on Friday, September 21, 2012
Apparently there have been some protests against my country here because of a certain film that some silly person made.  Anything political here usually happens on friday afternoons, after all the men get riled up after prayers at the mosque.  I'm not sure if anything interesting happened here, because I spent my afternoon in bed and in the pool.  I love fridays.

Malaysia in popular culture

on Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Malaysia is not very well internationally known.  Obviously.  The only reference many of my American friends know is from the movie Zoolander.  Side note: I didn't know until recently the movie was banned here because of the its plot to kill the Malaysian prime-minister and its depiction as "impoverished and dependent on sweatshops".  All Asian releases of the movie replaced the name "Malaysia" with "Micronesia".  Seriously, Malaysia, you need to learn how to take a joke.  But the story gets even better, because Owen Wilson got to meet the Prime minister (rather, the prime minister had the privilege of meeting Owen Wilson) earlier this year.  

Malaysia does also not appreciate a good show.  Malaysian regulations state that "all performers are to wear clothes without obscene or drug-related images and be covered from chest to knees. They must also refrain from jumping, shouting, hugging and kissing on stage".  There was a boycott of Avril Lavigne performing here 4 years ago.  "Her onstage moves were considered too provocative for Malaysia's teenage population".   The Pussycat Dolls performed and were fined $2857 for "flouting decency regulations".  Gwen Stefani said she made a "major sacrifice" by changing her wardrobe to reveal less skin.  Mariah Carey protested the regulations by wearing jeans and a t-shirt for her entire show.  Erykah Badu, on a different note, was banned from performing because she had a tattoo of the word "allah". Christina Aguilera and Beyonce gave up here and rescheduled for Indonesia.  Jennifer Lopez is set to perform here in December; perhaps she's looked on more favorably because I haven't heard anything as of yet.

I guess I make it sound like Malaysia is only known for its censorship.  But it's also known for positive things, too.  Like being the site of Survivor season 1 and *almost* winning Olympic gold in men's badminton this year.

But wait, there's more!  Prince William and the Dutchess of Cambridge are set to arrive in 2 days as part of the Diamond Jubilee Tour.  Malaysia is a former British colony, after all.  I'm rather disappointed in their venue selections, but probably because I'm jealous I can't join in the fun.

Things I'm loving lately

on Saturday, September 8, 2012
Internet:  Suri's Burn Book.  It's the only HollyWood gossip I allow myself to read, from the perspective of 6-year old Suri Cruise.  It's hilarious.

Music:  Pickin' On Series.  Because everything's better as Bluegrass.  Pickin' On Coldplay is my favorite.

Books:  The Tomorrow Series by James Marsden.  I've been craving Young Adult books for their easy, usually exciting reading.  I'm eating these books up.  I've finished 3 in the series so far, but I accidentally read them out of order (I didn't figure out till mid-way through my 3rd book that I had read Book #1, Book #4, then Book #3.  It was still exciting, though the ending was kind of a giveaway.)

Food: Tangled Thai Salad with Peanut Lime Dressing.  The dressing is the BEST.  I'm eating it right now, in fact.

SP Half Marathon

Reuben and I ran a half marathon last weekend.  It was a small, local race.  I had to get special permission to register to run, because I wasn't Malaysian.  They didn't want a bunch of foreigners coming in (a.k.a. the Kenyans) to win all the prize money.  But they didn't have anything to worry about me, of course.  But run I did.  The race began ridiculously late - almost 7am (once the sun comes out, you're a goner in this heat!).  We do most of our long runs starting at 5-something in the morning so we can be mostly finished before dawn.  Luckily, it was a perfectly overcast day and wasn't too bad.  Unluckily, they only had 2 water stations during the race and one in the last kilometer ("water stations" - two were carbonated beverages - Malaysians love their isotonic drinks!) Luckily, I packed my own water!

I ended up running a PR and making 6th place (womens)!  I won 100rm ($33USD).  I was happy and shocked.  My time, although great for me, was nowhere near competitive in any other normal race.  I have other fellow runner friends here who would have blown me out of the water.  Had it been in the US, I probably would have placed 400 out of 500.  But nobody else has to know that.

