Saturday, October 2, 2010

Santa Margherita Wine Dinner

It was interesting. Terry, Jenny, and Mark picked me up and then we picked up Bettina who is normally Terry's date since Bettina's husband is a Malay. I am not quite sure where Terry's husband is  (she doesn't refer to him as her ex-husband, so I don't know if he lives back where she is from or is deceased). It was pouring rain, and I had an umbrella but to unlock and go through the gate and re-lock it I had to stand in ankle deep water. So my shoes and the bottoms of my black dress pants were very wet by the time I got in the car. They told me this isn't even as bad as monsoon season. I think next time I will wear a dress as most of the ladies did. I wore nice black slacks and a nice top. I had thought about a dress but was told just dress comfortably, but I think I should dress up a little more next time.

The Hyatt Hotel is very up scale. The part of the hotel where I was, was open. I walked in and on the right was the check-in desk. Directly in front of my was a large raised platform with a nice wood floor and couches. We walked through that area and headed to the restaurant. It is an Italian Bistro.  The walls had huge opening like windows only there was no glass just blinds that they had raised. From the opening I could look out at some Pumeria trees, but I could not see any flowers from where I was. I could look down at their really nice pool and towards the beach that was just a couple feet past the pool area. It was lit up with a soft light, and I could see the waves breaking on the shore. It looked so romantic. (Yes, I think about that sort of thing when I am at a new place.)

First, was cocktail hour with wine and appetizers. Next to all the opening there were couches along the wall and then two chairs facing the couch and a like coffee table in between. People could sit there, but most stood and visited, moving from group to group. Catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. I met lots of people there. All of them were couples. The people were all nice and friendly. I sat at a table with: starting on my left and going around Jenny and Mark, Terry, Bettina, Francis, Julie, a German couple( I think like Maria and Franz), a German man, another German couple (that didn't come until dessert), Steve Julie's husband, Olie the wife of the German man next to the couple across from me. The food was really good. This place has lots of white people who go there I think to swim, have dinner etc. I could even have a membership there. I noticed that they 3 groups of of white people are Germans, Australians, and English.

It was a 5 course meal with three wines. There were other tables. The other large group was Asian. These people are all very wealthy. They would tell me about like while you are here you should learn how to dive. It is only a few thousand ringitt, very cheap. You should do this or that. It is only a few thousand ringitt, very cheap. Most people when they greeted each other did that whole kissing the air next to each other's cheek. Only one guy did that to me and the rest shook my hand (thank goodness).

First was appetizers and wine. I didn't have any wine as I don't like to have anything on an empty stomach. There were three more wines during dinner. I had the wine with the first course. I had the wine with the second course, but by the third wine which also tasted almost the same as the second I had just a sip or two. Luckily they don't put much in the glass, and I didn't have any refills. I am not a huge wine drinker, although this wine was very good. I was in the middle of the table. I was very fascinating to people as I am a teacher, an American, and single. The couples to my right were almost all German so they conversed in German most of the time. I did discover that the lady who was slightly across to me on my left (Maria?) was the lady who lives next to one of my students, and I have seen her when I am riding the bus.
Julie got drunk. She kind of singled me out. She would say Mel, you need to drink your wine. Mel, drink up love. Mel, you are so uptight, drink your wine. Mel, I'm so pissed, you should get pissed. On and on. Then she wanted to go dancing, and she chose me to help her. There was a small night club next to where we were eating. There was an all Asian band, and they sang all American hits. Here they are very conservative in dress, but I noticed that the three female singers had on like pleather mini skirts, sleeveless tops with low v necks and the midriff was a light see through material. They all had long hair and very high heels. I noticed when they came in after there break they would all be wearing long jackets, probably so as not to offend those who dress conservatively while they were outside of the bar. The people who are conservative (because of their religion) are not drinkers, and they would never come in a bar. When we first got there is wasn't really dancing music. But Julie wanted to dance anyway, so she was dancing, and one of the singers came down, and they were posing, and Jenny was taking pictures.  This guy Tom came and danced with the two of us and then he left. I met him earlier, but he sat at a different table. If I tried to sit out Julie would come pulling me until I came back. Others finally joined us. Julie's husband came in at one point and got her a glass of water to drink. She wouldn't drink it for him, but she would for me. He tried to pick her up and put her on one of the stools to drink the water but the stool he chose turned out to be wobbly. She was still talking to me, but it was so hard to hear with the music. She told me a couple times, You are ok. I think she was just so drunk that she was not really aware of what she was doing. I was just the lucky person she chose to hang on to, and I am too nice of a person to not put up with it. All the non dinner people I think felt sorry for me. There were lots of Asian men in there, and they looked at me like poor lady to have this drunk lady hanging on her all the time. Tom came back in and was dancing with all of the ladies. That part was fun. I finally got Julie to let go of me, so that I could dance. By then it was better dancing music. Still not great though.

