to name a few.  Aside from how majestic & dazzling the Petronas Twin Towers are, I also very much like that at the base of the towers you will find Suria KLCC Mall, along with many restaurants and then just a few steps outside there is a water fountain that hosts nightly water light shows, and Taman KLCC (KLCC Park) that has a wading pool for children, a gigantic playground, walking paths and a jogging track.  The area that surrounds the Petronas Twin Towers is quite spectacular and one of our favorite places here in KL to take family walks, watch Ariane explore the massive playground that seems to stretch for miles and to get some of the most impressive views of the towers.

Views of the Petronas Twin Towers from the park, along with Symphony Lake where the nightly, musical water fountain show takes place.  Thank you Marcus & Johnetta Hammonds for being my models in a couple of these tower shots!

Arianes’s Wading Pool Adventures!

Ariane’s Sprawling Playground!

Views of the Towers from Heli Lounge Bar (with Clark & Ashley Wade)!

Views of the towers from Fuego Restaurant!

And views of the Towers from Marini’s on 57!

So, would I go on the Petronas Twin Towers tour again?  Yes for a couple of reasons.  I would really like to experience the tour at night.  I believe the last tour begins at 8:00pm and I think that it would be absolutely incredible to see the city from that high up at that time of night with all of the buildings that light up the KL sky.  Doing the day tour again for me would not be a must, BUT I would do it in a heartbeat if it meant that we had more family and/or friends come visit!

What didn’t I like about the tour, besides the ‘unattached, swaying bridge’?  When you take the tour of the Petronas Twin Towers, you are missing one thing….being able to fully view the Petronas Twin Towers in all their magnificence, glory & grandeur!  Selfishly I prefer ‘touring’ the towers from our living room window where I can just sit and stare and admire.  Now all I need is for this baby boy to be born so I can multi-task all of that with a nice glass of red wine. Cheers!

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Photo credit: Tiffany & Tamara Wade

The Good ‘ol U.S. of A!

Well we are finally settled back into our life here in Kuala Lumpur since taking a long and even longer than expected trip back to the States to visit with our wonderful family and friends.  I clearly took an extended leave from blogging so I could soak up as much time as possible with those we spend so much of our time away from. Our initial plan was to be in the States from mid-November to early January, but 4 days into our visit we learned that we were PREGNANT and expecting Baby #2!  YES, we were very open to becoming pregnant and NO, we did not expect for it to happen this soon, BUT we are very excited to grow our family and feel extremely blessed that we are able to do so. Baby BOY Wade will be making his debut into the world in July 2017!  As excited as we were, this news changed things a bit because we felt that it was important to begin seeing a doctor immediately and having real discussions about whether or not it was in our best interest for us to return to Kuala Lumpur for the remainder of the pregnancy.  We needed to have serious conversations about medical care in KL, the risk levels of Zika virus and Dengue fever and the fact that I was a high risk pregnancy right out the gate due to our daughter’s medical conditions related to her heart and spine.  Unfortunately that does increase the risk of future pregnancies by a bit of also having those same conditions.  We had ruled out that her condition was genetic related, but increased risk is still enough concern to handle things carefully and take the necessary steps to keep a close eye on the anatomy of our growing baby.  So instead of heading back for Kuala Lumpur in January as initially planned Ariane and I actually extended our stay until mid-February. It was great to enjoy more time with family, knock out the necessary doctor appointments, and have the right conversations about our potential return to KL.  Ultimately it was decided that moving forward with the pregnancy in KL was just fine, with limited precautions. That was great news and so it was then time for us to head back to KL.  My husband with his work schedule couldn’t be with us during a lot of our time in the States, so being able to finally be together as a family again was so important and just always feels so right!

Anyways,  I decided for this blog that I wanted to write about the people, places and things that I realized I missed since moving from the States back in June 2016. Call it a List of What I Missed from the good ‘ol U. S. of A!  Don’t worry this isn’t a sappy blog full of heartache and tears, but rather one that I personally think depicts a lot of the differences that exist from the states to a lot of other countries and also helps those who live in the States and will always live in the States perhaps realize some of the things that you are very fortunate to have and take for granted from time to time. Nothing mind blowing here, but hopefully slightly informative & entertaining!

Miss #1 – Our Family & Friends

Okay this might be the only part that does include a little bit of emotion, because well we just love our family & friends so much.  It is without a doubt very difficult at times to be living so far away from family.  When we lived in Atlanta, GA I still thought that the majority of my family was so far from me.  I mean really a 2 hour flight to see family that lived in WI seemed like such a big deal at the time.  The packing and traveling and distance we were about to go seemed like a lot…..UNTIL we moved to KL.  Seeing family now because of where we live is quite the adventure.  It is a 20+ hour travel day WITH a 2 year old!  Thank goodness Ari is a rock star on flights now. This girl just waltzes on the plane, takes her seat and enjoys the ride! This past November was our first flight home since moving here in June so we were very excited to see everyone.  I was not only excited to see everyone, but I was thrilled to just be in the same or relatively the same time zone as those we love!  In KL, we are anywhere from 12-14 hours ahead of the time in the States so our Good Night is y’all’s Good Morning and vice versa.  It is a bit strange and I am not sure I will ever get used to it, but it certainly makes connecting with loved ones a challenge and one that we think about and face just about every single day.

During our stay in the States it was simply important to us to spend quality time with our family and friends.  And so that is what we did!  Ari was able to spend so much time with her Grandmas, and Grandpa, and Aunts and Uncles and cousins!  She loves them all so much and it just melted my heart to see the interactions she had and the closeness that she felt to each and everyone of them.  The things that most people take for granted were the moments that we were treasuring.  Dinners as a family, birthdays, the holidays, visits with family & friends in Atlanta, running errands and shopping, going to my nephew’s soccer games and my niece’s basketball games, dinner and coffee with friends, doctor appointments or simply sitting around and watching TV together were all so important because we were together.  We had a wonderful time and always hold close the memories and despite the distance and the time in between we know that it is never goodbye, but always see you soon.

Family fun in Brookfield, WI with Grandma, Grandpa & some of Ariane’s cousins!

Family fun in Madison, WI with Grandma, Auntie Tamara & Auntie Tiffany!

Celebrating Thanksgiving & Christmas 2016! And a trip to the Georgia Aquarium!

Tear, tear….okay let’s keep it moving!

Miss #2 – Wine

If you know me well, you aren’t surprised that ‘wine’ comes directly after ‘friends and family’.  Ha Ha!  One of the first things I did the day after our arrival is take a trip to Total Wine & More in Brookfield, WI.  It was new to the area but we were very familiar with it, because it was our liquor store of choice when we lived in Atlanta.  I was in wine heaven!  Not only were there so many bottles to choose from, but the prices were so incredibly reasonable!  I was ecstatic that I only spent $48 on 6 bottles of wine.  $8 a bottle is amazing, especially when you are now accustomed to wine prices being on average RM 80 or $18 USD.  Let’s just say my husband is not very happy with my wine habit while living in Malaysia. Malaysia has the 3rd highest tax on alcohol worldwide at 15%. Also known as a ‘sin tax’ which is a tax on items considered harmful or undesirable, such as alcohol and cigarettes. Well Lord, forgive me for my sins!

So here I am enjoying a couple (okay few) glasses of this savory Cabernet.  We are 4 days into our trip to the States, I take a pregnancy test and just like that the bottles of wine I just bought are now aging in my parents basement.  My husband was thrilled for 2 reasons…we were having a BABY!  And Mommy wouldn’t be buying anymore wine for the duration of her stay in the States.  But never fear, I will be back with lots to celebrate!

Just a few of the wine bottles that taunted me during our visit…there were definitely more!

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Miss #3 – Grocery Stores

I enjoyed myself immensely at the grocery stores when we were in the States for our visit. It may have even bordered on enjoying them too much as I wanted to go just about everyday.  I am not kidding. Sometimes even just by myself to stroll slowly through the aisles in awe of everything that was there at my fingertips.  Pretty much anything that you need and want to buy is there and not just one brand or flavor of it, but a ton of different brands and flavors.  I remember being in the snack aisle and looking at all of the Doritos and Cheetos and Fritos OH MY!  There were snack bag sizes and normal sizes and family sizes and this flavor and that flavor and I just couldn’t believe anymore how many options there were just for a bag of chips! In KL, you pick your preferred grocery store, you have chips on your grocery list (don’t be specific or it will result in major disappointment), you stroll past the small part of the aisle that has snacks and you stare.  Do I recognize any of these?  Okay I see a bag of Cheetos. Yummy!  Oh dang they only have the Flaming Hot Cheetos.  Okay let’s go with Doritos.  Shoot they only have the BBQ flavored Doritos, okay how about some chips, oh look they have Lay’s Potato Chips (with ridges, SCORE!). Okay well those look yummy.  I will take those. What size?  The only size they got like somewhere between a snack size and a US normal size.  Oh geez and the cost is RM 26.  Okay perfect $5.86 for this beautifully small bag of imported Ruffles Potato Chips.  You know what, never mind I’ll take the strange bag of chips next to it that looks pretty good that is 1/3 of the cost.

Tostitos available in the States: Original Tostitos, Hint of Lime Tostitos, Hint of Jalapeno Tostitos, Crispy Rounds Tostitos, Tostitos Scoops, Tostitos Fajita Scoops, Multigrain Scoops, Tostitos Dipping Rolls, Multigrain Tostitos, Salsa Verde Tostitos, Tostitos Cantina Originals, Tostitos Cantina Thin & Crispy, Tostitos Cantina Chipotle Thins, Tostitos Bite Size and I’m over here in Malaysia like can I just get a bag of Tostitos?!

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So for 2 weeks straight I searched this grocery store in Kuala Lumpur (and every other grocery store that I go to for that matter) for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and there was literally nothing. And then BAM just like that, one day there is a pyramid of quite the variety of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese…if I go back a week from now there may or may not be a box left.

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Y’all import pricing here is crazy!  The Malaysian Ringgit continues to weaken to the U.S. Dollar, which drives the cost of imported goods up significantly.  A container of cottage cheese here costs around $10 USD, a 2 cup bag of Kraft cheese costs around $7 USD, a normal size box of Trix or Apple Cinnamon Cheerios or Lucky Charms (of course Ari’s favorite) costs around $6 USD, Ore Ida Tater Tots (when you can find them) costs around $6-7 USD, Stonyfield Yo Baby Yogurt costs around $10 USD (sorry Ari, you don’t eat that anymore).   So yes the grocery stores in the States were very enjoyable.  If I went in for 1 thing I came out with 20 because there was just so much to choose from and well the prices were just mind blowing!  Mind blowing until you are there for awhile and then you too start complaining about the prices or not having a coupon or why isn’t this Buy 1, Get 1 Free (here they say ‘Buy 1, Free 1’).

Oh and I also need to comment quick on the size of the grocery carts in the States. They are gigantic!  You know the grocery stores in the States that have the little grocery carts for kids to push around? Well that is about the size of the carts you get in KL for all of your shopping.  Ha ha!  Well they aren’t that small, but pretty close to it.  To put it in perspective, when Baby #2 comes along there is absolutely NO way that his car seat will be fitting in that thing like it does in the States.  I mean seriously a Costco cart here would be the Mac Daddy of grocery carts in KL and absolutely wouldn’t be fitting down any aisles. So people, enjoy your palatial grocery stores, the many choices that you have and the U.S. brands at a non-imported cost!

