Malaysia! Now What?

Boy what a rollercoaster it has been!

I arrived at KLIA on the 3rd of September and it has been an absolute blast. The food was inexpensive and delicious. The people are so heartwarming and welcoming that it puts us Americans to shame.

Week one was the week of arrivals. Rezal and Karen had a lot to do before the start of their wedding that upcoming weekend. First of the arrivals from our group was me, arriving on the 3rd. My boyfriend Scotty made his arrival just a couple short days later on the 5th along with other members of the wedding coming from California and Minnesota.

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We all hung out as a group, seeing the sights. Fast-forward to Friday, the day before the wedding. A lot of things still need to get done. All the small, but important details. Actually, let me rewind a bit. The day of Scotty and everybody else’s arrival, we were all slated to go down south to Kluang for the bride’s side of the wedding. Because of all the gifts that need to be brought down, there wouldn’t be room for me, Scotty and our other colleagues and their monumental amounts of luggage. So Rezal and Karen decided that it would be best if Rezal took Karen’s friends down since they needed to be down south ASAP anyways. Me, Scotty and the others would need to take public transport down. Not a big deal. Apparently it was because some of us overpacked and didn’t want to try and live like locals. For Scotty and I though it would be an exciting walk in the park!

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As soon as we got wind that our other colleagues would be skipping the wedding they said they were going to help with and fly to Poland, Scotty and I didn’t wait and wanted to get down ASAP so we can join in on the fun, too!

First step, grab our bags and buy a ticket to TBS, which is a bus terminal. At this point, the 6 of us were still at KLIA2 getting food and SIM cards for those who just arrived. While the others were getting situated, Scotty and I grabbed our ticket to TBS — of course, the bus from KLIA2 to TBS doesn’t leave for another couple hours, so we elected to give our tickets away to those who were queueing to purchase one. We decided we’ll take a Grab to TBS (Grab is like an Uber/Lyft here in the States). The Grab driver though says they’re a few minutes away, made us wait another half hour looking. I decided to cancel the Grab, regardless of what the driver said and elected to grab a traditional taxi over.

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Since Scotty and I booked our ticket from TBS down to Kluang online, we had a deadline to meet. Our taxi driver was beautiful in the way he got us over to TBS with some time to spare. Unnnnnfortunately for us, TBS wasn’t exactly laid out friendly. Kiosks galore from all these different bus companies going all over Malaysia and indeed all over SE Asia. We had to find the green kiosk to print our tickets. Otherwise we can’t get past security. Thankfully for both Scotty and I, we’re both colorblind, so finding the kiosk was a stressful endeavor. Asked for help and found the line. Waited and printed our ticket. Out bus leaves the station at like 4:20pm or something like that and we got to the terminal at 4:22 with no bus outside the doors. SHIT. We’ve just missed it by MINUTES. We asked the nearest security agent if the bus just took off. He said that it hasn’t arrived yet. Oh, thank God.

We waited then boarded the bus at around 4:40pm and made it down to Kluang. Now we had to find a Grab that’ll take us from the terminal to Hotel Anika, which we found one quite quickly. It was a short 5 minute ride for RM4, which is just about 1USD. Cheap as chips!

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Checked into the hotel, got situated and started sight seeing while Karen and Rezal were helping get their wedding setup. Fast forward a couple days and we’re into Friday, one day before the wedding starts and Rezal’s best man is just flying in from Minneapolis. We’re all down south and Dan is arriving to KLIA. He’ll need to take public transport, however… Rezal and Karen both forgot some stuff back in Kuala Lumpur, so I volunteered to drive up and grab their stuff and pick Dan up at the same time. Get two birds with one stone, which actually ended up working out beautifully.

Dan, Scotty and I arrived back in Kluang late in the evening. Thankfully Dan got some sleep in the Proton Waja I was driving so he was slightly rejuvenated by the time we arrived at Hotel Anika. We all decided to have a little mini bachelor party at a local bar called ASAP (As Swag As Possible) and it was a damned good time.

The next day — the big day. The official day. Rezal and Karen get to marry! I’m not going to bore you all with the boring details, but it was such a beautiful ceremony that I started crying. I had the privilege of being their photographer, so I was working very hard to get all the photos taken. I got some pretty damned good ones too!

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To kind of wrap up this post, we all had an amazing time in Malaysia. The second wedding was just as amazing and all the places we’ve seen and experienced together was amazing. The resort in Batu Ferringhi was awesome. Unfortunately because my accounts kept getting frozen overseas, I got spooked and decided to fly both Scotty and I back to Minnesota.

