Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Christmas Break Continued

December 24th- Christmas Eve. During the day I talked to my Dad and brother on skype since they were not able to come at this time to visit me. Then I just relaxed and had some alone time. I went over for Christmas Eve dinner where my Mom was staying. Then we watched a movie. Christmas Day my Mom and I and another lady went to church for their Christmas Day service. It was a mostly Chinese congregation, so we really stuck out. We had to fill out these cards and then they introduced us and other guests towards the end of the service. The people there were really friendly and we got invited to the potluck Christmas dinner after the service. We would have like to have stayed but our ride was ready to go. Later that evening we had a Christmas dinner that did have turkey, potatoes, my Butterscotch Apple treat (with vanilla instead of butterscotch). We watched a movie after that. It was an ok day. It didn't feel at all like Christmas with none of our traditions or decorations or presents or really celebrating His birth, but oh well. The following day we went out for Thosai for breakfast and then to a Kenduri we had been invited to attend. That evening we went for a walk out on the beach and actually out where the water is supposed to be, but it was really, really far out. I got lots of seashells. On our way back we stopped at the night market and looked around.
On Monday Dec. 27th we went to several places that day that we had been wanting to go. First, we went to Adina Batik shop. It is a place where a person can see batik made and can buy material to have something made. They have a few men's shirts and a few caftan's, but it is mostly bolts of material. I bought a bolt of batik silk to have made into a baju kurung. Then we went to the Tanun factory where they weave fabric. It has a factory part where we could watch women weaving the fabric. They use real gold, copper, silver, and bronze thread in their weavings. They also have a showroom, and a gift shop. I got some material there with silver in it and I don't know what I am going to do with it yet. Then we went to the Batik village. I got some things there and a gift for my Mom to take back to a friend. After that we headed out to the Swiss Garden hotel to stay for a few days. It was a nice and relaxing time. We had good food, we relaxed, watched some movies on the tv, visited with each other. It started really raining so we didn't do any swimming, but that is ok. One of the days we met up with some of my friends and they took us around and showed us some things. We went to this one food stall and tried Thosai Tisu, which I decided I really like. We went and looked at the outside of a Hindu temple. Then we drove to the local Mosque so that we could get a better look at it, just on the outside. One of the nights we were out there my friends came out and we ate at The Blossom Chinese restaurant. The food was awesome. One of the days we got a pedicure at the spa located at the hotel. It was my first pedicure. Mom said it was not the best she had ever had, so in the future I probably won't go there again. Another day we went into town and went to the Mall. We went and saw The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. I really liked the movie.  On the 31st we went back to where my Mom had been previously staying and helped them get ready for their open house the next day. We helped with all the gift baskets for the children. On January 1st Mom and I and my friends went to the house of the Director of Studies at my school for a house warming party at his family's new home. After that we went to a lady's house for a quick visit who my friends knew. Then we went back to where my Mom was staying for that open house. There was lots of people that came. It was nice to have my Mom here for awhile, so she could see where I am living and working and meet some of the people that I am getting to know and to see that I am pretty happy here.