Proof that we spent way too much time in the grocery stores….poor baby!

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Miss #4 The Coveted Drive-Thru & My Personal Food Obsessions

It is extremely rare to come across a drive-thru in Malaysia.  In fact, I have only seen one.  It is a Starbucks that is actually only like 5 minutes from where we live. I even came across an article titled, “Are Drive-Thrus Advancing Thru Asia?”  And NO I am not obsessed with fast food, although during this pregnancy the occasional drive-thru would have been nice, BUT I did thoroughly enjoy just about a daily visit to the Starbucks drive-thru when we were in the States.  Let’s just say I am officially a Gold Member through March 2018.  My point is that it was nice to be around some of the conveniences that I was used to when we lived in the States. I will say though that since living in Kuala Lumpur we, like just about everyone that lives here, are so much more active and you walk a lot more than you drive so I guess drive-thrus would be kind of pointless to have especially in the heart of KL.

Food.  There are an endless amount of food options in Malaysia. From Malaysian food to Indian food to Thai food to Chinese food to Korean food to Asian food to Italian food to Western food and this kind of food and that kind of food.  It is literally all here!  But I still managed to miss a few of my staple restaurants from the States.  Now some of you will probably not completely understand until you actually can’t have it, when it is not even an option.  So when we came back to the States I had my hit list of places that I needed to go.  My list included 1) Chick Fil-A for a delicious, juicy spicy chicken sandwich (NO PICKLE) and their chicken noodle soup 2) Panera Bread for their Frontega Chicken Panini and Chicken & Wild Rice soup 3) Noodles & Company for their Penne Rosa and the occasional Mac & Cheese bowl 4) Chipotle for their delicious chicken burrito bowl with guacamole 5) Starbucks for their skinny vanilla latte and bacon gouda breakfast sandwich (we do have Starbucks in KL but it tastes different to me and there are none of the same food options with the exception of maybe the muffins….spicy chicken puff anyone?) and 6) Jimmy John’s for their scrumptious #5, The Vito.  I definitely satisfied these cravings being that we were there for almost 3 months, with the exception of Jimmy John’s. When I found out that I was pregnant 4 days into our arrival, I never allowed myself to indulge in one of their sandwiches and I wanted one so very bad.  I am sure I would have been fine, but I chose to stay away from the so called ‘listeria infested’ cold cuts because webmd.com told me to. So our next trip back I will definitely need to make sure to hit up Jimmy John’s a few times to make up for lost time!

Ari loving some Noodles & Company Spaghetti & Meatballs!

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Ari slurping up some Panera Bread Creamy Tomato Soup!

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Miss #5 – The Weather

Strange right?  We were literally in Wisconsin for the majority of the dreadfully cold winter.  So why is ‘the weather’ on my miss list?  When you live in Malaysia it is either hot or really hot or dreadfully hot so I guess for a short while it was nice to have a change of the season so to speak.  Believe me I HATED the cold and it seemed pretty unbearable most of the days and there is just something depressing about not seeing the sun day after day after day or looking outside and literally just not wanting to go anywhere.  But I guess you have to try to find the positive in every situation so here is what I enjoyed about the freezing weather….First and foremost I really enjoyed being where temperatures were in good ‘ol Fahrenheit and not Celsius!  In Malaysia, I see the temperature reading in the car of 32 degrees and still have no idea how to convert that to Fahrenheit.  I just know that whatever the temperature is, it is just hot! In the States, seeing 32 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter is actually kind of pleasant!  When I say pleasant, I mean really cold, but not dreadfully cold like the 0 degrees or below 0 degrees that we experienced while we were there.  Don’t even bother googling Celsius to Fahrenheit conversions because you will see this: T(°F) = T(°C) × 9/5 + 32.  And ain’t nobody got time for that!

What I also enjoyed about the weather was being able to wear winter clothes! There is just something about being able to wear a cozy sweater and some boots.  I wasn’t sure how Ari was going to respond to it because she is so used to just wearing shorts and dresses every single day in KL, but she actually seemed to love it!  She refused to go anywhere without her hat and mittens on and definitely didn’t mind rocking her leggings, long sleeve tops and boots….she was quite the adorable snow bunny in my opinion.

And because it was winter it did end up snowing a few times.  It didn’t snow a ton, but it snowed enough where we were able to get outside together as a family and play in the snow.  Ari quickly adapted from being a sunbathing beauty to an ice princess and absolutely loved playing in the snow.  She liked to simply touch it and kick it and was even able to master her first snow angel.  We had a great time, but I am not going to lie…it is kind of nice to be back in our year round flip flops and swimsuits!

Miss #6 – Shopping, Shopping & more Shopping

Okay so we already discussed the luxurious grocery stores, but now I am talking about shopping.  In KL, malls are all the rage and they have so many stores here!  There are a lot of stores that you would be familiar with like Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Old Navy, H&M and Aldo and then high end stores like Gucci, Tory Burch, Prada and Coach. But brace yourself for this one….you might need to sit down.  They do not have a Target here. Clearly makes sense that when we were in the States I frequented Target.  I am pretty sure I was there just about every week at least once. No need to discuss this with my husband. The credit card proved this to him.  I have always had a love/hate relationship with Target.  You go in wanting to buy just a few things and you come out with a whole lot more. I seriously was loving me some Target. And they have Starbucks inside of them! Hello?!  Sipping on your latte while strolling through the aisles of Target….is there anything better?  And it wasn’t just Target that I enjoyed.  When I found out that I was pregnant I became very fearful of the maternity clothes that I would be subject to in Malaysia.  It is just a different style for the most part and a style that is not quite me.  So between Amazon, Target, Kohl’s, Motherhood Maternity & Old Navy, I quickly had me a maternity wardrobe! I also began doing research on baby products and stuff that would be available to me in Malaysia and quickly realized that any product or brand that I am familiar with that is sold here is going to cost 25-60% more.  So I did what any pregnant woman would do while in the States and ordered ‘a few things’ that didn’t quite fit in the 4 suitcases that we returned with. But fortunately between my husband traveling there this month, properly equipped with a large empty suitcase and family coming to visit us in April, I am hopeful that all of these items will make it back here and my checklist of things we need for his big arrival will have dwindled quite significantly!  If my husband is reading this right now, he is probably rolling his eyes and thinks I am ridiculous, but I would like to think that he will be thanking me in the months ahead for being so proactive and prepared, all while saving us some money along the way.

Ariane’s first time to a Build-A-Bear Workshop!  Wish they had them in Malaysia.  The closest one is in Singapore!

Miss #7 – The Metric System vs. Imperial System

If you actually do a bit of research you will learn very quickly that the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not use the metric system as its predominant system of measurement.  Why?  You will find that the main reason is that the cost to do so would be astronomical.  From manufacturer packaging changes, to actual product changes like tools and tape measures to just the everyday thinking while baking, cooking or trying to figure out the temperature.  I personally welcome the old school imperial system because it is simply what I am used to.  I already walked you through my Fahrenheit to Celsius confusion, well now on top of that try getting used to buying your meat in grams or kilograms vs. ounces and pounds.  Try buying your cheese in grams vs. cups.  Try figuring out the size of something in milometers or centimeters vs. inches and feet.  Try running on the treadmill and wanting to bust out 3 miles, but you only see kilometers.  Try driving and seeing a speed limit sign for 60 kph and having no idea how fast or slow that is in mph (just to note: it is 37.2823 mph).  Try baking or cooking while looking at a Pinterest recipe and having everything in cups, ounces, pounds and Fahrenheit, but every single product you are cooking with is labeled in grams, kilograms, milliliters and liters and your oven has Celsius temperatures.  What do you do?  I will tell you what I do.  I have tried to familiarize myself a bit with the metric system.  At least knowing how many grams to an ounce, kilograms to a pound and so on.  Other than that, my husband has blessed me in the kitchen with an Amazon Echo and I tell you what, Alexa is very helpful when cooking.  I just ask her and she tells me whatever it is that I need to know!  Alexa is my own personal sous chef.

Miss # 8 – Doctor APPOINTMENTS

When we were in the States we probably went to 15+ doctor appointments.  I obviously sought out prenatal care, went to the dentist, the eye doctor and a general physician. Antoine went to a general physician and an ENT doctor. Ariane comes with an arsenal of doctors and so we sought out all new doctors in WI so that when we visit she can knock out the majority of her appointments while in the States.  So she saw a pediatric cardiologist, a pediatric orthopedic doctor, an eye doctor, a pediatrician and a dentist.  So why did Doctor appointments make my wish list? Because when you make an appointment in the States YOUR appointment time is YOUR appointment time.  In KL, they typically have more of a first come, first serve approach and simply put, it sucks. It takes hours and when the appointment is for your 2 year old daughter, spending hours on end in a hospital waiting room just doesn’t work. You literally are in a check-in queue, and then a doctor waiting queue, and then a x-ray queue and then a billing queue and then I am simply in a bad mood queue.  It isn’t efficient, it wastes your entire day and entertaining a toddler for 2-3 hours before their appointment even begins is just ridiculous.  We were extremely pleased with the care we received while in the States during this visit and were fortunate enough to stumble upon wonderful doctors who took great care of our precious little girl and for that we plan to see them again upon our return.

Miss # 9 – Driving, Traffic & No Motorbikes!

If I had spent my time back in the States in Atlanta, I am doubtful that I would be writing about missing traffic, because the reality is that traffic in Atlanta can be downright awful. But I am always entertained by people in Wisconsin, specifically my wonderful parents, when they talk about the traffic and how maybe I would be better off not taking the highway ‘at this time’.  The highway in Milwaukee during ‘rush hour’ is quite enjoyable actually.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a bit of traffic, but it is never really at a complete standstill and so in my opinion it is just really not that bad. What is strange though is that I have a ridiculous amount of road rage when driving in the States.  It is like something literally takes over me and I instantaneously can’t stand how people drive.  In KL it is a bit different.  The traffic is insane, especially in the city and people just do what they want to do. Red light?  Looks kind of Green to me! Driving in a Turn Only lane? Doesn’t mean you HAVE to turn! Need to get over 3 lanes quickly?  It is not excuse me, but you better watch out and make room! Want to turn right against oncoming traffic? As long as people see you they will let you get over so you can continue on your merry way! You have to be an assertive driver in KL or you will never make it.  BUT people don’t really have road rage here at all.  There is some impatience and honking of the horn, but overall you just need to make your move and people will react accordingly.

Now motorbikes are a different story entirely.  They rule the streets of KL and are literally everywhere.  I appreciated the fact that there were absolutely NO motorbikes seen when we were in the States.  It was like a breath of fresh air on the roads.  I am not kidding you when I say that you could be stopped at a red light in KL and motorbikes will be zooming past both sides of your car and before you know it there are 30 in front of you at the same light.  It is insane.  In my time here in KL, I only had one very close ‘situation’ with a motorbike that may not have ended well for him.  I think Antoine had one as well where he was about to open his car door and if he had the man on motorbike more than likely would no longer have been on his motorbike.  Honestly though, I have gotten used to them.  What I can’t get used to is when a family of 3 or 4 are all on the same 1 motorbike.  I’m not joking….Mom, Dad, infant and toddler. It terrifies me.  Clearly there are no laws regarding car seats here….so this I also appreciated while back in the States. Our sweet babies are all locked in and buckled up.

