Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I take water for granted. I have never been without water before. Ok, maybe for an hour once or twice in my life while they were working on a pipe in my neighborhood. I also had more freedom to go other places while the water was shut off so that it did not really effect me. I try to be aware of the water I am using and not waste water but I have never had to be super restricted. I have been without power for several hours before. Several weeks ago I got a text saying that we would be without water for 3 days. So a friend bought a large plastic trashcan and scooper for me for bathing. Nothing happened. I have used some of that water to clean my bathroom since it was just sitting there. Well, tonight when I finished with dinner there is no water in the kitchen. There is still water in my bathroom but that maybe from the tank on the top of the house. I didn't know what to do with my dirty dishes. I didn't want to use drinking water since I don't know how long we will be without water. So, I put my dirty dishes in a ziploc bag and put them back in the refrigerator. That might sound gross, but it will keep the ants from coming and should keep it like it does food when it is in the fridge, so that it doesn't start to smell. One of the servants did come in and try to explain to me, but since I am still doing horribly at learning Malay I had no idea what she was saying. I thought about going up and getting  a dictionary but it would have taken so long to look up every word especially since I don't know how to spell them. Then hopefully I can wash them tomorrow. I don't know what will happen if I run out of water in my garbage can and we still don't have water. I don't know if I can take it somewhere else and get water or if I will have to like stay in a hotel. Here it is too hot and I get too sweaty to not take a shower every day and go to work. I don't know what I would do about the toilet either. This morning the toilet is still flushing. I have not yet taken a shower, so I don't know if I try to use the shower or take a scooper bath with the water in my garbage can.  If I take a shower with the shower I probably shouldn't use the water heater with pump because that will probably take more water and I don't know how long this is going to last. I don't know if there is some place to find out this information or not. I heard the news usually passes around from text messages but since I didn't get one this time I don't know what that means. Does it mean that this is just confined to the place where I am living or my neighborhood which is a different neighborhood than the person I got the text from last time?
Back home in the front of our phone books were located all sorts of useful numbers to get answers for this sort of thing and many others. Here lots of places don't have phone books and I don't know if they would have those number in the front or what. Listening on the radio it is either not in English or it is a station that is for KL and they don't talk about that type of information for my town on that station. I don't have a TV, so I don't know if they would have a warning like they do back home on the tv or not. 
Growing up I watched my parents deal with situations and then I was able to deal with similar situations through from having watched them. Here I don't have that luxury, so I don't always know what to do in unknown situations and I can't really ask them since they have never lived here and experienced that.
This morning there was barely a trickle of water coming out of the kitchen tap, so I washed last night's dishes. There was enough water to take a shower but it was very short and I turned off the water in between soaping up and rinsing. I also did not use my water heater with pump to make sure I didn't waste any water. When I finished with breakfast we were back to no water so now that dish is in the fridge. I also used a paper towel as a plate. The servants were laughing at me and trying to show me something but I have no idea what.
When I got to school I found out that we also had no water at school. I guess the main pipeline into town burst. We didn't even have any bottled water because the person who is in charge of that had not done their job. So we also spent all morning without drinking water too. I used to bring a water bottle but sometimes I don't and today I didn't because we always have bottled water and I want to save my drinking water. Today was a PE day so they couldn't really shower after. I think some did a little water splashing since there was some water in the tanks. Not long after that we ran out of water to flush the toilets so had to use toilets that were full. The MPK stalls across the road were closed so those student who did not order lunch from this one restaurant or bring lunch had nothing to eat. Our Director of Studies did call and McDonald's was still able to make some food. So those of us that did not have food had McDonald's for lunch. We normally do McDonald's or KFC on Tuesdays so we place those orders first thing in the morning. Since we did not do that then we got lunch later. So instead of lunch we went right to our next class for 40 minutes and then had lunch for 40 minutes and then went back to that class. As of right now we are on for school tomorrow and hoping that the pipe gets fixed. If not we will probably go to school for half a day and then dismiss at lunch since the stalls will most likely be closed again. Finals are next week and I have some students that are leaving early. They have to get their stuff done before they go. I hope that it works out for them. If I had to stay home tomorrow I would work on grading things. It may be interesting the next few days.
I was also wondering how the Muslims wash up for prayer if there is no water. I know that the tanks have some water but I wonder what they do after the water in the tanks runs out. I will have to ask someone tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New observations

-There is lots of trash around and I never see any people pick up trash or like on earth day community service projects going around picking up trash. They are however very picky about leaves lying around on the ground on driveways, and streets. I will see people picking up leaves and completely going around trash.
-If people find that something smells bad they will cover their nose with their hand. Sure, things smell bad back home but people never say or make any showing of it. They act like nothing is wrong.
-When children say good bye to their parents for the day or a few hours they give Salam, which is putting the back their parent's right hand to their forehead and then kissing it. So they don't hug and kiss their parents good bye.
-When a child or teenager meets or says good bye to an elder other than their parents they do the same thing.
