Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Trip

So, I am not going to blog about my whole flying experience because I think it is not too exciting and will bore people. The only I really want to say though is that my maternal grandparents are awesome. I left from the Rapid City airport. Mom and Dad took me over, and we were standing in the check in line. I had to check in at this computer thing before actual check in. Mom said something like "Hey you, what are you doing here?" I kind of glanced over my shoulder and saw this guy that looked like my grandpa standing there. Then I actually turned around and was like Grandpa what are you doing here? They live in Minnesota which is like 13 hours away. I was trying to figure out if he flew down or what. Then he points over to the couches and there is my grandma. That's when I started crying. After I got checked in. I had about 1 hour to visit with them. It was so nice. I had felt bad because I had promised that I was going to visit them this summer before my job situation. I was going to call them that morning before we left home, but ran out of time. I felt bad that I had not seen them or called them before I was going to leave. I was afraid that if my grandma died while I was in Malaysia that I would just feel horribly guilty. So in the end, it all worked out because they came to see me off. How lucky am I?

Dinner with home made pizza

Yesterday we went to the mega mall again and picked up a few more things for my room I am renting. Here they sell fitted sheets and pillow cases, but so far we have not found flat sheets. I am not sure why they do that. So as of right now I could sleep on my bed, but would not have a sheet to cover me. At the mega mall I had Nasi (rice) Lemak with Rendang chicken. The rice is cooked in coconut milk. The Rendang chicken has lots of lemongrass with it. Then there was dried, salted anchovies ( I did not like that- it was too fishy and salty). Sambla- chili and fish paste with anchovies. It was very spicy, but good. I also had a very chocolatey cupcake for dessert. People have been impressed with how adventuresome I am when it comes to trying all this new food. Most people it takes them a long time to slowly try new dishes, but I have just jumped right in and tried new foods as much as I can. So far I have not like the anchovies but that is about it.

Last night we made dinner and had a Korean couple over. We made homemade pizza. I made mine with pesto, feta cheese, and sun dried tomatoes. The other pizza was mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, green bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, spaghetti sauce, and chicken sausage ( made out of chicken and spices). They do not have regular sausage here. The salad with romaine lettuce, cashews, pumpkins seeds, green onions, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, feta cheese. I helped make the salad too. The dressing was a ranch mix (from US) that we combined with plain yogurt. They do not have ranch or blue cheese dressing over here.It was very interesting, but nice. There were three of us Americans- My Aunt, Uncle and myself. Both my Aunt and Uncle speak Malay very well. The Korean man speaks Korean, and both English and Malay very well. I only speak English (I don't remember much German anymore, and it would not have been useful). The Korean woman speaks Korean but very little English or Malay. So my Uncle spoke mostly Malay to the couple and a little English thrown in occasionally for me. The Korean man spoke mostly Malay with a little English thrown in for me and then translated most things into Korean for his wife.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting to know the school

The schedule here is quite interesting and confusing right now. They have an 8 period day, but periods 1 &2, 3 & 4, and 6 & 7 are block periods. Periods 5 and 8 are single periods. They also do not have the classes the same time everyday. Like Monday I have English 9-10 during 6 & 7 block; on Wednesday during 3 &4 block and Fridays just 4th hour. Fridays is a short day. Only 1 &2 are a block and then 3,4,and 5 are all single periods. Mondays there is early release because the teachers have a meeting every Monday at 2:30. I got to participate in the meeting on Monday and got the meet the other staff members. I am teaching AP English, 2 Middle school English classes 6-8, 9-10 English and Middle School 6-8 World History. Our schedule goes form 8:10-3:00. We have a ten minute break after the first block and a 5 minute homeroom after 5th hour and then a 45 minute lunch. They do not have a cafeteria at the school so everyday they bring in lunch. They rotate between a couple restaurants that are close by. Tuesdays is fast food, so this Tuesday when I was there working I had McDonald's. The last period on Tuesday is Advising. On Thursday I currently only teach two classes and have 3 planning periods. That might change at semester time if I have students who want to do independent study with me. All the other days I have just one planning period. They have outgrown their current space and hope to build a new school in the near future. So currently we rotate classrooms depending on the availability of rooms and the class size.
We offer several classes. We have English, Math, PE, health, ESL, Malay, Mandarin, Malaysian History, Music, Art, Psychology, Science, Western Cultures, Physical Science, World History, Chemistry, World Geography, Islamic Studies, Moral Studies and Advising.
We have lots of holidays throughout the school year. They try to go closely to a American school calendar but they start August 9th and go through June 17th. There is 13 school days ( not including weekends) for Christmas. There is also 7 school days (not including weekends) for Spring break.
Besides me there are 6 other teachers. The Director of Studies (which is what we would call the Principal) also teaches some classes. There are 50 students. There is two secretaries, the owner, the driver (for the bus and to run errands), and the housekeeper.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

