Friday, July 31, 2009

An Ode to High-Speed Internet

Although I am grateful for internet access, the internet here is so slow and unpredictable it makes us a little crazy at times...OK, a lot crazy. So here is a short clip that expresses how our slow internet is affecting our family:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"You Got Skinned!"

So a really nice guy on staff let John borrow his motorbike while we sort out the vehicle-buying mess. John wanted to take Kyle for a ride on the motorbike down to the "wet market" which is basically a farmer's market. Unfortunately, we only had one helmet. The guard at the gate to our condo complex let John borrow his to take Kyle. Everyone here is SO's really different. :)

While they were out, John stopped by a motorbike shop and bought a helmet for Kyle for RM40 (40 ringgitt which is about $11). When they got back to the condo and returned the guard's helmet, he asked how much John paid for Kyle's helmet. John told him RM40 and the guard shook his head and said "You got skinned."

Apparently, we were victims of the "skin tax" which means they charged us more because we are white. As it has been explained to us, this isn't a racist thing, it's just that Penang has a lot of expats and they tend to make quite a bit more money than the locals so it is assumed that we can afford to pay more. It's almost like a courtesy on our our way of contributing to the economy.

I know it sounds kind of strange but it's true. However, we were also told that once we are here for a while and become "regulars" at different places, we will get the "local" price for things. You learn something new everyday!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tastebuds on Overload!

This is the place where we spend a lot of our money:

No one really knows how to pronounce it so we all call it "SAB's". It is across from the school and it is hotspot for Dalat staff. It is primarily Indian Cuisine. This is the guy that greets you when you arrive:

They have this bread there called "roti" which I think means...ummm...bread. :) It is sort of like pita bread but a little thicker and a little softer and they make it a bunch different ways with different flavors. So we get the bread basket which has a variety of roti in it. Kyle and Alex love the garlic prawns (which are actually just really big shrimp). John and I love the Tandoori Chicken, the Chicken Curry, and especially Chicken Masala (which is not to be confused with chicken marsala). This pic shows a typical dinner at the restaurant. Everything, and I mean everything, is served with rice.

So for fresh fruit juice for the boys, ice tea for us, two orders of chicken masala and two orders of garlic prawns, we pay about $20. Not bad for some of the best food I have ever tasted! And this pic is just because my kids are cute!

Friday, July 24, 2009

My New Favorite Food

Curry Puffs!! They are these little stuffed pastry pocket type things with chunks of potato and curry spices and several other unknown ingredients (it's best not to ask). They are DELICIOUS.

Us versus the Tin Can

So the stuff we shipped has still not arrived...sigh...

Thankfully, the school provided us with some basic necessities until it arrives. So we have been getting by pretty well. One of the items in their box of provisions is this unknown contraption:

Using my exceptional powers of deduction and scientific logic, I determined that it is a bottle/can opener from the Middle Ages. Being the good sport that I am, and having food inside a tin can that I wanted to eat, I decided to give it a whirl. Unfortunately, it did not come with instructions for use. Bummer. So I jabbed, and poked, and prodded at the can with my ancient can opener to no avail. Since intellect was not getting the job done, I decided to go with brute force and called John into the kitchen.

He got the can open but the poor can suffered terribly....

I really can't wait for our stuff to get here so I can have a can opener from the last century or so.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We Made it!!!

We are alive…safe and sound on the island of Penang. It has been quite a week…

Last Sunday- My brother and his wife dropped us at Detroit Metro Airport. We had 9 pieces of luggage plus 6 carry-on items which is, by the way, more than you are supposed to bring. What can I say, I have a lot of stuff.

We arrived at the ticket counter to find that our flight had been delayed by 3 hours which meant we were going to miss our connection in Dallas. And, of course, it seemed every flight was full. The ticket agent named Marsha worked with us for over an hour until she finally found a flight to Dallas. And our wonderful baggage guy Mike helped us make sure that all our luggage including the extra stuff got on the plane.

We arrived in Dallas knowing we missed our connection, knowing the next flight was completely booked, and praying for a miracle so we could make our next connection in Los Angeles. It came down to the ticket agent offering all sorts of free items to anyone who would volunteer to take a later flight and God graciously chose 4 people, exactly the amount of seats we needed. We sat waiting for the flight in the Dallas airport and having a huge picnic on the floor. My mom had packed us an enormous bag of food…and this wasn’t junk food, mind you….this was good food! We had pita bread and cheese and summer sausage and fruit and all sorts of goodies. And the boys found ways to occupy themselves while we waited.

