Nic And Helen: Sharking For Chips & Drinks
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Kuala Lumpur, etc.
Sharking for Chips and Drinks is a food and travel blog by writer-photographer team Nic Crilly-Hargrave and Helen Alexander. I am from Australia and Helen is a London native. We moved to KL 3 months ago to set up our website in Asia. The site focuses on the hottest new cafes, bars and restaurants and anything else that tickles our fancy. It started in 2009 and has been going strong ever since.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I lived in London for six years and upon convincing Helen to migrate to Australia we travelled for four months through South East Asia. Our end destination was Melbourne where we had chosen to live but knew absolutely no one. To ensure we didn’t stay cooped up indoors we started the blog to explore the city and the rest of Australia.
We also decided that we would be completely honest about our experiences and tell it like it is. There are way too many blogs and websites out there who are basically advertorial and praising everything. We aim to be like your best friend – if you’re heading somewhere and we think it’s not up to standard or that it’s complete crap we will tell you. Yes it’s made us some enemies over the years, yes we have had restaurateurs show up to my workplace and threaten us but it sets us apart from the pack.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Relevant to KL:
- 8 tips you should know before visiting Kuala Lumpur. This was put together after our first 2 weeks and what we deem essential to newbies.
- 36 hours in Kuala Lumpur. We had out first visitor who is also a chef so we put together this itinerary and showed him all the city has to offer.
- Jump Street Asia Trampoline Park. Exercise that’s actually fun?! Count me in!
- Street Food Hawker Stall Series: AHMED IBRAHIM, Masjid Jamek, Kuala Lumpur. The first of a series when we shine the spotlight on the unsung streetfood stall holders.
And those notorious reviews:
Tell us about the ways your new life in Kuala Lumpur differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Kuala Lumpur is an assault on the senses. I love that in KL you can have the London/Melbourne food and drink experience but then you can have the complete opposite end of the spectrum as well. I love being able to go out for some amazing cocktails (current favourite is Omakase + Appreciate) and then head out for some crazy good street food.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Kuala Lumpur? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I think we were as prepared as we could be moving to KL. We sold up everything Down Under and had only our backpacks to shuttle around. If I could do it all again I would buy a scooter to get around on immediately and pack many more tee shirts. Other than that we are nomads so everything can be done on the fly.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
When being invited to review a restaurant or bar in Australia, they let you know who to ask for when you arrive and then just let you get on with it. In KL it’s completely different. You are required to come at a time when the restaurant is closed and you sit opposite the PR rep who just watches you eat and drink in the exact order that they want you too. It’s completely unnatural and gives you no insight to how the business really runs. We won’t be doing any more of those for sure.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Kuala Lumpur?
- Get over your fear of street food. These guys couldn't be plying their trade for decades by making their customers sick.
- When you arrive – walk. Don’t take the LRT or taxis. Learn the lay of the land, how neighborhoods are connected and take the more interesting backstreets while you’re at it.
- If you’re on social media – Kuala Lumpur is all about Instagram. Set up an account and start following locals and businesses to get the skinny on what’s happening in town. Twitter has come and gone (I’m as surprised as you are).
How is the expat community in Kuala Lumpur? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community is really friendly here and ready to reach out and say hi. Amazingly our first encounter with the expat community was the Australian delegate for trade who spotted our Instagram account and invited us out to dinner off the back of it.
How would you summarize your expat life in Kuala Lumpur in a single, catchy sentence?
Kuala Lumpur is a fast rising city that’s looming with sky scrapers, stellar cuisine, up and coming nightlife which we dare you to try and keep up with.