Mirrored temple and a new HRC

On Saturday we woke up early and hit the road.  A friend of Carolyn’s had told her about an interesting Hindu Temple in downtown JB, so we entered an intersection close by into our GPS and headed that way.  When we got to it we parked in a parking lot across the street and as we were parking a van with two Japanese ladies and an Indian driver parked next to us, so we followed them since they were clearly on a tour.

We headed towards a temple but a guy waived us off and pointed down some train tracks, so we went that way.  After about 100 feet you step off the train tracks and hop a little dirty drainage pit, then you climb up and over a trash strewn hill before coming down right in front of an ornate metal temple.

We walked up to the place where you hand over your shoes before going inside (the sign says Rm 0.50 to hold your shoes), and we put our sandals in some plastic buckets.  Loud music was coming from the temple, so I kept holding Zoe because she was nervous.  We went inside and were greeted by a frowning gentlemen wanting Rm 10 ($3) each for us to enter.  Not a bad price to walk around gawking and taking pictures while others are there for religious purposes, so we paid Rm 30 (Zoe was free).

The inside of the temple was COMPLETELY covered in colored mirrors, so it was pretty impressive.  Hindu Temples are already impressive enough because of the array of colors and fantastic deities they pray to, but with mirrors everywhere and a group of young men banging on drums and cymbals while young ladies sang songs in a really high pitch, it made for a pretty interesting visit.

Besides all the mirrors, the thing that made this place stand out more than the dozens of other Hindu Temples I’ve visited was that they had a statue of Jesus Christ, Buddha, Guru Nanak and Mother Theresa in there.  I guess they were paying tribute to the other great religions of the world, and I would also guess that they left out Mohammad since you’re not supposed to make any images of him.  Seeing Christ in a Hindu Temple was about as shocking as it would be to see a statue of Ganesha inside a Christian Church.

After we left the Hindu Temple we decided to take a road trip up to Melaka.  About 2.5 hours later we rolled into Melaka and lucked out by getting the last parking space in the lot under the brand new Hard Rock Café, right at the beginning of Jonker Street.  We ate lunch at the HRC and Zoe awed the crowd, particularly one of the hostesses who was also named “Zoe”.  The other Zoe gave our Zoe several HRC pins that our little Zoe displayed proudly on her shirt, and a group of young Indian women all came up to Carolyn and asked if they could take pictures of our Zobug.  Zoe flashed a smile for them and they went and showed their boyfriends the pictures they’d made of Zoe.

After we left the HRC we went to two different malls in Melaka.  We bought some thief beating sticks made of bamboo, some clothes for Zoe and a book on Malaysia.  My dad bought some sunglasses because he broke his on the flight over.

Here are the photos from this weekend:

The big 1000

Welp, I finally made it to 1000.  One thousand blog posts since I began this blog on January 9th, 2007.  Over 6 years of writing, and I’ve finally reached it…  Some posts have been really short, even 1 or 2 sentences, but I’ve also written my fair share of long ones.

Carolyn and I had only recently moved to California when I posted my first blog, and I was still in my 20’s.  Zoe was a long way off, Charlie and Tank were young pups, and Jean hadn’t even started her beading obsession.  Time passed and things changed, some for the better and some for the worse.  Either way, we’re both very happy with where we are in our lives today.  We’ve enjoyed these past several years immensely; Jean and I are happy we’ve been able to share our lives through this blog with our friends and family, and even some strangers who’ve stumbled across the blog.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along as much as we’ve enjoyed putting ourselves out there, but enough about where we’ve been.  On to more blog postings!  Here are the photos Jean took on Zoe’s birthday:

The worman turns 2!

On Monday night after work we went to TESCO to pickup Zoe’s birthday gift, a remote controlled car.  Carol and Zoe went upstairs to TESCO while my dad and I went into a toy store on the first floor and checked out all their cars.  They had a tiny pink one we liked at first, with some cool lights on the front, then we decided it probably wouldn’t have enough leg room for her, so we went up to the next size.

After checking them all out I decided on a big pink one with a radio, working headlights, and an input for an MP3 player.  I had the guy working there take it into the back and unsolder the wires to the gas pedal so that Zoe couldn’t take off – I wanted to be able to control the forward and reverse with the remote control only.  The car was RM499, and we had to drive back home with the trunk open because Zoe’s car wouldn’t fit completely inside.

