This week was my “Look and See” visit to Penang, Malaysia to explore my new job and new life. I felt strange when I left Moscow; kind of excited, kind of on the verge of tears (actually I did shed some tears before I left), and kind of confused about the whole thing. It’s such a big life decision but you feel strangely detached from something when you have little concept of what it actually means.
At the airport the man at the desk asked me to repeat my destination before gravely informing me that there was no such place in the world. He then rang three other people and spoke and laughed with them in Russian, presumably about Penang and me thinking I can visit this place. Finally he came back with, “Is it in Vietnam?” to which I said “No, Malaysia” and then he shrugged and printed out a baggage label. Great start. My plane was then delayed by two hours and I sat in Moscow SVO airport wondering what I was doing with my life whilst eating bacon flavoured crisps. There’s really nothing of interest to say about the flight other than being in Guangzhou for 4 hours is incredibly dull.
When I arrived I had lost a day of my life and my mind. It was 10pm, I couldn’t see anything when I landed and I had really no idea what was going on. I went from the airport to Jess’ house (Hey Jess!) so I could stay with her for two nights and not feel totally abandoned. Turns out Jess is pretty great and without getting emotional she’s a very welcome Capricorn in my life. We all know my favourites are Capricorns. Jess had hot cross buns so I still got to celebrate Easter in a fashion.
When staying in the hotel all the lifts broke on a regular basis so I had to try and find my way out via “fire escapes” (reminiscent of Moscow times). I went all the possible ways a person could go trying to get out and kept coming to dead ends and padlocked doors and really felt like I was going to die there. I eventually emerged sweating profusely after thinking I was trapped forever and frantically asked a woman at a desk where the lobby was. Turns out I was in the lobby but had become blinded by the panic of being trapped for so long. Cool.
To summarise: I love my new school. It’s quite big but feels like a small school because it’s a lovely community. Everyone smiles. The children are beautifully weird but in a controlled and polite manner. There’s a room of resources you can just help yourself to. There’s turtles. The children have a lovely time playing in the sun and people are relaxed about their whereabouts and what they’re up to. The learning is PRACTICAL AND CREATIVE. I’m very excited to work there. Everyone has made me feel so welcome and I’ve not really had to think for myself at all, everything I could ever want to know has been told to me or sorted out and it’s been a dream. Dare I say I’m enjoying teaching and being passionate again?!
In Malaysia it turns out that your housing allowance goes a long way. You can get a sea view 3 bed, 2 bathroom apartment and they’re all incredible. You start to feel picky about things like “hmm is the gym big enough?” or “is this swimming pool going to get enough sun?” and you really do have to take a step back and think about how lucky you are. I can’t believe I’m going to have my very own space in a tropical paraduse.
Not my actual apartment- just a taster.
The food in Penang is insanely delicious, fresh and cheap. It’s something to write home about…and I did. However there is one crucial thing that does not taste the same and that is chocolate. I bought a kit kat chunky and I was very excited to eat it with my brew (Brit girl abroad) and then it was just nothing at all like a kit kat in any way. I will fill my suitcase with Cadburys when I come here.
People do what they want. I had to take a taxi to school one day and the taxi driver got fed up of queuing to turn right so he just decided to drive on the right hand side of the road past the queue of cars and then straight into the main road into oncoming traffic. I closed my eyes and he didn’t have seat belts but he was a very lovely man.
It’s so hot all of the time. You sweat off make up in 30 seconds. You want to change clothes 5 times a day. Everyone has a wonderful tan and I want one. It’s very, very hot so god bless air con. Also the heat, sweat and humidity seems to mean that my hair is no longer straight and has gained a lot of volume but not in a cool “because you’re worth it” advert kinda way. ‘
And to conclude my most favourite thing of all…the sunsets. I just love a sunset.
For the next two days I am free to explore the island so I will write separately about that to avoid boring everyone with an extra long post.
To conclude, great life decision by me. Clap clap clap. Come visit me cos it’s fab and I have room.