All Kinds Of Temple Prayer Things

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It has been about 2 weeks since we left the states to start our big journey. So much has happened already and we’d like to share some of the highlights so far while living here in our first destination—Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The first week was pretty action-packed. We were busy (1) getting acquainted to the city we will be living in for the month, (2) getting to know our fellow remotes (~75 people) that we will be traveling with for the next 12 months, while also (3) trying to juggle work on top of that.

Given that we didn’t do much reading for what to expect in KL (since we were mostly occupied with preparations for this trip), we were pleasantly surprised to learn that KL had so much to offer. Malaysia has cultural influences from Malay, India, China, Indonesia, and Thailand (and probably a few other countries I’m missing), and so everything from the food to the city’s architecture was very diverse. Walk through Jalan Alor, which is just a few blocks away from our apartment, and you’ll see for yourself.

Some more food porn:

A few weeks before leaving the states, I also reached out a local Malaysian climbing community to see if anyone would be down to climb outdoors. To my luck, a guy named Azlan responded and showed me some of the local crags.

We ended up climbing Damai Wall, Batu Caves.

He was even kind enough to recommend some common Malay cuisines.

Shit was good. Thanks bud!

It was interesting speaking with Azlan and learning about each other’s culture. I learned that we had a lot in common growing up between moving to the states and back to the motherland (Malaysia for Azlan, Philippines for me). Our cultures had so much in common from the language to the food and cultural norms. We even found a couple of words that were the exact same or some variation of it.

I was also surprised to meet a lot of Pinoys that work in the restaurant industry in Malaysia. There were lots of “Salamat po”, “Kamusta kuya?”, and “Ay, sanay pala magtagalog!” exchanges… way more than I expected.

We also visited a couple temples around Kuala Lumpur:

Some of them even had my spirit animal:

So far, our 2 weeks in KL have been a good way to ease-in living in South East Asia. It definitely feels like living in Asia yet we still enjoy most of the conveniences that America has to offer, but for a way cheaper price (I just paid 15 ringgit, roughly $4 USD, for a 25 minute Uber ride)! We’re not exactly “roughing it” by any means, but that will change… very soon.

An Extended Lay Over in Hong Kong

B and I decided to spend a day in Hong Kong before heading to our first destination—Kuala Lumpur. That is in Malaysia, in case you were wondering 😉

As soon as we stepped out of the airport, we hopped on a double decker bus and started heading towards our hostel in Kowloon City. We were simply amazed by all the skyscrapers and the surrounding mountains everywhere we looked.

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We arrived around 7:30am to our hostel and decided to just chill and figure out what we wanted to do in the city. While reading one of the many lonely planet books at the hostel, I stumbled upon this recommendation.

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Apparently checking out one of the Filipino bars during wee hours of the night came as a highly recommended thing to do if you only have a day in Hong Kong. Red light district maybe?

We ended up getting breakfast at a nearby restaurant. This was the first time I’ve seen instant noodles actually served at a restaurant.

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The noodles were on point 😂

We then did a bunch of urban exploration: took the ferry to Hong Kong island, went to Victoria peak, and walked around pretty aimlessly. It was great.

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It was funny seeing some signs with English translations that don’t make much sense.

Someone please explain.

It was actually very easy to get around in Hong Kong. The public transportation system was very easy to use and most people spoke English and all street signs had English translations.

I noticed a high number of high luxury cars; it seemed like almost every other private vehicle was either a Mercedes, Tesla, or a BMW. This was surprising given how cars are taxed in Hong Kong—the rate at which a car is taxed depends on how much the car is: the more expensive it is, the more car gets taxed percentage-wise. So let’s say you own a Tesla Model S (base price in the US is ~$70k), in Hong Kong, you could be paying almost double that. Insane.

So what’s next?

Here we are in our hostel wide awake at 4:30 am nerding out on the internet before heading over to Malaysia and meeting everyone else on the trip!

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Preparing For a Year Abroad – Figuring “Stuff” Out

Bianca and I have been fortunate to have been accepted in Remote Year, a program that takes 75 people around the world to travel and work remotely. This is our itinerary.