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All in all, those were the things that I missed and truly do have more of an appreciation for. You always want what you can’t have, right? After our extended stay in the States, it was funny though because I realized that there were a lot of things that I missed about our new home in Kuala Lumpur.  First and foremost, I missed my husband and our life together there.  This is our journey as a family and it was time that we got settled back in under the same roof.  Speaking of roofs, we live on the 37th Floor of our condo and I was missing our view!  It is quite spectacular and not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate our current living situation.

Views from our living room & kitchen!

Views of our condo, backyard & park across the street!

I missed my family and our new, wonderful friends.  I missed the city of KL, both the simplicity and all of the chaos.  I missed being challenged to do something new or find something that I have no idea where to begin or where to go.  I missed being around so many different cultures and ways of life. I missed the unknown and the uncertainty. I was missing out on being there during this incredible opportunity that we have been blessed with, all of the new experiences, the unfamiliarity, the daily trials and new things learned along the way. During our time here in KL, we have come across many incredible people that all have a different story and yet there is often a parallel that connects us all together.  We all left the place we once called home. Some aren’t even sure where that home is anymore because they have been gone for so long.

We are all living here for the moment and whether we know where we are going next or not, we are all embracing this home because before we know it, our time here in KL will be a place we lived once, a place we had once in a lifetime experiences, a place that will forever have a mark in this journey we call life and a place that we will think back about and all have our own Malaysia Miss List.

I randomly stumbled across this article before posting this blog…It’s funny because a lot of the things I miss about the States are the same things I will miss about Malaysia but in a completely different way. And then there are those people, places and things that are truly unique to our life here in Malaysia that we will one day leave, but never forget.

http://www.expatgo.com/my/2017/03/25/7-things-youll-miss-leave-malaysia/
Big hugs & love to the States, you are always missed, always thought about and always in our hearts …XOXO

 

When in Asia, Explore Asia – Next Stop: Hong Kong

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Our daughter’s 2nd birthday was right around the corner!  Unfortunately my husband was going to have to leave the day before the big 2 for business travel.  We had just recently returned from Phuket, Thailand so we really had no immediate plans for another vacation. Well, correction, I had no immediate plans for another vacation, my husband on the other hand clearly had something up his sleeve.

So here I am getting my beauty sleep, sleep which is very important to me, especially when you have a soon to be 2 year old who likes to get up way too early in my opinion.  My wonderful husband, who is much more of a night owl than I am, comes to bed sometime after 1:00AM telling me that I need to check my email. Instantly I am irritated.  How dare you interrupt my sacred sleep time mandating that I go check my email?!  My phone was charging in the bathroom, so after a few minutes of asking him why this was necessary and him telling me to just go check it, I reluctantly go get my phone, check my email and before I know it I am looking at a travel itinerary for us to leave in 2 days for Hong Kong to celebrate our daughter’s birthday together at Disneyland!  I felt a little bit guilty about raining on his parade by arguing over checking my email at that very moment, because I immediately knew how much this meant to him.  It was our opportunity to be together as a family and celebrate her special day, especially since he wasn’t going to be there for her actual birthday.  He is such an incredible Daddy and little did we know how truly magical this trip was going to be for the 3 of us.

Our daughter, Ariane LOVES Micky Mouse Clubhouse and I am slightly convinced she thinks Mickey Mouse and pals are some of her very best friends.  Antoine and I were trying to figure out how she would react to seeing all of her best buds live and in person.  Would she be excited?  Or terrified?  Would she be all smiles?  Or a bucket full of tears? Obviously we were hoping that she would just be in absolute awe of what was going on around her and absolutely love being able to see her boys Mickey, Goofy, Donald & Pluto and her girls Minnie & Daisy.  I really had no idea what we were in store for.  Antoine was telling me about us being able to have breakfast with the characters, a dinner with the characters, 2-day passes to Disneyland, story time with the characters and so I was just so excited to get there and witness her in this magical place…..and still having my fingers crossed that she would love it.  I also know how much this was all going to mean to my husband, who had planned it all and just wanted her to be so happy as we celebrated her birthday together.

Okay so I had just about a day to pack, but different than our 7 night trip to Thailand with 5 suitcases, we were going for 3 nights so I successfully managed to squeeze the essentials into just 3 suitcases, pretty impressive right?   We gifted Ari with a Minnie Mouse backpack and she was set to go! That Friday, we headed to the airport ready to embark on a 3 1/2 hour flight to Hong Kong.  Seriously, Ariane’s passport is quickly racking up the stamps….we have a real jet setter here folks!  Look out world, you just never know where this girl is heading next!  And we are off…..

We arrived in Hong Kong late on that Friday night.  We were actually not going to be staying at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort until Saturday night so we when we arrived we took an Uber to JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong.  The drive there at night was absolutely breathtaking!  So many beautiful buildings that make up the iconic skyline of Hong Kong, all lit up and surrounded by water with the hills and the mountains adding to its incredible landscape.  I immediately loved Hong Kong and knew that it was a city that we would need to revisit.  Perhaps just me and the hubs so we can explore, indulge in fine dining and enjoy all that Hong Kong has to offer.  However, this trip to Hong Kong was all about Ariane and our adventures in Disneyland!

We got settled into the JW Marriott, got Ari to sleep and so Antoine and I were able to go to a wonderful restaurant that was in very close proximity to the hotel called The Continental and it did not disappoint.  We knew that the days ahead were all about Ari so we took this time to enjoy it together and be adults before we fully transformed into kids ourselves! Delicious steaks & mouthwatering old fashioneds, followed by iconic cocktails at the hotel bar, Bar Q88 that had live entertainment and provided top notch service.  We had a great night together, but it was now officially time for some shuteye before venturing off to the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

After enjoying an early breakfast, we headed to the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.  The weather was a bit overcast and was definitely foreshadowing rain so that was a bit disappointing, but that wasn’t going to stop us from having a fun-filled day!  Upon arrival, we were very impressed with the resort.  I guess I really didn’t know what to expect, but I was assuming that we would see Disney stuff galore, however this resort found a way to incorporate the Disney characters in a subtle, yet classy way.  Nothing loud and over the top or too childish where you felt like you were literally sleeping at the Disneyland amusement park.  Almost a nice retreat away from all of that, since most of your day was sure to be entrenched in all that is Disney.

Antoine had us all set up with access to an exclusive room which was where you not only got your initial itinerary/agenda taken care of, but you could also go to at specific times of the day almost as VIP guests.  They offered complimentary refreshments, special visits from Disney characters (Cinderella was the very 1st character that Ariane met that day; I use the term ‘met’ loosely as Ariane gave poor Cinderella the look  of ‘you better keep your distance’), a bedtime visit from Mickey Mouse, storybook reading, balconies to watch the nightly fireworks AND a daily happy hour from 5-8pm that included hors d’oeuvres and a self pour liquor and wine station!  I could only imagine how much needed this awesome little station would be after a full day at the park!  If anyone is looking for me and Antoine between 5-8pm, you will know where to find us!  Clearly we would be found waiting patiently for Mickey Mouse to visit and read us bedtime stories….wink, wine, I mean wink!

We were finally escorted to our room that had a special sign on it that read ‘Happily Ever After’. Once in the room, Ariane was surprised with a bouquet of birthday balloons, a Happily Ever After Birthday banner, a birthday card, a birthday cake made out of hand towels and pipe cleaners and a large plush Mickey Mouse…she was so excited!  And Daddy had arranged all of it!

After getting settled in, we headed off to lunch at the Enchanted Garden and it was immediately apparent that Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto were all there!  It is actually quite awesome, because they make sure that the characters go from table to table to visit with all of the guests and even have professional photographers who follow behind, take pictures of everyone with the characters and scan a card so you can view all of the pictures at a later time.  They will even offer to use your phone or camera to take more pics, which I thought was very nice.  So here we go……will Ariane love or hate this?!  Between licks of her ice cream cone, she started to notice them all walking around and confidently said, ‘That’s Goofy’!  We had yet to have a character come to our table, but they were on their way!  Our initial thought and what we did was to take Ari out of her highchair as the characters came to see her.  This went okay and she kind of liked what was going on, but she was still a bit suspect of her over sized Mickey Mouse Clubhouse pals.  She gave some hugs, took some pics and didn’t have a tantrum or meltdown so all in all I would call her first introduction to her best friends a win!  We didn’t push much more on her and felt like the next time that we would be there for breakfast that she would do even better!

Despite the clouds and the occasional drizzle, we decided to make the most of our time while there and head to Disneyland for a couple of hours to see some characters, go on some rides and familiarize ourselves with the park for the next day since we planned to spend quite a bit of time there.  It was great!  Ariane went on her very 1st carousel ride, saw her pals walking around the park, went on her 1st amusement park ride, her very 1st train or ‘choo choo’ ride and was just in complete awe of everything that was going on around her.  Day 1 at Disneyland was a lot of fun and we were all excited that we would be going back the next day!

That night, as we were enjoying time together and the much needed happy hour that I mentioned earlier, we got Ari into her pajamas as we waited for the nightly fireworks.  Ari had never seen fireworks before so we were so excited for her to see them for the first time!  There were definitely a lot of firsts on this vacation that we will always remember!  We found ourselves a nice balcony spot just in time for the fireworks show.  Ari loved seeing all the lights in the sky and the bright colors!  At one point during the fireworks show, Antoine was holding Ari and I was standing right next to them.  Ari took one hand and grabbed my face, took her other hand and grabbed her Daddy’s face and just smushed all of our faces together while she hugged us, kissed us and smiled with the biggest smile that we have ever seen.  My husband and I later agreed that this was the best part of the trip for us.  It was then that I knew why this place was as magical as everyone says that it is.  Our hearts melted.  I can’t even describe how much I love my family and how much this moment meant to us.

The next day we had breakfast with the characters and it was awesome!  Instead of taking Ari out of her highchair, we let the characters come to her and she LOVED it.  She was flashing so many smiles, absolutely loved Goofy who came to visit her twice and I am pretty convinced that she felt for a short moment that she was part of the coveted and exclusive Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

We then made our way back to Disneyland for a day full of more rides, another round on the carousel, Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, freshly popped popcorn and most importantly a day together that we will never forget.

The next morning it was time to head back to KL.  It made me a bit sad, because happiness and smiles consumes this place!  This vacation was so much fun and although Ariane wasn’t even 2 years old and we hesitated on whether or not this was a good time to take a vacation like this with her, we both agreed that it was and that we would love to take her back next year just to see how much she has changed and whether or not Disneyland can take on the 3 year old Ariane Wade!  As for Daddy, what a special birthday he planned for her.  I knew that it was going to be so hard for him to be away from her on her actual birthday, so for him to see her have so much fun and to just be so excited and happy around her Clubhouse pals, I know that every smile warmed his heart.  It sounds a bit silly to say that places like these are magical, but the bond that our family already had was strangely strengthened by this trip.  Maybe because it was a fun that we hadn’t had before or we were all able to live a life that was just a bit easier than the everyday life or that it was a time that all three of us lived the dream of a child for a few days, but whatever it was I really do think that it just might be ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’.

 

Our Family Vacation to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort to celebrate Ariane Wade’s 2nd Birthday Video….Enjoy!

https://goo.gl/photos/tTNq96GRoHXMHJW57

When in Asia, Explore Asia. First Stop -Phuket, Thailand

When we made the decision to move to Kuala Lumpur for my husband’s job, we knew that we wanted to take full advantage of being able to travel to not only the many amazing places within Malaysia, but also the countless countries that can be found within Asia.  It is quite the impressive list, you have places like Vietnam, China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Maldives, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Cambodia just to name a few.