A few times I thought to myself: I am amazed at all these people and all the fun we are having and how silly we are being and how free it feels. We were all between the ages of 30-60. Everyone that came in from the dinner danced. I don't feel 30 at all. On the one hand, I feel much younger than everyone, probably because even though I am a grown up I don't have the responsibilities they do of a spouse and children. At other times I feel older because I am very responsible and made sure that Julie was taken care of and did not fall and hurt herself or get dehydrated with all the drinking and then lack of water.
I think if some younger people saw us they would be amazed that even though we aren't super young anymore we can have just as much fun and dance just as hard as they can. I am sure many of them would think that after dinner we just went home and went to bed. 

I eventually, after midnight sometime, left because it was starting to get crowded, and it was a tiny room, and it was too hot for me. It was so hot in there that all the windows were fogged up. With the popularity of the club I would think they would have made it bigger. It must have been when the club really got going.  I went back out and joined Terry, Bettina, Francis, and Mark while they visited until it was time to go. I watched all the people coming to the club. They all had to have a metal wand waved over them. They were all Asians too. Steve finally hauled Julie out by the time we were leaving. She saw me, and she was like Mel, and then we couldn't understand what she said. Her husband was like, I think Mel is tired of taking care of you. He had her stay behind while he got his car. I left with my group and then we found out that Jenny had escorted Julie out to the front. One of the guards was in front and like holding out his hands to catch her if she fell down the steps, but didn't get close enough to touch her. Steve finally arrived and helped her in the car. She shouted to Terry. Terry, where was you when you were dancing ( Terry didn't dance). I didn't go to bed until 2:00 and had a hard time falling asleep. I took a shower because several of them are smokers, and so were smoking at the table. Some of the one's closer to me did wait until the end of dinner. I woke up at 7:00 and couldn't get back to sleep.
I wanted to take pictures of the hotel and beach, but I didn't want to look like a tourist in front of all of them. 

The menu:
Cocktail- Marinated Mussel, baked cherry tomato, grapefruit vinaigrette
Bruschetta tomato
orange poached prawn, lemon chili vinaigrette
Beverage- White wine: Santa Margherita Estate Pinot Grigio 2007
or Campari Soda and Aperol Orange
I thought the mussel was a mushroom. The shrimp one also had a green or black olive at the end of the stick.

First Course: New Zealand Lamb loin, mustard dressing, orange salsa, mini chili vinaigrette.
White wine: Santa Margherita estate chardonnary 2008

It was like a salad with a thin slice of the lamb loin. We all cut our lettuce with our forks. They all ate very delicately for every course, so I tried to as well. To eat slowly and sit up instead of hunching over (which I do when I am home alone and reading while eating).

Second course: Ricotta cheese ravioli, black mushroom truffle, spinach, sweet cherry tomato sauce
Red wine: Santa Margherita Estate Sangiovese 2007
It was one large ravioli.