My Christmas Break

I know that it is getting towards the end of February, but I just realized that I never wrote about my Christmas break. My Mom came from the States to see me and where I was living and teaching, since we were not able to check things out before I moved over here. The first day that my Mom was here (Tuesday Dec. 14th), was come to my school so that she could see where I was teaching and meet some of the students and the staff. I had school Wednesday, so she just relaxed and rested from her really long trip. Thursday morning we got up and met two of my co-workers and their daughter and the maternal grandma for breakfast at McDonald's. My Mom brought my friend's daughter a tutu. She was very shy, but excited for the present. My Mom got to go out on the beach and in the water a ways and enjoy the nice warm water. We went to the mall later that day to pick up a few things and just rested more in the afternoon and visited, since I had not seen her since August. We went to Sara Thai for lunch. It is one of my favorite places to eat. We had their vegetables, seafood tempura, and fish. I really like the fish that they make there. This fish was fried and was supposed to not be pedas (spicy) but we got these little chili podes on top and Mom accidentally ate one because she didn't know it was on there and it was too spicy for her. After that she brushed them off. My Mom never thought she would love fish, but where we come from we can't get fresh fish, so I have never had really good fish before. In Minnesota I have gone fishing and got my own fish and eaten after it has been cleaned, but the quality of that fish hasn't even been as good as this fish. It has always just been the tiny little rainbow or sun fish.  On Friday morning we got up early and took the bus to Kuala Lumpur to do some shopping so I could get more weather appropriate clothes. Our first stop after getting off was to get lunch. I ordered my Mom Thosai so she got to try it for the first time. It is my favorite dish so far. After that we went to check into our hotel. Let's just say that we didn't not make the accommodations and next time we will make our own. After checking in we went to see the Petronas Twin Towers. They are the tallest buildings in the world. I had my picture taken in front of them because a friend from back home and requested I have my picture taken and send it to him. We went down into the gift shop and I bought some gifts to have my Mom take home and send to people for me. We looked at going up to the skybridge, but the wait was going to be forever, so I decided to pass. Then we went around to KLCC which is the mall there. They had lots of name brand shops there, with very expensive products. They had like Jimmy Choo, Tiffany's, Prada, etc. It was recommended to try British India, but I found their clothes too expensive for me. I tried another place Marks and Spenser's or something, but their clothes didn't fit. I didn't really buy anything that first day except a Malay/English, English/Malay dictionary. and some of my favorite lotion and body soap. Before dinner we were standing around one of the center things and there was a ballet show that we watched. We ate at Nando's for dinner. That was the request of one of the people we were with. It is a South African chain. The food was good, but I was (and still am) sick of chicken. I have chicken and rice every day. I wanted to try something else, but oh well.
The next morning we met up with a friend of one of the people we were with and had dim sum for brunch. It was really, really awesome and I would do it again. It is like the Spanish tappas where one orders a whole bunch of small appetizers and shares only dim sum is Chinese. Then we went to Wamutama (sp?) mall and did more shopping. I went to East India and did find several tops to buy that fit me, weren't too expensive and were either cotton or linen. I shopped at some other places and got more tops to wear that would be cooler. I also found myself a swimsuit that I can now wear to the beach under what has become my beach outfit. I stay covered out of respect for my friends. We ate at Chili's that night for dinner, so I could have some real blue cheese dressing. How I have missed it.
The next day we went to Berjaya Town Square Mall. I got some new tennis shoes because mine were shot and it didn't even feel like I was wearing tennis shoes because there was no support left. My feet hurt so bad. I found a few more tops, but no pants. We ate lunch at Secret Recipe. They have awesome desserts. One thing I will say is I hate shopping and these malls were ginormous and it was easy to get lost. I have never been in malls that big. The biggest is the hotels/casinos/malls in Las Vegas. I am happy I got more tops to wear though. It has been nice to have new clothes.
After finishing shopping I wanted to find this place called Gem Mines. We found it but we got a little lost on the way. At this one intersection we saw this guy laying on the concrete island in the middle. He had red around both his knee caps and sticks poking out of his knees and his knees were all gross. He was just laying kind of propped up on his side smoking a cigarette. There was someone that took pictures of him. It is things like that that always make me glad at the end of the trip to go back to my smaller town where I don't see things like that on a daily basis. The Gem Mines had nice colored gemstones that we looked at but we didn't buy anything. Across from that was a batik shop and so my Mom bought some really pretty scarves to take back home to give to people. Then we went to another Secret Recipe for dinner.
The last day (Monday) we got up and packed. We went back to the food stall and I got Thosai for breakfast and then we took a cab to the bus station and took the bus back to the town I am living in.
On Tuesday we just relaxed and did laundry. Wednesday we went and got massages at this spa that I go to in town and really like. After that we went to the movie theater and saw Chronicles of Narina: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We went out for dinner that night to a Chinese Restaurant with a nice view of the sea. To be continued...

Valentine's Day

Well, here Valentine's Day was just another day. We didn't do anything at school, and they didn't play any love songs on the radio or have anything going on in town. I didn't get any surprise Valentine gifts from people back home. I didn't have a date, so I didn't get to do a romantic candlelit dinner and a moonlit walk on the beach. Oh well, maybe next year. The only way I knew it was Valentine's Day was from all the pictures posted on Facebook of couples and what they got from their sweetheart for Valentine's Day.

I should mention that for Chinese New Year the Chinese people will give small gifts of money to single people. So I got money from two Chinese people I know. I like that tradition and think I will keep it every year for as long as I am single. I like how they embrace single people and don't make them feel left out. 