Once we got settled into our home in KL, we started discussing where we would want to go on our very first trip as a family.  We ended up making the decision to go to Thailand in late August.  Not only had we heard lots of great things about vacationing in Thailand, but the flight time is just over an hour long, which was very appealing given our last flight from the states to KL was right around 24 hours!  Our next decision was where to go in Thailand.  Popular vacation spots in Thailand are Krabi, Phuket, Ko Samui, Chiang Mi and of course Bangkok.  We narrowed it down to Krabi and Phuket and eventually settled on our first family vacation to be to Phuket.

We were very excited!  Like any vacation, you need to know what your purpose is while on vacation.  Are you looking to have a busy and adventurous vacation, see all that you can possibly see in the length of time that you are there?  Are you looking to have complete rest & relaxation at a resort with a beach and all of the amenities that come along with resort vacationing?  Or are you looking for a bit of both, venturing out to see some parts of the city, perhaps an excursion or two, but balancing that with some days of complete solitude?

For this vacation, we were looking for relaxation.  We were still in the process of adjusting to living in another country, my husband was working a lot of hours and keeping very busy in his new position within his new office in KL and well our 2 year old daughter just looked like she needed a vacation, some R&R, time away from the hustle & bustle of city life and the stresses from school.  At the age of 2, life can be very overwhelming!  Toddlers really have it rough.

In preparation for our short 1 hour flight for an 8 day, 7 night vacation, I did the majority of the packing.  I already knew that traveling with a child required a lot of stuff.  Packing for this trip was no exception.  Diapers, wipes, sippy cups, snacks, beach toys, iPad locked and loaded with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes, suntan lotion, mosquito spray, swimsuits, clothes, pajamas, first aid kit, stickers, coloring books, crayons, books and so on and so on.  We literally as a family took FOUR, count them 1-2-3-4 pieces of luggage and a huge carry-on packed with all the essentials for a grueling 1 hour flight with a toddler.  In our defense, I will say that one of these pieces of luggage was my husband’s DJI Phantom 4 drone, but it still seemed pretty excessive for a 1 week vacation.

The day before we were going to be leaving, my husband had an Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) doctor appointment scheduled.  He had been having issues hearing out of his left ear so he figured it would be a good idea to have it checked out.  Thank God he did, because he was diagnosed with Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL) and was going to need to have surgery the morning of our trip.  Surgery! Can you believe this?!  The procedure, while he would be under anesthesia, was going to be a steroid injection into his ear in order to try and help recover some of the hearing loss. The surgery was going to be at 7:00 AM, his doctor said it would be a 10-15 minute procedure, our flight was scheduled to depart at 1:00 PM and so we would need to leave for the airport by roughly 10:00 AM.  No problem, right?

If that’s not bad enough, next we start reading about ‘relatively small explosions’ in Thailand in resort areas including Phuket and Krabi.  Um, what?!  We are going to Phuket! Or should we seriously be considering not to be going to Phuket?

THEN we start to read more about the current weather in Phuket.  August through October are the wettest months and currently there are also surf danger warnings that are urging tourists to beware of the dangerous surf and high tides.  Awesome.  Everything seems to be falling right in place for a relaxing week long vacation.  I mean seriously, is the universe trying to tell us something?  Are we being given signs to cancel and not go on this vacation?

After spending time discussing the surgery and the weather and the bombings, we made the decision the night before our trip to Phuket, that we were going to just cancel the trip.  We cancelled our hotel reservation at the J.W. Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, cancelled our transportation service from the Phuket International Airport to the resort and were about to cancel our flight from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket.  Antoine and I started to talk about maybe just changing our flight to go someplace else, you know somewhere without bombings and daily rain?  Sounds a bit more relaxing. The more we discussed other places to go, we ultimately decided to just stick with our initial travel plans of going to Phuket.

With the continued research we had done on the bombings, we felt strongly that we would be safe at the resort, especially since our plan was to stay at the resort and not to really leave it much while we were there since we would have our daughter with us.  Although the weather forecast appeared to be very rainy for the 7-day outlook, we decided that we would just take our chances and if it really did end up raining every single day that we were there, we would just figure out ways to have fun at the resort indoors and as a family.  We rebooked our hotel accommodations at the J.W. Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, at actually a lower price, which was probably due to the fact that their occupancy levels were fairly low due to the rainy season and then got our airport transportation rearranged.  All that needs to happen now is for Antoine to have an easy, breezy surgery and we will be on our way to Phuket for some family fun & relaxation!

That didn’t happen.  Antoine had the surgery, which did only take 15 minutes, but coming out of the anesthesia did take some time and the pain that he was in did require him to stay at the hospital a lot longer than we had expected.  As it passed 10:00 AM, the time that we needed to leave to get to the airport, it became very clear that we were not going to be making our 1:00 PM flight.  I got on the phone with Malaysia Airlines and managed to get us rescheduled for the 5:00 PM flight.  Antoine made it home after 12:00 PM and fortunately was in good spirits to still go on this trip.  We finished the last of our packing and headed on out to the airport.

Our flight was great and super short!  Ari was awesome on the plane and before we knew it we were touching down in Phuket!  It was obviously later than we expected, so our goal was to just get settled into our room, get Ari down to sleep and finally have an opportunity for my husband and I to spend some time together at one of the resort restaurants, followed by some bar time!

Late Night Dates – Delicious Food, Great Drinks & Live Music at a Beautiful Resort

The resort was absolutely beautiful.  The staff was very friendly, accommodating and you never passed by without hearing, ‘Sawasdee’, which is the all mighty greeting phrase. It works for hi, hello, good morning, good afternoon, good evening and even goodbye.

A glimpse into our room, Ari’s lofted private nook where she slept and played & a Heineken drinking dog made of towels. Ha!

We were now prepared to get settled in for a week filled with fun and sun at the beach and the pool!  So earlier I mentioned that this was really our first family vacation with just the three of us.  My husband and I quickly learned that when going on vacation with our sweet, adorable and fun daughter, that the rest & relaxation that we were anticipating, um wasn’t going to happen.  We were still up early EVERY SINGLE MORNING, we still kept to a pretty consistent schedule with the exception of a missed nap here and there and laying out at the pool or on the beach was a distant memory of vacations from the past where it was just the 2 of us laying out in the sun, with a cocktail in our hands, listening to some music or falling asleep to the sounds of the ocean.  We were now fully aware that family vacations ultimately center around your child or children and if you are lucky you will have the evening when they are asleep to relax and enjoy time together.  Some of you are probably laughing at me to even think that relaxing on vacation when you have a toddler is even a remote possibility.  I get it, laugh away.  Lesson learned. But, you know what?  It is all okay.  To see our daughter happy and having a great time was so worth it.  We have simply added a new ‘type’ of vacation based on where our lives are at.  And we are going to enjoy it, because our little ones grow up so fast, and one day that busy, scheduled, restricted, chaotic ‘type’ of vacation will be gone and before you know it we will be back on the relaxing, tranquil, quiet ‘type’ of  vacation.  And although it will be wonderful because I will have my love & my best friend right there next to me, cocktails in hands, we will be thinking about and reminiscing about the other ‘type’. Or perhaps not! Its a beautiful thought though.

Okay so how did the weather holdup? The week that we were in Phuket, we were very lucky when it came to the weather.  It did rain just about everyday, but only for like a short afternoon shower or quick downpour and then the sun was back out so we were able to have plenty of pool time, which Ari loved! We introduced Ari to the beach for the very first time and although initially hesitant to play in the sand, she did end up having so much fun playing with her beach pail and shovel and demanding that I continue to fetch water for her so she can pour it in the sand and build sandcastles with Daddy.  Unfortunately there was only one day that we were able to spend a decent amount of time on the beach playing because the other days that we tried the waves were causing the water to completely take over the shore.  It was definitely not safe to be on the beach very much at all, but we took advantage of the time that we did have and even managed to take some great family photos.

Ariane’s introduction to the beach life!

Beautiful pool, awesome water slide & poolside snacks with our sweet girl

Although Antoine didn’t get the R&R he was wanting, he did have a lot of time to fly his DJI Phantom 4 drone.  He got incredible shots & video of the resort and the surrounding areas and it is the drone itself that took all of our family vacation photos!  I personally was terrified when he was flying this thing over the water, but not my husband, he was wanting to see how many miles out he could go just to capture amazing shots and videos of Phuket and the beautiful area that we were in.

Family photo shoot compliments of the DJI Phantom 4 drone

Okay, so when you seclude yourself strictly to a resort for a week and don’t leave to go on excursions or immerse yourself into the city that you are in and the culture that you are surrounded by, resort life can get a little bit long.  Don’t get me wrong, we loved our time in Phuket, we loved the resort that we stayed at, we enjoyed our time at the beach and our endless amount of time at the resort pool. The resort food was great, we got good use out of their well equipped fitness center and even had an enjoyable family bike ride (well except when Antoine’s bike chain snapped off and we had to call in for a replacement bike to be brought to us. Oops).  But we decided that staying a full week was just way too long.  We now think that 4-5 nights tops would be ideal.  By the last couple of days & nights you are so in a routine of what you do on a daily basis that you are actually ready to go.  It really is like lather, rinse, repeat. To us it now seems like a better idea to enjoy wherever it is that you are at as a family, do fun things while you are there, enjoy time together that you don’t always get when you are in the hustle & bustle of everyday life, head back to that place you call home and then hold close the memories and start thinking about where you would love to go next.

Family bike ride just outside the resort!

Just me & my girl. Love her.

We are truly blessed to be where we are at at this time in our lives.  To be living in Asia surrounded by so many incredible countries, we owe it so ourselves to take advantage and travel to as many of them as we possibly can!  Phuket, Thailand was our first stop.  And there will be many more stops along the way.  I can’t wait to share them all!

Here is a video my husband put together to capture the beauty of our resort and time together as a family in Phuket, Thailand.  Thanks babe!  Your DJI Phantom 4 drone skills are awesome!

https://goo.gl/photos/DPG9mXaPneyMqLMj6

Truly a Kid’z Paradise

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I personally had never heard of a soft play centre until we moved to Kuala Lumpur. I was obviously familiar with places like Chuck E. Cheese’s and Monkey Joe’s, but I don’t think either would be considered a soft play centre. Monkey Joe’s I guess would be the closest comparison due to having soft, inflatable slides, but the soft play centres here in KL are actually quite amazing and fun!

Ari and I decided to head to our very 1st soft play centre a few weeks ago.  Daddy dropped us off because it was conveniently located directly across from his workplace.  Our first soft play centre adventure was to Kid’z Paradise at Quill City Mall.

I knew from the moment we were at the front entrance of Kid’z Paradise that Ari was going to have a blast!  I did not know at the time, that Mommy would also have a great time and a newfound addiction to visiting all of the soft play centres in KL.

A few things to keep in mind that we quickly learned upon our arrival.  The cost to enter was RM 28, which is equivalent to approximately $7 USD.  This specific play centre only accepted cash (I believe it had to exceed a certain amount for a credit card to be accepted), which is fine, but annoying at the time since we waited 20 minutes for the place to open. Ari was so excited to go in and start playing and extremely upset when she was forced to go in the opposite direction to locate an ATM.  Like near temper tantrum upset.  We finally found the ATM, took out some cash, made our way back to Kid’z Paradise, got settled in and put on our socks, which are mandatory for hygiene purposes.  If you forget socks, don’t worry because they sell them at the entrance.  I fortunately and surprisingly had thought of this, which was probably because of the 4 years that I worked at Chuck E. Cheese so we were sock ready!.  No socks at these establishments is just gross.  Even though this soft play centre doesn’t allow food & drinks in the play area and is constantly being cleaned, germs are germs and they lurk everywhere so SOCK UP!