So, on October 1st we left the apartment I’ve rented from Rezal and hitched a ride with Karen to KLIA2 where we spent the night at the Capsule Hotel in KLIA2. Had dinner with Karen, Rezal, Adriana and Scotty at KLIA2, visited AirAsia’s RedQ Headquarters and had a perfect cherry to top our Malaysia story. They gave us a ride back to KLIA where we’re slated to catch a flight to Shanghai, then San Francisco then back home to Minneapolis.

As for the what now? This post will be the swan song of The Nomadic Tire I think and I’ll be focusing on my freelancing gig. As I continue to grow and gain more clients and create more content, I think I’ll start blogging again and maybe even start a YouTube channel?? It’ll probably all be under a new moniker. Until then, hope you all had a great time reading about me growing and traveling.

Until then, Ciao!

-Kevin

Getting Over The Initial Hump

What a whirlwind of a travel saga this has been! There has been a lot of ups and downs when beginning to travel long-term for the first time.

Travel blogger after travel vlogger, they’re all saying the same damn thing — and it’s true. The first time you leave is the hardest and will be the hardest. But they say it gets easier.


Leaving Home.

Getting things ready to go back at home is one hell of a process. From packing, to getting rid of the rest of your possessions, to cleaning up your room, seeing friends and family and everything else. This is a process I wish I would’ve taken more time to do. One week is just not enough time — at least for me. This is a process where I would recommend at least 2 weeks to get all of your affairs in order.

Then comes a day where you’re in your final 24 hours. You can’t sleep. You’re exhausted and your ride is waiting to drop you off at the airport. This is it. Your big finale. Mom wanted to drop me off — I asked her if it’s okay she dropped off my friends as well since we’re all traveling together. She happily obliged.

It was a quick ride to drop us all off at the airport. I said my goodbyes, and took the final selfie with mom before heading inside Minneapolis-St. Paul International.


No Looking Back — At Least Try Not To.

Stepping into the airport and watching mom leave for work was tough, but the excitement of traveling around the world was something that quickly squashed the sorrow.

Check-In, check. Security, check. Breakfast, fail. After we all got checked in and breezed through security, we had just over an hour before our plane even started to board from MSP to HND (Tokyo – Haneda International Airport). We found a place that served breakfast and sat down. Before even looking at the menu, I was browsing through Facebook with all the excitement in the world until this picture came up in my timeline feed posted by mother dearest:

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The caption reads “Hard to say good bye to your kid, but I am happy that he is doing what he loves. Safe travel, Kevin. Remember this will always be your home. Love you.”

From that moment on – it was queue the waterworks.

I could not stop sobbing at the restaurant. Ordered my breakfast and a mimosa, to calm my nerves. Chugging down that mimosa didn’t help much. I needed another, but I shouldn’t. I’ve decided that I should stay away from Facebook to try to get my emotions in check. That helped. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom for a good 20-30 minutes. Quietly sobbing in the bathroom stall. In between all the flushes, chit-chat, hand driers whirring and people farting in the stall next to me, was me trying to sob as quietly as possible. I returned back to the restaurant tired and dehydrated. I’m sure the people sitting next to us was wondering what the hell I was crying about. Probably thought I was getting deported or something — who knows? It’s Trump’s America, now!

The emotions of leaving your mom back home. Your sibling, friends and other extended family behind in the United States while you’re about to go travel the world is almost a feeling of guilt and regret. The feeling of letting down your friends and family, that you’re ditching them for your own selfish reasons. Leaving them behind. It’s one of the strongest feelings of sorrow I’ve ever felt, behind visiting my late friend Brian in hospice.

You’re thinking that you should call back your ride, beg them to take you back home. You want to reverse this process and go back to your norm. You just can’t bear to leave your family and friends. Let me tell you again, it’s the single most difficult thing you’ll ever have to do in your lifetime.

Is it worth it? Only the person asking can answer that. For me, it’s undecided. I really miss my mom. I really miss everybody back at home, but I really want to travel some more and explore more of the world with my own eyes, not just behind a computer screen or though a magazine. See, touch, smell, taste. Take in all of your senses and immerse yourself into a completely different culture and world. Until I am able to come to a definitive conclusion if it’s worth it to me or not, I’ll continue on my travels.

I’ll be writing about more of my travels here in Malaysia in a future post. This will probably be a multi-part series on Malaysia travel.

