Saturday, September 18, 2010

Frustrated but also Grateful

I am going to start off and say that I am thankful for my job, this opportunity, and all that I am learning. I know that things could be worse, so I probably shouldn't complain, but I am going to vent a little. These are just growing pain frustrations. At some point I will be use to these things, and they won't bother me, but today they do.
I am frustrated by my lack of car. I am choosing not to spend my money on a car, but that is because of cost, driving on the other side of the road, and crazy driving. Today just as a passenger it was scary.  I am thankful for the rides I do get, and the bus I am able to ride for school.  I am getting better since I first moved here with having no car.
I am frustrated by humidity. I don't have the ability to do laundry where I live, but I do have a place I can take my clothes and do laundry, and I am grateful for that. I am frustrated with the fact that I did my laundry and because it was super humid today, by the time I left at 8:00p.m. even my first load was still very damp. This causes me to have to hang up damp clothes in my closet and around the room so that they can continue to air dry. I have to be invented as to where to hang all the clothes to dry. I think on Wednesday I am going to see if I can get this rack things to put in my room for hang laundry as it continues to dry.
I did get a microwave, so I am no longer frustrated about not having one. I can't wait to use it.
I am frustrated by not being able to cook where I live. I am grateful for the ability to use another person's kitchen to do some cooking. I am also frustrated by the lack of ingredients that I need to make dishes I am familiar with. I am sure as time goes on, and I try more food and people give me recipes I can make that will go away too.
I got a water heater, so I am no longer frustrated with cold showers. I still have to find someone to install it and have it installed, so it may be another week before I can use it but eventually it will happen.
I am frustrated with money. I haven't had the ability yet to settle in once place and start saving money. I have had to spend money to get set up in a new place and then leave, where I then lose some money, and have to spend more money to set up in a new place. I hope to get settled some place, so I can start saving money. I don't think I am a person that wants to move around my whole life and teach in different places. I would like to find a really great place to settle down.
I am frustrated with the heat and humidity. I have heard that it takes at least 2 months to get used to it, and I have only been here 3 weeks. I am tired of getting super sweaty every day, all the breakouts on my body, even my back from sweating, clothes sticking to me, my ankles swelling up ( they actually haven't done that since my first week here, but they did really bad today). My freshly washed clothes not drying.  That when I go for a walk I get all hot, sweaty, and tired. I would get more exercise if I didn't feel so drained afterward due to heat and humidity.
I am frustrated that they don't have sidewalks for people to walk on, they don't heed pedestrians, they don't have crosswalks or walk lights. Between that and getting hot, sweaty, and tired I don't walk many places. If it was not so hot and humid, and they had walk lights and gave pedestrians the right of way I would probably walk more places and really not miss having a car. I have a place just down the street that I would like to go to, but it is passed this major intersection (one of the busiest in the town). They are in a hurry here and don't wait for people to cross. I could stand there forever and probably not cross. There is no time of day that is not busy for me to go at that time.
I am frustrated that I had to leave behind my cats, that I miss them terribly, and I don't think they really miss me anymore. 
I don't feel homesick like I did the first time I moved away a long way from home, but I do miss things that I have had for years.
I am frustrated by loneliness. I know that I haven't lived here for very long, but I miss my friends. I miss visiting with people everyday. There are many people that are super busy and while it was easy to keep working on things while visiting it takes more to write e-mails. I miss going and doing things with my friends. I joined this site called The Kuantan Guide- for people living here that maybe have just moved here. There was this lady that started it up and for some reason she was going to discontinue it but someone else decided to take over. I haven't gotten much in the way of response to things I have posted from people. There hasn't been an activities posted in the last month and a half for people to do.  They do have a Kuantan International Ladies Group, but they meet during the school day when I am working. My coworkers are nice, and I am sure it will take more time to get to know them and them to know me.  I don't know that I see us doing things outside of school together. I am grateful for the my Aunt and Uncle being in the same town as me. I am grateful that I have someone to visit with, show me around, and do things with. I still really miss my friends though. I am hurt by those friends who are jealous or mad at me for moving here and are being jerks about it instead of being happy for me, and realizing that it is in some ways hard for me than for them.  
I am grateful for all the things I do have. I have a friend who is working as a missionary in Swaziland. He and his wife have posted pictures and stories of some of the children they are working with. It is so sad that so many are abused, have HIV or AIDS, are raped, don't get much for food or medical care or an education. I think what they are doing is really wonderful and must be much harder than what I am doing.  I am sure they get frustrated by things that I don't even have to deal with.