We’re definitely excited but the process of preparing for an extended period of traveling can be daunting. How much stuff should we bring? What happens if we get sick? Where should we forward our mail? When should we even start preparing?!

Obviously everyone has different situations, but we’d like to share what our experience was like preparing for our big trip and hopefully you’d find this helpful.

I’ll be writing about the topic of preparing for traveling across several posts. This first one is about what we did with our belongings.

Figuring “stuff” out

Since we wanted to save money and space for storage, we decided to go through all of our things and get rid of the non-essentials. Basically, things that we could easily replace when we get back from traveling, and stuff that should’ve been thrashed a loooooooonnng time ago.

…like my impressive collection of Wired Magazines since 2008:

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First, we individually figured out what we needed (legal documents) and wanted (electronics, clothes, sentimental things, etc.) to keep. Once we created that pile, we further tried to limit everything in 4 24” x 19” x 15” plastic bins each. As you might guess, not everything fit so through process of elimination we had to let go of some stuff we wanted to keep.

“We just need some time apart” hack: try to put clothes you rarely wear but don’t quite yet want to throw away in a bin and store it somewhere. After a few weeks you’ll slowly let go of that attachment and soon realize how much you don’t need it anymore.

We then posted a lot of our valuables for sale on Craigslist—this included our bikes, our dressers, and our couches. Both our bikes and our dressers sold fairly quickly but our couches took some time to find new homes; we eventually sold one to the person moving into our apartment, and the other couch will be staying at a friend’s house for the time being.

Craigslist quickly proved to be untenable for the other items we wanted to sell because of the lengthy process it takes to post an item and how difficult it is to manage conversations with different people for different items we were selling.

Also, is it really worth the effort putting up a used triathlon suit on Craigslist??

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Because of this, we decided to go with an alternative option: OfferUp. OfferUp has a couple million users and was highly recommended by a friend. Communication between buyer & seller happens within the app and the process of posting something for sale was much easier than Craigslist. Using OfferUp, we were able to sell things like our TV, a professional lighting set, and even an air mattress.

We also had one other bulky valuable that would be tricky to sell given our time constraints: our car. Thankfully, a friend of ours was open to renting it for the next several months so we decided to lend it them. That was easy enough!

…well, sort of.

2 nights before our trip, someone decided to break into our car. We were able to get the window fixed first thing in the morning and nothing really valuable was stolen but still, that was another thing we had to worry about on top of everything else.

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Why world? Why?

Lastly, we decided to have a yard sale for various items around the house. We had two, in fact.

We posted several signs around our block about our yard sale as well as a well-written Craigslist ad by B about our upcoming yard sales.

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The first yard sale ended up being a flop. I guess I should’ve known that it would be when I decided to schedule the yard sale at 8 am on a Sunday. To our surprise though, there were 2 very eager shoppers that showed up at our door at 7:50 am. I was still half-asleep when I greeted them and told them to wait for a few minutes. They spent quite some time rummaging through our stuff as if they knew exactly what was valuable and if they took the time to sell it themselves, they could make a decent profit. Unfortunately, as expected, these guys were only willing to pay for stuff for no more than a tenth of what we were asking for. One seemed upset when I asked for $20 for a tablet that was in really good condition. Geez.

Our second yard sale went a lot better. We sold more items and even got to know a few of our neighbors. Score!

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5 days before leaving the country, we decided to give away the rest of our stuff to friends. A few friends came by but our friend Claire was the one who “Claire’d” us out (thanks Claire!).

Now that we’ve sold a big portion of our belongings and have stored stuff that we’ll come back to, we’re left with the essentials that we’re bringing with us to our trip—all of which can fit in a backpack and a roller bag. I know some hardcore travel minimalists/backpackers are probably cringing and thinking “that’s still too much!”, but we’re leaving some space for stuff that we’ll acquire abroad.

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Several Craigslist/OfferUp posts, two yard sales, and a giveaway later, we’re much lighter and travel ready! We have considerably less, but somehow it feels like more.

Special thanks to our friends who made this process so much easier for us. We can’t say thank you enough!

  • Amy & Kyle
  • MG & Garreth
  • Hana & Mitchel
  • Izzy & Shaun
  • Claire, Yousra & YoYo Joe
  • Sachi