Upon entering, I let Ari explore and decide what she wanted to do first.  It was so nice because we were the only ones currently there so the place was all ours.  I can only imagine what this place would look like on a Saturday, Sunday or Holiday.  In fact I will probably avoid places like these on the weekends, because if they are anything like the congestion and chaos at Chuck E. Cheese’s then they would need to serve alcohol.

Ari immediately gravitated towards an area that is known as the Cassia Seed Pool.  Cassia seeds are widely cultivated in China  The best way to describe them in my opinion is similar to brown rice.  The seeds are actually used in a lot of tea blends, often times in detoxing teas as a natural ingredient that helps promote weight loss.  As far as I was concerned, it was a nice substitute for sand as I looked at the area more like a giant sandbox with a ton of cool sand toys!  The cassia seeds were not as messy as sand would have been and were very easy to brush off of us as we went from playing in the cassia sand pool to playing in the other areas. This was especially nice for Ariane who doesn’t like to stay in one place for very long.

After having lots of fun in the cassia seed pool, we were off and headed for the ball pit!  Ari was both serious and a bit curious as to what this was all about and what we were exactly supposed to be doing as we were surrounded by an endless amount of colorful plastic balls. After awhile she had so much fun walking through them, falling down into them, being buried in them (well she liked this, but was also slightly terrified; she would be smiling and laughing one second and then have a look of sheer panic the next) and tromping through them so she could make her way up the colorful and soft shaped ‘stairs’ so she could then slide on into the ball pit!

I have to say that as a Mom who worries all of the time about her child getting hurt, especially when we go to playgrounds, this experience was completely different.  She was exploring and doing things that she had never done, like inclined wall climbing and jumping on trampolines and because of this soft and safe play environment, I was at complete ease while she did a thorough exploration of this joint.

Besides seeing my daughter have an incredibly fun experience at this soft play centre, I too had so much fun.  At first I was just enjoying watching Ari explore and observing her from a distance while she moved from one play area to another, but it was then that I was informed that I too could also get involved!  I was allowed to play in the cassia seed pool, get buried in the ball pit, go down the ball pit slide, jump around on the trampoline and slide down all of the slides. It was so much fun and overall just a really great Mommy/Daughter day date. My favorite moment, even though there were many, was when Ari wanted to keep going down the slides with me.  All she kept saying when we got to the bottom was ‘more’, ‘more’, ‘more’ as she giggled.

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After a couple of hours of play, it was time to head on out and we did with surprisingly little resistance from Ari.  It was very clear just a few short minutes later that our time at Kid’z Paradise also resulted in an almost immediate 2 hour nap session!  Needless to say, we will be visiting again as we had such a wonderful time and I don’t know any Mom that would complain about their child taking a 2 hour nap.

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Next up on our soft play centre adventures will be Kid’s E World at The Gardens Mall. Can’t wait!

 

Ariane & Mommy Day Date at Kid’z Paradise Video

 

 

 

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Since moving to Kuala Lumpur we have encountered many things that are strikingly different from what we were used to back in the states.  I wanted to share some of these with you, not because it is my intention to make fun of or ridicule these differences, but because it really does amaze me how differently people live from country to country.
It is very normal to have your own opinions or thoughts about the way things should be and some of the things that have stood out to us have been so different from what we are used to that we can’t help but talk about it, at times laugh about it or wonder why it is that way here.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that our way is the right way or that their way is the wrong way, it just means that there are clearly a lot of different ways of doing things.

Believe me, if people who have lived here all of their lives visited the states, I can guarantee you that they would also instinctively form their own opinions because of the noticeable differences.  With that being said, we are embracing our life here in Kuala Lumpur and learning that one of the most beautiful things about life are in fact our differences.

I hope you all enjoy learning more about our new city in this blog and I really do hope that you find humor in some of our ‘different’ experiences.

Our Beautifully Different City ❤

Food Sharing

This very well could be what I loathe most about living here.  And that actually is a really good thing, because there could be far worse things to dislike about a city.  So here is the deal.  When you go to a restaurant together as a family or with a co-worker or with a friend or with your 2 year old daughter named Ariane Wade, you typically look at the menu, choose what you want to eat & drink, place your order and voila some time later everyone’s food is served.  How lovely right?  You eat together, have enjoyable conversation and maybe (I said maybe) offer a bite of your food to the person that you are with and if you are lucky maybe you too get a bite of their food in return.

Not here.

I would say 9 times out of 10 this is not what happens. Typically when just one person’s order is ready to be served, it gets brought to the table to that one person.  And also that one person typically is not me. It is even worse when it is not Ari’s food that comes out first because as a parent you know that if you can just get your child eating, they will be content for a decent (short) amount of time.  When this first happened to me, my husband had a yummy plate of food in front of him, I had nothing and Ari had nothing.  I start looking all around the restaurant like our food has to be on its way out, otherwise why in the world would they have just brought food out to my husband?  Here it is…ready for it? They expect you to share.  Well I don’t like to share my food all that much, even though I try to teach our daughter to share every single day.  Asian countries have a strong tradition of food sharing.  Supposedly you aren’t supposed to be territorial when it comes to your food. Blah, blah, blah.  This is definitely something that I will have to continue to work on and in the meantime you better believe if my husband’s food comes out sooner than mine, I do now freely stick my fork all up in his food to steal me a bite or two.  What can I say, he is a far better sharer than I am.

Another Round?

Here you are enjoying some drinks with your husband and a few friends when the inevitable happens.  You can see the bottom of your glass, like literally not one drop left bottom of your glass.  You casually glance around looking for a server and even though you see many servers, not a single one of them are showing much awareness to your table and your desperate situation of needing another round.  I will admit that it has taken so long at times that back in the states I would have been served 3 glasses to the 1 that has now been finished for quite some time.  I am convinced my mom is reading this right now thinking that this isn’t so bad and maybe that 1 drink was enough, but my dad is reading this thinking that there is now officially no way in hell that he is going to come visit us in KL. Ha ha!  It is just very unusual for us.  Back in the states you are offered another drink when you have maybe 1/4 of a glass left.  They keep an eye on you and make sure to offer you another round.  It isn’t that they are being rude about it here, but it just doesn’t seem to be a priority.  No one is really in much of a rush so the sense of urgency when it comes to restaurant service here is pretty leisurely.  Due to this, we may just double up on drinks so the wait doesn’t feel as excruciating.

You Are a Bartender Right?

Antoine & I rather enjoy being able to belly up to the bar every once in awhile.  It is not only an opportunity for us to talk and socialize with ourselves, but perhaps even the bartenders and  other bar patrons.  We have found here that the interaction between the bartenders and the customers are very limited.  So much so that when you are ready to order your drinks and your food, you actually order from a server and not the bartender that is standing directly in front of you!  It is a very odd feeling when you are ready for another round and the bartender is looking at you and your empty glass and doesn’t immediately come over to offer you another one.  Instead you keep your eyes peeled for a server, ask for another round and then they walk a few feet away to put your order in with the bartender that is standing closer to you than the server you just ordered from.  This is truly backwards and will never make sense to me.  I am happy to say that we have become regulars at a local watering hole and the bartenders there do in fact allow us to order directly from them.  Complete game changer!  However they do make a cocktail that appears to have pieces of raw chicken hanging over the top on a stir stick.This just about had me running in the opposite direction!  I was quickly informed when asked what in the world it was and kindly mentioned that I would never be ordering that, that the raw chicken I thought I saw was actually lychee.  It is a fruit, but in my defense it is white and does appear rather fleshy.  It originates from China and is very popular in Southeast Asia.  I reluctantly tried it and it was actually pretty good.  It is sweet with a combination of a fruity, floral, tropical taste.

Excuse Me.  I’m Here to Buy, Why are You Not Trying to Sell to Me?

One thing that we learned very early as we were getting adjusted to life in KL was the sales approach when in retail stores or even restaurants for that matter.  The only way to describe it would be ‘soft selling’ and yet I struggle with summing it up that way, because there is little to no persuasion happening so I guess it is more like ‘not selling’.  It is very confusing.  I think it ties in with the whole laidback approach that we have experienced while here.  Sometimes it is nice and sometimes it is really frustrating.

So my husband and I walked into ALDO to try and find him some new sandals.  They had at least a handful that he liked and a couple that he really wanted.  He typically wears a size 12 shoe and so when he asked for a size 12 in the shoes that he liked, the lady went in the back and came back sandle-less.  Our 1st observation was that when we entered the store, no one came to ask if we needed help finding anything.  Our 2nd observation was that when they didn’t have the sandal in the size that he did like, there was no recommendation made to him for sandals in his size that he might like. We thought maybe we had just dealt with an inexperienced saleswoman, but this didn’t just happen at ALDO.  It happens just about everywhere.  Don’t get me wrong, the employees are cordial and willing to help with what you are looking for, but they definitely seem to be okay with you leaving the store and not buying anything.  It really is the same in restaurants as well.  There is no hard sell for appetizers, or strong recommendations for specials or a push for dessert at the end, let alone ‘another round’ of cocktails being relentlessly pursued. I guess at times it is a bit of a relief to just be able to walk around and truly browse until I find what I am looking for or eat and just order what I want and nothing more.  But part of me is missing the pursuit and the drive and the sales oriented approach.  This topic actually leads me to my next topic…..tipping etiquette.

To Tip or not to Tip?

The reason the above leads me here is because I wonder if there is something that I don’t know about the way employees here are paid versus our norm of the sales, commision and bonus approach.  For the most part, Malaysia is a non-tipping culture.  Tipping here is not expected.  Crazy right?  As a side note, I am not quite sure how I will handle coming back to the states to visit and having to tip 15-20% for good service!  I will say that the service here for the most part is good.  Some places are great and others a bit too relaxed which leads to a so-so experience.  But I will tell you that when that bill comes and the server hovers you for you to sign and keep it moving, I get really uncomfortable.  I quickly scribble my signature and hand it back, thus resulting in no tip.  If I pay cash, I have read to leave the ‘loose change’.  This could literally equate to 4 RM or $1 USD.  I am almost relieved when restaurants do charge a 10% service charge, because it makes me feel a bit more comfortable.  Another difference here is that when you are dining at a restaurant, typically you don’t have a permanant server.  You might order from one, have your food brought from another, order something additional from another, get your bill from another and close out with yet another.  So are they more able to do this and share customers because there isn’t that dependence on the amount of the tip?  I have been told that the way they are compensated does somewhat offset the non-tipping culture, where in the states you make less and depend more on the tips that you make. It is just so opposite of how tipping is perceived in the states so I am not sure that I will ever be able to be comfortable with it.

Doctor Appointments – First Come, First Serve

Those of you that know us very well, know that our daughter has an arsenal of doctors. Yes she is doing fabulous, but does require routine follow-up appointments on a somewhat consistent basis. That being said, I thought that the hard part was over.  I located all of the doctors that I wanted her see so I figured that it would be smooth sailing from here.  I was so wrong. I would make an appointment for her to see a doctor at 9am.  I would get a response that her appointment was confirmed for 9am-11am first come, first serve.  So basically a 9am appointment means absolutely nothing.  We have now gone to 3 different appointments with 3 different doctors and it took anywhere from 2-4 hours just to get through the full appointment.  It is extremely frustrating.  I have obviously accepted it because that is just the way it is and for our daughter, my husband and I would do anything.  I just so miss the ‘your appointment is at 9am.  Don’t be late’.  This is something that I will not take for granted when we return to the states.  We will be early and we will love it.

