Say hello to: Helen Sullivan

On her second day in Malaysia, Helen was already indulging in a banana leaf meal at a temple with a group of locals.

by / Published: 23 Jun 2017

Say hello to: Helen Sullivan
Photo: Bryan Ong

Nationality: British
Occupation: PR Manager
In Malaysia since: December 2016

What brought you here?

I had been working in London for a couple of years, but wanted to try something new. Luckily, my company has a number of offices globally and the chance came up for me to transfer abroad. I’d never even considered Malaysia, I knew nothing about it. But then, what better way to learn about a place than to move there?

What was your first impression of Malaysia?

It was completely overwhelming; I arrived on New Year’s Eve after a 17-hour flight to a country where I knew no one, with no fixed place to live, withering away in the blistering heat, and then my taxi driver began questioning me about why I didn’t have a husband. Not the best start! But it doesn’t take long for you to sink into life here – I ended up spending New Year’s Day eating banana leaf curry out of buckets in one of the temples with a bunch of locals.

Made any exciting new discoveries?

Everyone always describes Malaysia as a ‘melting pot’ of cultures, but you can really experience it first hand on the many, many public holidays we have; watching the procession of Hindu pilgrims flow to Batu Caves for Thaipusam and celebrating Wesak Day at the Buddhist Maha Vihara were definite highlights.

What are your hobbies?

I love being outdoors, so tend to spend my spare time hiking, running or travelling. Having lived here for almost six months, I feel I can put ‘eating’ as an acceptable hobby too! I’m also trying to get my colleagues to teach me useful local phrases, but at the minute I can only count to five in Bahasa and swear in Mandarin...

What would you put in a ‘Malaysia survival kit’?

A battery pack for your phone as being stranded with no access to Google Maps or Grab/Uber if you get lost while exploring is not an enjoyable experience! I’d also make sure there were tea bags and fresh milk. If you’re ever having a rough day, a real cup of tea will always sort you out.

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