Archive For The “Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)” Category

2017 Kuala Lumpur Thaipusam

2017 Kuala Lumpur Thaipusam

Pairs Well With...Cultural Awakenings + Respect + Religion

Malaysia is a country of extraordinary fusion: food, culture, religion, and architecture.  The fact that three cultures (Malay, Chinese and Indian) can co-exist harmoniously, despite different values and beliefs, is rare.  The level of multicultural diversity in Malaysia is something I’ve not experienced before, and one that sadly does not exist as seamlessly in the United States.  How noble of a country to be able to put aside differences and treat one another with respect.  Respect.  Malaysia should be proud of what they’ve achieved during their short-lived independence. (This is the part where we give this country a standing ovation…)

For those of you unfamiliar like I was, let me get you up to speed on your Malaysian history as I understand it:

  • 14th Century: Since way back before any of us were born, Malays have been out doing their thing.
  • 1786: British folk weasel their way into Malaysia and start getting all high and mighty by building their tiny empires year over year.  On other people’s turf.  I believe the word stealing held the same meaning back then as it does today.  Just sayin’.
  • 1826: The British (once again) start poking their noses where they don’t belong and take over the Malay’s sh*t.  Not cool guys.  Keep your hands to yourself. Then, they voluntold Malacca, Penang, Singapore and Labuan that they were going to become The Colony of Straits.
  • 1942-45: Japanese Armies started some sh*t – and brought World War 2 with them.  Again, not cool guys.
  • 1957: Finally, finally, the “British Malaysia” becomes just Malaysia.  I’d imagine there was a lot of clapping and celebration, followed by many middle fingers aimed in Britain’s direction.  Take that!
  • 1963: Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore want in and, together with Malaysia, they form the Federation of Malaysia.
  • 1965: Singapore says, “Peace out” and dips.  Mic drop.


And this, ladies and gentleman, may be why I didn’t pursue history as a profession.  (Sources below can lead you to your own interpretation.)

Now, in Malay, “Kuala Lumpur,” translates to “muddy confluence.”  “Kuala” is the point where the two rivers merge together and “Lumpur” means mud.  The city was founded at the confluence of these two rivers in 1857.  Malaysia will celebrate its 60th birthday this year in August.  (Dear Malaysia, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s never too early to start celebrating a birthday.  Get it.)

Within the three cultures, Islam is the predominant religion and is 61% of the practicing population.  There are also large and devoted segments of the population practicing Buddism (20%), Christianity (9%) and Hinduism (6%).

Why am I telling you this?  Because I was able to witness Thaipusam, a Hindu ceremony held each year during the full moon on the tenth month of the Hindu calendar.  Thaipusam is a three-day event that kicks off late in the evening on night one, with a procession leaving from Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur’s oldest Hindu temple.

The procession is led by a beautiful, glowing chariot carrying a statue of Lord Subramanian, The God of War, which represents prosperity and virtue.  Growing larger in size with each mile, thousands of barefoot devotees begin their nine-mile walk down the streets of Kuala Lumpur to the Batu Caves, arriving by noon the following day.

Once the statue reaches the caves, devotees prepare for their acts of penance, followed by bringing offerings up all 272 Batu Cave steps as a form of penance.  Impalings of the skin, including tongue, cheek, and back, are common with the back piercings often decorated with fruit, leaves, spikes, hooks or spears.

This article nicely outlines the delivery of the kavadis:

“Besides impaling themselves, followers also carry giant metal constructions (called kavadis) with offerings such as flowers and milk to the top of the caves. Some kavadis can weigh up to as much as 100 kilos. Once prayers are completed, those with skewers attached to their bodies have them removed and their wounds are treated. The event continues throughout the night and into the next day with many queuing up to carry their kavadis up to the central cavern.”

Thaipusam was an incredible piece of culture to experience.  While deemed a Hindu celebration, to me, it was so much more.  It was a peaceful illustration of religious devotion, but also a gathering of interested bystanders wanting to see, learn and expand their minds outside of their own culture, something I believe we can all stand to do.

Article Sources:
BBC News: Malaysia History Timeline Feature: Thaipusam in Batu Caves
iExplore: Malaysia: The Cultural Melting Pot of Asia

Photography Credits:  Jay Harrison


Holy Sh*t, I Live in Asia: The Balancing Act

Holy Sh*t, I Live in Asia: The Balancing Act

Pairs Well With…Regalia Sunset” by Jay Harrison

I have been living in Asia a day short of two weeks now.  I feel like I did absolutely nothing productive during this span of time, but honestly, I did everything.  Have you ever done so much that you felt like you actually did nothing? It’s an odd feeling.  At the end of my days, I was asking myself where all my time went and how the days were flying by so fast.  Non-stop, on-the-go, constant round-the-clock activity.  My life is moving a mile a minute.  If nothing else, I accomplished meeting and bonding with 65 or so new people, an achievement in itself – and a remarkably important one.

