The expat life
The next morning we wake up in an apartment in Mont Kiara. Sis’s hairdresser friend has kindly allowed us to bunk at his modest two bedroom, situated in a growing expat community in Kuala Lumpur called Mont Kiara – awash with international schools and luxury high rise condominiums with lush swimming pools.
A regular two-bedroom condominium in Mont Kiara
As if that wasn’t enough, we continue living our high-flying expat lives in Mont Kiara by having lunch at Wendy’s, the American burger chain. Milo revenge strikes again, as I order a cup of Milo with loads of ice instead of a Coke. Milo at Wendy’s? Glocalisation is what it is. The Americans know how to run a global fast-food chain. We go back to 1-Utama to window shop in the air-conditioned mall while waiting for our 3.30pm coach back to Penang.
Coach with no class
This time we take Starview, a coach that caters to the low income masses, where Hokkien is spoken loudly over the mobile phone, Chinese broadsheet newspapers rustle and Gardenia’s maize custard roll and a bottle of mineral water is served. There is no luxury of hot tea, coffee or Milo. No blankets, no announcements, no “cabin crew”. No executives discussing commercial helicopters and stock bonds over the phone. Only elderly parents telling their children loudly in Hokkien how silly the bus driver is to queue up on this side of the toll. Perhaps this is Sis’s humorous idea of getting me reacquainted with the other side of Malaysian life.
Lorong tunai sahaja (cash-only lane): the gates that lead to the bridge that leads to home
We arrive in Penang, and wait at the coach station for Tom and Jerry to pick us up. Ten minutes later they cruise up like gangsters in their gas-guzzling 4X4, complete with tinted windows and loud music booming from the stereo. I get into the car as fast as I can, and off we go to Relau Seafood Restaurant, one of many chu chas (the local fry-up) in my neighbourhood. Didn’t I already say eating is a major event on this side of the world.