The first week


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For the first time in a long while, I didn’t do much. On saturday, I spent most of the day in bed watching (all 12) episodes of The Inbetweeners, a show that Davo had kindly burned to DVD for me before I left. (The inbetweeners, for those interested, is a British show about four adolescents and their search for “clunge”. It’s halfway between IT Crowd, and real life as a 17 year old male.) This was a rest I really felt I needed.

So far, since arriving in KL, I’ve spent much of my daylight hours, working for Six Degrees Digital, and organising things for life in KL with Kelly. Weekends have been spent going to furniture stores, and/or driving to different parts of KL to pick something up. One weekend, we got away and drove to Fraser Hill to see some country side (and a snake!).

We moved in on the Thursday before last, and stayed our first night in the new apartment on the Friday. I must admit, moving away from the hotel and into our place did give me a feeling of relief. There was (is) still much to do, but being somewhat settled, gave us both a feeling of optimism.

We’ve been slowly unpacking things and putting them in their rightful place. We’ve even found some stuff we thought was lost! A couple of things are still missing — my 60cm ruler for instance — but they’ll eventually turn up I’m hopeful sure.

Today, Kelly and I put up the handful of artwork we had from Oz[1. I’m keen to create some new artwork. This might be a bit geeky but I’m thinking I’ll create some 8-bit NES characters in Lego to hang on the wall. Now that you can purchase custom amounts of lego blocks online, this is entirely possible. I’m not sure which characters to create yet, tossing up between Super Mario, Zelda, or Megaman. Wodjafink? If there are any rad games I’ve forgottenabout that I used to play, let me know (I’m looking at you Marty, James, and Goog)] — the Japanese silks, the Nick Cave gig poster, the framed cymbal signed by Danny Carey of Tool.

Furniture

As you may or may not know, we used to live in a two bedroom flat in North Melbourne. The furniture we had there was always the interim-kind, the furniture you have while you look for the right furniture. In our current digs, that furniture really doesn’t cut it. The dining table, coffee table, TV cabinet thing, and the couch, all need to be upgraded. And if Kelly has anything to say about it — the sooner the better. Fortunately, I agree.

MKHomes is an establishment with the expat in mind. They have various types of modern and traditional furniture for sale, and for rent. We saw a couch that we really liked, and after some inquiry, measuring, artist’s impressions, and blueprints, we commissioned a custom-sized version of the couch we saw. It’s a massive upgrade both in terms of quality, and size. The current couch seats two reasonably well. The new one seats four very comfotably, and five or six with a bit of huddling. Colour? A textural burnt orange/red, with gold-ish woven fibres. Here’s an artist’s impression — the display couch photoshopped with our colour choice (please note, the cushions will be the same colour as the couch):

Couch impression

Here’s an image of the fabric sample:

Texture.jpg

And here’s the final schematic I made. Originally, the couch had some weird measurements and was about a foot too long for our living room. My redesign makes all measurements multiples of 300mm, allowing the couch to be pulled apart and put back together in different configurations. I believe the cool kids call this “modular”:

Couch schematic

Kitchen

We’ve done a bit of cooking now and I have to say, after a week, I have mixed feelings about the kitchen setup. The main thing is the sinks. There’s one in the dry kitchen, and two in the wet kitchen. I’m always tempted to wash the dishes in the dry kitchen because it’s in the living area of the house (and in air con), but there simply isn’t enough room to do a full load, especially if you’ve used a few pots and pans to make dinner. Taking all the dishes into the wet kitchen to wash later is a hassle. The pots and pans live in the wet kitchen, plates and cutlery in the dry. It’s a bit here and there.

Another unfortunate finding of the sinks is that there’s no hot water. We had the Jill the real estate agent over the other night to point out a few things we needed repaired/finished, including the no-hot-water-in-the-sink issue, and after a call to the owner, she told us apologetically this was by design. She felt bad for not knowing this before-hand and letting us know — she assumed this being a modern apartment, it would have hot water in the sinks — but it had been designed to traditional standards, at least in this area. (The no-hot-water-in-the-sink issue extends to the bathroom sinks also.)