Friday, September 17, 2010

First Hair cut in Malaysia

This was definitely interesting. I went in earlier this week to make and appointment and the lady who scheduled me asked if I wanted anyone. I said someone who has experience with curly hair. She scheduled me with Angel. Angel's card says that she is the salon manager. (Most of the people there look like they are Chinese. Although the part of the neighborhood I am in seems to be mostly Chinese people.)

When I got there today Angel had me sit in a chair in front of a full length mirror. She brought over a several tiered cart that had all of her things in it. First, she asked me what I wanted done, and I said a haircut. I wanted the back trimmed up so it was a bob, and the sides left longer so I can pull my hair back. (I have decided living in a hot climate pulling the hair back when doing things like grocery shopping or walking is necessary.) She asked me if I had permed my hair. I told her it was natural. She asked, it's natural?  I said yes. She said since my sides by my ears were kind of straight she thought I had just permed the top of my hair. (It does not happen all the time, but sometimes as my hair grows out the sides by my ears will be more straight and just have a slight curl at the bottom to it. I think my hair's curliness depends on what is going on with my body in terms of hormones and stress. Sometimes the sides will be very curly. ) I said no, it was natural.

She asked me if I wanted my hair highlighted, and I said not today. She said she can do highlights like I have no problem. She told me if I come back again sometime she can do it for me. I told her that I would be here for a while because I was working at the International School of Kuantan. She nodded her head like she had figured that. She said that she had another teacher from that school who came all the time. (I figure it was probably the English teacher who moved on.) She asked where I heard about her, and I said that I lived just across the street. (My hair is more of a weave than a highlight. It has several different colors in it, but only the light blond is what is still most noticeable besides my normal hair color. The brown has faded and looks close to my natural dark blond. The reddish brown is still there, but for a person looking quickly at my hair they won't notice that as much as the light blond. I will wait and see how I like my hair being done there before I decide if I want to add color to it. Maybe I will let it grow out and be all natural. I haven't done that in a long time.)

She asked me if I had just washed my hair, and I said I washed it this morning. She first shaved my neck a bit. After that she took a squirt bottle and wet the bottom part of my hair and trimmed that up so it was shorter again. Then she wet and trimmed the back of my hair. Next, she wet the rest of my hair and trimmed the sides. After that, she wet my bangs and asked me how I wanted them cut. She wanted to know if I wanted them cut short or just a little bit. I told her just a little bit. She asked me about parting my hair. I told her to part them down the middle because that would make them even since some days they go to the left and some days to the right. Instead she combed my bangs forward and cut them straight out in front. Then she brought them up from my head and cut them again. After that she brushed them over to the left again and checked to make sure my hair was even.

When she was all done she asked me if I wanted a rinse. I told her that was OK. She then asked me about blow drying my hair, and I said I let it air dry. (I figured I would wash it when I got home and fix it.) So, she put new product in my hair. I thought I was done, then she calls this girl over to blow dry my hair. She put this huge diffuser on the blow dryer (I have never seen a diffuser that big). Angel disappears for few minutes. This girl is drying my hair with this huge diffuser, but she is not actually putting the diffuser in my hair. The girl is also not touching my hair. She is just kind of holding the blower dryer kind of moving it around my head while she is checking herself out in the mirror. She was in these high platform shoes. I was afraid she was going to fall over because this diffuser was huge and obviously heavy. She had to keep switching hands because her arms probably got tired. I got really hot and almost told her that it was good enough, plus my hair wasn't getting very dry since she wasn't touching it and separating it, but then I thought no, I will let her finish.  (It has been easy to air dry my hair every morning, but now I definitely know why I should not use a blow dryer here. It is way too hot.)