2nd Day- What amazing sights

This afternoon we went to TC-Teluk Chempedak. As we drove there we went by the Sultan’s second home with a helicopter pad, his grandma’s house, and the governor’s house, and the Sultan’s oldest son’s house. We also went by the royal golf course. This is along the beach. There is a McDonald’s and other vendors set up along the beach. We ate at the McDonald’s and then took a walk on the bridge that goes right along the edge. There are places along the bridge where a person can go up into the jungle on the hill. We saw monkeys along the bridge. Some were sitting on the railing of the bridge. There is litter down below the bridge, so the monkeys would carry pop cans up into the trees. There is also wild boar farther up in the jungle, but we did not see any. There were all sort of interesting trees and plants. We saw a cat with no tail taking a nap among the rocks below us on the sand in between the rocks. We also saw a lizard carrying a fish across a rock. Normally this place is very crowded on the weekends, but since it is Ramadan (the fasting month) not many people were there. Then we went back to the parking lot and walked across it to go to a shop that sells postcards.
After that we went to the bungalow were I decide I am going to rent a room. Luckily, he agreed to a medium size fridge.
Tonight we went out to dinner at Restran Khalsa Baru and we ate roti naan ayam, tandoori- non-bread with sauces chicken curry, dahl, mint, and tandoori chicken. This is also an Indian restaurant so it was similar to what we have the other morning for breakfast. Instead of a crepe like food it was more like a flat bread. Again we ate with our fingers, and washed our hands at the end. With the chicken they just chop it up and don’t pay attention to bones, so one must be very careful when eating the chicken not to eat a bone.

After dinner we walked down to another shop, and I had a Nestle ice cream cone (prepackaged) for dessert. It started pouring rain while we were eating. We were going to go down to the field by the Mosque to take pictures of all the Muslims when it was time for them to break fast for the day (at dusk). They go and buy these snacks and as soon as the call goes out for prayer and to break fast they quickly eat a light snack with water and then go into the Mosque to pray before they go out for a leisure dinner. I got to see the crowds of people the other night on the way from the airport, and it was in incredible sight. It was unbelievable all the people. The traffic was incredible too as people are on their way to the vendors to by their snack foods and go to the field. People can hardly drive anywhere. We were also going to go and check out the night market, but because of the rain non of the people were sitting in the field outside the Mosque and there was not much traffic at the night market. We will have to try another day.

