1 year in Switzerland; the 10 things we miss most from Malaysia
February 24, 2021, we boarded a plane from Malaysia to Singapore and then on to Switzerland, to our new destination. That means we’ve been living in Zurich for a year now, so it’s time for a look back. Even though time passes so quickly, we regularly think back to our time in Asia. What do we miss the most? With a slight hint of sentimentality, here is a list of the 10 things we miss most about living in Malaysia.
Number one is Asian food. In the two years that we have lived in Malaysia, we dare to say that we have gotten everything out of it in terms of food. Especially the first year, it’s a lot if we were cooking ourselves twice a week. We thought when in Asia why would you bother to cook Asian food yourself when a minute further someone is cooking it for you in a much tastier way? Jeroen and I often ask each other what our favorite food was, but there is no beginning. From the char kway teow with Limau ice tea on the street to the most delicious dim sum at Din Tai Fung, to green Thai curry with a fried egg and the best Indian food at Flour. There is no way to choose, but one thing is for sure, we would love to go back just for the variety of dishes.
At first, it was a bit of a shock to see how many vacation days Jeroen had, not that much… haha. But the many public holidays made up for a lot. Birthday sultans, Thaipusam, Wesak Day, and Hari Raya, a little bit of creativity could get you long weekends off. We always tried to combine public holidays, so we had a long weekend. The only downside, we were not the only ones with this idea. And so it may take you six hours to travel by bus from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur, instead of two hours…
HELLO WELCOME! The most frequently shouted sentence when you walked into a store. Although it didn’t always come across as convincing, it did leave an impression on us. And not only that, but we experienced our time in Malaysia as very positive and safe. From talking about soccer and whether Amsterdam is a separate country in the Grab and having our picture taken with a group of Malaysians in the mosque, to getting help with the jumper cables because the car battery was dead. These mostly funny, but also touching memories make us think back on this adventure with great pleasure.
In the beginning, I thought of joining a tennis club, but after a week, it was clear that this was not going to happen. Tennis is not a popular sport in Malaysia, but fortunately, there are a lot of tennis courts to be found. Via via, I came across a group of fanatical women who played tennis every week on Tuesday mornings. Not only was it wonderful to play tennis every week, but it was also very sociable, and I learned a lot. Women from Mexico, South Africa, Colombia, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Sweden, who have been living in so many different countries. Although I am still daily reminded of the injury I sustained from it, I miss playing tennis and having lunch together very much.
Although after climbing the stairs of the Batu Caves five times, I had seen it all, at this moment, it seems amazing to be there again. Watching all the people, enjoying the beautiful stairs and golden statues, and breaking out in a sweat at the sight of the hundreds of monkeys. By the way, this applies not only to the Batu Caves but also to the beautiful Thean Hou Temple, the Petronas Towers, Chinatown, Central Market, and all the big shopping malls. It was a lot of fun to have welcomed so many friends and family in Kuala Lumpur and to play tour guide for a bit. I think we were lucky that we managed to do all this in the first year because in 2020, after two visits at the beginning of the year, playing the tour guide was over.
Kuala Lumpur may be Malaysia’s most famous city, but the country has so much more to offer than just this city. The many islands to the east and west of the country are incredibly beautiful. Twice we were on Redang, a small island where there isn’t much more to do than enjoy the blue sea. But honestly, what more could you want with a view like that? Langkawi and Penang are two larger islands where on Penang you just have to eat, and on Langkawi, you encounter more tourists and can make cultural excursions. And this is only a small sample of the Malaysian islands. Unfortunately, we didn’t travel to Borneo, but that seems like a very good reason to go back soon!
In the first year of the move we were in Singapore after a month and another month later already on Sumatra. Of course, Jeroen’s work made it easy for me to travel with him to places like Bangkok, Jakarta, and Tokyo, but we were also able to make many nice trips ourselves. It was ideal that Malaysia is so centrally located that you can be in another country relatively quickly. On top of that, the cheap airfare made the choice even easier to fly to for example Medan. I think our two-year adventure in Malaysia can be summarized in food and travel. Beforehand, we never expected to travel to Asia, let alone live there. Fortunately, we didn’t think too long about this choice and are still incredibly happy with the memories of Asia today.
The same temperature every day, I loved it! You never have to think about what to wear, okay except when you go to a shopping mall, because every day it’s hot! And not only hot but also incredibly humid. This meant sweaty heads for the first few months, luckily we got used to this after a while, and it became less so. Still nice that you don’t look exhausted after walking outside for five minutes. Although it can rain cats and dogs in Malaysia, and it does every day, you know that it will not continue like this the whole day, and it clears up quickly. This is a very different story for Europe where you have to check the rainfall radar several times a day and when you look outside you doubt whether a jacket is enough or that you need to bring a coat.
From Monday to Sunday, Christmas, Chinese New Year, or Taipusam, from 10 am to 10 pm all stores are open. This is a huge difference with the Netherlands and Switzerland and probably a lot of other countries where stores close at 6 pm and on Saturday even at 5 pm. When Jeroen came home from work in the evening, the day sometimes just started for us, and we went out to eat and go shopping somewhere. This made the days a lot longer, but it was not always about work. A big difference with nowadays where we sometimes only come home from work at 7. Then we still have to cook, and before you know it it’s time to go to bed. Unfortunately, in Switzerland, the stores mostly close at 7 pm, and you are a bit forced to stay at home on the couch. Occasionally certainly not wrong, but in the evening we rather go out for dinner and shopping!
We realize that it was a luxury to have a gym in our apartment complex. Before work, during the lunch break, or in the evening before dinner, within three minutes we were at the gym. With a view of the golf courses, we could keep it up for a while on the treadmill. I feel like this room was cleaned pretty much every hour and never crowded. Now I pay €120 a month for a gym subscription, have to cycle there for ten minutes, and always hope it’s a little quiet. When I arrive soaking wet from cycling through the snow, I can look back at the easy life in Kuala Lumpur with a fair amount of nostalgia.
Looking back in a nutshell
In a nutshell, these are things we miss most of Malaysia. Although it may sound like we miss Kuala Lumpur very much, okay we do, we are also very happy with our life in Zurich. Here too we are discovering many new restaurants and places all the time and enjoying nature and the mountains much more. I am looking forward to this coming year when we can hopefully travel a lot again and enjoy many new things in Switzerland.