Lift Problems

So here in KL, we call elevators ‘lifts’.  I frequent the lifts often, not because I am lazy but because I am typically rolling with my girl Ariane and her stroller requires them.  It is kind of funny, because when she isn’t with me I sometimes find myself waiting for a lift and then get really excited when I realize I can take the escalators with everyone else! So my only issue with lifts here is that it is basically a free for all.  Imagine yourself walking up to a lift and being the one to press the ‘up’ arrow.  Only to have 10 other people approach the lift also wanting to go up.  As soon as the lift arrives and the doors open, it is like a herd of people bum rushing into the lift and not even caring if there are people already on the lift that need to get out.  And even worse some people even ignore the fact that I was there FIRST and in my opinion should be able to get on the lift first, but that doesn’t always happen. I have also been the one on a lift when I arrive at my floor and need to get off not just with myself, but with my daughter who is in a stroller and have 10 people in my face wanting to jump into the lift when we haven’t even been able to get off.  It drives me nuts.  Needless to say there have been some toes run over by Ariane’s stroller just to prove a point.  And I don’t hesitate to throw elbows when trying to hold my place in the lift entry line.  If I press the button, it is my lift!  And please wait for others to exit, before you bum rush the door.

Russian Roulette Anyone?

People who drive here are crazy.  It is why I don’t drive pretty much at all.  And as much as I say people who drive here are crazy, people who walk here because of how people drive here are just as crazy (I am one of them).  Red traffic lights here seem to be optional.  Not optional like the occasional person runs a red light, but optional in the sense that just because it is red doesn’t mean I can’t go.  Specifically motorbikes.  If the light is red and you are on a motorbike, it just means casually scope out the scene and if the coast appears to be clear by all means go through the red light.  So as a daily KLCC walker, who is often times walking my precious cargo (Ariane), there is not the ‘look both ways and if the coast is clear you may proceed’.  It is more like if the coast is clear, it isn’t going to be clear long so haul ass and look like a crazy lady with your head on a swivel until you get across the street!  Even on ‘one-way’ streets where you should technically only need to look one way to see if there are cars coming isn’t the case here.  You still need to look both ways because if you don’t a whole family on one motorbike might be heading your way, the wrong way, literally driving on the wrong side of the road!  I say a whole family because it isn’t uncommon for a family of 3 to be on one bike.  The child sometimes as young as a year.  It just isn’t frowned upon here.  It is the norm.  When walking sometimes I feel like I am playing damn double dutch!  Should I go now?  Nope, not yet.  How about now?  Nope, not yet.  Okay, how about now?  Yes, yes now!  And run really fast!

Teksi vs. Uber

Uber in KL is awesome.  My experience with Teksis (Taxis) not so much.  Also there is an ongoing, quite hostile fued here that exists between Teksi drivers and Uber drivers.  Teksi drivers are not fond of Uber drivers.  So much so that Teksi drivers openly harrass Uber drivers on occasion.  I fortunately have never witnessed it, but have had Uber drivers be very specific as to where they will drop me off so that it is at a distance from Teksi stands.  I even had one Uber driver that requested that I sit up front with him so he doesn’t look like an Uber driver.  Fortunately, we recently heard that a Teksi driver can have his license revoked if caught harrasing or threatening an Uber or GrabCar driver (GrabCar is very similar to Uber).  My experience with Uber has been great.  I believe I even have a 5 star rating.  The only really random experience I had with Uber was that shortly into the ride I heard a cough coming from behind me, which startled me a bit.  I looked into the cargo space of the car and noticed what appeared to be a 4 or 5 year old boy taking a nap.  It surprised me and yet at the same time it didn’t.  As judgemental as we would be about this back in the states, here it is not abnormal or necessarily frowned upon.   Rather it is a father trying to make an additional living for his family and doing whatever he needs to do to make sure it happens.  Anyways, Teksi drivers here are not my favorite.  They usually don’t know where they are going and just don’t seem to have the friendliness that the Uber drives have that I have come across.  Team Uber.

I am confident that there will be many differences that we will come across during our time here in KL.  However we are embracing our differences, finding humor in how different countries can be and realizing that perhaps there really isn’t a ‘right’ way or a ‘wrong’ way of doing things. Being different is in fact a beautiful thing.

It’s All About Perspective


 

 

 

 

 

Family Fun Day at Titiwangsa Park

This past Saturday The Wade’s decided to visit one of many recreational parks in the city. Upon arriving we knew that we had stumbled upon something great!  As we were looking for a parking spot, we couldn’t help but notice all of the different things that we would be able to do on this sunny Saturday morning.  Our main mission while here was to take an enjoyable family bike ride through the park.

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Can I please add that the last time that I physically rode a bicycle was probably in the early 90’s!  I was slightly terrified, yet confident that I would be a natural and that I would be as the so called saying goes, ‘once a biker, always a biker’.

Okay so we park the car and immediately begin to scope out the bicycle inventory.  This was by the way going to be the very first time that Ariane had been ‘biking’ obviously on the back of a bike and preferably with Daddy, because I unfortunately could not guarantee her complete safety.  After trying out a few bikes that weren’t quite the right fit (it kind of felt like Goldilocks and The Three Bears), we finally found a bike for Antoine that had the child seat in the back and a bike for me that also had a child seat that Ariane would not be riding in and a basket in the front that was perfect for my purse.  Our bicycles were just right! The cost for renting two bicycles for an hour was 20 MYR (Malaysia Ringgits) or $5 USD  Okay so off we go!

So many to choose from….need to find me one with a basket!

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Ariane looking for a bicycle that was JUST RIGHT!

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I am not going to lie, I was a bit rusty.  Antoine was casually riding along (too fast in my opinion), Ariane’s curls were blowing in the breeze and I on the other hand was struggling and sweating, lagging behind by roughly 30 meters (yes I said ‘meters’.  I am trying everyday to figure out meters, kilometers, kilograms and Fahrenheit to Celsius conversions…it is exhausting).  So close to 100 feet.  Better?  The point is that I am trailing far behind.  I will say that I was enjoying myself, despite my husband turning around to laugh at me and probably half the time wonder where I am.  The park was absolutely beautiful, extremely well kept and there was so much going on and it really did feel good to be out in the hot KL sun with my family taking a bike ride and just enjoying our day together.  Before we even got to the park, I had thought about how adorable it would be to take a picture of Daddy & Ariane riding a bike together.  I was confident that I could get the perfect shot.  Well it turns out that I probably would have ended up on the ground with the bike on top of me so I decided to settle for the pictures that I was able to capture.  Did I mention that I almost took out a 3 year old rollerblader?

A few pics while bike riding (at a complete stop of course!)

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The Wade’s getting their bike on!

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Halfway through our family bike ride, we took a break at an awesome playground so Ari could get out, stretch the legs and have a bit of fun.  I can not believe how many awesome playgrounds are in Kuala Lumpur.  They are all so bright and colorful and just seem never ending.  It is one playground structure after another, after another, after another.  Ari has so much fun and is so curious to discover what new things she can do or learn when faced with playgrounds that offer new stuff like floating wood bridges, long spiral slides, monkey bars and teeter totters.

So bright & colorful!

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Hello to my many admirers!  I am the playground queen!

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Daddy helping me figure this ‘ol wobbly bridge out

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This is how cool people slide….want to see it again?

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Once the fun at the playground was over, we finished our grueling bike ride back to where all of the fun had started.  We then noticed some powered ride on toys for kids (you know, like imitation Audi’s, Mercedes and Volvos in a miniature size) and figured we would rent one for Ari just to see how she would do cruising the designated park streets.  I was sure it would last all of 1 minute, but then we discovered that these were actually more than just powered ride on toys, this was an actual remote controlled car track where parents could help their little ones control the car with an actual remote controller!  This was a lot of fun!  Ari was whipping around in a Range Rover, going through red lights (well actually the blame here would be on Daddy as he was the one in full control of the vehicle).She got in a fender bender with another child, she just about drove into a tree and she seemed to like opening the driver side door while the vehicle was in motion.  I am glad we have 14+ years until we need to put this child on the streets!

Close Call!

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Ariane runs these streets!

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Probably getting pulled over for reckless driving

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After leaving the ‘speedway’, we ventured off to find some ice cream to top off our awesome day at Titiwangsa Park.  Needless to say, this may have been Ariane’s favorite part.  Clearly leaving a few ice cream licks for the car ride home.

Snack & Ice Cream Shop!

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Yummy!  I’m sorry, why are you staring at me?  Is there something on my face?

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Want some?  I am practicing how to share.  No?  Okay then it is all mine!

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All in all, we absolutely loved this park and will definitely be returning.  Aside from being able to rent bikes, spend countless hours at the playground, speed around at the remote control car track and eat some yummy ice cream, the park also offers visitors great walking/jogging paths in its beautiful surroundings, paddle boating, canoeing, rollerblading, plenty of locations to picnic, horse riding and tennis courts.

The Wade family left Titiwangsa Park unscathed and ready for more!  Ariane clearly loved it as well and left there saying ‘bike’, ‘bike’, ‘bike’.  She wasn’t ready to leave, but nap time was approaching and I might add that her exhaustion level was at an all time high because she took one hell of a nap!

Great day with my incredible husband

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And our amazing daughter.

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And a couple of videos to further sum up our awesome Saturday!

https://goo.gl/photos/HUDXgo22FSdTfTY78
https://goo.gl/photos/QnYiYm1tpx8X61ky7

Who Am I in KL?

My personal transition to Kuala Lumpur has been absolutely wonderful, yet absolutely confusing all at the same time.  Before making the decision to relocate our family internationally for my husband’s job, I too had a career.  A 16 year career with the same company since graduating college.  I was a working woman, a wife and a mom.  I had everything figured out for the most part, although my husband may beg to differ.  But honestly, things were relatively routine.  I was proud of what I had accomplished thus far in my life and now I was giving up a lot of it to relocate our family to a city that I knew very little about.

And just like that,  here we are just shy of 10,000 miles from that life that I once knew.  I no longer have a career.  I am now a ‘stay at home mom’.  Everything that was so normal and routine for me is no longer normal and routine.  We obviously faced an adjustment period of acclimating to the new time zone, but once we began to settle in and my husband was routinely going to the office, I was challenged with trying to figure out what to do with myself.  Initially I was spending the day with Ari, which for the most part kept me busy because she is a toddler and is quickly approaching the terrible twos, but there were times that I felt like I was walking around aimlessly and not quite able to figure out what my purpose was and what I was supposed to be doing on an everyday basis.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been incredibly happy ever since we touched down in Kuala Lumpur.  It is a beautiful city and I am with my 2 most favorite people in the world.  But things were different.  I was different.  I wasn’t quite sure who I was.

So I don’t have a career, I am a ‘stay at home mom’ and now we made the decision to enroll our daughter into an educational daycare program at a Montessori school.  She would be there Monday-Friday from 9:00am-3:00pm.  Some may be wondering why we would do this given the fact that I am not working, but our daughter thrives in this environment.  We have seen the impact that it has had on her and were even more excited about the fact that she would be surrounded by so many different people and cultures. This was a good thing for her.

