Worldschool Pop-up in Kuala Lumpur

Our flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur (affectionately known as KL) was uneventful and we arrived ready to take on a new city! Per usual, we grabbed a snack and enjoyed once again being in a city where we could feast like kings! We made our way to The Robertson Hotel, excited for the upcoming activities over the next week. 

When we were in Czech Republic in September, we had a bit of a low point and were all feeling a tinge of loneliness on the road.  James quickly jumped into action and discovered many opportunities for meeting others, including the Worldschool pop-up hub.  The pop-up hub is the brainchild of Rachel Carlson and she organizes events for families with homeschoolers and worldschoolers.  The pop-ups are weeklong affairs, where other worldschooling families congregate in a city and gather for various activities.  Rachel does an outstanding job of organizing an entire itinerary for a week, with most of the events costing very little.  The reviews were so good that we changed our already booked plans so we could attend the worldschool pop-up in Kuala Lumpur at the beginning of January. 

We spent the first night at the Robertson Hotel unpacking and loading up on some grocery items.  We made our way to a delicious Indian restaurant, Indian Empire, and took a stroll down the local Jalan Alor Night Market.  Goose was adamant about not visiting the night market because it seemed scary with so many people and unusual foods around.  We encouraged him to come anyway and not five minutes into our stroll he was enjoying a chef making homemade ramen noodles. 

Our favorite stall at the night market

It would later turn out to be one of his favorite restaurants and we ended up frequenting the night market for our dinner meals.  We’re so proud of him for stepping outside of his comfort zone!

The busy street of Jalon Alor Night Market

The first day of the pop-up event we met other families at a park on the top level of the Exchange TRX mall. There were easily over 100 people, including kids, and we were all exhausted by the end of the meet up.  Needing time to decompress and process it all, we snuck away to a quiet corner of the mall, bought some snacks, and talked about all the people we met. 

Worldschoolers unite!

We had just a short time to rest before we were off to the Central Market to shop and meet up with the group again for dinner and a walk along the river front.  The Central Market had several souvenir shops and some amazing batik shops that we enjoyed perusing.  We had a great first day and exhausted, headed back for some sleep.

The next morning we woke early to attend a park meet-up with families as well as local KL homeschoolers.  This pop-up was unique because it included many local families who joined many of our events.  KL has a thriving homeschool community and they were eager to share their experiences with us.  The kids quickly became friends with everyone, especially after joining in on a nerf gun war.  One family even brought their pet snakes to the park so everyone could learn about the Malaysian species. 

Goose holding one of the snakes brought by a local Malaysian family

We spent most afternoons having lunch and walking around one of the many, many malls.  It is so hot in KL that other than napping, staying in A/C is your next best bet to stave off the heat.  By the end of our two weeks in KL, it was safe to say we were malled out. 

Another morning out we went on a hike in a local park, had breakfast and then the kids had the opportunity to learn how to play the nose flute, an indigenous musical instrument.  It is just what it sounds like, you hold the instrument up to your nose and blow.  Goose took to it immediately and was even given one to take home as a souvenir!

Goose learning to play the nose flute with his new friends

Several more families had arrived at this point, one of which was the Johnston Family from Puerto Rico.  They are a YouTube family and we enjoyed spending a lot of time with them over the next week as several of our kids lined up in age.  It was the sweetest with Bingo, who befriended their youngest daughter, about the same age.  People even mistook them for twins! It was so nice to see Bingo, notably the shyest of our crew, make a best friend.

One afternoon, our family signed up for a tour of the Petronas Twin Towers.  A nice view of the city awaits at the top and you really get perspective on the size of KL.  Of course it’s connected to a mall, so we met up with friends after and watched the evening fountain and light show. Even better, the tour reminded us to watch an old school movie, Entrapment, featuring the Petronas Towers.  Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones were incredible, and it was funny watching a movie from the ‘90s, with how slow it seemed compared to today’s world.

Another activity we joined new friends for was the National Art Gallery.  With a huge group full of kids, we rushed through the museum; however, the kids did get to see some unique pieces and let’s face it, they would have been happy anywhere if it was with other kids. 

Following the gallery, our family stopped at the National Mosque of Malaysia.  Everyone but women are allowed to enter with shorts and t-shirts.  I had to don a robe that buttoned to the top and covered my head.  The mosque was enormous with hallways and balconies, but the main room itself is completely empty.  Thankfully, while at the Robertson we did not receive any wake-up calls from the mosque, but that would all change when we moved hotels a few days later!

Our first visit to a mosque

A favorite experience from KL was visiting the Craft Complex of KL. There, the kids and I had the opportunity to try our hand at batik.  First, the drawing on the silk is made with wax. Once the paint hits the silk, it spreads but not past the wax.  It was a relaxing activity, especially while there was a torrential downpour outside.

Batik painting

On our last day of the pop-up we visited the Batu Caves, complete with a temple inside.  The Hindu temple is adorned with a giant golden Buddha outside and colorful stairs that lead to the temple.  Manji was petrified the entire time, worried the monkeys wondering about would come after him.  They sit on the stairs waiting for people to pass with an eye towards swiping any available food.  It was a bit scary and we made sure to steer clear of them.  The cave itself was beautiful.  We even saw several Hindu ceremonies inside and each received a blessing. 

Visit to the Batu Caves

After the caves, we ate at a local food center and then went to Sunway University. We had a chance to hear another worldschooler and teenager give a talk about the experience of training for Mt. Everest.  As a 16-year-old, she would be the youngest American female to complete the climb.  The kids enjoyed asking her questions and even grabbed an autograph.  We’re cheering you on, River!

We hope River makes it to the top of Mt. Everest!

After the worldschool pop-up, several families stayed for another week. We had a blast during the week and it was nice to hang with friends even longer.  For this second week in KL, we moved from the Robertson to Soho Suites (cleaner and more central location). And then we spent the days with friends at the mall, seeing a movie, and playing at the park.  The kids all enjoyed doing parkour at Lepak n Learn where Goose’s friend’s parents own the center.  Goose then did parkour in the park with Arsh the next morning. He was so sad to say goodbye to his friend when we left.

Parkour with LepaknLearn

Our time in Kuala Lumpur was just what we needed.  We are at the halfway point of our family gap year and it was rejuvenating to meet so many people. We loved their unique perspectives on new places, people, and cultures.  As Rachel (our leader at the pop-up hub) said, “This was created so that you could find your people.”  James and I felt a huge sense of community with these families.  We had so many thought provoking conversations throughout the week. From school to raising kids to earning an income, and ultimately about the purpose of life!  We’ve already made plans to meet several of them on the road as we continue the rest of our trip!

Check out our Blog for the latest on our adventures