Apparently, many Asian households roll with warm water in the sinks. This is not uncommon. Now, while this seems to be a major issue, it’s actually not. The water out of the sink is luke-warm, room temperature, so it’s pleasant to splash some on your face in the bathroom. And because you can’t drink the tap water (more on this in a minute), you’re never longing for cold water out of the tap. We thought this was something that needed to be fixed, but in reality, it hadn’t bothered us at all. The showers all have very good hot water.

We have sorted which of out appliances go where — coffee machine, grinder, toaster, and kettle out front, juicer, breadmaker, and Kenwood out back. We’ve made a couple loaves of bread so far, and it’s pretty awesome! Once we get a handle on it properly, we’ll make custom mixes with seeds and other grains. The place smells awesome the mornings we make a loaf.

I’m also getting better at making (and drinking) proper coffee. We smuggled a couple bags of North Melbourne-roasted coffee beans in to the country (and by smuggled I mean packed and brought in through almost non-existent customs) to enjoy a good a good cup o’ joe, because we’d heard you can’t get a good cup in KL. According to Kelly, this is true.

Fresh juice is AMAZING! The fruit here is so sweet and tasty — I’m not sure I’ve had anything like it. And the store-bought stuff comes in different flavours like 100% pink guava. According to Kelly, this is great drunk poolside with Vodka.

There’s plenty of cupboard space, but annoyingly, not utensil drawers in the dry kitchen. We have utensils stashed on a pantry shelf. This is it’s own kind of disappointing, as I have 30 years of muscle memory to reach down and open a drawer with the first smell of toast hitting a chopping board.

To maid, or not to maid?

…was the question I was asking myself when we first arrived in KL. But now, it’s not a question of ‘if’, but ‘which one?’. You see, it’s very common for an expat to have a maid — either live-in, or part-time — to help with housekeeping. We met yesterday with Choo, a maid that Kelly’s ex-boss was using for years before he went back to Oz. She was nice, and charged RM700 per month (about AUD$230), for twice-weekly 3–4 hour sessions. That equates to about 10 bucks an hour. But we’ve heard that’s fairly expensive, and that for that price we could get a 24-hour live-in maid (which we don’t want). So, the next step is to find a comparison rate from another source and decide. The building has some maids already, so I’ll enquire about that service tomorrow. Some services can be as low at RM10 per hour (AUD$3.33!), but it really comes down to quality and trustworthiness. I’ll keep you posted.

Drinking water

As you can’t drink the water directly from the tap, we’re in the process of organising a water cooler for our apartment! One of those coolers you see in offices and doctors’ waiting rooms. They’ll deliver on any weekday, and bring the water up to our door. Radsticks! One step closer to my childhood fantasy of having my very own Slurpee™ machine!

Air conditioning

Thank GOD for air con.

Outdoor activities

As mentioned in a previous post, we have a gym, and a pool downstairs. This is pretty standard among apartment blocks in KL. we recently went to check out the Raintree Club *WARNING: background repeater requires sunnies :(* The raintree club is a social/sports club which as a member you’ve access to tennis courts, squash courts, swimming pool, gym, yoga classes, darts, a run down 3/4-sized basketball court, and even a bowling alley! The idea is nice, but a) you need to become a member and pay fees (which is reasonable, but fairly high), b) you need to drive to get there, and traffic in KL is a bitch, and c) you need a minimum spend in the bar/restaurant. B is the killer (for me at least), as I want to be able to go for a swim spontaneously, and not have to plan and endure a 30 min drive to do it.

So, to our disposal, a gym and a pool. Not too bad. But on saturday morning during breakfast, I glanced down a the street and noticed what appeared to be a publicly accessible basketball ring and backboard, complete with net (!), on a large square bit of concrete. Holy crap! Awesome! It looks a *little* dodgy, as it’s on a non-main road, and at the end of a car park, but so far I’ve only ever seen one group of guys playing indoor soccer on it, once, at dusk. during the day it might be pretty safe, albeit f@#king HOT!.

What do you think:

Is this basketball court safe?

I guess there’s only one way to find out. And that’s monitor it for a week or so and see who uses it. So that’s what I’ll do. I could brave the traffic and ride my bike there. Should only take a few minutes.

So what now?

Well, over the next two and a half weeks, we’ll keep getting things in order and organising things, including Astro, the Foxtel equivalent, and attending Bahasa Malay language classes. Then it’s off to Poland for a three week holiday and and a wedding.

I’m hoping that after we return from that, things will be less hectic.