First Day in Malaysia

Today started out with breakfast out. We went to this restaurant and had Thosai. It is like a sourdough rice crepe with three different dipping sauces. They were fish curry, dahl, coconut chutney. It was very good. It is not something I would typically think about for breakfast but I really liked it. It is something that people eat with their hands. There is no napkins either, but at the end of the meal they do have a sink off to the side where one goes and washes their hands. Our next stop was the bungalow where there is a room for me to rent. It is a very large house with several rooms. All the houses have gates at the end of their driveway, over the front of their doors, and bars on their windows. That is to help prevent thieves from breaking in, but then they go through the roof. When we first arrived at this bungalow we had to let ourselves in the gate. Then when we got to the door when had to remove our shoes and the maid opened the gate on the door. There is a huge foyer with a room on each side that is mostly glassed in. I am not sure what they are for. To the right side of the foyer is a group of chairs and like a futon couch. That is where we met the Chinese brother that is in charge. We also met his Mother. The stairs go up the middle and then split with a set going up to the right and left. We went up to the left. The room I was shown was a corner room. It has a super single bed (slightly larger than a normal single), a wardrobe, vanity, and small table. I would have to buy myself a desk and probably another wardrobe. It has a bathroom attached to it. They have wet bathrooms here. It was what I pictured in my head after my Uncle described it. It is room completely tiled with no separation for the shower. So when one takes a shower the toilet, sink, everything gets wet. (My Aunt and Uncle have the same thing at their house. The toilet paper is put up high. There is no mirror. There is a towel rack on the far side of the room, and that is where I have put my clothes while showering. So far they have not gotten wet.) They do not have hot water like we have hot water. One can have it installed. It is a little box they put on the wall, but it is extra. It would also stay there after I left, and they ( at Bungalow not A&U) would get it for free, since I would have to pay to have it installed. (My Aunt and Uncle do not have one in their guest shower, so my last two showers have been cold water. Supposedly I will get used to it and will like having cold water when it is hot outside.) They do not have hot water in the sink. Outside of my potential room is a open area with again futon like couches and a table. I can use it as long as I share with others and pick up after myself. There is also a patio off of that but it does not have any furniture. I can buy a chair if I would like to sit out there. Downstairs is the kitchen. Just outside the kitchen is a wall where I could put a fridge for my food. It would be labeled so no one else would use my food. In the kitchen I could have microwave that would also be labeled for just my use. I could possibly have a small corner for my non-refrigerated food. I am allowed to use the sink for washing dishes. They have a filter for the drinking water and then one boils the water and then it sits in a metal pot like a teapot to cool before going into a plastic bottle in the fridge. (My Aunt and Uncle do the same thing.) I can use that water to drink. After checking out the room my Aunt and I went shopping. First, we went to a store called Giant (a hyper market) that has everything and is huge: clothing, bedding, clothes, toiletry items, baby stuff, rugs, towels, microwaves, fridges, DVD players, T.V., jewelry, etc. Then we were to the mall. I bought a cell phone that works over here and is a local number,. They have tons of cell phone shops, and they basically carry the same phone but for different prices. There are some phones that are original and others called AP where a person can only have them serviced at the shop where one buys the phone. It was a long process and hard to know who was telling the truth, but I eventually found one I liked for a price I like that is original that I can have serviced at any Nokia store in Malaysia or Singapore. The mall has lots of stores that carry just about anything. They also have food places. They even have American places like KFC, McDonalds, and Kenny Rogers. We went to chicken and rice place. I had chicken in this bolognaise sauce that is like spaghetti sauce. Then there was also rice. I did not put the soup on it, but I did try some of chili sauce that was really hot. They also have a bowling alley and all these karaoke boxes where people go inside and sing karaoke. So, they do not sing in front of people here. For public toilets people have to bring their own toilet paper. They have Western toilets like found in our homes and squat toilets which are set down in the floor. I have not tried the squat toilet. I don’t know about that. I am afraid I will make a mess or get dirty by falling down. After that we went to an appliance store to look at more fridges. Then, we went to Pantai Selamat grocery store which does carry some western items, but not as much as I thought.
People drive crazy here. They do not really obey any rules. They drive on the opposite side from us.
I wore compression socks on the plane since I had to sit for so long. Today my feet and ankles really swelled up. My left more than my right. I bought new sandals because I discovered when I put mine on this morning that on the right one the leather strap broke and the elastic under it was about ready to go. My upper legs have lots of bruises. I wonder if it has to do with the compression socks.