Third course: Apple sorbet (it was a little too frozen, and we had to let it melt some)

Fourth Course: (We chose between 2)
Pan seared Salmon fillet, zucchini, fennel, mushrooms, oregano cheese sauces, arugula oil
Slow baked Marinated duck breast, mashed potato, radicchio salad, grapefruit cinnamon sauce, red wine reduction

Red wine: Santa Margherita Chianti Classico DOCG 2006

Fifth Course:
Green Tea Panna Cotta, Poached Pear, Chocolate stick, strawberry sauce
The green tea panna cotta was a white jiggly substance with half a strawberry on top. It did taste good though.

Coffee or Tea- I passed on those.

The portions were very small, so I didn't get overly stuffed eating them. I was just pleasantly satisfied. I went with the duck.
They could not fathom that I had never had duck before. That we can't get it in back in my hometown. Or that we don't have fresh fish at our grocery store.
I have been to very upscale restaurants before and eaten very fancy dinners, but I think this was the fanciest. There was the 3 wine glass for the different wines during dinner, and a glass of water. The menu was rolled up and tied with a red ribbon (that is not new). There were 3 forks and 3 knives. Then they brought us a new fork and spoon for our dessert.  The waiter came around and unfolded our napkins and put them in our laps.

I am unsure if I will do it again. Next time it might be better since I hopefully will know more people and have more to talk about instead of answering questions about how fascinating I am being single, American, and a teacher. We could chose where we sat, and so I think I would sit in a different place next time. I was not horribly bothered by the people speaking in German because most of the time when I am places and even the office at school the people are conversing in Malay, and I have no idea what is being said.  I am not super shy like I used to be, but I am still reserved and somewhat shy when I first meet new people. So I think to sit back and mostly listen to conversations, but at least they are normally in English so I can understand what they are saying and can contribute if I have something I would like to share.
I forgot to mention that when I went to get my umbrella I asked the guy who had taken Mark's credit card to run. I said that some lady took it when I walked in. He asked if she was fat and chunky. I said I don't know she was just regular. He told me not to give things to them because they usually get lost. He brought the lady back, and I asked her. She pointed to where it was, and he got it for me. The real deal was not that someone took it but that he didn't understand what I was asking. He had asked Mark the same thing about the girl being fat and chunky. Mark didn't agree either. We both thought that was rude, and she was not fat or chunky. She was not stick skinny but she was slender.  We couldn't believe the guy asked us that.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My water heater

My water heater is finally installed. I am so grateful to have the ability to take a hot shower now. It was installed Wednesday, Thursday, Friday of this week. On Wednesday the plumber came and did all the plumbing and hooked up the heater box to the wall. So I still had to take a cold shower Thursday morning. Thursday when I got home from school the electricians were there adding the wiring from the electrical switch to the water heater. The walls are cement here in old houses, so they put the wiring on the wall and out a cover on it.  Well, in drilling the hole through the wall of my bedroom into the wall of my bathroom the electrician put a hole in the pipe so water wash gushing out of the wall. I was sitting out on the couch in the common room when it happen. Water started coming out the door and creeping towards where I was sitting. One of the servants came to mop it up but she wasn't moving very fast. Finally, the landlord got something to plug the hole until they could fix it. I was taken to another empty bedroom to wait.  The plumber had to come back and make a hole in the wall to expose the pipe and put a new pipe in. After that was done then the electrician finished the electrical work for the water heater.  So last night about 7:00 I had a water heater that worked but the overhead light in my bathroom didn't work or the one in my bedroom.