I am now on a quest to find a stronger sense of balance, which has been eluding me for days.  As I continue to get acclimated to my new lifestyle and continent, I’m trying to give myself the grace to settle in.  The achiever in me feels guilty for not hitting the ground sprinting and putting endless hours into my new business.  The rational part of me knows that adjustments take time.

There’s going to be a level of self-accountability necessary to make my year successful.  The best and worst thing about Remote Year, depending on how you look at it, is that there is always something wonderful to do, someplace new to see, and someone who wants to hang out.  It basically boils down to this: distractions, wanted or not, are all around you.  It’s up to you to handle your business and accomplish what you need to.  I can already foresee Wanderlust and F.O.M.O (fear of missing out), my two new fierce, whimsical friends, trying to take over my life. Being on this side of the world still feel surreal to me, and I haven’t hit my stride of what my “new normal” is yet.

As I stroll the streets of Asia, through the farmer’s market, between rows of motorbikes praying I don’t become a walking casualty, and under the warmth of the sun, I realize how lucky I am to be here.  It’s the most beautiful thing when you find yourself in a perfect moment.  Stopped on the street corner, I was smiling for no reason other than the fact that I live in Asia and am so happy with the direction I’m heading.

This was the moment I was excitedly waiting for and knew I’d experience.  I wasn’t sure how long it would take, where I’d be when it happened or what it would feel like – but I knew it would come.

Today, it finally feels real.  Holy Shit! I live in Asia. 

Carin at KL Tower sign

Want to see what we’re up to on this side of the world?  Check out this week’s Project “Made” video showcasing our first week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

Mystery Meat & Asia Acclimation: My First Few Days of Remote Year

Mystery Meat & Asia Acclimation: My First Few Days of Remote Year

Pairs Well With… “Fill your life with adventures, not things.  Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” 

I ate a lot of balls this week, which I believe are various sorts of colorful mystery meat. No, seriously: meatballs, fishballs, riceballs.  I started noticing a geometric pattern in my eating.  Circles represent being complete or whole, which I’m totally in tune to, especially right now.  But speaking of balls, I think it’s safe to say that I grabbed life by them when I decided to take this year long trip.  Remote Year has officially kicked off, and I have finally arrived in Malaysia.

Mystery meat adventures at their finest

I successfully (but barely) survived the 52-hour trek to get to Kuala Lumpur (KL).  Watch out world; I have arrived!  My first three days have been a blur of what day it is, what time zone I belong to, and where I need to be.  Somewhere between delirium and exhaustion, I managed to make quite a few new friends.  I’m acclimating nicely, and the only conflict in my world right now is the one that my hair is having with the humidity.  Overall, I’m starting to get the hang of things here.

First of many walking food tours


Let me give you the visual tour of how my life is shaping up.

Where I Kick It:

I live in the heart of downtown KL at The Maple Suite and am walking distance to many of the cities’ notable sites, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and my office space for the month.  I love being able to walk to work, something I’m not accustomed to in what I’ve been referring to as “my other life.”

Spacious living and entertaining room. Ample space for an impromptu dance party.

Where I’m Working It

Located within one of KL’s premier malls is the Remote Year workspace.  It’s both bright and cozy, and only a 15 minute walk from my apartment.  While I haven’t spent a lot of time there yet, I will be- and making some career magic happen.

The Kuala Lumpur Scoop:

  • Population: 7.7 million people
  • Races: Malay, Chinese and Indian
  • Currency: Ringgit (Everything here is quite affordable since the Ringgit is not strong.  You can have a great meal for $2-$5. Cha-ching!)
  • Language: Malay, though much of the population speaks English
  • Key Landmarks & Attractions:
    • Petronas Twin Towers (a representation of modern meets historical)
    • Menara KL Tower (Stellar view from my bedroom & Instagrammed for your viewing pleasure)
    • Batu Caves
    • Kuala Lumpur Bird Park

First Few Days Observations:

I think it’s safe to say that things are off to a great start.  No one’s been mugged, fired or died of food poisoning that I know of, so I guess the world is looking up for all of us “Remotes.”  That’s optimism at its finest, right?!

Here are a few of my initial morning thoughts from the last three days:

    • Because of the heat, despite how many times you’ve showered today, you probably are already due for another.
    • This group likes to get after it, so if what they say is true about alcohol seeping out of your pores, KL will be catching the best contact buzz in the world.  Hangovers and heat are the real deal.
    • Energizing conversations and collaborations among Remotes are in initial phases and, without a doubt, this group will accomplish beyond amazing feats.
    • I will see to it that there is ample backing it up


And that, my friends, are the opening credits!

Photo Credit:
Apartment Images – Amber Brixey
Office Images – Amanda Little

Want to know what was running through my mind before takeoff and what I’m working hard to accomplish over the next year?  Tune into my guest appearance on Lindsey Heiserman’s podcast to hear the inside scoop!

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