Welcome to Malaysia

December 27, 2006

Still in the present and thus out of sequence…

Since the Taiwan earthquake has disrupted telecommunications throughout Asia, I wrote half of this on my Blackberry, which seems to not to have been affected. Internet connections are working slowly and intermittently but I managed to finish the post on my laptop. I could not however upload the photo to flickr. I eventually managed to get the photo uploaded to this site, but the net is still very flaky.

I met my friend, Boon, from Malaysia at Birthing of Giants, a three year long entrepreneurial education program run by MIT, Inc. Magazine and the Entrepreneurs Organization (formerly YEO). I had been hoping to visit him in Kuala Lampur for some time, and now I am finally here. The only problem is that Boon is in Australia! The good news is that we will overlap one night for dinner, but in the meantime, he was nice enough to introduce me electronically to his forum named “a.S.i.D”.

For non-EO readers, a forum is a group of peers that EO members meet monthly to discuss whatever issues are important to the members. Forum groups often become quite tight over the years and a.S.i.D. has been together for almost a decade! Any friend of Boon’s, it seemed, was a friend of the forum’s. Several a.S.i.D. members were kind enough to contact me before my arrival with a variety of invitations.

One of them, James, wrote me last night and told me he was leaving town, but that he was free tonight and tomorrow night. He asked where I was staying and when I was arriving. I sent him the information and agreed to call him when I got in. I understood this to mean that I’d call him when I got to my hotel about 8:30 that night. He understood it a little differently.

I never got a chance to call him because he was standing in my hotel lobby and greeting us warmly before I had a chance to make it to the check-in counter. He had Rosemary, another Forum member, and her husband Stephen in tow. The five of us went out for Chinese food and then for coffee and dessert. They were warm, gracious and fun! It was a fantastic, if somewhat unexpected, welcome to Kuala Lampur. Of course given the ubiquitous English and the modern air conditioned mall with Prada and Cartier we could just as easily been in Los Angeles.

James had devoured both my blog and Soyan’s and was full of birthdays wishes for Soyan and questions about our trip. He also shared some of his travels in pursuit of his goal to visit 200 countries before he dies. While he is only a little over 25% of the way, I don’t doubt he’ll make it. He seems to have an incredible knack for organizing adventures. It took me years to get my Forum to go to Las Vegas. “a.S.i.D.” has gone to Angkor Wat, Hanoi and the Taj Majal to name just a few spots. Along the way they have the orchestrated impossible dinners in places like Hanoi’s Temple of Literature and an Angkor Temple.

James was kind enough indulge me in my favorite pastime of learning about other people’s businesses and told me a little bit about his hospitality furniture business. Rosemary gave me some insight in to the Kuala Lampur real estate market and her multigeneration-family friendly town houses. Her husband Stephen runs a Malaysian ISP and brought me up to speed about the local market for technology products and workers. I had never given much thought to living in Malaysia, but now it seems so easy. I’ll get a condo from Rosemary and Internet access from Stephen. James and I have already started discussing ideas about selling his furniture online. Not bad for 12 hours in the country.

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