February 28, 2019

Embracing a Lifestyle Adaptation

The biological definition of adaptation is a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment. When I was working I always loved change since it made everything seem new again at least at the beginning. Adaptation is not something you may think of right away when you decide to live overseas but is definitely part of your life. Of course we knew that our lifestyle would change and we would not find everything we had at home in the US or might even find things we like better. As part of our travels we have had to adapt to many new things and ways of doing things each day.

As Americans we are so dependent on our automobiles that you can’t imagine living without one. Since we left Los Angeles over 6 months ago we have not owned a car. So far all of the countries we have been to have had great public transportation. In Sydney we used the bus, light rail and ferries to go anywhere around the city. When we ventured out to the Blue Mountains we took the train. In Malaysia and Indonesia we have used Grab quite often which is the Uber equivalent here. You can’t beat the price for a ride, normally around $1.50-$2 to go a few miles away. When we went to a wedding that was about 50 minutes outside of Kuala Lumpur we only paid $12 US each way for the ride. Try doing that in the States. Once you have adapted to this carless lifestyle it becomes pretty easy to figure out your route and how to get there. When we visited Tasmania and New Zealand we rented a campervan so we would have the flexibility to stay anywhere we wanted since both places have free camping ๐Ÿ• which was very appealing to us.

Sometimes we rented a campervan

Or we took the Train
One of the other things that is a big transition is the grocery shopping. Many times we have googled grocery stores nearby only to find out they are what we call mini marts. That fine as long as you want a Coke and some snacks. In Malaysia large grocery stores are called Hypermarkets not supermarkets. So unless you google that your going to have to settle for a snack. Many times once you have found the Hypermarket on the map you cannot find it in person. Both in Australia and Asia the markets are
usually on the lower level of the building or mall and finding the stairs or escalators down can prove daunting. We have walked an entire mall just looking for the grocery store. Once we even had to go into a department store because the only escalator down to the grocery store was smack dab in the middle of the clothing department. So just think of it as a geo cache hunt with the prize being tonight’s dinner. I bet Dora the Explorer never had this problem ๐Ÿง.

Happytos - Definitely not like Fritos๐Ÿ˜ฎ
You can take your pick of rice - Basmati, Jasmine....

We actually liked this flavor
Settling into a new apartment every month or even 2 weeks has its challenges. Although we do have our specific requirements like kitchen, pool, gym, etc. when we select an apartment/condo the reality does not always live up to it. We had one apartment where on the AirBnB listing it showed a kitchen which we wanted. However, when we got there they’d only had a couple of small plates, 2 tea cups, some silverware and a sauce pan to cook in. It turned out that cooking was not really allowed in the condo even though there was a kitchen with a hot plate ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. So we went out and bought a frypan and spatula and improvised for the 2 weeks we were there. This is where our adaptation really came into play. Before we shopped for groceries we had to think of things we could cook using the limited items in the condo. Of course this AirBnB did not get a great rating from us.

Of course we wanted a pool ๐ŸŠ๐Ÿป‍♀️

But the views are awesome too!
Another thing you don’t realize here in Asia is that many apartments outside the large cities do not have hot water. This means you will be taking a cold shower and having to heat water in the kettle to wash dishes. Of course my husband had to listen to me moan and groan about that for weeks, but I got used to it and even enjoyed them after a long sweaty day outside. I am so used to the routine now that even if we have a water heater in the shower I don’t always turn it on. Guess I am learning to live like the locals.

Asian bathrooms also take a little getting used to. Some of the public toilets are squatters and you need to be limber to use them. It’s a good thing I do squats regularly or I would be in trouble. Toilet paper is another commodity here in Asia. Many of the malls and restaurants will have it in the ladies room, but in places outside a nicer area I am always prepared by keeping a small package of Kleenex in my purse. Otherwise, you have to hose yourself down with the hand held wand and then go walking around wet. Ladies, this is not my idea of comfortable. In some of our apartments the bathrooms were called wet rooms. This is a bathroom that has no separate shower so when you do take your shower everything gets wet. Then you just squeegee the floor to dry it. At first I did not like getting everything wet all the time but I have found that it does keep the bathroom cleaner but is more work every time you shower.

Squatter Toilet
One of our pet peeves so far has been the lack of a nice soft bed. I don’t know why but it seems like we have only slept on a couple of nice beds in the last several months. Asians think that a piece of plywood with a thin pad is comfortable but give me a pillow top every time. One apartment had a mattress so hard that we were both constantly doing the alligator dead roll all night long because we couldn’t get comfortable. Too bad there’s no room in our suitcases to travel with a foam mattress pad ๐Ÿ˜ข but we do travel with our “My Pillow” pillows so at least we have that comfort. Of course we could not wait to get to our new apartment and test out the bed!

These are just a few of the changes we have lived through during the last 9 months. Now adaptations are just a way of everyday living as we settle in. Every time we think we we have seen it all, something new throws a challenge or a detour at us. It’s like living the amazing race but for the rest of our lives.

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