I took a vacation day on Tuesday so I could celebrate Zoe’s second birthday.  We all woke up early and drove over to the Tuas checkpoint and went into Singapore.  We took Zoe to the Jurong Bird Park.  For a couple of hours we went around the park, checking out the birds, and even watching a bird show where a bird sang Happy Birthday to Zoe and hornbills, toucans and parrots all flew around and did tricks.

After we’d had enough of the birds and were hot and sweaty, we went to the small kiddie water park inside Jurong Bird Park and cooled down.  Zoe changed into her little wetsuit like the Malaysian kids always wear, then my dad and I joined Zoe in the water while Carolyn took pictures.  Zoe had a blast!  She ran through the ring of water, sat on ducks squirting water everywhere, and even joined us in the “splash zone” where a huge bucket pours a ton of water down all over the place every few minutes after it fills up.  Zoe’s favorite part was actually sliding down a water slide and landing in the water at the bottom.  She wasn’t very happy when we finally made her leave.

Our next stop was a pizza joint nearby for Zoe’s birthday lunch, but she slept through the majority of her luncheon.  She walked around the majority of the bird park on her own and played for a while in the water, so she needed a nap.  She did wake up in time for a slice.  Carol, my dad and I all agreed that the pizza was superb.

After our late lunch we went home and we brought out the remote control car for Zoe to check out.  We took it outside and she rode around all over the place – in the street, in and out of our driveway, and even on the grass around to the back of the house.  We finally brought it back inside so that she could have some of her birthday cake.  Zoe was furious when we made her get out of her car, but she calmed down once she saw that she was about to get ice cream.

Here are the photos taken by my dad and I on Zoe’s second birthday (Carolyn’s will come in the next blog posting because she took a bunch more than us and it would be too many to put them all on this one post):

Cooking Lesson – spring rolls

I’ve been a slacker when it comes to posting blogs.  I’ve been working 10-12 hours a day, and 6 days a week sometimes, so I haven’t had much time since I’m usually taking Jean to a doctor appointment for the pregnancy or to the grocery store on my day(s) off.

Zoe’s nanny, Elizabeth, has been sick all week and she was really missed by Jean and Zoe.  Carolyn has become good friends with her, and I know she misses her being around during the week.  Elizabeth did manage to teach Carol how to make spring rolls last week, and they were fantastic!

Basically you pick whatever you want to put inside, which was a bunch of veggies for us, you cook them up with oil, soy sauce and a little oyster sauce, then you wipe the edges of the thin spring roll pastry sheets with raw egg and wrap up your filling inside the pastry.  Once it’s wrapped you can store them in the refrigerator for a couple of days and cook them as you’re ready to eat them by frying them in oil.  Jean is getting more and more comfortable using a wok, and she has already made a second batch of spring rolls after the first batch she made with Elizabeth.

Another event last week was that we finally made it to Permas Seafood Village after eating almost 100% of our dinners at home since we moved in a month and a half ago.  Zoe had a blast feeding the koi, and our friend that works there let Zoe feed them at least 12 bowls full of food because she was having so much fun.  Zoe got splashed by the fish and even reach in to pet them a little bit.

Carolyn went for her amniocentesis last Friday, so we should have the results back in another week.  The pregnancy seems to be coming along ok so far – Carolyn doesn’t seem to be nauseous as often any more.  We don’t go back to see her doctor again until April 19th.

My dad was supposed to arrive in the wee hours of this past Saturday, like 1:30am, but his flight out of Louisville was canceled because of some mechanical problem with the plane.  He ended up spending the night in the Louisville airport and heading over a day late.  Carol and Zoe went with me early on Sunday morning to pick him up, and Zoe even sat on my shoulders and held up her “PeePaw” sign over the crowd so he’d see us.  We didn’t get back home until around 2:30pm.

On last thing before the photos; we have started taking the “Second Link” over to Singapore instead of the “First Link”.  The Malaysians call the two bridges that connect Malaysia to Singapore the First and Second Link, but they’re also known as the Woodlands Crossing and Tuas Crossing as well.  Woolands is within 10 minutes of our house, right near downtown JB, and this is the First Link which is almost always packed and can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours to get through Malaysian and Singaporean immigration and customs.  Tuas is the Second Link which is on the far west side of JB (we live on the eastern side of JB), so even though it takes us about 25-35 minutes to drive to the Tuas border crossing, it has been completely empty both times we crossed there.

