On July 4 last year, Caitie, Will and I left the UK and flew to Malaysia to join Alex in Kuala Lumpur. We stumbled, bleary-eyed after a long flight, into our new apartment and started the long process of settling in.
Everything seemed so new and so different, especially for the kids.
It was hot, humid, the traffic was scary, the food was weird, the malls were huge, the poorer areas really were poor - certainly very different from life in Cheltenham.
We spent the first few weeks arranging our belongings how we wanted them. Alex had unpacked everything before we arrived, but putting them where WE wanted them gave us the feeling of being just a little bit in control. And we went out and about, exploring the malls and markets and trying to work out where to find everything we needed from familar food items and pharmaceuticals to new summer clothes. We also had a week away, to a lovely tropical island resort just off the West coast - this photo was taken there, and is the first one of us all together in Malaysia.
Then September rolled around, and the kids started school. Will seemed to settle in very quickly, Caitie took much longer. I started going out and meeting people. It felt a bit like dating - tentatively asking, or being asked, if you'd like to meet for coffee, and afterwards deciding if you'd like to see them again or if in fact you had little in common with them. I did a Hello KL course with the Association of British Women - that was really good, a chance to see some places I might not otherwise have found, quite a few of which I still go back to regularly.
As the months whizzed by, life became more "normal" once again. All those things that had seemed so strange when we first arrived were now part of everyday life, and hardly noticed any more.
Now, a year on, I suppose KL has pretty much become home, or at least a second home. Family and friends are still very much missed, and there have been some times when being so far away has been very hard. It goes without saying that we are very much looking forward to seeing everyone in August, when we fly back to the UK for a couple of weeks.
The excitement of being here has worn off - that can only keep going for so long! And we do complain a bit more about some of the not-so-good aspects about Malaysia, such as the atrocious plumbing and the equally atrocious traffic.
But it is still good to be here, and I don't think we have any regrets. Coming here means we have seen and done things that we wouldn't otherwise have experienced - not all good, but mostly. We live opposite a global icon (the Petronas Towers), in a truly multi-cultural community. We've been on exotic holidays, made new friends, and I've also been able to enjoy making just a little bit of difference at the girls' home. I've still not got used to the almost complete lack of seasons though! What month is it again?!