Name: Tanya Lapon-Caers
Home Country: Belgium
Designation/Industry/Company: Construction industry
Marital Status: Married with a two-year old son
Other countries you’ve lived in: France & Spain
What brought you to Malaysia?
After working for over 10 years at the same company, my husband Andi Lapon was offered a job here. He was a Finance Director in Toulouse and Barcelona, and was promoted to Managing Director to develop the business in Asia. We arrived here in January 2013, a month before our son Joa’quin was born in KL.
What do you like and dislike about living here?
The climate is both challenging and nice at the same time. I love the fact that you can wear summer dresses the whole year round but at the same time, the heat can be exhausting, too. I like the multicultural aspect of KL. There is always a hidden gem to be found when you’re looking for things to buy. A defi nite plus is the cost of living. However, one of the downsides here is the service. I find that locals are not really customer-oriented. I also don’t like that many good restaurants are to be found in shopping malls.
Name three typical weekend activities that you enjoy.
We live in a very nice condo, and since our son is still young, we spend a lot of our time at the poolside with our friends and their kids. On Friday evenings we often go out to meet our friends for a drink and dinner in a nice restaurant. Fuego is our favorite, as the food is very good, and the atmosphere and view is even better. We live in Bangsar, so there’s a good choice of places we can go to.
What is your favourite holiday destination in Malaysia or in the region? Why?
I love Singapore. When my husband is there on business, I mostly join him. We also love Pangkor Laut and Redang Island. In Redang, snorkelers see as much as divers since the reef is protected and the water is amazingly clean. For a destination that’s closer to home, I love to go to the reserve forest and see the wild boars and monkeys come down to drink from the natural well, and indulge on the food the locals give them, each day at sunset.
Describe a memorable eating experience you have had here.
I am not such a huge fan of Malaysian food, but I love the homemade Chinese dumplings and satay. Once, I was with a visiting friend at the local Sunday evening pasar malam, and we tried Durian juice. It tasted awful and never took a shot at it again! We also went out to eat at the hawker stalls and local restaurants in Jalan Alor, and were very surprised by the low costs and excellent taste.
Do you own property here? If so, where? If not, why?
No, we rent a condo in Bangsar as we will be here for another year or so, and then will accept a new mission outside Malaysia.
What do you miss most about your home country?
My friends and family, obviously. Aside from that, we miss the food too. Belgian cuisine is very similar to the French, so we are used to having French cheeses and great wines at a very reasonable price. Also the service one receives as a paying customer is noteworthy. The food in France and Spain deserves special mention too.
What I also miss is the rich history and culture of Europe, the historical buildings, and art. I wish the Malaysian authorities would respect the beautiful houses in Chinatown and their environment because there is no more beautiful nature as there is here.
What advice do you have for a newly arrived expat?
Give it six months until you know your way around your neighbourhood. Give it one year before you decide if you like KL or not. It does not seem very exciting at first, but the city has a lot of hidden gems to offer. Go out and explore, and you will be surprised. Ask the locals to guide you in a mosque, or ask Indian people how to cook with the spices they offer in Little India. Step out of your comfort zone. Most of them love it when you show interest in their world.
Is Malaysia a good place in which to work and do business? Why?
Yes, as an emerging country, there are many opportunities and if you have the patience and stick around to learn the different cultures it broadens your horizon in so many ways. If you try to understand another culture better, I think it can broaden business ventures.
Read This: An Interview with an Expat from England
Source: The Expat magazine July 2015
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