Here are the photos from last week:

Trip to the Polis Station and 2 nights on the town

This last week had some excitement.  On Tuesday evening we ordered take away from a local Nonya restaurant.  Zoe fell asleep in her carseat as soon as we pulled out of our driveway, and I parked directly in front of the store front while Jean went inside to pickup the food.  As I’ve mentioned before, most restaurants in Malaysia are alfresco, where the front of the building opens up completely and seating spills out onto the walkway and street in front.  The restaurant wasn’t busy, so Jean was right in the front talking with the lady who works there when our car got rammed by a car driving along the road behind our car.

I instantly looked in the rear view mirror and saw a car in the parking space on the other side of the road directly behind me was pulling forward, so the car going past swerved to miss him and hit us.  I checked Zoe and she was still asleep, then I looked over my right shoulder and saw the car that hit me slow down and then take off out of the parking lot.  I honked the horn several times to get Carolyn’s attention, then I threw the car in reverse, backed into the road, and took off after the guy that hit me.

I chased him out of the parking lot and onto the main road.  I was honking and flashing my lights, and he finally pulled over.  I was so pissed off that he had hit me and tried to take off, so when he finally pulled over I jumped out of the car and started yelling at him immediately.  The guy was a young kid, like 21 or 22, and he was VERY nervous.  He was sweating profusely and he begged me repeatedly not to go to the police station.  Two of my co-workers, both expats from the US, have been hit by locals in the past 3 weeks, so I knew that I had to get a police report within 24 hours.  I told Firdaus, the young guy that hit me and ran off, that I couldn’t promise anything but I would see if he could fix the car by paying a body shop directly as he suggested, without going through insurance.

I was so mad at this kid though because while I was asking for his information he had the nerve to ask “why you hit me?”, to which I yelled “You are an idiot! My wife is still in the restaurant where we are picking up our food.  I was parked!  You hit me!”  I started apologizing even more, but to think that he hit me and ran, then tried to blame me, it was ridiculous.  He kept saying that he just started a new job and lived at home with his parents, and could I please help him.  It was infuriating.  If I’d hit him, why wouldn’t he want his car fixed by me?  Why would he run?  Why did he never ask for my driver’s license or write down my car’s tag number?  He knew he messed up and he was scared of the consequences.

The next morning a Malaysian co-worker went with me to the Polis Station in Bandar Seri Alam so I could fill out a police report about the accident.  I had him call Firdaus before we left the office to let him know I would be filling out a police report, and my friend told me Firdaus was really nervous and begged him to tell me not to go to the police.  The police officers I dealt with were fantastic – completely professional and helpful.  They were impressed by how long my Florida driver’s license was valid for, and I explained the circumstances of the wreck from my point of view.  They printed out a copy of the report, I paid RM8 ($3) for a copy, and then I asked to take a photo with one of the officers who helped me fill out the report, Steve.  Steve was cool and had no problem posing with me for a photo.

I went back to work and the car rental place came by to see the damage, then I exchanged cars on Thursday so they could have it repaired.  On Wednesday while I was with my friend Ridwan at the police station, Firdaus’ mother and father called me a total of 8 times, begging us not to fill out a police report.  They wanted a copy of my police report and Ridwan told me he told the mother I wouldn’t give it to them because once before he provided his report to someone who hit him and the police got angry because they said that allows the other party to formulate their story to refute your story instead of telling their side as they beleive it happened.  Basically the mother was trying to get my story so they could say something different to make it my fault when they told the police their side of the story.  In Malaysia once one side of the accident reports it to the police the other side is required to enter a report.

On the final call from Fridaus’ mother, Ridwan told me she was much more calm and he thought it was because Firdaus had originally planned on keeping his accident secret from his parents but after we told him in the morning that we were going to file a report he had to tell them and they freaked out, but now they were calm and apologetic.

Hopefully I’ll get our regular car back on Tuesday or Wednesday this next week.  I really hope I’m not involved in another accident while I’m in Malaysia, but the majority of the people driving here are terrible drivers and it is stressful and hard just to avoid all their unpredictable (and illegal) moves.

On Thursday night I started getting calls, emails and text messages from work around 7:15pm, so by 8:30pm I’d had enough and just went back in to work.  I didn’t get back home until around midnight.  I reviewed notes and didn’t get into bed until 2am, and I planned on getting up to write an email about what I found at 6am.  At 6am I got up, exhausted, and wrote the email.  I thought I’d go back to sleep and get up for work around 10am and work a half day, but at 7am I started getting a tons of calls, text messages and emails, so I continued to be exhausted until everyone left me alone around noon.  I decided I’d had enough for a 36 hour period so I didn’t go in to work on Friday, and went back to sleep instead.