I don't know what the product is because I didn't ask, but it seems familiar, but something I have not smelled in a long time. Some time when I go back I might by product from them. I don't know if either of these were for curly hair (probably not) or just hair.  Maybe they can get product for curly hair though. She seemed to use the scissors that are for thinning out hair, so it does not get Afro like. Some people who have cut my hair use those and others do not but then they use a different technique to achieve the same thing.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


-They drive on the other side of the road and are super crazy. Most people bribe the officials so they don't have to take the driver's test. So there are really bad drivers, they are all in a hurry. Most are tiny vehicles.
-They also have many of the people who don't have much money drive motorcycles, and they will have 4-5 people on just a tiny motorcycle. It will sometimes be a small child up front, the Dad, and child in the middle, the mom and a child on the end. None of the are wearing helmets usually, and they drive down the center of traffic or on the sides.
-People don't really obey traffic stop signs and cut across traffic all crazy to get to where they want to go sometimes driving in the oncoming lanes. They are really bad about using blinkers. People are bad about letting others out of parking spaces. They are impatient to wait or they want your space but they don't give you enough room. Sometimes even cars drive down the middle between the two lanes until they decide where they are going and what lane they need to be in. Sometimes people have to drive the wrong way in a parking lot to get to where they need to go to park or get out of the lot.
-People pay no heed to pedestrians trying to cross the road. They do not have walk lights or cross walks for pedestrians, and they also do not have the right of way.
-They race cars every night up and down the streets on the main street one house down from where I live. It does not matter what time of night or what day of the week.
-They have speed bumps in all of the neighborhoods. People will drive really slowly over the speed bumps, but drive really fast in between them.
-In neighborhoods it appears that it is ok to drive down the middle or wrong side of the road if you feel like it.
-They did not create roads wide enough to have cars parked on the side of the roads. Sometimes it can get pretty close when trying to pass and having vehicles on the side of the road.
-They have lots of alleys in neighborhoods that people use to drive down. It is first come first person gets to go since there is only room for one car at a time.
-I can see why they don't have a bus system. The school bus sometimes has a challenging time with the alleys, foliage, cars parked on the side of the roads and vehicles going the other direction.
-People just pull out into traffic or change lanes and hopes the other people don't hit them. There are lots of close calls.
-They do have companies like Ford, Toyota, Mercedes, BMW, Nissan, etc. Plus cars I am not familiar with.
- Most people drive little cars, a few small vans or SUVs (they look kind of like SUVs but they may not be). There are no huge trucks, vans, or SUVs.
-There are some roads where it is a normal road and then when they built the house they built out onto the road, so the road becomes an alley between it and the house next to it.
- I have never seen any speed limit signs.
-I have not seen emergency vehicles when they are out to see if people pull over for them. I have heard them though and they have some sort of bullhorn system where they talk to people that they are pursuing or maybe who are in their way. I can't quit understand what they are saying (it does sound like they speak English sometimes).
-When driving a motorcycle one can park almost anywhere. Even places that cars can't park or in between cars.
- They have these apartment buildings that are raised and have a concrete pad underneath for motorcycles to park on. Cars have to park out in the parking lot.
-They have all sorts of stickers on their windshields on the sides. I don't know what they all stand for. Lots of people have a huge McDonald's sticker. It says VIP on it and McDonald's drive thru open 24 hours.
-It is dangerous to walk down the side of the road since they have no sidewalks. Lots of times if there is a motorcycle driving and a car comes up and decides the motorcycle is not going fast enough the motorcycle will pull over so the car can keep going. Plus, then there are the cars parked on the side of the road that one must go around, and there one can pick the trench side or the road side. The trenches are actually pretty wide and the walls of them are kind of narrow to walk on.
-Since the gutters are more like trenches and have walls that sit up above the street, water on the street does not flow into them. Only water from the sky or some places have pipes that drain water into it. So when it rains the water just seems to sit on the street unless there are places where there is just a ditch and no trench.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

School Clothing

I have had several people ask me what do I wear to school and what do my students wear to school. I wear my normal teaching clothes that I wore back in the US. I wear slacks, capri's and tops. I don't wear jeans here only because they would be too heavy and hot. I could probably wear t-shirts but I like to be more dressed up than that. I have to make sure my shoulders are covered, so I cannot wear any sleeveless tops unless I wear a top or jacket over it. I must also wear a tank top/cami under my v neck tops so I don't show any cleavage. Although, that is not really new. I did get some new tank tops that come up higher, just to be on the safe side. They said the dress code for teachers is very casual, but I still try to dress nice and be respectful. I am sure I could wear shorts as long as they were not super short, but I don't, because I feel it would be disrespectful since they try to be very modest.

