Alexandra Sieh
Alexandra Sieh

As the midday sun burned down, my friend pushed down on my shoulder.

"Someone's getting red."

"Sunburn in December. F***ing S.E.A.," I replied, wiping the sweat off my face with already sweaty hands.

She just shrugged. After spending years living in Southeast Asia, she'd grown accustomed to this ball-melting heat — had missed it, in fact. A lifelong Coloradan, I just wanted to find a restaurant before humidity made my hair too big to fit through the door.

We'd been walking around Kuala Lumpur since early that morning, taking photos of the Hindu temple and intricate street art, getting delightfully lost. But as we crept toward noon, I was getting a bit crangry.

Vegetarianism wasn't really "a thing" in Asia — not outside Buddhist districts, anyway. So we went from place to place, scanning the buffet or menu for anything that was meat-free.

Twelve restaurants later, we had come up short.

My friend looked worried, and rightfully so. As anyone who's spent time with me knows, I need to be fed regularly to avoid either passing out or throwing a toddler-sized tantrum.

"Don't worry," I said after slurping up my newly purchased lime juice. "I can wait a bit longer."

It's all we'd been doing in Malaysia so far. Waiting for the right train to pull up, for said train to depart, for our hostel's manager to find our reservation, for the showers to free up so we could rinse off.


It was the city where everything took a good, long while.

But wait we did, as we took another turn down yet another side street.

We started to chat. My friend was going through a rough time, prompting a fair share of heavy questions as we toured KL. As I recoiled from the nearby skewered meat tower, she fired another one my way.

"Do you think you were meant to move to Asia? To come here when you did and stay as long as you have?"

As I said. Heavy question, especially for a girl surely repelling passersby with her B.O.

Luckily, this one I knew the answer to straight away. I mean, I'd already asked myself this question many a time before.

"I've not a clue if I was meant to," I said, side-stepping a shirtless older man who was contentedly rubbing his hefty belly, "but I know it probably couldn't have worked out any other way."

For me, my move to Asia came just when it could have. I'd spent four years after college working and hiking and drinking with my friends. I'd grown up immeasurably, learning new responsibilities, realizing career opportunities and coming into my own after years of single life.

While I wasn't necessarily waiting for this life in Beijing, I knew I was waiting for something. I'd been patient. I'd been responsible. My loans were paid, my friends were settled.

I had waited long enough.

When I landed in Beijing, I was precisely as strong as I needed to be to handle how overwhelming this new life would be. A year and a half later, I've never doubted whether this was the right decision. I know it was. My waiting had paid off, and it was well worth it.

Finally, we slid into the shade of a tiny Indian restaurant, Restoran Santa. After confirming they did indeed have an all-veggie option, our waiting was over. They eagerly pulled us inside and handed us overflowing plates. At a table toward the back, the only foreigners in the joint, we sat down and dug in. In between giant mouthfuls of naan dipped in some kind of lentil soup, I guzzled down their house tea.

Looking up, I smiled. We'd accidentally found the top-rated Indian restaurant in all of KL. Chomping down on another bite of curry vegetables, my taste buds agreed.

Yep. Well worth the wait.

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