Silicon Valley of Malaysia | 2901-040218

Total contrast to my ‘normal’ life: This Monday-Friday is full of minutely scheduled group work from 9am-6pm, all of us crammed into a small space with no natural source of light, during which I hear myself talk (for the most part) and converse (to a considerably larger degree than normally) constantly, and mornings/nights of deep relaxation on my own. Normally, I work in a small elastic bubble, for the most part totally independently, exchanging only smiles, brief smalltalk, a few project-related phrases orally and condensed emails/instant messages with my colleagues, with all meetings restricted to conference calls early in the morning or late at night, on which everyone presents or debates as concisely as possible. I’ll join these calls from home or wherever I am at the time. I move around a lot, very rarely working from the same desk at the office, at home or in public spaces for more than two consecutive days, and wherever I am, I always make sure to work from places that are aesthetically as well as ergonomically pleasing – good for my productivity and wellbeing. Before and after work, I’ll usually exercise, explore and hang out with people I love. I love and treasure and feel energised by my work-life-integration. This week, however, in Malaysia’s tech town, Cyberjaya, I’m confined to the same hard plastic chair in the same small room, sunlight blocked out by thick white blinds covering all windows. I’m here to train a newly hired team, and I’m fairly sure I learn just as much as the smart, curious and inquisitive bunch of young people in front of me, who all moved here just a few weeks ago from their home countries – Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Taiwan and Indonesia. So exciting to notice and familiarise myself with their individual strengths (and nurture these) and weaknesses (and tackle these), and mannerisms, as well as the dynamics between them. In a sense, they are all alone and new here – but at the same time extremely comfortable in their new group. Super sweet and jokey with each other – and with me. Very respectful as well, calling me ‘Ms Camilla’ and apologising every time they ask a question, even though I keep encouraging them to ask, ask, ask – but please also trust their gut feeling. Finding that balance. We start at 9:00am every day; take a 15-minutes break at 10:30; lunch at 1-2pm; 15 mins at 4pm; off at 6pm. When they leave, I spend another hour writing a recap for the day and catching up on my emails. It’s fun to sense how full of adrenaline I am – not exhausted at all; surprisingly happy with the schedule. However, straight after a few laps in the pool and dinner each night, I immediately feel exhausted and sleep for about 10 hours straight, haha.

Daily Routine. My hotel, Cyberview Resort & Spa, has a solid ’80s vibe to it, but it’s clean and well-kept, with beautiful, spacious rooms, a great, very stylish Chinese restaurant and a freshwater pool the size of a lake. Everyone on the team wants to hit the mall after work; I just want to go back to my hotel and unwind by splashing around in the pool while looking up into the exotic foliage and gold-tinted sky, haha. Except for two of the nights, when there’s a massive torrential downpour and I climb into my tub with a book and go for a soothing full-body massage at the spa respectively, I spend all evenings swimming in the pool and dining at the Chinese place (baked cod, boiled rice, steamed broccoli, fresh cut fruit). Every morning, I get up at 7am to do yoga (with Adriene) and swim, eat fresh fruit in the breakfast room and cycle on deserted bike lanes framed by well-manicured lawns and palm trees, past outsourcing companies and strip malls, to Starbucks, full of entrepreneurs with laptops, for a tall black coffee. I then talk for 9 hours at the office. Write for one hour. Cycle back home. Chat to S and my mum. Do the above-mentioned activities. Sleep.


Weekend with Love. Before heading back to Singapore on Friday night, the team gifts me a sarong and a teddy bear. So sweet. Glad I brought them pineapple tarts from Singapore! S is waiting up with candles and flowers at 1am when I return. I love our weekend adventures. Saturday, glorious morning run, pick up coffee (very missed after a week of Starbucks) and juice from the bakery on the way home. Sit across from each other at the dining table with our shared Google Docs, planning Bali with his parents. Then off to Orchard to buy ski gear and have a late neat Japanese lunch at Muji Cafe. From there straight to OD Wellness, on Neil Road, for possibly the best massage (I’ve ever had) in Singapore. Walk home, S eating black sesame gelato and I photographing him in the glorious golden hour light. Drop off stuff. Cycle to Bugis for dinner at the phenomenal Mrs Pho. Walk over to watch the hyped Italian Call Me By Your Name at Projector, and find that it’s sweet and beautiful, well-played and all, but that you don’t really feel the chemistry between the lovers. When we go to Italy in a few weeks, I want to read the book to see if it captures it. Never has the cinema been this full – I wonder if there’ll come a time when a film like this will be shown in Singapore – and everywhere in the world! – without an “Advisory: homosexual content” and this note, “WE WILL BE CHECKING IDs AT THE DOOR. PLEASE BRING A PHOTO ID WITH YOU. THIS FILM IS RATED R21.” Sunday morning: run, picking up fruit, greens, flowers and bread at the market and bakery. Friends from Copenhagen on maternity/paternity leave are coming over for breakfast. When I got to know the Russian/Danish couple, we all lived in London, about six years ago. We became really close, and then, about four years ago, they moved here, to Singapore, and lived here right until around about the time when I moved here – they then moved to Copenhagen, haha. Now, they’ve taken their 3-year-old and 10-months-old sons on a journey around Asia, for about 3 months. The kids are learning so much on the trip – being comfortable around strangers, eating all kinds of foods, moving through airports and train stations with ease, recognising all kinds of flora and fauna – while having so much quality time with their parents, whose joy, stimulated curiosity and excitement about travelling reflect back on the kids: happy parents means happy kids and vice versa, haha. Today, we chat a little and play a lot. Or, rather, the kids turn our house upside down, playing with S and all of our furniture and decorative items, which, interestingly become horses, tractors, taxis, cars, all kinds of vehicles really, haha. Meanwhile, I get to catch up with their mum, one of my favourite people in the world. So sweet, loving, thoughtful, passionate, curious. In the afternoon, S and I head up to Open Farm Community, where we do nothing, just sit and stare, at softly falling rain from a covered sofa on the patio. When the rain stops, we stroll around Dempsey, checking out a new cool exhibition at our favourite gallery, stopping at a new wine bar for a glass of sparkling wine, and then we head home for gazpacho and Netflix. Early to bed to get up in time for Superbowl. What excited me most about that plan is the pretty pre-sunrise walk we’ll have along the river to get to the sports bar, Boomerang in Rob Quay, in time for kick-off (just like last year; yay, I love that we’re starting to have traditions in Singapore, haha!), and that we’re meeting a new Danish friend, who is surprisingly passionate about American football, for brekkie there. At 7:30am. Hah.


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