My students wear uniforms. The top is a white shirt with the ISK logo on the upper left chest. Muslim girls wear either tops under it or these sleeve things, so that their arms do not show. They also wear a tudung on their head. Some of the less conservative families do not make their daughters wear the sleeves or tudungs. If a girl is not Muslim she must still pull her hair neatly back out of her face. On the bottom they wear blue. On the bottom Muslim girls and boys must wear long pants or the girls can also wear long skirts. Non-Muslims may wear shorts or the girls may also wear shorter skirts but it still must be about knee length.
The boys must not have long hair or facial hair.
They are not allowed to wear sandals. Only closed toed shoes.
I also noticed one boy the other day tried to wear his pants baggy, but he must have gotten in trouble for that, because they were back to normal later in the day and since then.


So, everyone asks me does McDonald's taste the same over there and the answer is yes. There are a few difference I have noticed though. On their quarter pounder with cheese they put lots of onions on it. I like onions, but it almost like they put a whole onion on there so I have to scrape some off. They do have chili ketchup beside regular ketchup. I have not tried it yet, but I have heard it is spicy. I also discovered today that you can get cheese fries. I had some students order them. One can only do it with the large fries, but then they get like a seasoning of cheese, and they put it in the bag and shake it until the fries are covered in it. I had one but it wasn't enough for me to decide it I liked it or not. I may actually try it again sometime. They call it fry shakers. Since they do not do pork here they call hamburgers beefburgers, so that people do not think it is made out of ham. They are the same thing and taste the same as hamburgers. Also, I have noticed that almost every car has a huge McDonald's sticker on the windshield in one of the corners. I keep forgetting to ask my students what it is for. I may see other additions to the menu as time goes on, but that is what I have noticed for now.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Kuantan Guide

My Mom actually discovered this and sent it to me. It is a website for people living or visiting Kuantan or the east cost of peninsular Malaysia. I had to join as a member to access things like the discussion board and newsletters and things. I think it will be helpful in some ways. It has taxis listed, doctors, hair places, massage places, phone, rentals, classifieds to sell things. I think it will be helpful when I go to move back home and need to sell my things like fridge. One of the posts was on this great massage place that does Swedish massage and is in my neighborhood. I will still have to figure out where in relationship it is to me.
They might also be able to recommend at place that cuts curly hair since almost all people who live here have straight hair.
For my birthday I went to this restaurant at the Tembeling resort. When I bought my fridge the guy assumed he was going to be delivering it there. I guess most white foreigners live there. It appears by what the members of this website have posted that most do live at this resort. Sounds like they do activities together there. There is a Kuantan ladies group I can join but their meetings they have every other week at breakfast and other other weeks at lunch. I am not available either of those times.
I noticed most of the people that have joined the site have moved here for work and they have either come from England or Australia. About half are people my age but they are couples with small children. The rest are couples closer to my parents age. It appears most have not lived here that long that are current members. I think most come for a limited period of time and then move back home or to a new country.
There was some post that the person who started the site was going to close it down, but it looks like many people responded that they really did want the site to close because it has been so helpful to them. It looks like some other people are trying to get more involved in trying to help out with more of the social aspects. People that have been here longer.
Maybe still I might meet some people and get to do some things to keep me from getting bored and lonely.