This Is The Most Difficult Part

This is the bit of the travel journey that everybody has to start off with. This is the bit of the journey I wish I never had to do. The actual good-byes. Actually leaving. Actually selling your beloved car. Actually hugging your mom for the last time in a while is definitely a sobering feeling.

I was actually doing well for quite some time. Went through check-in, security with relative ease. Took all of what — 30 minutes? Maybe? Spent the next hour exploring Minneapolis St. Paul’s International Airport for a while — got some food. Two drinks in and the sobbing has for the most part stopped.

I’m struggling to keep my composure and not make a fool out of myself by sobbing at an airport terminal like I’m being deported or something. For god sakes. You never really understand the gravity of the situation until it’s actually happening. Right in front of your eyes.

Do yourself a favor. Tell your friends and family that you love them. Hug them dear. It may not be as long as a good-bye, but it’s more of an extended “see ya later.”

WARNING! DO NOT USE SIMPLE BANK.

Alright. Here’s the skinny. As some of you may or may not know, today’s my last day in The United States. I’m pretty much all packed, got my finances in order, passport is ready. I’m ready to go!

… or am I?

Here’s the thing on the finance side of things. If you’re planning on doing any type of extended travel abroad, DO NOT use Simple Bank (BBVACompass). Let me explain…


They’re “Not Equipped” For Long-Term Int’l Travel.

Sure, an online bank is perfect for expats and digital nomads alike, right? Not all online banks are created equal. Simple is not equipped somehow to handle long-term international travel. Unfortunately, I found out about this the hard way — ONE DAY BEFORE TAKING OFF.

Now, I let them know roughly 5-6 months in advance my travel plans. I haven’t heard anything as much as a peep from the regarding the extended travel and the inability to accommodate. I would be much less stressed and upset if they’d let me know, I don’t know, even a week before leaving? That gives me enough time to find a new bank to transfer before flying out.

Alas, they’ve said absolutely nothing all the way up until the day before the big off. Talk about a coma-inducing stress spike! They’ve single-handedly screwed me up the butt with no lubrication.

Here’s how all this went down…

Right as I was selling my car to her new owner this morning, I received a notification from Simple, saying that a new notification is in the app. So, naturally I open up the app and read the message. Here’s the message:

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You have got to be kidding me. Not only have they denied me access to my money abroad, I have a finite amount of money I can take out per day via ATMs. So, on one day before leaving the country, Simple has:

  1. Effectively locked all of my money in their account due to lack of notice;
  2. Made me scramble to find a suitable bank that’ll be able to accommodate such short notice;
  3. Created a loss of time to get other things done by searching for a new bank;
  4. Spiked my anxiety and stress to levels I haven’t experienced before.

Bank #1 — Wells Fargo

I’ve previously had dealt with Wells Fargo in the past, and when I opened up my Simple account, I transferred all of my money and payment instructions from Wells Fargo to Simple about 8-9 months ago. They’ve tried to get me to keep my account open — and I really should have. Because of me leaving my day job and effectively reducing my income technically to $0 annually, they were unable to accept my application to open up a new checking account with them.


Bank #2 — US Bank

A good friend of mine has US Bank, so I thought I’d give them a shot. She seems to like them. Naturally, Murphy’s Law… when it rains, it pours. DAMN was it pouring.

I arrived at a US Bank branch. Their servers were down and everybody and their mothers were on a backup server. That slowed the process down to open up a checking account with them to over an hour of agony.

My banking rep was kind — albeit scatter-brained at my situation. I asked her all the questions I needed to ask such as “will I be able to use this temporary debit card overseas?” “How much is the daily limit on purchases and ATM withdrawals?” “How long of a process is it to mail out a permanent card to my mother’s address?” “As soon as my permanent card is shipped to my mom, can it be activated abroad or will it have to be done within the US?”

Somewhat difficult and unique questions to be asking, but when Simple shits on you this hard, you have to ask these questions, otherwise you’ll be left without any money whatsoever.

She assures me that my temp debit card will work Internationally and will have a $500/day ATM withdrawal limit and a $1000/day POS spending limit. Great! Think this is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Remember a few paragraphs ago when I said that US Bank’s servers were down and were on a backup server? Well, that ended up screwing me along with either a bold-faced lie or inaccurate information from one of US Bank’s reps.

After I finally opened up a US Bank account, I tried to tie my Simple account to it so I can transfer from Simple to US Bank… couldn’t log in to US Bank. After about an hour of trying, I finally get it working and I immediately transferred $2000 to US Bank from Simple so I had some spending money for when I go abroad.