On Friday night I went out with a guy that worked for the company I’m working for when we were here over the summer, but he quit right around the time I left in early September.  He’s very talented and we became friends over the summer, so he was able to get in touch with me recently through another person that still works with me.  The guy’s name is Iskandar, called “Iz” for short.  Iz picked me up and gave me the grand tour of JB.  I had a lot of fun visiting the Pandan City market, which has a huge wet market for fresh seafood, meat, veggies and fruit, and also a sprawling market with everything from knockoff clothes and handbags to remote control cars and pirated DVDs.  After Pandan City we drove downtown and visited Dataran (the big clock tower Jean and I marveled at last summer), and we went to a little night market for coffee and cokes for a while.  I didn’t get home until around 2am, then I watched the new Red Dawn with Jean until about 4am.

On Saturday we went grocery shopping for most of the day, then last night I met two guys I’m working with at a local German Bierhaus for some drinks.  Hanspeter is Swiss and Pawel is Polish.  I had fun talking with those guys from about 9pm to midnight, then I came home and went to bed.  Jean and Zoe were watching Elmo when I got back home.

Today we have to run more errands.  This next week to 10 days will be crazy.  Jean has her amniocentesis, my dad arrives in Singapore in the wee hours on Saturday morning, and Zoe turns 2!

Here are some photos from the past week:

The routine has started

We haven’t really done anything exciting since the last post.  We’ve gotten into a routine.  I’ve been working a lot, including the past 4 Sundays except last week when I drove all the way to work only to realize at the gate that I’d forgotten my access badge.

Here’s a basic day:

5:30am – I wake up and get ready while Jean makes me breakfast (eggs and bacon). Zoe stays asleep.

6:30am – I leave for work and Jean goes back to bed with Zoe.

7am-5pm – I work while Jean and Zoe do their thing at home.  I usually take a 45 minute lunch break to run to McDonalds.  Florina (the housekeeper) comes on Wednesdays or Thursdays and cleans the house from 8am-3pm, and Elizabeth (the nanny) comes 2-3 days a week from 9am-5pm.

6-6:30pm – I get home from work, Jean is cooking dinner and Zoe is watching tv.

7pm-8pm – We eat dinner together at the table, then we take care of small errands like checking bank accounts online or sending emails.

8pm-10pm – We call people back in the US, either for business or family.

10pm – I go to sleep.

12am-1:30am – Jean and Zoe come to bed.

Jean likes when Elizabeth comes to watch Zoe because she’s able to get more done, but she also likes having Zoe to herself for a few weekdays too because she misses Zoe whenever Elizabeth is watching her.  Zoe loves Elizabeth, who has actually put Zoe into a fairly rigid schedule.  Zoe takes naps, she cleans up after herself, only watches 30 minutes of tv during the day, gets 2 baths a day, must eat at the table, has to throw away her dirty diapers, goes through books each day, is learning to color, and potty training has officially started.  On Wednesday evening when I got home Zoe yelled out “pee-pee”, Jean whisked her into the bathroom and put her up on the toilet.  The next thing I heard was Jean yelling “SHE JUST PEED IN THE TOILET!”  I ran in there and started cheering for her and Zobug gave me a high five.

Another co-worker from where I worked in Kentucky came to Malaysia two weeks ago, and two Fridays ago he came over with his family.  There are 6 of them, so it was a full house.  Zoe had a blast running around with their youngest kid, who is around 6 or 7.  We had a good time with them.  His name is Cody, and he’s the one who went with us to Tioman Island last summer while we were here in Malaysia.

This next week will be more of the same, but the following week should have a few departures from our routine.  On Friday we have to be in Singapore in the morning for an amniocentesis, then on Saturday morning in the wee hours we have to go to Changi Airport in Singapore to pick my dad up.  He’ll be visiting us for a little less than 2 months.  We’re excited about him coming to visit.  Hopefully we will be able to take him to KL, Melaka, Singapore and Sibu or Langkawi Island while he’s here.

We’re trying to save money for the next 2-3 months, but we are planning on going to Bali or Chiang Mai in either May or June.  Also, I will have to go to Tokyo for work in April some time, so hopefully the flights won’t be too expensive so I can take Zoe and Jean along with me.

Here are the pictures from the past 11 days, including 2 of these signs with a scale on them that represents one of the major political parties (elections are coming up):