Author abroad

Can’t decide whether I’m more excited or daunted by the exciting and daunting overseas trip I’m making very soon. Five nights in KLKuala Lumpur with the British Council, partly as part of the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference, and then two nights in Brunei, to do some teenage brain events for pupils and parents/staff at the Jerudong International School.

Being invited to do events abroad is not something you turn down. It’s mind-opening, exciting, an honour, and takes you away from the normal run of things, which is all good. But I confess that it’s also extra time-consuming in terms of preparation and worry, partly because you know the audience less than usual, and many more things can go wrong. And I don’t like things going wrong! I also don’t much like the act of travelling, and this trip will certainly involve a lot of travelling. And heat. Meh. (Mmmm, new clothes required…)

However, since recording an interviewΒ (get coffee before you listen!) with the delightfulΒ Umapagan Ampikaipakan (no, I definitely can’t pronounce it), for a Malaysian radio station yesterday, I’m more excited than daunted. Uma is the Director of the Cooler Lumpur #Word festival and his excitement and enthusiasm are infectious. He has also told me about the amazing food they are going to be giving me, so that’s good!

At Cooler Lumpur, I’m taking part in three events. A panel to discuss censorship; a workshop for writers wanting to write for teenagers; and a lecture on reading and the brain. Each requires a lot of preparation but fear not: I will be prepared! And there will be various receptions and things, at which best behaviour must be in evidence.

Then a two-hour hop (well, flight) to Brunei on the following Monday afternoon, and I’ll be collected by an old friend who teaches at the school. A relaxing evening with her and her husband and, I hope, an early night, because I have to be at the school at 7.00 in the morning! Yikes. Tell that to a UK teenager.

In the morning, I’m doing two one-hour presentations about the teenage and learning brain, for pupils aged from 12-16. Then lunch and book signing. Then a free afternoon with possibly a boat trip. And back to the school in the evening for a lecture to parents and staff about the teenage brain. The school have made a wonderfully detailed programme for me, which regularly include the word “refreshments” and also “peace”.

Staying another night with my friend and the next day making the long journey home, via KL and Amsterdam before collapsing in a weak heap.

I will report!

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13 Responses

  1. Top tips from someone who grew up in that part of the world: drink all the fresh fruit juice they offer (best is from roadside stalls, sold in a plastic bag with a straw), and make your first purchase a little tube of Mopiko cream for the mosquito bites – those mozzies love fresh, thick colonial blood! And you’ll have a terrific time – Malaysians are so hospitable.

    1. Good advice! I am not usually bitten by mozzies – my blood isn’t sweet enough πŸ™‚ I think it’s all the marmite I eat. But maybe Malaysian mozzies LIKE marmite!

  2. Oh – you are coming over to MY corner of the world πŸ™‚ We could have had a wee Scottish Wummin Crabbit session. Have a great time in KL and Brunei – both places I have still to visit despite being in Asia since 2000! I look forward to reading about your adventures πŸ™‚
    Philippa (aka Feisty Blue Gecko)

      1. Aaah – now that is the thing with the internet – it hides accents and clues πŸ™‚ I am in Myanmar, where the accent has softened over the years to ensure folks can understand what I am saying. Would be lonely otherwise! But the crabitness? Honing that to perfection πŸ˜‰ Hope you enjoyed your trip…

  3. Lucky you, going off to KL! I echo what your other readers have said – you will have a blast and be well looked after by your Malaysian hosts. They are extremely hospitable creatures and will do all they can to make you feel comfortable.

    They can’t help the weather, though, and I have to say that when I lived in that part of the world, it wasn’t the heat, but the energy-sapping humidity that I found challenging. Off the top of head, here are some tips:

    Bring a hat or a light scarf to cover your head with. Handy to keep the sun from frying your brain (and for impromptu trips to mosques!).
    Keep a packet of baby wipes in your bag.
    Keep a packet of baby wipes in the fridge. They can be really refreshing at the end of the day – the cold water won’t really be ‘cold’.
    If you generally use the word ‘mate’ for friend or partner (I can’t think that you would, but anyway…..) you might consider using an alternative. The locals will hear ‘maid’ – which means domestic helper – and will be mightily confused.
    The food is fabulous! No matter your preferences, you will find something to tickle your tastebuds. Enjoy every mouthful! πŸ™‚
    Bring a light jacket – offices, shopping centres and other public buildings (though not all schools), as well as cabs, are air-conditioned and the air can be decidedly chilly. Also, the contrast from outdoors to indoors can be quite shocking to the system.
    Add the word ‘lah’ to your aural vocabulary! It is used to add emphasis and can pop up any and everywhere!

    That’s all I can think of off the top of my head – but if anything else occurs to me, I’ll pop back and add it. πŸ™‚

    Hazel

  4. Go for it and enjoy it. I shan’t try to offer any practical advice, as others have covered it comprehensively and well. Mine was from Singers anyway, and I’m sure that would be of no help πŸ™‚

    Hope your adult brain is able to cope with the jet-lag, as it’s a business trip it doesn’t look like your itinerary gives you much time to acclimatise. Look forward to reading your trip report.

    1. Thanks, Philip! Re the jetlag – I have two nights to acclimatise, as I arrive on Weds evening and don’t have to do anything till Friday.The British Council very kindly suggested that and are paying the hotel for the whole time, so I’m reasonably relaxed about that aspect, as I know that functioning at all sharply while jetlagged is impossible.

      I will certainly report! Hoping for access to internet and, therefore, Twitter, too!

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