There's my name!
I won just enough to pay for the race registration fees

And now that I have reached the height of my competitive prowess (ha)  I need to take a break.  I've been developing a case of achilles tendonitis in both legs since the beginning of the summer.  For now I'm going to be doing lots of icing every day, but also looking into seeing a sports doctor or acupuncturist.  And lots of cross training and less running.  Today I did the stationary bike for 30 min and swam for 30 minutes.  2/3 of a triathlon!
My next event is the Run/Bike/Run Powerman in PutraJaya (October), and the Penang Bridge Half Marathon at the end of November.  NO chance of placing there.

Anniversary quiche

on Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Today's quiche

The morning after our wedding which was exactly 2 years ago, we enjoyed the most delicious quiche in the world, thanks to Wendy at SpringRidge B&B.   Thanks to my wonderful husband who I begged to acquire the recipe, I'm hoping to make it an annual (or more frequent!) tradition.  Today, September 5, our two year anniversary, the tradition continues. I have included the recipe below.  Do yourself a favor and make this.  It's basically fool-proof, with two rules:  don't substitute the Gruyere cheese and definitely, definitely use fresh rosemary.  

Wendy's Quiche (from SpringRidge B&B)
1 1/2 cups half & half
3 eggs
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup sliced/chopped ham (I've never added this)
Herbs from the garden (rosemary is critical/any other optional)

Mix all ingredients together, and pour into an unbaked pie shell.  Bake at 350-360 degrees for 30-35 minutes until the quiche does a little 'puff' at the end of the cooking time. You'll know when it looks right, and it is very forgiving if you don't!


on Thursday, August 30, 2012
Some days I absolutely love living here.  I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  Other days, I want to go home, to the U.S., immediately.  Let me go quickly pack my bags, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Homesickness comes in waves and gets worse around holidays.  I generally have productive ways to work it out, like calling someone on Skype or sending someone a little care package in the mail.  It also gives me a good opportunity to focus on the people back at home and pray for them, so that I'm not just thinking about them sullenly and becoming a blubber of a mess.

Other days, when I'm just living life and not thinking much about where I'm living it, I get a little flash of a memory from home.  The longer I am away from WA, the more I am starting to realize how so many of my memories of my home (I still consider Yakima to be home because Reuben and I, until we came here, never had a place that felt like "home" to us) and of childhood are connected to senses.   The smell of freshly cut grass and the sound of a lawnmower.  A slight (and I mean slight) chill coming through the bedroom window.  Having a good burger.  Drinking iced tea.  Listening to the music at Starbucks.  It returns me to things at home that I don't get to experience here, like how I can recognize who's coming in the house (Yakima) by the way they shut the front door.  Smelling the evening's dinner as my mom is cooking it.  Spending evenings lying in the grass watching the stars.  Having to walk around the entire house before I find my mom working in the flower bed.  The smell of Target (trust me, you would miss it too!)  The feeling of warm clothes coming out of the dryer.

Despite all that we've left behind, there's so many new memories we're making, that I'm sure we'll miss when we're back in the U.S.   Things like our morning runs and evening walks, going down to the pool whenever we feel like it, eating mangos endlessly, and never feeling cold.  Eating the best food Asia has to offer. Maybe not the karaoke, fireworks, or prayer calls from the mosque that last far into the night though.

Sun rising

Sunday market

Asia is all about the night market.  On any given evening of the week, there will be a night market (called a pasar malam) somewhere nearby.  They start around 7pm but really kick into high gear around 9.  I don't know how late they go because...I don't stay out that late.  And to be honest, we hardly ever go to the Tuesday night market that's just a mile from our house.  I've seen enough of the same cheap clothes, watches, and plastic kitchen appliances.  The only thing we normally get there is food.

Malaysia also has morning markets, but that's just your typical "buy your fresh produce" market.  Grab the eggs, chicken, fresh veggies, fruit, and then I'm out.  My bags are usually so heavy I don't linger long to look at anything else.

Penang has a day-time market (unheard of!) that takes place in Georgetown on the last Sunday of every month.  I would consider it more of an "arts and crafts" fair.  It reminded me of a farmer's market back home, except that nobody sold produce.  It's fun to "go local" and see what trinkets and gadgets people come up with here on the island.
Celebrating creativity and heritage.
People had tables full of food, locally-made paintings, quilters, wood carvers, handmade soaps, shoe "bedazzlers" (for lack of a better word), and all sorts of cheesy-looking arts and crafts, like the kind I would see at a church craft fair (no offense).  There was also live jazz.

This is the "Beatrix Potter and the Dutchess of Cambridge" table.
The market was right across the street from the historic Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Hotel (est. 1885), so we popped in to wander the grounds.  I love old colonial style architecture.