Here’s a collection of thoughts and photos from the first part of our trip (Part 2: The Philippines is now online).
In the wake of the second airline tragedy to befall Malaysian Airlines, Luke and I boarded a flight to Kuala Lumpur with a mix of emotions: excitement, trepidation, sympathy for the families of victims from what was an all too recent and horrific tragedy.
It was the first time either of us had visited Malaysia or the Philippines, and we were very honoured to have been asked. Fortunately, our flight was entirely uneventful—just the way we like it.
Once we’d arrived and checked into our hotel (a brand new building) in Cyberjaya, we thought we’d wander down to the MaGIC building, where our first workshop would be held the next day.
The building was quite difficult to locate (no thanks to Google Maps) but with some helpful directions from the lovely folks at Experian we deduced that:
- it was too far to walk in 34ºC with high humidity, and
- our hotel ran a free shuttle service within the Cyberjaya area
With new-found confidence, we abandoned plans to scope out the venue and instead sought out some tasty Nasi Goreng for dinner.
If I’m to be perfectly honest, the workshop we ran in Malaysia was OK—not fantastic, but OK. There were a few minor hurdles (some outside of our control) that meant things didn’t run as perfectly smoothly as we’d liked, such as the start time, table arrangement, and lack of water for attendees.
However, to the credit of the participants, they persevered through these minor hurdles and embraced our activities with gusto, creating some impressive storyboards, UI flows, and app prototypes during the workshop.
After the workshop was all over, Izwan from UX Malaysia took us out for a dinner with a few of his friends to an outdoor restaurant in the area where he grew up. The restaurant had originally began as a street stall, and has grown in popularity based on the quality of the dishes. It was a relief to have our host order his favourite dishes, as we’d already encountered a few hurdles in reading the menu when ordering at other restaurants!
For dessert, Izwan’s friend Clarence insisted that we stop off and eat some durian at a street stall. “It’s a very Malaysian thing to do,” he insisted (he’s from Singapore, but I digress). Durian, for those who haven’t had the pleasure, is like a stinky mango that’s been encased inside a porcupine. And yes, it’s as weird as it sounds. I was happy with just a taste, but Luke must have really liked it as he kept going back for more!
The day after our workshop we had some spare time to explore Kuala Lumpur. And while it’s possibly the most touristy thing to do in KL, the fact that the Petronas Towers were once the tallest buildings in the world meant the prospect of taking a trip to the top of the towers was pretty appealing.
KLites seem to really love their modern architecture; the Putrajaya district was full of large, domineering buildings that echoed personality; so too, local pride in the Petronas Towers became evident when speaking to the residents.
Unfortunately we only had the one day to ourselves, and because we’d chosen to explore KL by foot, our options were limited. A distinct lack of safe footpaths lead us from one skyscraper to the next; when combined with the fact that it was Ramadan, our dream of bartering with street stall vendors over delicious delicacies was cut short.
Oh, well—we had fun. Plus, you always need a reason to go back somewhere, right?
Read Part 2: The Philippines.