High above KL

This morning as I wrote a blog entry Carolyn was busily getting herself and the girls ready to go out.  Once we were all ready we took a cab over to the KL Tower.  The first time we came to KL we stayed in a hotel that also houses the Hark Rock Cafe, and it was just across the street from the KL Tower, but we had never been up inside it and decided now was the time.

The place was a little chaotic when we got there; some of the escalators were down for some type of construction, several young kids were standing around on what I guess was a field trip of sorts, and there were too many staff workers for the KL Tower standing around.  One guy who worked there was really helpful, carrying the stroller up the stopped escalator while I took Zoe and Jean climbed with Logan.

We found the ticket counter and decided to purchase the combination ticket that takes you up to the observation deck of the tower and then allows you entrance into the Zoo next door.  The kids were free, and it was RM57 per adult for the combo ticket.

We stood in a short line for the elevator up to the observation deck for less than 5 minutes, and the ride up took less than a minute to cover the 276 meters (905ft).  We spent the next 30 minutes making our way around the entire floor to check out the views from 360 degrees.  I wish the view of the Petronas Towers had been from a different angle so you could see the twin towers better instead of the side profile of one and a tiny bit of the other peeking out from behind the first one.  The most impressive part for me was being able to see the Batu Caves way off in the distance and also seeing the King’s Palace for the first time.  The King of Malaysia rotates every 4-5 years from one Sultan to another, and each state in Malaysia has a Sultan — it would be like the King of America rotating between each state’s governor every 5 years, except the governors would need to be from ruling families who ran their respective states for centuries.

Carol and I agreed that the views would be more spectacular at night, and surprisingly we were told that less people visit at night (“it is almost empty”).  After we’d seen enough we took the elevator back down and then made our way to the zoo (“Animal Zone”) next door.

It would definitely be a mistake to call the Animal Zone a zoo; it’s more like an exotic pet shop.  You can cover the entire thing in under 15 minutes, and that includes reading the little bit of info on each cage.  The majority of the inhabitants were reptiles (snakes, lizards, geckos, caimans, etc) or birds, but they had some surprising creatures like a coatimundi (I saw some in the wild in Guatemala), a raccoon, some albino hairless mice, and a two headed red-eared slider (turtle).

After our quick walk through the Animal Zone we caught a cab back to the hotel and went to the a nearby mall for a late lunch.  We ate at Jean’s favorite place in KL, Tarbush.  After lunch we went to our room and Jean fed Logan, then all the girls went to a mall for about 3-4 hours of shopping while I fell asleep and caught up on some much needed rest.

When the girls got back I went across the street with Zoe to take some night photos of a cool fountain and a Deepavali exhibit with Flat Sasha.  When we got back to the room Carol had ordered pizza (Papa John’s is in KL), we ate dinner, bathed the girls and we’re now about to hit the sack because we are getting up at 4am to prepare for our morning flight to Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Here are some of the photos from today:

More jabs for Logan

I haven’t been able to find the time for blog posting recently because I’ve been swamped at work.  I am usually up at 4:30am, out of the house by 5:30am, and I don’t get back home until about 7pm.  I eat dinner, play with Zoe and Logan for a little bit and then go to bed by 10pm.  I work at least 1 day each weekend, but sometimes both weekend days.  All this leaves very little time (or energy) for me to post blogs, and that’s a little depressing because I really enjoy posting blogs and photos.

Things will change for the next 10 days because I’m on vacation!  I took a little over a week off, together with two public holidays (Deepavali this Saturday – a Hindu celebration that involves little candles, and Awal Muharram next Tuesday – the Muslim New Year).  Before I get into where we are now and what we’re doing, I’ll give a quick rundown of what we did the past two weeks.

Two weekends ago (October 19-20) we decided to venture out into JB on Saturday, so we took the girls to the JB Zoo again.  I love that place…  It stinks like poo, the place could use several coats of paint, but it cost us RM5 for our family of 4 ($1.59), you can get pretty close to the animals, they have several different species, and Zobug loves it.  We went to a different section we didn’t cover on our last visit when Jean was pregnant and generally unhappy to be waddling around a hot and stinky zoo while her idiot husband raved about the prices.  The different section had several monkeys (Zoe and I love the monkeys), alligators, “hippopotters”, deer, a cassowary and ostrich, and some cool little otters that were chirping and hopping around the volunteer workers who were cleaning their area.

After we left the zoo we went across the street to the Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque because it has beautiful blue roofing against a bright white exterior, and it looks pretty magnificent from the zoo.  We didn’t get out and go inside because we had just got the girls into their carseats, but we plan on going back to take more of it in.  As we were pulling out of the parking lot a monkey ran across the street (from the zoo) and into a tree outside the mosque!  It looked like an escape, but we’ve seen many wild monkeys in Malaysia so perhaps he’s just a local resident and not a captive in the zoo.

After we left the zoo and Abu Bakar mosque we stopped by our house briefly and then drove to Pasir Gudang to visit the world famous Museum Layang-Layang, or as the expats says, “The Kite Museum”.  Malaysia has few national symbols more revered than the kite; they make these unbelievably ornate kites and apparently they have been doing this for centuries.  The museum was closed for a lunch break when we got to the park in PG, so we let Zobug play on the playground for a little bit until they opened.  The museum was a bit of a bust though…

I had hoped the museum would have a little gift shop where we could buy Zoe a Malay kite and fly it with her in the park across the street from our house, but they didn’t have a little shop or sell anything other than the museum entry tickets.  The other two detractors were that the museum doesn’t have air conditioning (this should be a requirement for all museums in the tropics) and they don’t allow photography.  Luckily the kid working the front desk didn’t follow us around and I was able to sneak a few photos of some of the gorgeous kites.  They really are impressive, both in the unique shapes the kites are formed in and the patterns on the actual material they use (paper?) to span across the edges of the kite frames.  They had a kite in there that was probably 7 feet tall – I would have liked to have seen them get that sucker off the ground.