Great! All is well — but wait, there’s more! I tried to put in travel plans through their app with my first international country — Japan. 10 hour layover in Japan, I’ll want some spending money to explore, grab some food, etc… The app continually said that they were unable to “display the information” in regards to the dates I will be in Japan. Tried, tried and tried again. Couldn’t get it to work. Their servers must still be down. So, I called. After being on hold for 15 minutes, I finally get a rep that has to put me on hold again for about 5 minutes, verifies that I just opened up the account today and places me on yet another hold for about 10 minutes. He then informs me that they are unable to put a travel notice on a temporary debit card (not what my original branch rep told me!).

Great, now even US Bank won’t work when I travel tomorrow. Thanks, Simple. You really F*CKED ME OVER.

By the time I get off the phone and I open up the Simple app to cancel the $2000 transfer, it already has left my account and is in transit to US Bank. GREAT.

Now to find yet another bank… maybe 3rd time’s the charm?


Bank #3 — TCF Bank

I remembered that my buddy Rezal who is already in Malaysia has a current TCF Bank account. Awesome, surely they’ll be able to help.

Located and B-Lined it to the closest TCF Bank branch and told them of my rollercoaster of a situation. Not only were they able to print off a permanent ready-to-use debit card, they were able to help setup my online banking and also setup my travel plans for me! Now, after this post, I will call TCF Bank and verify my current travel plans, knowing my luck, the TCF Bank rep screwed that up, too.

Opened up the TCF account, got everything situated in less than 30 minutes. Only caveat? TCF Bank technically does not work in Malaysia for an unknown reason. So, I’ll have to transfer funds from the TCF account to one of my credit cards that should work abroad. After all, that’s what Rezal is doing right now. How hard can it be? With my luck, this is the beginning of a nightmare abroad.

One Week

This reminds me of the Barenaked Ladies song “One Week.”

It’s been one week since you looked at me, threw your arms into the air and said you’re crazy.

Coming soon it will truly be one week since I’ve seen any of my friends and family — some of them threw their arms into the air and said I’m crazy. Most congratulated me on making this decision and gave me hugs.

It’s crazy to think that this whole entire process started with meeting that one friend that has changed my life those 9 months ago — forever. Rezal, I’m looking at you. Check out his blog at www.gojirars.com!


No More Day Job!

This past Friday was my birthday, and what a more perfect gift to myself than to cease employment with the job that drove me crazy and stressed me to no end!

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy working at the dealership. The one thing that really stressed me out were the unrealistic customers who needed to have their hand held the whole time otherwise they’ll kick and scream and become a PR nightmare. Then they’ll get what they want for free. Because the customer is always right.

It was a bittersweet day on my birthday. Having the excitement of leaving the job, excitement of my birthday, sadness of leaving my friends that work there and some of the customers who were just absolute rockstars.


3 Days and 17 Hours Until Check-In

With the FlyDelta app on my iPhone, it tells me how many days and hours I have left until I can check in. Watching that figure go from months to weeks and now down to days and hours. It’s exciting as eff!

The flight from Minneapolis – St. Paul to Tokyo Narita is going to be one exciting trip! All the things that I can’t wait to do are soon going to be reality such as visiting an Onsen, eating at a true stand-up sushi restaurant, staying for a few hours at a capsule hotel. It’s all going to happen in less than a week!

Not to mention flying from Narita to Kuala Lumpur to see Rezal again. We’re all super stoked and excited to see him once more! It feels like it’s been ages since he left us for a better life overseas but now we’re going to be a group again! Then it’s time for Rezal and Karen’s big day — THEIR WEDDING! Josh and I have the honor of taking videos and photographs of their exciting moment. It’s a tall order for us lot, but for Rezal, failure is not an option.

I have to get back to getting shit ready for the off. Will likely post again once we’re at the airport waiting to board post-security.

CANNOT WAIT.

Starting To Say My Good-Byes

Holy moly does time fly by fast! A lot has happened since my last post. Here is my status update!


Work Place Changes — Again.

The service department at my dealership is basically playing Musical Service Chairs. First it was moving from Service Advisor to Warranty Administrator. Then Warranty Administrator back to Service Advisor, then from Service Advisor to Service Greeter/Bitch. My buddy Jesse is getting trained in to take over my position as I prepare to leave the dealership in about 1.5 months. Once he’s fully trained in as a Service Advisor, I move to a Service Greeter/Bitch position. I’ll be greeting customers while other advisors are trying to wrap other things up and preparing to check in a new customer. I will also help with shuttle rides, parts pickup from various other dealerships around the Metro area. What a way to end the dealership life with a bang, eh?!


