Trivia: This is called 'wau bulan' or moon kite, one of Malaysia's icons.
To me, it means being free yet grounded.
There's no easy way to say this: My #KLChronicles have ended.
I won't lie. Leaving Malaysia was not an easy, worry-free decision. Kuala Lumpur or KL has been my home for more than three years, and it's been good to me. I didn't say breezy, but this place embraced me in every way possible.
Looking back, leaving the comforts and familiarity of home to build a life and career in a foreign city was not a walk in the park. Lonely days were plenty, and I've lost count how many times I've asked myself if I did the right thing. This decision cost me important relationships and milestones. To this day, I still regret that I wasn't home to be with my lola (grandma) during her last few months with us.
At almost 30, making new friends then wasn't easy. I'm a fake extrovert, I dislike crowd and it takes me forever to warm up to and truly trust people. While I enjoy being on my own, there were times when I also longed for company of friends and family, and Skype calls were not always enough. I eventually made friends, not many but really good ones! I often get asked how long it took me to adjust and if I'm being honest, it was close to a year before I finally felt comfortable and not always out of place.
KL is not the 'best' city. Transportation is so much better, food is amazing, and people are generally nice and warm. I feel safer at night and I can't complain how reasonable rent and utilities are. But just like Manila, KL has its flaws. I found everything slower and things can be inefficient while customer service is a pain in the butt. But 'best' to me has always been subjective. KL may not be as organised as Singapore nor as glam and metropolitan as Dubai, but it was my perfect city. I enjoyed better quality of life - think less traffic/wasted time, home cooked and cheap meals at my fingertips, and for the first time my life, real work-life balance. My finances started to recover and I was blessed to be able to do one of the things I love the most. Living in a travel hub, I was able to fly to more places. In a way, KL led me to Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, UAE, France, Spain, Italy. I met the Pope!
I've also grown so much professionally. I've worked with brilliant minds in business and PR from different parts of the world. I was exposed to different cultures and experiences that I wouldn't get back home. Entering a new market and getting connected to a wider global network stretched my limits and kept me on my toes, and my competitive self loved it. I thrived.
To say that my personal life went through hell and back is an understatement. Independence can get you drunk. It was so easy to feel disconnected from people and things that truly mattered. There were days I've forgotten (or chose to forget) the reasons why I took the job and left home in the first place. Without a purpose, I felt like running into a black hole and it wasn't pretty. You wake up without an ounce of motivation, go through your day mindlessly, and end in bed exhausted from you don't know exactly what. But it's true what my mother always say: may bukas pa naman (there's still tomorrow). No matter how bad things were, the sun still shined the next day, and life continued. I gradually learned to take things one step at a time, I learned about patience. I discovered it's okay to not be always in control and let things be. I became less hard on myself and on others. I started forgiving beyond words, and once I healed, I started to really live.
Three and a half years forward, and every good story has to end. How we take the ending and move forward though, is up to us. KL will forever have a place in my heart and mind, it's etched on my skin. More than a place I call second home, it's a beautiful chapter in my life story. An eventful one. It's where I lost some but gained more. It's where I felt humble but victorious. It's where I found my purpose and felt truly free. It's also where love led and found me.
My #KLChronicles have ended so a new wonderful era can begin. I'm forever grateful but I can't wait for my next adventure, this time not solo.