Well; not to talk of many things, in fact, just one thing. It’s time for me to make a big move.
I don’t know how one defines “adult life” but to me, I figure you become an adult once you leave the protection of your parents and their home. For me, this was at the age of 19, a couple of weeks after leaving school. Which means I’ve had fifty or so years of adult life.
Now, surprisingly (to me at least) I’ve spent more than half of those years living in Malaysia. The rest are roughly divided into twelve years in the UK, two in Switzerland and ten in Canada. It’s not that the move to Malaysia was not expected to be long-term, it was. And yet, I still feel surprised that I’ve stayed more than 25 years. As you can see, I don’t normally stay that long in one place.
I have very mixed feelings about Malaysia, and about leaving. There has been much to enjoy, but there have been some really tough periods. The last few years have definitely not been the best, and so I sat myself down and convinced myself that a new country would be a cure.
Looking at the options to stay legally in Malaysia, there were no obvious solutions. Being turned down three times in an attempt at becoming a Permanent Resident did not make me feel particularly welcome. Any other options were either expensive, or came with restrictions I couldn’t accept. It didn’t take me long to decide where to go … but that can wait for a future article.
Safe to say, it’s somewhere interesting and exciting, and will be an experience that may need weekly blog updates. For now, I’ll stick to relating my winding-down experiences in Malaysia.
Packing, packing and more packing. Arrggh. I seem to have been doing it for months. Actually I have, because quite a while ago I could see I would need to move somewhere at some point, but hadn’t decided where nor when. With that in mind, for a long time I’ve been filling big black garbage bags with things that … well, I couldn’t possibly need ever again, could I? No! I couldn’t. Some stern words were needed. And stern words don’t taste very good, so thay have to be washed down with copious cans of brown fizzy liquid.
The garbage men seemed grateful, for both the unexpected goodies and the empty beer cans. Every bag was carefully opened, and many things were removed that apparently were useful to them, but not to me. One day they all hung on the back of the truck, merrily wearing my old oil-stained t-shirts that I used to wear in my workshop. Christmas had come early.
But then came the serious job of wrapping and packing the rest … which, once I’d seen the volume, was carefully separated into “must have” and “nice to have.” I suspect much of the latter will get left behind, and the garbage men will have more useless items for their collection.
It’s strange what people want. Last week I threw out a much-hated ironing board. Real men don’t do ironing. I figured it would disappear quickly. But someone has carefully removed the metal frame and left the rest.
My final moving date is not 100% confirmed, but I’m expecting it to be around the end of this month. That thought has switched my packing activities into overdrive. My rough estimate is that if I don’t spend at least two to three hours a day, I won’t be ready.
Working alone makes it harder. Trying to wrap things I can hardly lift creates many moments of “step back, look, think, what’s the best way to tackle this?” And eventually it gets done.
I did have one small but amusing mishap. I decided the ping-pong table was on the B list … the nice-to-have things, but that meant moving it down the stairs. The first half I moved complete with frame and wheels. It was difficult to control, going plop, plop, from step to step. In the end, I decided the second half should be dismantled, and that once it was downstairs it could be remantled.
Wheels and frame? Easy. Table top? Not so easy. Freaking heavy and difficult to hold. And you can probably guess what happened. Part way down, with the table top vertical, I lost it! Somehow it stayed vertical, and gathered considerable momentum, with nothing to stop it. From the resulting crash at the bottom I expected to see holes in the wall and a destroyed table top, but thankfully damage was minor and inconsequential. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sight of an accelerating ping-pong table.
In order to obtain a Residence Visa for my new country, I need lots of paperwork … luckily, only for the first. One document is a letter from some authorized body in Malaysia, to state that I have been a good boy, and have no criminal record. You’d think that would be the kind of thing the police would issue.
I mentioned this to a friend, and he said “No problem. Write a letter to the Chief of Police in Shah Alam, explaining what you need and why, and we’ll go see him.” Well, we went to the police station, saw lots of people, did a lot of chit-chatting about many things, but never did get the needed letter. Everyone agreed we had to go to Special Branch in Bukit Aman. That’s the police headquarters for the whole country.
So, next day we headed to the center of Kuala Lumpur. The headquarters is so large you have to get on a ‘shuttle bus’ – which actually was just a regular police car – in order to get to the right building. So, after meeting more people and doing more chitting and chatting, we were told “We don’t do it here. It’s done by Wisma Putra … but don’t worry, you can do it all online.” Bad news and good news. Okay, I can live with that.
Wisma Putra is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but their website has no mention of doing anything online, other than being able to get the form by clicking on the ‘Quick Downloads’ button. Well, that particular button seems to be on vacation at the moment, so after spending hours on this simple task, at this point, I’m still at step one.
But, if in doubt, Google. I eventually found a link to the correct form on the website of the Malaysian High Commission in … wait for it … Fiji. No complaints. At least I have the form, plus the instructions; the first of which is to make two copies of every page of every passport I’ve had while in Malaysia.
Are they kidding? I’ve had seven passports, most with 48 pages. So, I found the correct e-mail address on the Wisma Putra website, and politely asked that very question. That was a waste of time. The e-mail bounced. So off I went, and did as they had instructed on the form, and now have a huge pile of paper that I’m sure no one will ever look at.
Monday I have to head 60kms south to Putrajaya, along with all the paperwork, RM20, two passport photos, and a urine sample. Okay, not the latter. It just seems like it. But the sting was in the tail…
It can take two months to issue the letter. So, it looks like I’ll be heading off without the Visa, and living as a tourist for a while, which is no different than here, and then coming back for the Visa once the paperwork is ready.
Such is the happy life of an expat.