Conor: Escaping the Mainstream
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Malaysia, etc.
My name is Conor Walsh. I’m originally from Ireland but at the age of 21, I left my home country to work and travel my way around the world. That was 2011. I first arrived in Malaysia in 2012, visiting friends living in Kuala Lumpur. Since then I have returned numerous times, each visit exploring more of the country.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging in November 2013. It was quite late into my travels to start, but a friend convinced me it would be a great way to share my stories and help out people who might want to do something similar. His name is Adam Finan, of the Tropical Nomad blog.
It is my hope that the blog will inspire people who find themselves unhappy in a typical, 9 to 5 life to break free and make a life doing what makes them happy.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favorite posts about Malaysia are these two:
Tell us about the ways your new life in Malaysia differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
My life couldn’t be any more different than in Ireland. I left behind almost everything I owned and now live out of roughly 15kg of luggage. I rarely have a permanent address for longer than a month. I’ve met amazing people from all over the world, visited some incredible places and eat delicious food I had never even heard of in Ireland.
More than anything, I’m happier now than I ever was growing up in Ireland.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Malaysia? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I thought that after traveling through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam that Malaysia would very much alike to those countries. I had also been told it was boring and stuffy, not worth a visit more than a few days.
So I was quite surprised when I arrived and absolutely loved it here. There is an amazing diversity of cultures in Malaysia that you don’t see elsewhere in the region. The islands and coastline are stunningly beautiful and in much better shape than some of their neighbors’. There are of course other reasons, but I won’t list them all here.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Nothing comes to mind right now. I did inadvertently help save a man’s life one day while on Langkawi. Which was a surprisingly funny encounter.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Malaysia?
- Go in with an open mind. Malaysian cities can be a bit overwhelming when you first arrive. This is the same in every country in the region. But if you open yourself up to new experiences, you’ll discover some great little hidden treasures. These are the things that will have you falling in love with a place.
- Be ready for some serious humidity. Kuala Lumpur is the most humid city I’ve visited. This is only relieved by big, massive downpours.
- Use the public holidays. There are more public holidays in Malaysia than anywhere else I’ve visited. This gives you plenty of time to explore the country on your time off. Don’t spend all your free time in the city, get out and visit the islands and hill settlements in the mountains.
How is the expat community in Malaysia? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There is a great, massive expat community within Malaysia, especially in KL. Plenty of the bars cater for this. There are always social nights on where the local and expat populations mix. There are plenty of various types of dance and arts groups to join. And everyone is incredibly welcoming of new comers.
How would you summarize your expat life in Malaysia in a single, catchy sentence?
Vibrant, busy, never dull and delicious.