Last Saturday (October 26) we headed across the causeway to Singapore because Logan needed her 3 month old shots, or as the Malays and Singaporeans call them, “jabs”.  A friend of mine from Kentucky mailed me a Flat Stanley that his fourth grade daughter made, so we took her along for the ride too and got some pictures of “Flat Sasha”.

Zoe played on the playground in Paragon, I bought her a kite at Toys R Us since the Pasir Gudang kite museum had been a bust, Logan screamed for about 90 seconds after getting two jabs – one in each thigh, Logan’s weight is now a the 50th percentile and we’re excited about that, and we ate a fantastic lunch at Margarita’s on Dempsey Hill.

Now we’re up to this week…  Yesterday (Wednesday, 10/30) we left JB around 5pm and drove in the rain up to KL.  We’re staying in Bukit Bintang right now, not far from the Petronas Towers.  We leave Malaysia early tomorrow morning to head to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we will stay for 5 nights before returning to KL for 1 night.  After our 1 interim evening in KL we take off for Langkawi for 3 more nights before returning to KL and driving home.

Here are the photos from the past two weeks:

Another week grinding away

Well, I worked 7 days this past week, but it looks like I’ll be off all of the upcoming weekend.  Tuesday is a national holiday in Malaysia, but I plan on working it since there will be a lot of people taking the day off and someone needs to be there.  I still haven’t finished planning our upcoming vacation, but hopefully I can finalize the plans this week.

I haven’t mentioned it recently, but Roll Tide!  Alabama is 6-0 so far this year, and well on their way back to Pasadena for another National Championship.  Really all that stands in their way is LSU and the SEC East Champion.

Jean’s week wasn’t so bad – she went to the Premium Outlets and did some shopping.  She was impressed that they now have a Versace store, and I was impressed that Jean came home with only two bags of stuff.

Zoe has been talking non-stop, and spent her week doing more things than I can describe in this blog.  Her favorite thing to do lately is watch Little Einsteins on the iPad, but she’s also really into Sofia the First lately.  Whenever the iPad’s battery runs out Zoe will yell “Uh-oh, iPad died!”, then Jean will plug it in while Zoe starts crying and whining to Jean for the iPad, saying, “Zoe needs the iPad.”  When Jean asks her why she needs it the response is “For Little Einsteins”.  The other night when the girls all came to bed Zoe hopped up into the bottom of the bed and when I flipped over my foot bumped her and she said (in a deep voice) “watch it, daddy”.  Tonight she went on and on about ice cream and M&M’s, saying “I like ice keem.”, “I like emmies.” and “Daddy, please buy Zoe ice keem.”  I took her to Baskin Robbins and she got her ice cream – “blue with emmies”.

Logan has done her thing all week too – sleeping, eating and pooping.  She has started to respond to baby talk and tickling her checks and neck – she smiles.  Here are some photos Jean took of Logie this week:

Making some plans

I’ve been extremely busy with work since coming back after Logan was born, but even more so these past two weeks.  I’m working 12-14 hours a day, and usually at least one weekend day if not both, plus I’m getting text messages about issues around the clock (non-stop).  This job is very demanding…

While I’ve been at work Jean has been at home with the girls.  Logan has grown quickly, and was measured at 4.85kg (almost 11 lbs) last week.  She’s in the 50th percentile for weight at her age, instead of being too small.  Zoe is a bundle of energy; when she isn’t dancing to Little Einsteins she is on her rocking horse, riding her tricycle, dumping blocks out, changing dresses on her princesses, playing catch with her pink ball, knocking balloons around or trying to pop bubbles faster than they can be blown.  Zoe’s new favorite thing to do is stick her tongue out and then say “peek-a-boo” – we have no idea where she got this from.  Carolyn did take the girls to the park across the street one evening this week before I got home, and Zoe played with a 6 year old girl who taught her to say “ready, set, go!”.

We managed to go out to eat as a family a couple of times in the past two weeks – mostly to Chinese joints.  One was like a buffet style for the masses and it was pretty good, but yesterday we went to a swanky (by JB standards) place with nice tablecloths and tons of staff watching for cues that you needed something.  The nice place yesterday was fantastic, with some of the best dim sum we’ve ever had.

Besides working a ton I have also been trying to plan for my upcoming vacation since I’ll be taking a few of my remaining vacation days at the beginning of November.  I’ve decided, along with requests from my job, to put off the rest of my vacation days until January.  My time off in November will be spent traveling around Southeast Asia with my family.  At first we thought we may go to Burma, but we’ve decided to go to Chiang Mai in the northern part of Thailand, and then perhaps Brunei after that.

Last night I booked the flights and hotel rooms in Chiang Mai; we will spend 5 nights there before heading somewhere else.  We’d like to see Brunei, but we’re not sure it’s worth the effort and cost since there doesn’t appear to be much there to see.  I should know where else we will spend my vacation days by the next time I post a blog.

Another plan that is coming together is that my father is coming back to visit in early December.  We’re looking forward to seeing him (Zoe was yelling “Papaw!” last night when we told her he’s coming back soon).

I plan on going over more details about our trip and what we plan on doing while my dad is here visiting on the next post.

Here are a bunch of photos Jean took of Logan and Zoe recently, plus a really fancy sports car I saw cruising around JB (actually at the top of hill that leads down to our neighborhood):