So we last left our intrepid heroes leaving on a jet plane to Asia, but I thought we would pause that scene and back up to the event leading to our actual exit from the country. We had decided we wanted to go overseas but now the question was...where? Michael was basically following London hours at the time so our first thoughts turned to England (yeah, twist my arm...I was dying to get back to the green & pleasant land of my LDS mission) so we contacted some people we knew to get an idea about housing costs, visa requirements, etc. and began planning a reconnasaince mission to find a place to live. Somehow, during all of this hunting, things stopped clicking into place and we felt walls shooting up at every turn. Our largest and most obvious obstacle, however, seemed to be the cost of living issue. We had been overwhelmingly blessed to have the funds from the sale of our house to fund this endeavor, but didn't want to see it all blown away at once just on rent for an apartment. Frustrated but still determined, we began moving away from England and fanning out to other European countries. Italy? Switzerland? Every place seemed to throw up obstacles in our path with either costs or visa requirements or work restrictions. In our discussions, we started spreading farther and farther around the globe. What about Asia? I'm sure Michael asked at some point. Hmmm...I guesssss so...I ventured, obviously not psyched about the idea. I'm comfortable with romance languages and rich, Tuscan-countryside food. A completely different alphabet makes me nervous. But we began adding Asian countries into our searching.
Finally, one sleep-elusive night while Michael was in one room working I stayed up comatose in front of the computer desparately looking for houses. Anywhere. It's a big world, people, there HAS to be somewhere we can live. At some point Michael even went to bed, but I persisted, convinced something would come to me. And it did. Somehow in the fog of the early morning, my searches took me to E-bay. People found books, machinery, electrical equipment, clothes, even cars on E-bay, so why not a place to live. I found gorgeous beach homes in Belize, tiny flats in London, even vacation homes in Thailand. Finally, I don't remember what I indicated in my search parameters, somehow a house came up. In Bali, Indonesia. It was gorgeous. It was an open-air design. It was fully furnished. It was for SALE. And with real estate prices in Indonesia and the strength of the dollar, we could have bought it outright. In cash. I almost couldn't wait for morning so I could ask Michael if we could please, please, PLEASE move to Bali!!???
He didn't need a lot of convincing once I showed him the pictures, but we did think we should learn more about Indonesia. It turns out to be not the safest place for Americans to live. Huh, go figure. The visa requirements were OK, but still not too pretty and looked like they'd be a fairly large, beauracratic pain in the arse. So we put that idea on hold and started looking around Asia. I am embarrassed to admit how deficient I was in my geographic knowledge of Asia. Sort of like how I still am with the Middle East. But after studying maps and learning the main languages of each country, the major currency, the visa requirements, the placement of capital cities and the cost of living we felt educated enough to make an informed decision. I think Thailand and Singapore were our default choices and one of them would have been our end destination if it weren't for the visa issue. Several Asian countries have the annoying habit of letting people into their country for 30 days, then asking them to leave for 60-90 days before they let them back in the country again. We thought that might be awkward if all of our stuff was in an apartment somewhere and the government of that country told us we weren't allowed to be there.
So, what about Malaysia...hmmm...well, it borders Thailand so that's Southeast Asia, nice and tropical. What else...let's see...oh! Most of the population speak English! (Honestly, where DON'T most natives speak English? Are we spoiled, or what?) Well, how about, oh, the cost of living is about 1/3 of what it is in the US, interesting. Well, what about visa requir...what? They only make you leave every 90 days and you can come right back??? Well, that would certainly be more convenient, don't you think? Hmmm...what about the church...oooh, there are a bunch of branches all around the country, mostly centered around the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Well, my, my, my, doesn't that sound intruiging?... And thus, we became hooked. It's decided then? Yes, decided. We started finding apartments online right away that looked amazing and we started getting really excited. It was at THAT exact point in our adventure that I went into Michael's office early one morning, squinting and bleary-eyed from sleep, holding a pink stick in my hand and asking him, "does this say what I think it says?" Yep, we were pregnant.