We've spent more than 8 weeks on our Grand Tour across Malaysia. Our initial plan was to spend some time in Kuala Lumpur after spending 6 out of our past 8 weeks in the more rural highlands. The convenience, the comfort of having a huge selection of food and way shorter distances on the road called us to the city. We knew we would enjoy the malls, selection of gluten-free groceries and glitzy architecture. It sounded all positive, bright and cheery. Or at least that was what we thought it was going to be.
It has been a long eventful week for us. A little too eventful for us. You can read the horrible backstory here. We did have pockets of enjoyment in the city but the city really sucks for us. It is not just about Kuala Lumpur. Whether we're in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, London, Bangkok, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Melbourne, Auckland or Rome, they are all plagued with the same problems.
Here's why we think the city sucks...
We've been so used to empty streets and social distancing for the past two years that it has become OVERWHELMING to be in a crowd. We noticed very distinct behavioural changes in the children and ourselves when we are in the city. We are short-fused, easily frustrated, anxious, heightened and stressed. Where there are crowds, there is competition. People compete for space, toilets, a place in the queue, a seat and parking lots.
We love long journeys. Long hours on road trips isn't a waste of time because we get to go places and see the landscape change. Being in a jam IS A WASTE of time. In the current climate of inflation, it is a waste of fuel/money too.
Noise from traffic, trains, sirens, crowds and noisy neighbours. If there's one thing that most affects us, it must be noise. Can someone explain where is the pleasure in loud exhaust noises? I would think when one is living in close proximity in a city, you'll be more conscious of the noise you make and how it will affect others around you. I've been to more than 15 major cities across the world and grew up in one, I've yet to find a city where noise isn't a problem.
Cities are generally always 2-5 degree celcius warmer. If you live along the equator, the 2-5 degrees make a huge difference. We were completely exhausted after 15 minutes outside in 38C/100F temperature. It is just simply unbearable. It reminds us every moment that climate change is real and it will kill us.
You would think that in the city of huge crowds, you will be less lonely. Michael Buble puts it across best in song... "May be surrounded by, a million people I, still feel all alone" (Lyrics from 'Home'). It is precisely the crowds competing for what little space and resources that makes the city such an isolating experience. People are less friendly and more hostile. Ear pods on, rush to your work cubicle and rush back home to shut the world out. It is no wonder anxiety and depression rates are higher in cities.
We experienced all 5 of these and it reminded us of Singapore and why we chose to travel in the first place. It deeply affected all of us. We took a few days off work and school while we search for a new place to spend the rest of our time in Malaysia. Sofitel KL was our choice of refuge while we worked out where we would go next. The thick window glass blocked out traffic noise almost entirely, the air-conditioning was well regulated and we were isolated from the world. We caught up with sleep and enjoyed our food. As much as we enjoyed the time there, we were under no illusion that this was a long term solution.
Despite the respite in a 5 star hotel for the past few days, it still feels like a STARK difference from our 6 weeks in the rural highlands.
There was significantly less noise. We enjoyed the sounds of nature and we took notice of the natural surroundings. We were a lot more relaxed, less anxious and met with friendlier people. The weather helped reduce our allergies and made us go outside a lot more. We were also substantially more inspired creatively.
In fact our brand new store and collection HERE features art and designs inspired by our surroundings while we were in the highlands.
If we ever have a choice on where we should settle, it would be a small town about an hour or two away from the city. We could take trips to the city for supplies and services just a couple of times a month.
We've since left KL and moved on to a quieter sub-urban area in Melaka. For security reasons we won't be posting specifics about the property or area we are in. We will continue to bring you more content on awesome food and our travels soon!
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.
Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org