South-East Asian Travel Diary, Part 1: Malaysia

South-East Asian Travel Diary, Part 1: Malaysia

The view from the top of the Petronas Towers
The view from the top of the Petronas Towers
Summary:

Last week Luke and Matt took their “Introduction to User Experience” workshop on the road, delivering training in Malaysia and the Philippines.

Matt reflects on the first part of their trip.

Last week Luke and I arrived home from teaching our “Introduction to User Experience” workshops in South East Asia, in partnership with the lovely folks from UX Malaysia and UX MNL.

Here’s a collection of thoughts and photos from the first part of our trip (Part 2: The Philippines is now online).

Day 1

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.

An Air Asia aeroplane
Our plane from Melbourne
Luke waiting in an airport lounge
Breakfast of champions
Matt sitting in a taxi in Malaysia
No kissing! reads the sign

 

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:

  1. it was too far to walk in 34ºC with high humidity, and
  2. 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.

Day 2

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.

A colourful collection of post-its adorn the window
What whiteboard?
I know—let's put it in this group!
Affinity mapping exercise
A collection of affinity maps created as part of the workshop
A collection of affinity maps
Students work eagerly through their assigned activities
Students work eagerly through their assigned activities
A collection of mobile app prototypes created during the workshop
A collection of mobile app prototypes created during the workshop
A collection of mobile app prototypes created during the workshop
A collection of mobile app prototypes created 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!

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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!

A delicious, if slightly intimidating, banquet to celebrate the first workshop
A delicious, if slightly intimidating, banquet
A spiky, stinky fruit
Durians, durians, durians! Stinky, spiky dessert
A construction site
The view from Luke’s hotel room in Cyberjaya

 

Day 3

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.

The view from the bottom of the Petronas Towers
The view from the bottom of the towers
Luke and Matt smile with the Petronas Towers looming in the background
Snapping a selfie in front of the Petronas Towers
The view from the top of the Petronas Towers
The view from the top of the Petronas Towers

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?

One of the menoras of the Petronas Towers
One of the spires of the Petronas Towers
Luke standing in front of a building in KL
Luke pretends the humidity doesn’t bother him
Matt poses with Lego Yoda at Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Matt poses with Lego Yoda at the KL Airport

 

Read Part 2: The Philippines.

Matthew Magain
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Matthew Magain
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