Anna is like that glam girlfriend that seems to know where everything is – from the best street vendor to the highest end boutique. She’s in the know and gives some of the best advice I think I’ve ever heard to those new at post – thank you, Anna, for taking us along on the adventure!
Diplomat or Diplo-spouse?
Diplo-spouse. My husband is Political Counselor at the British High Commission.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Three words to describe your current post:
Best thing about Kuala Lumpur?
I’ve got three if that’s okay!
The food! Malaysian’s consider eating a national pastime and with good reason! Top dishes to try include nasi lemak (coconut rice with sambal, anchovies and peanuts); roti canai (a soft and fluffy naan-like bread served with dahl); and chicken rice. I must admit, I’m a vegetarian but I still work my way around the local cuisine pretty happily.
The travel! There are so many beautiful places to explore around Malaysia and the region. We are spoiled with stunning beaches and interesting countries on our doorstep and ease of access, thanks to airlines like Air Asia.
The shopping! It’s all laid out on a (bone china or plastic – take your pick) plate here in KL. We have some amazing shopping centres with everything from high-end designer picks to cute, local, reasonably-priced boutiques. And with average daily temperatures a piping hot 30 degrees Celsius, they are a perfect air-conditioned haven.
You have visitors in town for the weekend in KL – what does the weekend look like?
Saturday morning starts with a local breakfast of roti canai washed down with teh tairk, local style. Stomachs stuffed, we then head to China Town. First stop – Central Markets, KL’s beautiful art-deco markets showcasing local crafts and handiwork. We take a quick break at the communal fish spa (must be tried at least once!) and then head to the art annex behind the Central Markets where we browse local batik artwork.
Lunch is at a Chinese vegetarian restaurant, full of vegetables and flavors in all sorts of ways. We then meander through several of China Town’s beautiful temples and have our fortunes told. Last stop in China Town is Peter Hoe, a home wares shop of full of unique soft furnishings and souvenirs, and some to a small cafe selling yummy cakes and lime juices. We go home – and jump in the pool!
The evening starts at the KLCC where we watch the famous fountains dance to music and coloured lights, before heading off to dinner at Bombay Palace, a beautiful colonial building housing some of KL’s best north Indian food. We then take a city lights drive, taking in the incredible Twin Towers, KL Tower and Golden Triangle by night. We finish up at Sky Bar, where the views directly across the Twin Towers are second to none.
Sunday morning starts with a lazy brunch at home on the balcony, and we then hop in the car and drive out to FRIM (Forest Reserve Institute of Malaysia). We take the amazing canopy walk over the jungle, and then drive back to KL before the heat gets us. We drive to Pavilion shopping centre, and have lunch from the incredible selection in the basement food court, before whiling away an afternoon in the shopper’s paradise. Around 7:00pm we head out to UK Heights, where if we’re lucky, we will see local wild boars pigging out on the food left by resident monkeys. We have dinner at the beautiful Tamarind Springs restaurant before driving home and sleeping deeply!
Most difficult thing about living in KL:
The traffic. KL gets pretty congested during the week and whenever there is heavy rain (which is pretty much most days). The driving can be quite erratic and the network of roads, flyovers, and motorways is daunting to say the least. Our sat nav gets confused on a regular basis (or maybe it’s just us…)
Biggest adventure at post?
Meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The royal couple visited Malaysia as part of their recent tour in South East Asia. My husband organized the Malaysia leg of their tour, and was lucky enough to spend the duration of their Malaysia stay with them. My little boy and I also got to meet the royal couple and they were absolutely lovely. We were all blown away by their sincerity and poise. Attending a State Dinner at the Agong’s (King’s) Palace in their honour was something I will never forget.
When did you realize you were far from home?
The first time I sat behind the wheel of a car.
What’s the most important thing about re-creating your home at post?
Making a house feel like a home. We’ve always found it’s really important to add personal touches to a new house overseas. It can take a while to make a home filled with someone else’s furniture feel “right” so we make sure to bring lots of photos, favourite soft furnishings and artwork with us, and then get them up asap.
It can also take a while to establish a network of friends but it makes a huge difference. On our first posting, someone told me to never turn down an invitation for the first six months. I still take that advice on board.
Three things you can’t live without at post?
A good camera
One thing you thought you couldn’t live without but have had to?
I honestly can’t think of an answer to this one. You can get just about anything in KL (apart from family and your friends from home of course).
What’s your daily uniform?
A light, summery dress, strappy low heeled sandals, and sunglasses.
You’re having guests over for dinner on Saturday night – what’s on the menu?
My vegetarian version of pasta puttanesca with homemade crusty white bread, a rocket salad and roasted vegetables. This is followed by pistachio cake with a big dollop of mascarpone cream.
Dream post for your next assignment? Why?
Anywhere in Africa! Our previous posting was to Uganda, and we fell in love with the whole continent. We are itching to get back out on safari every six weeks!
One thing you wished someone had told you before arriving?
Do NOT bring your fancy all-bells-and-whistles stroller from the UK. You will either keep it tucked away in the car for use for mall trips, or completely ruin it after about three weeks on the pot-holed pavement here.