My time during the Corona lockdown in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

After my Asia-Exchange semester in Bangkok I started to travel around southeast Asia because I have fallen in love with this part of the world. So much to explore and to experience around here!

After one incredible month in Vietnam and a few amazing days in Singapore, I entered Malaysia on March 9th. The corona situation was already getting really serious in some countries, but Malaysia only had a few hundred cases at that time, so I wasn’t worried at all.

I spent my first week in this country at the lovely town of Melaka, where I was able to get a few first impressions of the country, its people, and its food. My first impression: Wow!

man is smiling while having a strawberry smoothie in fron of him
Ken decided to travel and see more of Asia after his semester abroad in Bangkok. Photo By Ken

The people here are so friendly and open towards foreign travelers like me and I was really impressed by how good everyone here speaks English, so no communication problems at all.

How was it to experience the MCO in Malaysia?

After being in Melaka for around one week, the Corona cases in Malaysia suddenly increased to over 1000 within a few days and the government announced that there will be an MCO – Movement control order for 14 days. (Spoiler: They extended it to a total of eight weeks – so far). So, not a total lockdown like in some other countries, but still these regulations meant that I couldn’t travel around anymore. Going outside or leaving the house was now only allowed if you had to go to the supermarket, to get food or going to the doctor or other really necessary things.

My hotel closed from one day to the other because of this MCO and I took one of the last buses that were still driving to Kuala Lumpur because I felt I would be safer in the capital city.

So, I made it to KL right on the first day of the MCO. I was not scared of the virus, but still the situation was a bit weird, because I didn’t know what was going to happen over the next few weeks. I started to be more careful, wearing a mask every time I went outside, I started washing my hands more often, and using hand sanitizer a lot. And of course, I understood that it was necessary to follow the government’s guidelines in order for the virus to stop spreading.

The following weeks all looked the same. I was spending a lot of time in my hotel and I was only going outside to go to the supermarket or to buy food. I also started to work online, which I actually did before the outbreak but I never really had the time to put the needed effort into it. So I used the lockdown to really get my online business going and to earn some money.

Kuala Lumpur is like a ghost town

In the beginning, it felt a bit weird to walk around outside. The city looks like a ghost town; I never saw a huge city like KL so empty. And in front of every supermarket, there are security guards to check the temperature and at some places, I have to write down my contact details every time I enter. So that was, of course, a bit strange in the beginning, but now I´m used to it.

man walking on a bridge in the jungle with skyscrapers in the background
Kuala Lumpur is like a ghost town during the lockdown. Photo By Fabian

My impression is that everyone here takes the epidemic seriously. Malaysia started the MCO after having just around 1000 cases, which is quite early compared to European countries or to the USA. My impression is that most people here follow the MCO rules, which is good. This also makes me feel safe here and I never thought about going back home, because of this situation.

Now the MCO has been going on for almost eight weeks and will hopefully be over soon. But nobody really knows what will happen then. Will I be able to travel again? I would really love to explore and get to know KL and potentially more of the country when all of this is finished, but of course, that is not my priority at the moment, it is more important that everyone here stays healthy.

I am still having a good time here. I try to make the best out of it. I can’t change the situation and it’s the same right now everywhere around the world, so I am not complaining about things I cannot change. Every crisis always has opportunities too. That’s my mindset.

You might also be interested in: Tuomas, Co-founder of Asia Exchange, gives insights on COVID-19

It is very helpful that Malaysian people are so friendly towards foreigners like me. I am really grateful for that. So many Malaysian people offered me help or gave me tips and recommendations on where to buy food or where to find cheap places. I also have a YouTube channel where I document my travels and this MCO situation and especially in the comment section of my channel, there are so many friendly and helpful comments from local people. Many also text me privately on Instagram, that’s really great and helpful for me and that makes my situation here a lot easier.
I am glad that I decided to stay here although I never really thought about flying back home because of Corona and now I am looking forward to see what is going to happen in the nearest future.

If you are interested in following my journey around southeast Asia on YouTube or interested in seeing how Kuala Lumpur looks now during this time, my channel is called “Ken Abroad” 

Are you interested in studying abroad in Kuala Lumpur? 

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

This article was conducted by our former Bangkok Student Ken! 

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