Ariane eating breakfast at school

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Ariane’s school reading center

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So to sum things up, my husband is at work everyday Monday- Friday.  My daughter is at school everyday Monday-Friday.  And I am home everyday Monday-Friday.

Did I mention that we hired a part-time cleaner/helper/nanny?  Alright stop rolling your eyes!  I know what a lot of people are thinking.  “She’s not working”, “her daughter is in school for the majority of the day” so why in the hell would they need any help?  Well, hired help is very common here.  Whether “live-in” help or “live-out” help, many families, specifically expatriate families hire some form of help.  I personally did not want full-time help and I absolutely refused “live-in” help.  I want privacy with my family and I want to be the one, along with my husband caring for and raising our daughter, so to have somebody there all of the time wasn’t an option for us.  I was okay with having someone come in for a few hours a day to routinely clean our place, occasionally help with Ariane and have a presence in our home so that Ariane can build a relationship them.  This would also help us so that our help could watch/babysit Ari when me and my husband want a much needed night out.  Well we found somebody and she is great. So great that let me tell you that my purpose here became even less defined.  The lady who helps us out can iron & fold clothes like nobody’s business.  Not just that, but the way that she sorts and organizes our closets is quite amazing.  My husband literally comments on how amazing his closet looks every single time he opens a closet door.  She folds towels perfectly and just does things in a way that makes our home feel so great all of the time. Needless to say, we are now addicted to things being done a certain way, so I guess I have 2 years to learn how to properly iron & fold clothes, fold towels, organize closets and clean like this chick.  There you go, perhaps that is my new purpose.

The Much Needed Night Out!

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Drift Dining & Bar

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Okay so my husband is adjusting relatively well to his new job.  It has been an an adjustment for him and not necessarily an easy one, but he is doing an awesome job. We are in a completely different environment, the culture is different and things are just done extremely differently here.  However, in true Antoine Wade fashion he is working incredibly hard to accomplish all of his goals that he has set and his company has set for him while we are here.  Ariane is adjusting really well to her new school.  She is surrounded by toddlers similar in age everyday and has incredible teachers or “aunties” as they call themselves here and we are just so happy that she is able to balance learning and playing on a consistent, everyday basis. And then there is me…..still trying to figure things out day by day, but patting myself on the back when I have small wins along the way!

Let me walk you through my grocery shopping nightmare.  I had no idea where to buy groceries from.  I was told by a few people to go to a store called ‘Cold Storage’.  Okay perfect.  Cold Storage is at Suria KLCC mall, which I frequent just about daily.  I couldn’t believe a mall had a grocery store in it that was so convenient to where we lived, so I was excited.  I walk in, I see food aisles and I am feeling a lot better about being able to buy food from somewhere so I can make a home cooked meal that my husband will love.  I have my recipe in my hand and now all that I have to do is find all of the ingredients at my “new favorite grocery store”.  Epic Fail.  Their fresh meat was pretty much depleted. They had none of the produce that I needed.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, I got blank stares when I asked where the applesauce was since my daughter is obsessed with applesauce.  In fact, I believe they led me to the condiments section. Okay I can do this, my husband and I might not eat tonight, but I am sure they will at least have a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for our daughter.  Nope, they had Magicaroni & Cheese.  Guess this will have to work!  Hope Ari loves it!  It’s going to be Magicaroni & Cheese for The Wade Family tonight!  I left almost in tears, because I really was so excited to cook for my family and even grocery shopping was no longer effortless or routine or normal.  Something as simple as grocery shopping was making me feel like I had never gone grocery shopping in my entire life.

Magicaroni & Cheese ended up being fierce competition for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

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Finally found grocery stores & am cooking away!

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Chicken Lasagna 🍽

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Chicken Lasagna with a View 🏙 🕌 🕍

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I guess I really was feeling like a foreigner.  I like to have things figured out and so this all challenged me in a way that I have never been challenged before.

We are finally getting settled into our 2 year home, which feels great.  I am sure many of you are wondering what in the world I do on a daily basis since I am not working and am for the most part by myself, except for our hired help that comes from 2:oopm-6:00pm. Well my typical day consists of getting Ari ready for school, dropping her off by 9:00am, getting a workout in, which is something that I had strayed away from for over a year and that situation in itself will have its own blog, I then shower, run the necessary errands and then it all gets a little bit cloudy.  What do I do with extra time?  Well a few times I have gone to lay out at the pool.  I felt guilty as hell!  Just laying there, reading a book, soaking up the sun.  How is this even okay?  You judge yourself. You feel guilty. You question your purpose.  I will even go out to lunch by myself following my workout or pool session before going to pick up Ari from school.  It really does take time to realize that my life here is simply different then what it was like in the States.  But that is okay!

Welcome to our new home, The Avare

An impromptu video of our new home

https://goo.gl/photos/NU2kKqAUMcLH2ekG6

 

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Me laying out poolside feeling a bit guilty

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Getting my workout in!

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I remember a few times before we had left that my husband had told me that this was my time to be selfish.  To spend more time worrying about me, taking care of me and doing the things that I wanted to do.  He even said, “if you feel like taking a nap, take a nap”.  It all sounded wonderful and I was very appreciative that I had his support, but it still makes you feel like you aren’t contributing enough.  I try to have a daily checklist of things to accomplish, but I swear when my husband asks me every morning what I having going on that day, I try to spew a to-do list to try and validate myself and to have him feel like I am contributing something to our family and our life here in Kuala Lumpur.  That is important to me.  I want to feel like I am doing my part.

At the same time, I am seriously convinced that my husband thinks that I have lost my mind since living here.  I have had some serious fails since moving into our new place.  The other week, I clearly put too much detergent into the much smaller washing machine then I am used to and suds were literally pouring out of the top and sides of the machine. Go ahead and laugh, I eventually did and just blamed the machine for being too small.  I also put “dish washing liquid” into the dishwasher and had water and suds all over our kitchen floor.  In my defense, I couldn’t read the bottle, but really thought that it was intended for the dishwasher.  My Dad had did this once and I never let him forget it, needless to say I am fairly confident that my husband will never let me forget it.  It is new brands and new products and it is just a never ending learning curve.  We finally stumbled upon an Ace Hardware and I was in heaven!  They had just about every cleaning supply that I was familiar with.  Needless to say, I filled the cart and walked out of their feeling a bit of relief.

Bought this…..

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And then this happened!

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My life has done a complete 180.  But I have started to tell myself that it is okay.  Since I have a decent amount of time to think, I have started to ask myself what I can do while we are here to make myself better for me, for my husband and for our daughter.

I have decided that I need to stop thinking about what I am not doing and focus on what I am doing, what I am learning and what I could be doing and could be learning.   I recently signed up for a Malaysian cooking class and I can not wait to do this.  I love cooking and want nothing more then to be able to bring back some Malaysian recipes that I can share with others and enjoy with our family as a way to reflect and think back on our time here in Kuala Lumpur.  My husband and I are going to take Bahasa classes, which is the official language of Malaysia.  I am doubtful we will be speaking it a lot, but we think it is important to do since we are blessed with the opportunity to be among so many different cultures and it just seems important out of respect for the city that we live in and the respect I feel for everyone here that does their best to speak to me in English, which is just about everybody thank God.

I became a part of a Facebook group that has 100+ incredible women from all over the world that are here for one reason or another, but join together in an attempt to make friends and grasp on to one another for the few years that you have together in the same city.  They host family BBQ’s, brunches, ladies night out, sports teams and more. I also began following another woman’s blog that moved to Kuala Lumpur in 2015 that has 5 year old twins and writes about their experiences, particularly their travels and the places she takes her kids. She calls it ‘a KL city guide for families’ and it is awesome!  It has given me so many ideas for things to do as a family like places to go bike riding, kite flying, strawberry picking, not to mention the National Library of Malaysia, the Bird Park and the many soft play centres that are available for kids.  Someone I don’t even know that will have a big impact on my family making the best of our time here in KL.  I would one day like for my experiences to help another family or a Mom that ends up here, who early on feels just like I do, a bit lost and confused.

Fortunately we have been able to meet a few families since living at our new place and I am excited to get to know them even more.  As an expat, you will meet people, like them, become close and in the blink of an eye they are gone and either headed back where they came from or headed someplace else to start all over again. I met a Mom of two this past weekend that has been here for 2 years and has 1 year left.  We discovered that we both blog and I told her that I was going to be blogging about my transition and trying to find who I am since my life has changed so much since leaving the States.  She said, “If you have found yourself already, I totally applaud you!  It took me a year here to figure out my KL self”.  So she’s saying that I have time!  Plenty of time.  There is so much to do here and so much to learn, I am just grateful to be here and to be in a position that is pushing me to grow as a person and to become a better me for myself, my husband and our daughter.

I will end this blog by thanking my husband for the incredible opportunity to be here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  As a family we will be able to have unforgettable experiences and for that I am thankful. Not everybody is given this opportunity and not everybody would be willing to take the leap and move to another country on the opposite side of the world.  I will even admit that I am a bit proud of myself for being brave enough to leave my career, move further away from family & friends that I love dearly and for supporting my husband with everything that I have.  It is a blessing to be be able to grow closer together as a family as we go about this journey, to learn more about a beautiful city and the people that live here, to learn more about ourselves and the people that we want to be and will strive to become and to create everlasting memories that we can cherish forever.

It just doesn’t get old

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My 2 Favorite People ❤!  Love them both so much!

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XOXO until next time!

 

Potty Training – The Malay Way

As I mentioned in my last blog, you will find me from time to time, like just about every day, at a mall running errands, eating lunch or enjoying a Saturday afternoon with my family.  It is the inevitable that at some point you will find yourself in need of a bathroom for either personal use or perhaps to even change a diaper or two.

Fortunately at Suria KLCC there are a lot of bathroom options.  So many options, so many lessons learned.

Lesson One

So the time had come that Ari was in dire need of a diaper change, like this girl needs to be changed sooner, rather than later or right now versus it can wait a few minutes.  Are we all on the same page here? So were on Level G.  Level G is the floor with all of the designer brands like Enzo Angiolini, Chanel, MaxMara, Bvlgari, Carolina Herrera and Kate Spade.  I saw the sign for the bathroom that also had a nice little symbol for ‘changing table’.  I know there are other moms out there that feel my pain when you come across a bathroom with NO changing table.  It literally drives me nuts!  The places I have had to change my daughter and the quite ‘inventive’ ways I have changed my daughter when there is no changing table available is quite ridiculous.  So needless to say I was extremely pleased to see that changing table symbol.

I make a left to turn down the hall where the above hanging bathroom sign instructed me to go and just then, I walk right into an additional sign that read,

Premier Paid Toilet (please provide exact change)

RM 2.00 per entry

Non-Paying toilets are available on all other levels

The Actual Sign

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The Actual Receipt (possible tax deduction?)

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So the currency here is the Malaysian Ringgit. 1 Malaysian Ringgit equals $.25 US Dollars. So RM 2.00 would be $.50 or fifty cents.

I know that fifty cents is not a lot of money, but seriously I am just trying to change my daughter and even if I had to use the bathroom at this point I don’t even know what sort of royal treatment I am in for at this Premier Paid Toilet!

