Planes, Trains & Automobiles

A quick update before I get onto what I really want to talk about ... transport. Over the weekend I sent all of the information I had to hand for my work permit application to the school, suffice to say it was substantial. I still have to get my Medical sorted (Watch this space) and a photograph with a blue background, so I'm off to get that sorted tonight (Must remember to shave!).

Planes

Normally getting to your place of work is quite simple, even if you are relocating within the country. This isn't quite the case when you decide to take a job teaching on the other side of the world, in fact it becomes even more difficult when you want to move your whole family.

One of the major hurdles I suspect a lot of teachers will encounter will be with the logistics of booking and organising flights to your new country of residence. One of my first questions to my new Headteacher was 'Do I need to book my own flights?'. In my case the answer was probably not, but due to the slightly later than normal timing of my appointment they may ask me to do so this time. It seems that it's normal for the school to book your flights, so my advice to you is to make sure you ask all the questions early. If you have any special requirements, you need to let them know, some airlines may not let you change your booking. One major word of warning, I have been told in no uncertain terms that I MUST keep my boarding passes as well as my receipt for the flights. Without these you may not get your money back from the school if you are asked to book your own flights.

Onto my next question I had for the Headteacher, 'Does the school pay for my family's flights?'. The answer was a resounding no. This seems, from everything I have read, to be the norm and you may well need to factor this into your decision making. For me it wasn't a deal breaker, but for others it may well be. I can't vouch for other schools, but in my case they did offer to support me by initially paying for the flights and then deducting the cost from my salary over 3 months. This may well be an offer I take them up on, but seeing as my family won't be joining me until January, I'm in no rush right now. My other thought has been based around the issue of wanting to find a cheap way to come back to the UK every now and again.

The current plan is to come home for the birth of my 2nd child at the end of September and then to come home for the 3 week Christmas holiday (Yes, your read that right, 3 weeks!). At the moment that is all we have planned but I'm sure we are going to want return more. Another consideration is also the traveling we want to do within Asia as well, what's the phrase? Whilst in Rome?  This lead me to start thinking about not just the best way to get to the UK, but also the best option for exploring Asia. Enter stage left: Air Miles. The concept being that the more you fly with that airline, the more miles you accrue and then exchange for either upgrades or cheap flights. Alongside that, you can, with most, also exchange the air miles with partner airlines for the same type of rewards. 

To be honest, once I really started to research the options, there was only 1 that made sense. Malaysia Airlines. They may have a hideous loss rate for their aircraft, but I have been told that actually they are a lovely airline to fly with. They also happen to be a Oneworld partner, which means that I would be able to exchange my British Airways miles with them and viva versa. They fly to the majority of Asia in one form or another and seem to be really rather affordable as well (possibly due to their reputation mentioned earlier).

I'm hoping to do a follow up post about their rewards scheme once I've got me head around it and have had some experience with using it, so watch this space. 

Trains

Now onto trains, not really known as Malaysia's strong point to be honest. Like most of the large cities in the world Kuala Lumpur has a rapid transit system that seems to be expanding at a rapid rate. All of my understanding of the transport within the city has come from good gold Google, so take what you want from it, but please don't hold me to any of the information. 

If you were hoping for a London style system with very clear maps, websites with live times on and journey planners, your in for a shock. To say that the maps are confusing is an understatement, the websites are slow and don't have a lot of information on and working out where all the stations are is a nightmare. I have been told reliably that once there it makes a lot more sense, and this is a system that is having a lot of money spent on it at the moment, so with any luck all of this is going to be a thing of the past soon. 

When considering where your going to live I have been told that transport could well be one of the key deciding factors. A location that has good links to the various transit systems is going to be a good bet, allowing you to explore the city quickly. Areas that are served by the transit system do seem to be great for being connected as the services run frequently (from what I can find out).

Automobiles

I mentioned in a previous post that my wife and I have decided that we will need a car for our time in Malaysia. As a teacher, I'm not going to be on the highest salary and I've found that cars are VERY expensive compared to what we are used to over in the UK. Even the secondhand market seems to be very buoyant, perhaps I should ship some old bangers over there and sell them?

Our current thinking is to sell both our UK cars and then use roughly half of the money to get a car over in KL. It might not get us the most prestigious car in the world, but it will buy us a decent and reliable set of wheels. With any luck it will be my wife that uses it during the week, I'm hoping to find other ways to get to work, in order to give her and the kids a bit of freedom.

As a UK resident you can drive in Malaysia for up to 3 months before you need to convert your licence, I'm dreading that part of my adventure. 

It turns out that a lot of people also use motorbikes and scooters when over there, it allows you to get past all the traffic and is cheap. Licensing for using a bike out there seems to be quite strict, you have to have a licence for all types of bike, although I'm not 100% sure about all of that.

Final Thoughts

I'm beginning to get really excited about all of this madness, a new chapter in our lives. We have now started to tell everyone properly about our adventure and everyone seems to be very excited for us. I have a horrible feeling we are going to have quite a few people visiting. 

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