48 Days, 12 Hours Until Check-In.

Holy shit. this is it. This is seriously the final moment here in the USA. As it starts to hit me harder and harder with each passing day, I realize that some of my most favorite customers from the dealership, I’m going to miss a lot, not to mention my colleagues. I swear to God that I’m going to be an absolute mess when my birthday/last day of work comes along.

To my dearest customers, I seriously thank you all for being truly amazing and helping make my hectic day at the dealership an absolute peach. In a highly stressful and fast-faced environment, your amazingness has really helped me get through the day without a mental breakdown. The words, laughs, handshakes and hugs shared between us is something that I will never forget. Trust me when I say when you congratulate me and wish me well on my endeavors whilst giving me a handshake or a hug, you guys have literally brought me to tears. I truly will miss you all!!

To my esteemed colleagues at Mazda Mitsubishi, I know that some of you actually read my shit that I post on here. I don’t know why you would want to read such a stale piece of article. Anyways, you guys are like my second family. We’ve been to two holiday parties, a housewarming party, a few birthday parties as well. We’ve all laughed, (I) cried, and we’ve said some extremely awkward things to each other in the past almost-three years. I know this isn’t my swan song with you guys yet, but damn, it certainly feels like it. With you guys, I’m either super happy, super tired or super stressed. Behind all of those facial expressions now lies a mind full of bittersweet memories. It’s almost kind of like facing mortality, except with leaving you guys and the USA to pursue a life-long dream. You guys have been an amazing support structure for me as I grew and matured. My last day with you guys I swear to God I am going to be a) absolutely useless, b) cry a shit ton and c) give you guys a lot of hugs. Yes, I will hug you guys. Get over it. You guys are truly like family to me, and I’m damn proud of it!! P.S. I’m still bitter that shortly after I leave, you guys will move into our brand new building. I’m expecting a lot of pictures posted on Facebook!

Lastly to my friends and family, you know that I love you all. I’m sorry that I haven’t been there much the past several months. Work has been hectic and I’ve been trying to learn and get as much done as possible. So many things to do yet and I only have 7 weeks left!! I will honestly try to be to as many events and gatherings as I can possibly muster. I apologize if either I’m too tired to go or I have something else planned. Do all the things!! I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going to host my going away/birthday party. I think I’ll just do an open invite to anybody who would like to join me at Cowboy Jacks in Plymouth.

I have to get back to other pressing things as I try to get my ducks in order so that my transition to freelancing and nomadic life goes as smoothly as possible.

The Final Countdown

Before I get started with the rest of the post — 4 more months! 1/3 of a year left. Still tons of stuff to do! It’s been 5 months since I’ve purchased my life-changing one-way flight to Kuala Lumpur! Since then, I’ve been working on expanding my knowledge of different programming languages such as HTML, CSS, PHP, Ruby, Python and Xcode. Along with that, changes to my health and employment has thrown the rest of my game plan off a bit. More on that below.


Changes With My Employer?

Yeah. My job title changed. Long story short: my employer knows that I’m moving out of the country later this year. Eventually they’ll need to find my replacement as a service advisor. Well, they found one. Which is perfect because the warranty administrator that was working for us quit. So I ended up being moved to warranty admin, and new Jen now took my place.

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This all started about a couple weeks ago, so it’s definitely been a learning curve when it comes to coding, closing and submitting warranty claims.

Decrease in pay, decrease in stress. I guess it’s a double-edged sword. New schedule, which is nice. I now get all weekends off.


What’s Wrong With My Health?

A lot, actually. In short, I’m just a broken down old (albeit still young) mess. Just had a surgery a couple weeks ago, so I’ve been recovering from that. So far it’s been a painful ride, that’s also quite itchy as my incisions are healing.

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That being said, looking for travel insurance when traveling abroad is hella expensive! World Nomads and IMG Travel Insurance are both asking for quite the premiums – hovering around $3-4k annually. Ouch!


Why TF Am I So Poor?

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Lemme tell you why. Car, motorcycle, insurance, loans, credit cards, gas, etc… Not to mention I’ve been paying on the Mazda every week. Total monthly contributions to both the Mazda and KTM including insurance and fuel is just about $2k a month. All this financial hardship so I can get everything paid off before the big off in September.