Going to my antipodes for summer research!
April 26, 2012 7:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to Malaysia to do research for the summer: advise me, please!

I'm a public health student coming to investigate IV drug users in coastal areas. (I'm well aware of the touchy nature of this subject in Malaysia.) I will most likely be based in Kuala Lumpur but working in Kuantan and Kuala Perlis as well. I've been allocated $2,700 for room, board and other miscellaneous expenses outside those that will be directly incurred by my research. (Meaning I will have a budget of about 100 ringgits/day.) I'd welcome advice on setting myself up in country, staying in touch with those back home, and getting the most out of my experience. If you have any specific advice about where to establish myself in KL that would be most appreciated. The research center I will be working with is based in the University of Malaya, but I think I would rather be in Kuala Lumpur proper than out in Petaling Jaya.
posted by reren to Travel & Transportation around Malaysia (4 answers total)
are you male of female? This might give better info. Will you be using public transport in KL alone, at night? What arrangements have the Uni made for your safety when worked at the sites. Do you have an orientation coordinator or contact you can get more specific info from?

It's been a long time since I was in KL, but female friends tell me Malaysia has become more consciously Islamic since I was there.

I'll just stick to staying in touch as I'm sure there'll be Mefites with great info along shortly.
I would sping for a group Skype (it's very cheap about $20 for 3 months) as long as you'll have Uni bandwidth access (check first if it is allowed) and see friends sometimes as a group. I recently hosted a little party with 4 friends on Skype that lasted hours longer than it should have and was awesome.
posted by Wilder at 8:25 AM on April 26, 2012

Thanks for the reply, Wilder. I am a female who has lived in NYC for several years. Will I be taking the public transport system at night? I don't know, should I be?

I will be getting some hand holding from the research center shortly before I leave but I'm trying to figure out my preferences and options in advance.
posted by reren at 8:44 AM on April 26, 2012

From friends living there and who have just left from a short working stint - the traffic is really tough. Try to live as close to work as possible. My friend lived 30km from his office and it took 1.5 hours a day with multiple buses to get to the office. KL to Petaling Jaya would be a horrible daily commute. It makes more sense to live right next to the university and go on weekends to the city.

Personal safety is an issue as street thefts and house burglary is common - everyone I know in KL has a story about it. You can't expect to wander around at night on your own, and should plan on going as a group, and you will need locks on your doors etc.

It's a friendly and interesting city still! Great food, great people. You may end up using it as a base to travel around Malaysia in, because unless you have a car, it's not a very accessible city. You'll also be able to easily go down to Singapore, Indonesia and up to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam on long weekends without it being that much more expensive than hanging around in Malaysia.

That's plenty of money if you live like a student and eat locally. The food really is good!
posted by viggorlijah at 9:43 AM on April 26, 2012

I grew up practically next door to the University of Malaya. There are a few apartment blocks in the area that I've seen international students rent, some directly across the road from the University, which you could check out. It's a decent area, with schools, churches, even a KFC across the road which I unfortunately eat at more than I should, heh.

Check out the location on Google maps - the University is right exactly on the border between Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur - so that's not really a distinction you need to worry about. Both PJ and KL have merged into this big megacity. Just try get something nearby?

Yes traffic is generally terrible in PJ / KL, I wouldn't want to drive or cab if I could help it. There is a LRT (elevated train) stop at the southern border of the University that will connect you much of the rest of KL and some of PJ.


The University stop is labelled "Universiti" and it's in Area 6, and that line goes all the way to the "KLCC" stop which is the heart of the city (the Petronas Twin Towers).

I can't actually speak to whether it's safe for a women to be travelling on the rail system at night alone (I'm a guy) but if it's after dark, chances are most of the traffic is cleared and you may as well take a taxi - it's pretty cheap. It's not quite the level of Bangkok, where taking a taxi ironically costs less than using the rail system, but it's close.
posted by xdvesper at 5:15 PM on April 26, 2012

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