-When adults meet each other and greet each other they will hold their hand out like they are going to shake it but instead it is a grasp and then they touch their hand to their chest. I actually don't like shaking people's hands so I find this much better.
-Sometimes it is harder to stick up for yourself. People can call a person nasty names or say bad things about that person in their language and one cannot defend one's self because one doesn't know what they are saying. Generally through tone of voice and sometimes accompanying gestures the person being talked about can figure out what is being said is not nice. Other times if one can remember the word to look it up or ask someone else who speaks the language they can find out what the word means. Even if it is hurtful I would rather be called a nasty name in my own language so at least I know what is being said about me.
-During the hot season when it rains there is really loud thunder and really bright lightning with almost every storm. Sometimes it just thunders and lightnings and never gets to the rain.
-Many of my students have sleepovers at their friend' houses during the week. They still get up and go to school. Where I am from sleepovers were only allowed on weekends or times there was no school so we would not stay up all night and be tired for school the next day.
-In the States there is an overabundance of phone books, and sometimes I feel that they are redundant and we could produce less and save paper and trees. Here hardly any place has phone books and when one needs information it is not easy to get a phone book. Sometimes it is also hard to find that information on the internet and sometimes not even information has the information or number I need.
-I really like chili chocolate. It is interesting because people love spicy food here and they will add chili sauce to almost everything (if it is not with a spicy curry sauce) even if it is not meant to be spicy, however, none of the people I know are not a fan of chili chocolate. They don't think it goes together. I think it is a perfect combination. I like to eat just a little piece a few times a week and really savor it. Mmmm.
-Food items can react differently here. I had a bottle of balsamic vinegar that I use a little bit every other month. I had only used about 1/4 of the bottle and found the rest had solidified. I have bought Nutella which is supposed to be thick and kind of like peanut butter but it turns more liquid here. I have peanut butter that I use a few times a week and that is starting to liquify some. Fruit and vegetables don't last as long. I get the treated milk just for cereal because I heard fresh milk hardly keeps more than a few days (I don't drink it that fast). I miss drinking milk but I don't like the taste of the treated milk enough to drink it. People don't seem to throw things in the fridge here as fast. They will leave things out on the table, even like meat and just put a cover over it and then will eat off it later in the day or the next day. They never seem to get sick. I always avoid that food, because I don't trust not getting sick.
-I feel sorry for the animals here. Lots of the homes in this town have small fenced in cement areas for their cars. They don't have  lawns for their animals. I am sure with a cat is not as big of a deal because most cats don't have to stay in the yard but for dogs they have just that cement area to lay on and that is where they also go to the bathroom. I feel sorry for them and I also think it is gross. I mean I know normally they go in the yard, but one can clean it up and they can wear certain shoes when walking in the grass. Plus, one does not have to worry about getting it on their tires or stepping in it when they get out of their vehicle. Plus. some of the dogs don't have much room, so they are basically going potty where they eat, sleep, and hang out.
-In America now we pick up after our dogs when we are out walking and they poop somewhere. Here they let their dogs poop wherever, even on the street and don't pick it up.
-I saw a cat one day using the tire on a car as a scratching post.
-People don't have sprinkler systems here. Probably because it rains so much and they probably really don't need it.
-People don't have lawn mowers and mow their lawns. They hire people with weed wackers to come cut the grass and weeds.
-When people hand you something and you are standing far from them they will grasp the outstretched arm with the other hand about in the middle of the forearm. I was told they are doing that to shorten their reach so they are not rude. I don't really understand that.
-I noticed people here if they point at something it is with their thumb and not their index or pointer finger. Again that might be something so as not to be rude.
-When I first moved here I noticed that at the food stalls they use plastic bags for drinks and then put straws in them. They use a tie on the bag to close one end and also so people can hang the drink on something when they are eating. They also use styrofoam containers for all food items. In the US we have moved away from stryofoam because we know how environmentally friendly it is not. So, I thought that they were not into protecting the environment. I have noticed recently though that they do recycle. Plastic, cans, papers, cardboard, and probably some other things as well.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I went to the Dentist a few weeks back to have my teeth cleaned and checked. I usually have this done every 6 months but it has taken some time to get adjusted and take care of things like that. According to other people this dentist is really good but really expensive. When I converted it back to US dollars I thought it was cheap compared to the US. They were backed up and called me that day to ask if I could come in later which was nice rather than sit there for an hour or so. I still had a little wait when I got there but that was fine. The dentist himself cleaned my teeth. This was a first for me because in the different places I have lived in the US and dental hygienist always cleans my teeth and the dentist just does a quick check up at the end. He did not try to visit with me as he was cleaning my teeth which was nice since it is always hard to visit when someone is working in your mouth. He did visit with me at the end though for probably 10-15 minutes before I left. When I lived in Wyoming the places I went always did the old scraper. When I lived in Idaho they used a laser. When I returned to Wyoming they still used the scraper. Here the dentist also used the laser. It seems like my teeth get cleaner and it last longer when they use the laser. I don't smoke or drink coffee and I seldom drink pop or tea, but I attract brown stains on my front teeth no matter what we have tried to stop that. Another thing that was different was instead of using the straw thing for water to rinse my mouth and then use the sucker to get rid of it (I always get water all over myself during this) I was given a glass of water each time instead and then raised up so I could spit it into a little sink beside my chair. So I did not get water all over myself using this strategy. However, while using the laser with the water an all my saliva I still got water on myself. Going to the dentist is just one of those things I always have to shower and change once I am done. There were some ladies that were assistants and handle the phone and paying and water, etc. but I didn't see any of them doing anything involving cleaning, etc. So, I wonder if he does it all himself. I would think that would mean less business but the guy is good and if he runs it like he wants I am not complaining. Anyway, overall I was happy with the experience and my teeth are clean and look good with no problems. That is what I like to hear.