Mystery Solved

So, I hear this doorbell quite frequently but I usually don't here anyone enter the house. I finally figured out that it is not a doorbell but a call button. There is an old lady that lives here, the owner's mom. She is probably in her 90's and can walk but needs assistance and sometimes uses a wheelchair. Anyway when she is in her room and needs assistance then she presses the call button which dings like a doorbell, and one of the two servants comes to help her.
I also heard what I would consider to be a dinner bell (like I have seen in movies when the woman is calling in all the men for dinner out on a ranch). Anyway I thought when the bell was rung that meant it was time for dinner and was to signal whichever servant was not working on dinner and the owner that it was time to come to eat. Today when I was down to eat I heard that bell and looked over. It was the old lady ringing it while she was in the living room because she was done reading the newspaper and was ready to go to her room. The servant came from the kitchen to assist her. It makes more sense than trying to call either of the servants' names. It is loud which makes sense since it is a large house, but at the same time I can hear it up in my room on the other side of the house on the top floor. Maybe in time I will learn to tune it out.
I try to stay out of their way in the kitchen around mealtimes and eat at other times so not to be in the way. I was going by the ringing of the dinner bell, but I guess now I will revise that and maybe just have to learn when they eat, so I am not in the way. Maybe I can eat earlier since sometimes I thought that mealtime was over and then I would hear the bell and think that they were being called to come eat.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Random Things I have noticed