Chinese New Year break

Over Chinese New Year break I went to Besut, Terengganu Malaysia. I went with two friends and their two year old daughter. We left Wednesday night and drove through the night to get there. We arrived at his parent's house at 3:30 a.m. I went upstairs and shared a room with my friend and her daughter while he slept on the couch downstairs. I got up kind of early and went down and met some of the people and had breakfast. Then since there was not much to do until it was time for me to check into my hotel I went back upstairs to try to get more sleep but the little girl kept wanting me to play with her. After I got checked into my hotel and showered and changed they picked me back up so that I could go back and have lunch. After hanging out for awhile my friend, her daughter and I went to a beach not too far away. We got ice cream and took it with us. The beach was really crowded and there was lots of trash on the beach. After that we went back to my hotel room for awhile until it was time for dinner. The next day, Friday, my friend and I got up early and went to a large outdoor market. It was crowded with people. There was so many people that it was hard to get around and hard to stop at the booths so that I could look at things. Plus, then people were staring at me since I really stuck out. I saw some interesting things. I saw fish in bags like they have at the pet store once people have bought a fish to take it home. I have always just seen small fish in the bags. Here they even had like the Koi fish in the bags. They had lots of plants they were selling and fruits and vegetables. The fruits and vegetables they would have sitting on the ground on a piece of cloth. There was one section where we had a small path through a person's vegetables and I thought I hope no one falls on the food and ruins it. They had tupperware and one booth full of all sort of different cutlery.

They had lots of different types of fish and meat. They also had food booths where people could buy food being prepared there to eat. I had satay for my breakfast. I had to find a small place out of the way where even though people still stared at me I wasn't getting jostled so that I would poke the stick through one of my cheeks. I also saw one of those rickshaw things or whatever they are called. Where there is the person on the front that rides a bike and pulls a small carriage thing behind that can hold like two people. The ones I saw where decorated with all sorts of fake flowers. After I decided that it was too overwhelming to buy anything we went and watched a snake show. There was lots of traffic and traffic jams and so I knew it would be awhile before we got picked up. The guy had a python laying on the ground not doing too much. Then he brought out a light colored cobra and after he had that one out for awhile he pulled out a black cobra. My friend was afraid and stood behind me while I took pictures. At one point the black cobra was raised up and holding very still and looking straight at me. My friend was afraid that he was going to come attach me. After we left the market we went back for lunch and more hanging out. Then my friend, her new sister-in-law and I drove to another town not too far away to see what there was to do. All the shops were closed. It was during Friday prayers so we don't know if they are closed for all of Friday or just during that time. We stopped at the local 7-11 and got ice cream. Then she, her daughter and a little cousin went to a different beach. This beach was also super crowded. There was this cave thing that she wanted to show me, but the boardwalk/bridge thing to get there and the lookout area was in poor condition. There was also lots of trash at this beach and in the water. I had really wanted to swim, but I decided not to. We got some food to eat while the kids played for awhile before we headed back. When we got back then we helped some with the putting together of the guest's gift baskets for the Kenduri the next day. This was the one at the groom's side of the family, where the bride's family comes to visit. The grandma's both thought I was really cute. One of them wanted to know if I would be willing to marry a Muslim man, because she had someone in mind. That night was supposed to be a guy's night out, so my friend and I decided to go out to eat with the new sister-in-law. My friend was going to take us to this really great restaurant but they don't open until 8p.m. When we got there at like 8:30 there was already a 3 hour waiting list, so we decided to go somewhere else. We tried this new restaurant closer to where I was staying it. The food and service was horrible. There were other people that we talked to on our way out that said they were never going back there either.
On Saturday it was the day of the Kenduri. I got up and went over and just kind of hung out in the morning. I was just watching them do last minute things and trying to stay out of the way. My job and my friend's was to hand out the guest's gift baskets. I did not do a very good job so eventually one of the sister's took over. They had no guidelines for me, so I didn't know exactly when to hand them out since there was no really set point for me to stand to hand them out. I had to carry a basket, but it was very small and only fit a few at a time. Plus, they had different colored ribbons depending on which side of the family the guest was on, and I didn't know who was who and most didn't speak English. So, then I just hung out inside out of the way on this cushion and watched people go in and out. After the bride's family had eaten their special food made by my friend's husband's cousin, we got to eat the leftover food that they had not touched. It was all really good. Then my friend, her husband, his cousin, and I went out to a place close to where I was at the first beach. We got an ABC drink so that I could try that. We took some pictures there. There wasn't much trash at the beach, but there was lots of trash in the water. After that I went back and got showered and changed for dinner. Dinner ended up being way late and things didn't quite happen like they were supposed to, so I basically hung out and then when I got tired I went back and went to bed. The next day I got up early anyway and got myself packed because we were leaving. I noticed on the way back that even though it was Sunday many of the children in towns were going to school. I wonder if they have another day of the week off, or how that works. We stopped several places along the way so my friends could pick up different things that they can't get in our town. When we were about an hour away from our town and it was about 7p.m. we ran into a traffic jam. It took over two and a half hours for us to get the rest of the way to our town. We also had to stop at one point so they could do their prayers and then it was hard to get back out into traffic. By the time we got back to town I was famished and I knew that the kitchen would be locked, so we stopped at McDonald's so I could get something to eat. They didn't drop me off until after 10:15p.m. I was so relieved to be back. I was very tired the next day for work, but so glad that I went.