Field Trip (Deer Park & Elephant Sanctuary)

On Thursday May 19, 2011 we went on a field trip to the Deer Park and also Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary both located in Lanchang, Malaysia. We left school early in our school bus for the middle school and a rented large bus for the high school. I did not wear my watch so I don't remember the exact time we got to the Deer Park but with a break on the way it took us between 2.5- 3 hours. We went on the highway in the direction of Kuala Lumpur. I rode on the middle school bus and enjoyed talking with the girls. Our first stop was the Deer Park. I did not realize until we got there that the other bus had a tour guide with them. He gave us directions when we got off the bus and before we entered the park. We walked through a interesting garden that had a variety of plants on display and walked down the where the deer are located. The man in charge showed us how we could feed the deer. A person is supposed to hold the food out to the side of their body so when the deer rise up on their back legs the deer does not paw the person in the stomach. It was also advised not to scream or make any loud noises to frighten the deer. After that all those would want to could enter the area and feed the deer. I chose to remain on the outside of the fence and take pictures of everyone feeding the deer. I have seen deer before since I am from Wyoming. Although, this was a different type of deer. It was the Javan Rusa deer. Later we also saw Sika deer and Sambar deer, but were not allowed to feed those. There were also a plethora of birds throughout the area: golden pheasant, crested fireback pheasant, sun conure, and others that I have forgotten the names of.   One student did get pawed in the stomach because he did not hold the food out to the side of his body. There were several students I warned as they were feeding the deer because they were doing the same thing. We have one autistic student and she was squealing in excitement and we had to warn her not to do that. After we fed the deer we walked on a path through more types of birds, a ferret, a guinea pig, rabbits, a mouse deer, and many others down to where they had a python. Students got to hold the python and have their picture taken with it if they wanted. One student who went before me kept bugging to take her turn and then once she got the snake she freaked out and closed her eyes while shaking and saying getting it off of me. I wanted the snake wrapped around my neck for my picture but the guy just placed it on my arms. After that we went up to a large covered area and had lunch. Following that we saw the Malayan sun bear and student could feed the bear if they wanted. Then we had about half and hour to continue to wander through the park before it was time to head back to the buses and continue on to the Elephant sanctuary.
Our next stop was the Kuala Gandah Elephant sanctuary that was maybe a 20 minute drive from the deer park. When we got there we went into this large room that had signs with different educational explanation about elephants and a large elephant skull in the middle of the room. We the next showing started then we went into the film room and watch a 40 minute film on the displaced elephants of Malaysia. These elephants are being moved for their protection from people taking over their land and them causing the people problems. They showed how this team of men moved the elephants, how it is a dangerous process, and how they don't have enough money to track the elephants or do follow up on them. Many of the elephants are separated in this process because they can only move a few elephants at a time. It is also very stressful on the elephants and many of them die when they get to the Taman Negara rainforest. We then made a presentation of the donation that we were giving to the sanctuary. After that we went down to where the elephants are located. We watched them being bathed in the river. We were supposed to be able to participate in that but the water was up almost to the bank and they did not want people to get hurt when the elephants fall on their sides (when the water is high). When the water is low the elephants do not try to completely submerge themselves and so it is safer.

Then they were taken back to the stage area where people could feed them peanuts and they preformed some tricks. Two of the elephants and the same names as two of our students. After that people could feed them fruit. Once they had been fed they were led over to a place where people could get on them and take a ride. I took pictures of all our students riding the elephants. I wanted to ride but by the time I got done the students were leaving and they were putting the elephants away. It was a two minute ride around a circle, so it wasn't a huge loss. We all felt if would have been more fun to ride and then take a bath with them in the river. We were all prepared with extra clothes. After that those who rode the elephants showered and changed into clean clothes. While they were doing that I got an ice cream and bought a few souvenirs to send back to friends in the States. Then we got back on the buses and headed out. It seemed to take much longer on the way home then there. Most were tired and several of the students on the middle school bus slept. I was being goofy and was seat dancing to music. The students thought it was pretty funny. When we were entering the outskirts of town and were stopped at this light these people a few cars over were watching me. My students mentioned it so I turned and waved at the people and then waved back. When we got back to school the Director of Studies who had been at the back of the bus asked me if I knew those people and I said nope. Overall, it was a great day.