All I had was the dim light above my bed. It does not get light here until almost 7:00 a.m. So I showered this morning in the dim light shining in from my bedroom. It was wonderful though to have hot water. I was not sure how hot it would be or exactly how it worked so I just took a warm shower, but it was better than cold water. I have been showering like one body part at a time and trying not to have my whole body under the water at once since it is so cold. This morning I was able to stand completely under the water and get the kinks out from sleeping.  I feel the hot water will also be better for getting clean. I have always liked taking shower and appreciated the fact that I could take a shower, but now I will appreciate them even more.  After my shower I had to skip the make up because it wasn't light enough to see putting it one and making sure I didn't miss any spots. When I got home today they were still working on the electric. My lights are all working again. They patched the hole and once it has dried then it will be painted again.

My landlord was very angry at first when it happened yesterday. I felt bad that I had wanted a water heater installed. Later he said the good news is that this happened while he was still here so that he could take care of it, and he could supervise them. The first thing he did when I came home today was ask me how my shower was. I told him it was wonderful, and I had enjoyed it so much. I was so grateful to have hot water. He said he hopes that I live here at least 3 years after this. Who knows. It could be two or three or ten.  When I gave him the rent today he was going to give me change because he had already forgotten about the one time payment of RM 20.00 that I was going to pay him to have a water heater installed. I was nice and honest and reminded him though. I hope he remembers that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


-So everyday on the bus ride to school the bus driver's cell phone rings 5-6 times. I don't know if it is an alarm or a text messages or calls. Most of the time he reaches over and stops it from ringing, but sometimes he pulls it out and looks at it. Once or twice he has answered it. If it is someone texting him or calling don't they know he is driving a bus. Is it the same person or different people? Why do they keep it up if he can't get back to them until later, why not wait until he is done driving the bus?
-I bought my water heater and my landlord finally came back to town. I talked to him about installing it, and he wanted to raise my rent.  So we had a discussion about it and in the end I am not going to have to pay more. He never mentioned when I was going to move in and I told him I was getting a water heater that he was going to charge me more. Plus, I am paying for the labor and he gets to keep it when I leave. Well, the plumber came and installed it today and hopefully the electrician can come tomorrow, so maybe by the end of the week I can take a warm shower in the morning. We are having more rain every day, and so eventually people said it will get worse when taking a shower if it is pouring rain outside. It makes it even colder when one showers.
- I pretty much have to wear mosquito repellent at all times. If I don't then I get tons of bites. Like I didn't wear any this weekend because I didn't really go anywhere but now I have lots of bites.
- I keep thinking every night that I should write in my journal, but instead I have been reading or messing around on the Internet like checking e-mail and Facebook.
-When it lightnings here it is much brighter than back home. It is so bright every time that it can wake me up from a dead sleep when it lights the room. There is always thunder, and it is much louder and sometimes can shake the house. The first time it happened was when I was sleeping and it really scared me.
-Things go slowly here. I got my first paycheck today. I got reimbursed money for my plan ticket when I got here and so I had money to buy things like my fridge, microwave, sheets, towels, etc. Well, the government is still not all done with my paper work, so while I have been paid I can't set up a bank account yet to deposit the check and have more money. I hope it doesn't take too much longer. I am going to be out of money soon after I pay October's rent and pay for the installation of the water heater. I wanted to put it off, but my landlord is leaving for 3 months, so if I don't do it this week I have to wait until he comes back. I may be living off water and apples or carrots, or walnuts or anything else I have in my fridge. It is not like I can transfer money from the US because I had to have my Mom pay all of my September bills while they finished emptying the house and getting ready to rent it. Oh well, I am trying not to panic and have faith that something will work out.
- I now have permission to talk to the servants. The landlord said if there is anything that I have problems with the tell the servants and they will tell him or his brothers while he is gone. He said he makes that rule because he has had a servant run away and others try to turn against him and take over the house. But now that he is getting to know me he trusts me now. (Plus, he has it figured out it would be really hard for me to cause problems with the servants since I don't speak Chinese, and they don't speak hardly any English and understand very little.) We have gotten to using gestures to help figure things out, sometimes it is still a no, go on the understanding, and we shrug shoulders or shake our heads.
- I am tired of hot and humid weather and sweating all the time.  I miss cold weather.