Our flight arrived in L.A. and we knew we had missed our connection to Hong Kong as well and we prayed for yet another miracle. God pulled through for us again and got us on a flight at 2am to Hong Kong. The flight to Hong Kong was wonderful! I had all these nightmares about a 14 hour flight only to find that it passed by rather quickly. The service on Cathay Pacific was outstanding, the food was delicious, and we each had our own TV with all sorts of movies to choose from (the kids even had video games to play). We were kind of bummed that we didn’t get to sit all together but we were grateful for the flight.

The Hong Kong airport is huge and beautiful with all kinds of ritzy high-end shops and restaurants. Everyone was wearing face masks and all I could think was that either Americans are far too cavalier about this whole swine flu thing or the people in Hong Kong are way too hyper about it. We found some comfy benches and rested for a while and the boys found some friends to play with who were also waiting. Eventually we cleaned up, changed clothes and had some sushi then got ready for our final flight to Malaysia. That flight was uneventful and we arrived without a problem.

The school sent a welcome committee to pick us up and we were greeted with welcome signs and happy faces (theirs, not ours). I am quite sure that we looked like we’d been on a three-day bender as we had little to no sleep for 48 hours! Our host family, The Brewsters, took us to our new home and we fell face first into our beds. It was Tuesday night.

The next few days were a whirlwind. The Brewsters are so great and they drove us all over…to the grocery store, to the bank, to the appliance store to buy a dryer (there is no way I am hang drying clothes), to the mall to get handphones (cell phones), etc. They also took us to all these awesome outdoor eateries the locals call “stalls”. We have had the most amazing food! And they make all these fresh fruit juices, pineapple, watermelon, you name it. The food is super cheap too!

On Friday night, they have dinner and a movie at the school. Everyone brings a pot luck dish and then we watched a movie on a big screen outside. We had a chance to meet many other staff members and I got to have some girl chat time while the boys watched the movie. They didn’t make it through the whole thing though.

On Saturday another staff member named Barend (he’s from South Africa) took us to a place called Jusco, which is a lot like Wal-Mart, so we could get some other things we needed. It is attached to a great mall with some awesome stores and we had the most amazing sushi for lunch. Little plates of it spun around the whole restaurant on conveyor belts and you just grabbed whatever you wanted to eat. Way cool!

On Sunday we went to Penang International Church. It is a church filled mostly with expats from all over the place. The pastor is from Canada. He gave a great sermon and the people were really warm and friendly and the boys made several new friends. After church we went out to eat with the Brewsters at…Chilis!! Yes, they have Chilis here and a TGIFridays. I know, I know…it’s a cop-out, right? Honestly, after several days of eating wonderful food filled with spices my body has never had before, I needed to give my stomach a rest with some good old American food that I knew how to pronounce.

Today we had our first day of orientation and got to meet all the other new staff members. They all seem really great and the director, Karl, did a great job. It is all well-organized and everyone is really helpful.

So far our experience has been really great. It is definitely hot here and I have a feeling our electricity bill will be sky high as we make much use of the A/C. We love our new home and its spectacular views.

And now that our internet is finally working (that took all week to get settled) we can keep in touch with family and friends. School starts on Aug. 11!

Prayer requests: that we are able to find a car in our budget without getting ripped off, that our stuff we shipped to Malaysia gets here soon (we really need a lot of things in that shipment), that our transition continues to go smoothly, that our family and friends back home have some peace about our move, that we are able to represent America and Christians in a good light to a part of the world that may not appreciate either very much.

We miss you and love you all!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Did You Know?

Since 2000 there have been 100 plane crashes that involved fatalities

Of those 100 crashes, 54 were due to human error

51% of planes crash during landing, while only 22% crash during take-off.

So it would seem that my life will be in danger for 73% of each leg of our flight (there are four). And if we do crash, there is a 54% chance that it was NOT mechanical failure...somebody just screwed up.

Why am I torturing myself with these statistics?

I am leaving in less than two days so please just pray that we don't get stuck with any pilots who had a bad day or just got into a fight with their wife or found out their teen was just expelled from school, etc. PLEASE. If we can mitigate the human factor then my chances go up so repeat after me: I DO BELIEVE IN FAIRIES! I DO BELIEVE IN FAIRIES! It always seems to work on the Disney shows, right?