Malaysian artist Wong Xiang Yi, a really cool painter in the Chinese ink tradition, is on a year-long residency in Rimbun Dahan until February 2018. She works out of a studio near the main house, where I would find her on top of a big table, working on a large canvas.

She needed to go to Kuala Lumpur city to buy a big container in which to transport her artworks, and kindly agreed to let me tag along. We made a fun half-day of it, cutting through KL’s Chinatown, where migrants not from China peddle fake designer handbags and other bric-a-brac. After we stopped at Wisma Selangor – an amazing building chockful of traditional Chinese calligraphy supplies like brushes and paper.

We ate fried mee tai mak at a retro (not hipster but just original) eatery.

We stumbled into a bar that looks like a toy store in front, where the decor was cute, the drinks delicious and the menu in the form of exercise books that you’d want to steal.

We went to see Paranormal String Quartet at Raw Art Space.

Then we ate fried koay teow at a mamak stall, where Malalysians were glued to the AFF finals between Malaysia and Vietnam.

It was pretty late by the time we were done. In the Grab car, the driver couldn’t quite believe I was asking him to go off-road into the Rimbun Dahan jungle to get to my house. “Are you sure there’s a house there?” he kept asking incredulously as we urged him to drive deeper into the compound, along the unlit path to my house. In the end, to convince him that we were not pontianaks, Xiang Yi had to shout: “Saya orang! Saya orang!” (I’m a person!)


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