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Keyna Larkin writes...

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

Our member focus this month is our dear friend, Keyna Larkin. Keyna has been a well loved member for several years, always there with a helping hand and smile on her face! She moved to Kuala Lumpur with her husband last year on a temporary assignment for several years, but comes back from time to time and meets with us when she can. She (along with Christine and Roma) were responsible for introducing me to the IWO, for which I am very grateful. Thanks, guys!!! She explains how she came to know the IWO when she first came to Limerick and what it meant to her/how it helped her settle down in Limerick (which it has many of us!).. Looking forward to her next visit and get together! In the meantime, here is a taste of how she is getting on!


I moved to Limerick in 2012 as a result of my husband Mike being employed at University of Limerick. It was quite a change as I had always lived in England.

I joined the IWO in 2013 at a time when I was finding it tough to meet other people and make friends. From the very start I was made to feel very welcome and I really enjoyed my time with the IWO. I look forward to catching up with everyone over the summer when I am back for a few weeks. I miss seeing everyone and hearing their news.

Last summer I moved to Kuala Lumpur and immediately joined a ladies group as I knew

well the benefits associated with such a group through the IWO. I now play Mahjong here

having learned with the IWO. There is also a weekly coffee morning as in Limerick. There

is a new book club which I have joined although I never got to the IWO book club despite

always intending to. We are on our third book so have a long way to go to catch up with


Living in KL is very different. We now live in an apartment on the 37th floor. We have

views over the city to the hills beyond. The complex has its own pool and gym which I

sadly don’t utilise enough. I have good intentions to do so. We live in the heart of KL above

a large shopping mall and there are many different bars and restaurants within a few minutes

walk. Life here is fairly easy as most people speak some English and now it is taught in

schools. I have learnt to say Thank you in Bahasa Malay which seems to amuse the local

population. Maybe my accent is appalling, I don’t know!

However I find it difficult not to be busy so I now volunteer at a local school for Chin

refugees from Myanmar. I am there 2 mornings a week. The children are great and keen to

learn. Refugee children are not allowed at state schools here so local charities set schools up all over the city, often just in a room. Where I work is better as there are several classrooms with air conditioning and an outdoor dining room. I am known as Teacher Keyna. It is common here to be referred to by your title and first name. Surnames are very rarely used. Mike is referred to as Prof Dr Mike. Medics are always called Dr.

We plan to see more of SE Asia as flights to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand etc are cheap and plentiful. We wanted to settle in first before touring around. We have had visitors already who have loved KL and all it offers. It is a mixed nation with different cultures, Malays who are Muslim, Chinese often Buddhist and Indian Tamils who are Hindu or Christian. This leads to a diversity of culture and food, even before all the many other nationalities who live here. It is a truly global city. However the traffic can be truly horrendous. Petrol is very cheap, it costs about €20 to fill the car, so most people drive instead of using the bus or train. Last week we were invited to an Irish event but never made it as we were in traffic for over 2 hours. We moved about 200 yards in the last hour. We gave up and went home! Luckily I use public transport mainly to get around or I walk although I find half an hour in the heat and humidity is as much as I can do without a break in some air conditioning!

Shopping is a national sport here as malls are air conditioned and often have WiFi. Everyone comes to cool off, use the WiFi and eat in the food courts. In IKEA people sleep on the beds, sofas etc then eat in the cafe. Sunday evenings are the busiest times in the malls as they open till 10pm. I keep wanting to tell people that surely their children should be in bed but have resisted so far!

I am enjoying life here but it doesn’t feel like home as Limerick does. I really struggle with the climate, 34 degrees most days with a low of 28 at night and very humid. I miss cool weather and long summer evenings but the people are lovely, very gentle and helpful. I feel privileged to be here. Who knew moving to Limerick would lead us halfway round the world to another Irish medical school here in Malaysia.

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