-They don't have garbage disposals in their kitchens, so all ends of foods or carrots skins must be thrown in the garbage.
-They have a drain in the kitchen like they do in the shower, only it is right in front of the sinks and therefore a pain. Some item must be used to cover the drain or else since it is plastic it is easy to put a hole in the cover.
-One does not fill up the sink with water since it is cold water when doing the dishes. They just put a little soap on the item or the washcloth or sponge and wash the object.
-I really feel things don't get as clean here since there is only cold water. Things like underwear get dingy fast.
-The washing machine sits outside the house. I don't know if there are dryers because everything is hung to dry. Most clothes can be dry at the end of the day if done in the morning.
-Satin pillow cases do not work well here. They become hot and damp.
-Sheets kind of always smell sweaty, because they never get completely dry and then when one is sleeping since it is hot they sweat some.
-Fireworks seem to go off every night.
-I eat less since it is hot here because I don't feel hungry. Therefore when I do something like go for a walk I feel tired instead of rejuvenated.
-Since it is hot it is easier to feel tired here. The heat seems to zap one's energy (that may get better once I have been here longer).
-Even though they have a wonderful garbage pick up system that comes 3 times a week people still burn their trash- which I think is bad for in environment depending on what they are burning.
-It seems most days like something is burning like a house even though it is just the trash.
-On Saturdays now since that is the biggest shopping day at grocery stores they charge for plastic bags to help make the environment more green.
-People just throw trash wherever instead of putting it in a garbage can.
-I never have cold hands or feet here. Most times I actually feel hot instead.
-Muslims have halal and Jewish have kosher foods.
-They don't use alcohol in anything, not even cough syrup or extracts like vanilla or almond.
-Muslims cover themselves out of modesty. When I lived in Idaho the Mormons also covered themselves out of modesty. They had a special type of underwear and undershirt they wore. They also did not wear things where they had bare shoulders or short shorts or revealing shirts.
-It is easiest to wear sandals since one must always remove their shoes outside a person's home. Although I like to have socks on when I am visiting someone's home and so loafers are ok.
- If one does not keep there house really clean and dispose of their trash on a frequent basis it is easy to get ants.
-Food goes bad here faster. Most things even flour and rice, and sugar must be kept in the fridge to keep bugs out of it. Things like chips and cereals must be kept in a tupperware container and tied at the opening to keep bugs out of it.
-They have fresh milk but it does not last long, so it is easier to keep this specially treated milk that lasts longer. The specially treated milk has a longer shelf like and actually is not found in the fridge section of the store.
-It does not appear that they get animals fixed here. There are tons and tons of cats. There are many dogs in the more Chinese neighborhoods but they are usually behind the gates in the years where cats are all over the place. Cats just sleep in the middle of the road if they want.
- This makes me wonder if they have vets or not.
-One must first run their water through a filter and then boil it and let it cool before one drinks the water.
-When ones cuts chicken up at restaurants or the store they just chop it up paying no attention to the bones. It is best to eat chicken with one's hands so as to remove the bones. It is still best to eat chicken slowly as sometimes there is still small bones that one does not want to swallow.
-At most restaurants people eat with their hands. They say people know where their hands have been but not always where the silverware has been. They always have a sink to wash a person's hands and soap. People must usually air dry their hands though.
-At homes people will have silverware but most people here if they don't use their hands they use a spoon. It is tough to eat things like lettuce salad with a spoon.
-They only have things like Dorothy Lynch, Thousand Island or no oil Italian dressing or coleslaw for dressings. I like none of these. I did find Caesar dressing at the more Western grocery store. If one wants ranch they must bring the packets from America to mix up and instead of sour cream use plain yogurt. One must get the blue cheese recipe off the internet to make it up. There is usually substitutes with that as well.
-Even though McDonald's taste the same they also have chili ketchup which I have not tried but heard is hot and spicy.
-Rain jackets are too hot but umbrellas as fall and winter come on are necessary.
-They have limited cereals but they don't really eat them for breakfast like we do.
-I was told that there would be close to my size so I should be able to find clothes here, but that has not been the case. Everyone is tiny-skinny and short. It was even hard to find sandals in my size when the one's I brought with broke.
-Most people here have straight hair. So it is very hard to find products for people with curly hair (so far I have not found any but some salon might be able to get something in for me).
- I was told that malaria mosquitoes have been eradicated from here and they don't really have mosquitoes but evidence of bites on my body says otherwise. So, I really hope they have eradicated the malaria. I finally did find a tiny bottle of mosquito repellent.
-There are lots of different kinds of birds here that sing most of the day and night. Most of the songs are nice.
-It is best to always carry toilet paper with a person everywhere. Lots of stores have bathrooms but usually not paper. Luckily, most places have at least one Western style toilet so I have not had to figure out the squat toilet yet.
-The gutter system is more like a trench around houses and on the sides of streets. They must clean out the gutters because of all the vegetation that falls in them as it dies. Sometimes the gutters really smell too. I have noticed that at school a few times and also when going on walks.
-They don't have gutters on the whole house like we have gutters. They might only have them in some spots and the rests just runs off the roof and that is why the trench surrounds the house on the ground.
-Streets in neighborhoods are very crazy. Some with intersect with others but many will dead end. Some of the streets that dead end are long and one doesn't know until they get to the end that it does not intersect. There number system seems odd. Since the streets go any which way it is hard to figure out the number system because it does not seem to go in order like 1,2,3,4,etc. It seems to go like 6, 7,8, 15, 12, 13, etc.
- Most houses have tile through out the whole house. That probably makes it easier for cleaning here. It also might be better so that since it is so moist that no bugs or no dander get in the carpet and cause problems with like allergies.
-One does not need lotion here as the skin never gets dry.
-My face pretty much always feels greasy even a short time after washing it.
-My face has also had more breakouts since I have been here.
-There are no fans in the bathroom and one would think with a cold shower that one would not want a fan, but after the shower is over it becomes humid in the bathroom, so when one goes to put on make-up it is easy to sweat it off or make it messy.
-It also makes one's clothes stick more after showering.
-To figure out what time it is on a 24 hour clock. I take the second number minus two. Like if it is 15:08. Take the 5 minus two, and it is 3:08 p.m. 20:20 is 8:20 p.m.
-To figure out what time it is at home I take the time minus two hours and think opposite time of day. So 9:00p.m. would be 7:00 a.m back home. 15:00 is 3:00p.m. normal time which is 1:00 a.m. back home
-They do their date day/month/year rather than month/day/year. So when I first got here and saw it was 23/8/10 I was like there is no 23rd month. If they actually wrote out the month or abbreviated it but didn't use numbers it would be easier.
-They start their week on Monday, so all calendars start the week on a Monday. So they go Monday- Sunday. It is even that way on my phone and when I try to look up something it still confuses me sometimes.
-When it gets super hot here then it rains to cool things off. That tends to make things even more hot and humid the next day unless there is a really cool breeze.
-When it rains it is a down pour like someone just dumped over a huge bucket. Things get drenched fast. It is more like a sheet of water than individual drops. It usually last one to two hours but can go longer depending on how hot it has been.
-When it rains there is incredible lightning and thunder. Sometimes it will shake the house and light it almost as bright as day.