The other issue is that although I did have cash on me, I did not have ‘exact change’. I figured I would give it a shot, perhaps they would have change or just let me sneak in because all I need to do is change a diaper.  Um no such luck.   This lady took her job seriously!  As I was fiddling around in my purse trying to find loose change to equal 2 Ringgits, which I knew I didn’t have by the way, she was sitting there expressionless, no empathy for the mom with the adorable daughter who was might I add a bit stinky at this point, I was not getting past this lady without handing over 2 Ringgits in exact change.  I am convinced that if my daughter would have pooped up her back, this chick would still have been looking at me like, ‘2 Ringgits or no bathroom for you’.

Thankfully we live in a world where sometimes you still have the good Samaritan who is willing to simply help out someone else who is in need.  A kind gentleman approached the bathroom ‘bouncer’ with his 2 Ringgits, she smiled, graciously took his money and motioned him to the men’s bathroom.  He however, noticed me frantically searching for change that I didn’t have and kindly offered me 2 Ringgits.  Some good ‘ol Southern hospitality smack dab in the middle of Asia!  I graciously accepted his charitable contribution and was finally on my way to what I assumed would the most palacial bathroom that I have ever seen.  Not so much.  It did have a very nice changing area, not luxurious by any means, but it also wasn’t just a pull down changing table.  Other than that, I couldn’t quite gather what I would gain personally from paying 2 Ringgits to use the bathrooms on the ‘Fashion’ level of the mall.  I think I would have expectations like some sort of plush toilet seat or someone handing me a warm towel to clean my hands or a mint perhaps.

Anyways, Ari and I fled the ‘Premier Paid Toilets’ and have yet to return.  We found a much better place on the 4th Level within a store there called iSetan that seriously has a mother/baby lounge that is quite magnificent and is free.

Lesson Two

Where do I even begin?  So now it is my turn.  I thought Ari’s changing table situation was challenging.  It is now time for me to use the bathroom.  I waltz right in and notice the first 3 doors are occupied, but the last 2 doors are vacant and waiting for me.  Pretty normal, right?  I was just pleased that there wasn’t a line. I stroll right on in and out of habit immediately reach to lock the door, turn to take a seat and it was then that I literally froze in my tracks. I had so many things running through my head. Where am I?  This is new to me. Did I go into the men’s bathroom? Is this a urinal? What the hell am I supposed to do here?  Are these the toilets that are in all public bathrooms here? I panic, I open the door, peak in the last available stall and am hit with the same situation.  A cleaning lady appears, notices how confused I am and motions me to one of the first stalls that is now available.  I hesitantly walk towards it and am immediately relieved to find a toilet, a toilet that I am accustomed to and know what to do with.  The cleaning lady probably rolled her eyes after I went in and thought ‘stupid Westerner’.  So what was behind door #4 and door #5?

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Ladies & Gentlemen, if you haven’t yet been introduced, let me introduce you to a squatty potty.  These were foreign to me.  They are sometimes also referred to as a squat toilet,
pit toilet, shit pit (this is my favorite!), The Asian toilet, The Eastern toilet or the
poo hole.  Okay I am literally laughing out loud right now.

Just in case you missed the shit pit above

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Back to business, I have since realized that they are all over the place here in Malaysia.  In fact, my husband had to go to the bathroom when we were recently shopping at Mid Valley Megamall and opted not to go due to his only choice being a squatty potty.  He said he will need to practice….ha ha!  What does that mean?  It is no joke, I came across another blog that literally is titled, ‘How To Use An Asian Toilet – The Art Of Squat, Go, Wipe, and Throw.

Using An Asian Toilet – The Art Of Squat, Go, Wipe, and Throw

This is a serious matter people.  It is time to get serious and start practicing.  I vow to use a squatty potty before leaving Malaysia.  Although the sheer sight terrifies me, there is a reason they exist.  I will spare you all graphic details and the benefits of utilizing a squatty potty, but let me direct your attention to this.  Anyone watch Shark Tank?

http://www.squattypotty.com/

I have no words.  Only hope that this information will help some of you with your ‘kinked’ colons.  Hope you know someone with a birthday coming up! On to Lesson 3.

Lesson 3

Butt sprayers are the norm.  Google ‘asian toilet sprayers’.  You will soon find out that some call them ‘bum guns’ or a ‘bidet spray’.  I had to stop looking at that point because I couldn’t stop laughing.  But seriously, my husband and I would both agree that they are strangely awesome.

Bum Gun #1

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I say that because it is a hygiene thing.  Please do read at your own risk, but this just about sums it up!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bidet_shower

Some may think this is just gross and upon my initial introduction I absolutely refused to use.  However, we eventually got to know one another and for my 2 year duration here in Malaysia, I think we will remain close friends.  And if I know my husband as well as I think I do, we will be the butt spraying trend setters back in the states.

Bum Gun #2

Sprayer

If you are trying to conserve toilet paper, this is the apparatus for you!  They even sell them on Amazon.com.  Would make a great Christmas gift. Y’all can thank me later!

 

 

 

 

My New Addiction

Shopping Malls.   I will be quite honest that when I was in Junior High, High School and even College I really did enjoy going to the mall.  I am not sure I actually did much shopping, perhaps some, but whomever I was with at the mall, we would usually just walk around rather aimlessly.  Browse this store and that store on occasion, but we would just spend an absurd amount of time people watching and a ridiculous amount of time at the food court.  Cinnabon anyone?

Then I got older and I came to a point in my life that I hated malls.  Like I seriously loathed them.  The thought of having to physically enter a mall and deal with a ridiculously absurd amount of people was absolutely appalling to me.  Before you could even get into the mall you would have to deal with the horrendous mall parking and that annoying person who would wait literally 5+ minutes just for a car to back out of a spot that was no closer than a spot they could have parked in 4 minutes ago!  It drove me crazy! If only Fitbits existed back then, maybe more people would have been okay taking the extra 3o steps to park just a bit further away!  Okay so you finally get into the mall and then you have to deal with people that walk so slow, so slow that you are trying to scope out a way to move past them only to see a stroller with a screaming child approaching! Time to stay focused, just go to the store you have to go to, bypass all the rest and get the hell out of there.  Did I mention how much I hate fitting rooms?!  These experiences my friends are what led me to become a perpetual online shopper.  I was loving all of the stores that were in malls that offered their inventory online, I grew very strong feelings for Zappos.com, I mean seriously free shipping & returns, yes please!  And then my husband came along and I fell madly in love with Amazon (and him of course).  Amazon is everything.  I am not joking when I say that they delivered to our house at least once a week, probably more accurately 2-3 times per week.  Don’t believe me, ask our neighbors.

So online shopping was now my best friend and the thought of malls still made me ill. And then we moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  In all fairness, I had been warned.  My husband told me that a lot of people spend their time in malls.  Doing what?!?!  It drove me crazy.  How was I going to do this?  I was having flashbacks of everything that I hated about malls.  I convinced myself that I was not going to be one of those people, that I could live in KL and not touch foot in a mall unless absolutely necessary.  I can do this, I got this.

Y’all.  My name is Theresa Wade and I am addicted to malls.  Hello Theresa.  Also, our daughter is sometimes the screaming toddler in the stroller.  I guess payback is sometimes a you know what.

Malls are all over the place and there is one that is like maybe a block or two away from where we are currently living.  I go there just about every single day.  I am not lying. We have officially been living here since Friday, June 3rd 2016 and there might be just a handful of days that I didn’t physically enter that mall, but I probably did go into another one.  Sometimes I visit more than one mall a day.  So what has changed?  Why do I now love malls so much?!  Malls here are a bit different.  First of all they are enormous….like 4-8 floors enormous.  And the floors are long, like you could sometimes get lost long. They are beautifully decorated and they are from my experience thus far pretty immaculate.

Suria KLCC

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Suria KLCC (decoration for Ramadan and anticipation of Raya Aidilfitri or the celebration for the end of Ramadan)

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More decoration during Ramadan and and anticipation of Raya Aidilfitri

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Okay so big malls that are pretty and clean.  Awesome.  But there has to be more right? There is.  Malls here for the most part have everything!  I am talking all of the stores you would think that they would have like Nike, Gap, MAC, Bath & Body Works, Guess, Armani Exchange, Toys R Us, Sephora, and so on and so on.  And then they have the high end stores like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Michael Kors, Balenciaga and Versace.  Did I mention the restaurants?  Suria KLCC is the mall that is right by us and they alone have 30+ restaurants, some inside and some with outside dining options and 2 food courts, one of which has the absolute best chicken ramyeon ever.  But this isn’t all, malls here are like a one stop shop.  They not only have the stores and the restaurants and the movie theatre, but they have hair salons, nail parlors, banks, pharmacies and at least one grocery store in them.  Suria KLCC also has a walkway that not only takes you to even more restaurants/food courts, but takes you directly to Aquaria KLCC (the aquarium) and connects you to yet another mall.  Rather convenient I must say!  Some even have indoor amusement parks, water theme parks and ice skating rinks.

Suria KLCC

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Ariane’s Toys R Us

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So why all the mall love?!  The malls here are still busy, mostly on the weekends, but it just doesn’t seem as busy or maybe that is because I go there like everyday even before they open at 10am to just walk and grab a coffee from San Francisco coffee.  There literally seems to be a coffee shop at both ends of every single level.  There is even a Starbucks, which I was addicted to back in the states, but now not so much.  There are way too many other options and my only experience here at Starbucks had my Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte tasting not as great as I was used to.  Anyways, I run all of my errands at Suria KLCC and it is air conditioned!  Another reason why I think people gravitate to the malls here. It allows you to de-sweat.  Not a word I know, but it works.  We will walk around KLCC Park a couple of times and be drenched in sweat.  We take one step into the mall and it is like penguin heaven.

This is our new Barnes & Noble

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This is our new Macy’s or Boston Store or Bloomingdales, but most importantly my go to grocery store because it is right across the street.  They have clothes, shoes, furniture, kitchen appliances and more!  It is 4 levels.

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Okay so since moving here I have been to Suria KLCC (pretty much daily), I have also been to Avenue K, The Pavillion, Starhill Gallery, Sungei Wang Plaza, Bangsar Village and Publika!  Almost all of these are in the Top 20 Malls in Kuala Lumpur, that leaves 14 more malls that I need to go visit.

Starhill Gallery (this place is gorgeous!)

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Ari devouring Baskin Robbins ice cream at Publika

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Top 20 Shopping Malls in Kuala Lumpur

I usually don’t even buy anything, but groceries.  Okay well my husband would disagree since I have bought some clothes and shoes for Ari and a pair of sunglasses for myself (and wine, just a few bottles of wine), but typically the mall is where I go to run my everyday errands.

This is a day in the life.  Grocery bag filled with groceries and Ari in the stroller.  I know you can’t see her, but she is helping this stroller from tipping over!

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And I will get into this at a later time, but I have NEVER been in a mall here where I didn’t see a 3ft selfie stick in action and selfies galore!  It is quite entertaining and ridiculous at times.  And NO I do not own a selfie stick

I guess you can say that I am back to loving me some malls! When my husband asks, ‘what would you like to do this weekend’?  I say, ‘wanna go to the mall?!’.  Lol.  Fortunately there is so much to do in Kuala Lumpur and we have our bucket list of places we want to go and things we want to do, but ladies and gentlemen, the mall has a big fat check mark next to it!  6 down, at least 14 more to go!  Happy Shopping Y’all!

Hopefully Ari is up for the challenge!  Clearly this day, Mommy overdid it!

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But clearly this day, Ari had her shopping shoes on and was working that bag!

https://goo.gl/photos/zd7PhzQaovygTu2v5