Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

We're back.
Brrr. KNNCCB. We went from 30C to -12C!
The flight was uneventful, and we spent 2 nights in Hong Kong and got to take in the awesome sights and skyline.
The kids are jetllagged badly, and it's hell for us. 4 days back and they're still waking up at 2 AM, wide awake until about 430AM. Ugh.
It's Thanksgiving morning now, which means my turkey is sitting in a bath of salt water and spices; the brine is the key to a succulent bird, really. Let it sit in it for a night, and it'll guarantee the turkey is juicy. I'll pop it into the oven in a few hours.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Homeward Bound

Sigh. After a fun 2.5 weeks in Malaysia, we're on the clock for our trip back. We leave KLIA tomorrow morning for a trip to Hong Kong- will spend 2 nights there before departing for the USA again. The layover is necessary as we would otherwise have a 12 hour transit- so we felt that a short side trip would be best.
It's always a mixed bag of feelings.
Any Malaysian expatriate will know this.
You leave with a very heavy heart- no matter how long you've been abroad, or how happy you might be there, it's never easy leaving 'home'.
Yes, in many ways this will always be home.
This is where I grew up. Though I've been away since '98, I remain more familiar with the cultures here than those in the United States. I find great comfort in the food; the people (kinda- back to this later), the accent, the smells.
In many ways, home in the USA is sterile; the friendships less deep than those here. After all, only a lifelong childhood friend can read you that way. You can't express certain fears or feelings to friends who grew up in a different world (though my wife understands me pretty well). School systems are different. Kiddy games and foods are alien.
You sometimes can't help but wonder (I know this is bad, but it's human nature). You see your friends living in a certain locale, or working at a certain place, and you wonder, what if I had chosen to work in Malaysia? Would I have worked here; how would things be? It's a thought I try to avoid, but nonetheless it comes occasionally.
You also leave with a certain nostalgia- you wonder what else will look alien, or different, when you next return. There is also a lingering fear- who will no longer be here when I next come back. After all, between the last trip and this, I lost Buddy, and Gene. It's a morbid thought, but it is a real fear for me. Especially considering that your family and friends are all getting older.
There is also obviously a part of you that is looking forward to leaving. The part that is yearning to get back to routine, no doubt (especially with kids- the travelling has been difficult for them). But also the part of you that is frustrated by the ills of Malaysia. The political garbage you read about and see. The racial policies. The faces of the so-called Ugly Malaysians. It was frustrating travelling the country, realizing how much potential Malaysia has, but then seeing much of the resources and wealth wasted away. Going to Singapore was a slap in the face; Malaysia could have been more like this, if only....
It was frustrating too, travelling through the smaller towns and even in my native Seremban, and seeing (for the lack of a better word) how many seem to be living in poverty, while the idiots in Putrajaya and elsewhere are wasting taxpayer dollars- the recent AG report was only the tip of the iceberg- but then it was no surprise that little action was taken.
Though this has been a great trip, the best part of this for us is simply: family. Our families have expanded. I got to meet my brother's baby for the first time and got to see how the other nephews have grown. They got to meet my girls for the first time. We got to see how much fun the kid had playing with each other. But most of all (this brings a tear to my eye as I type this) I loved seeing my girls play with their grandparents (though Alli was a very fierce and not-always-willing kid!).
With the kids, I'm not sure when we get to return next. But Malaysia, till the next time, please look after yourselves. My family. Your people. Let there me more loving and laughing and harmony, and less of the bigotry the elites are trying to feed you to keep you feeding them.
Selamat Tinggal.
Bye mom, dad, everyone. We will miss you.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Wedding

Finally, the last of the siblings got hitched.
It was a beautiful outdoor affair, and thankfully the weather cooperated. Not too hot, with no rain. The wedding was held in the poolside garden of the Equatorial Hotel, complete with the pretty trees and lush greenery.
Our Alli and her cousin Keith got to walk down the aisle with the bridal procession. Though we were nervous, they performed superbly thanks to some bribery.
It was somewhat of a madhouse too, with all the kids playing together; this was the first time Alli got to meet some of her cousins. And I have to say, despite the noise and the chaos, it was a joy to see.
The one thing I'm reminded of, is how much I miss family. Not only the immediate, but even the cousins and distant aunts and uncles whom you see only once in a blue moon; you realize that blood will always be thicker than water, and though you don't get to see them often, reunions like these always reminds you that you belong to the same unit.
With all this being done, we have another 11 days before we take off; hoping to make some day trips to KL to meet up with more friends. And I have a long list of foodstuff I have yet to consume!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

You Know You're Back in Malaysia When....

  • Shortly after brunch, your mom asks what you'd like for lunch
  • Your daughter complains that it's so hot that her "butt is burning"
  • Everytime you want to activate the turn signal when driving, you instead turn on the damn windshield wiper
  • When it rains, your jakun daughter who's never seen torrential tropical rain, goes out and sings and dances in the rain
  • Suddenly everyone stares at you when you ask your kid loudly "Do you need to pang-sai?" (bad habit- no one in the Midwest understands this so I don't bother being discrete with this anymore)
  • You're hot, sticky and sweaty 5 seconds after a shower
  • The drivers are all maniacs
Yes, we've been back a week so far. And it's been busy so far. We made a short trip to Singapore to see old friends and to visit some sights. And my sister's wedding is tomorrow, so everyone is gearing up for it.
Food-wise, I've had satay, nasi lemak, siew pau, dim sum, peking duck, chili crab, roti canai, roti telur so far. A lot more ground to cover. I'm expecting to gain at least 3 kgs in the next two weeks.
More updates to follow...