Sunday, October 11, 2015

Farewell, my Malaysia

My flight out departs in a few hours. And truth be told, I miss my wife and kids terribly, and a large part of me can't wait to see them.
Another part will miss what will always be one of my homes- Malaysia.
And I find myself doing what I usually do in the days preceding my departure. I try to capture as much as I can, to bring the memories back with me. This usually means my shooting of random pictures.

Such as the beautiful chaos of the pasar malam. 

Or how motorcycles snake in and out of traffic, often carrying little kids, or sometimes even 3!

I'll miss the KL skyline. Even if it was haze and smog-covered this trip. But thankfully, this night when I was up there for dinner, it cleared up enough for me to snap this picture.

My mom found it amusing when she saw me take this picture. It was just a reminder of simpler times. And it was something I wanted to show my family- they are so used to getting coconut milk from packs that one never wonders about how we get the milk. The girls have never seen a machine like this.

Yes, it's all random stuff. But it's the weird, simple, random stuff that makes Malaysia truly Malaysia. I've had a busy week- giving lectures to 3 groups in 3 different states (all pro bono, mind you). The last group I met with were medical students early in their careers. Asking me the age-old question- should I go overseas to study/specialize?
Well, it's a difficult, subjective question to answer. There will be goods and bads. But the one bad will be, you will be leaving a culture, a people, a language, a cuisine, a climate that is so familiar and near and dear to you, to live in a foreign land. No doubt with time, that land becomes home as it has for me, but some things will always remain foreign. And so, you will make sacrifices, and when it's your time, you may find yourself doing as I do- taking pictures of quaint coconut graters because it reminds you of your childhood.
Farewell, Malaysia. You have not lost your charm, though many of us abroad worry about your future. Here's to hoping that the Rakyat will rise up above the disease and rot emanating from her politicians and bigots, and bring her glory days of peace and harmony and muhibbah back.

Friday, October 09, 2015

T -1.5 days

I imagine all Malaysian expats do this.
When you get home, you have a checklist.
It may be places to visit. Or stuff to do. People you wanna see. Which applies to me. However my List A, the one I consider priority, is the food list.
Ie. Foods you'd like to consume devour before your flight takes you away from Tanahair again and you are in some place with foods that do not compare. I'd pick Nasi Lemak any day over US$50 filet mignon any day.
And so my list:
Nasi Lemak (x 4)
Ipoh kuey teow
Mah kiok
Bak Kut Teh
Seremban beef noodle
Seremban siew pau
Curry mee
Chicken rice
Chee cheong fun
Banana leaf rice
Curry puff
Tomyum fried rice
Goreng pisang

I leave Monday. Which gives me another ~6-8 opportunities to hit the remaining ones. However, having been abroad so long, my stomach can't contain as much as it used to. And with my Fitbit sending my exercise information directly to my health coach aka wifey, I need to balance things.

Ah hell. I won't be back for another 2+ years. Eat up.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Reunion

We had a swell weekend!
The boys and I met up at Sunway Resort Hotel. Some backed out for medical/family reasons but there was still enough of a quorum for us to just almost get into trouble.
It has been years (probably at least 5) since I visited Sunway (aside from driving through it). After all, when I was in Taylors, we frequently this area regularly. And for those ancient enough (ahem) to remember it, we did attend the Salem Beach Blast and Kent Fresh Freakout at Sunway Lagoon many moons ago.
Anyway, I didn't recognize much of this. Undoubtedly the haze played a role- I couldn't see anything! And it gave you the false impression that you were in the cool mist of Genting. Until you step out of your car and realize you're in a sauna. With special aromatherapy ala haze.
The resort was huge, with a cavernous lobby and pretty fancy decor.
We had a junior suite to ourselves, which also gave us access to the VIP lounge on the 20th floor which provides tidbits and refreshments. Until 5:30PM at which they would serve nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages. And so we hung out there for most of the early evening, eating small samosas and pakoras while drinking wine and beer. When the lounge closed, we adjourned and staggered to a restaurant in Sunway Pyramid for more drinks and food.
It was great to catch up with the boys. Yes, we do have good friends near where we live in the US. However, there is a difference between good friends, and childhood good friends. These are the guys I grew up with, some having known me even before kindergarten. These are the guys who know your deepest darkest secrets. The guys you'd want carrying your casket at your funeral, and delivering your eulogy. 
So, much of the night was about reminiscing, laughing over events decades old. Like how one buddy crapped in his pants (literally) in standard 1 because he was too afraid to use the filthy primary school toilet. About first girlfriends, first kisses, first heartbreaks. The what-ifs.The customary dirty jokes- something all-boys-school students know too well. Memories of camping, the prefectorial board. And strangely enough, a testament to the fact that we graduated from secondary school over 20 years ago- we also talked about our spouses and kids, and what our families were up to.
We laughed. A lot. The beer, wine, mojito and scotch probably made the jokes funnier than they really were. There was no filter; we didn't have to watch our language because of kids. We made stupid, politically incorrect, self-demeaning jokes. But I made sure I soaked in years' worth of my pals- pals I haven't seen for years and probably won't see for another few.
Yes, spiritually, I feel recharged, and I have my wife to thank for that for suggesting I make this trip. She knew more than I did how much I missed my pals.

Sunday, October 04, 2015


Speaking purely as someone who is neutral (ie I do not own stock nor do I sell these things), I am sometimes impressed by how technology evolves so quickly. In this particular context, the CGM systems, or continuous glucose monitoring systems or 'sensors'.
These nifty (but often restrictively expensive) devices allow one to better keep track of their glucose levels without needing to stick themselves in the finger more (but it isn't mean to replace glucometer testing. Yet). You wear a transmitter which measures interstitial glucose every few minutes, and transmits the data to a receiver.
Particularly helpful to allow one to see real-time effects of activities or meals on blood glucose. Most importantly it can warn the user of severe glycemic excursions, especially hypoglycemia in a person with limited hypoglycemia awareness. It certainly isn't yet the replacement for fingerstick testing, but we hope to get there someday.
Having used this in countless patients, I decided to include this in my lectures in Malaysia so I got in touch with some of the device reps and obtained several loaner devices. I thought it would provide credibility and make it more fun if I actually wore it for the lecture. And since I was going to be eating Malaysia, thought it would be interesting to see what food would do.
So this is me in the midafternoon.

This is me, 45 minutes after eating 1 Seremban Siew Pau, and kuih lapis. 
I guess I should be reassured. Even after a huge rice dinner, I can't make it go higher than 150 mg/dL. So I suppose I should be safe, for now. But I should have worn this this morning before that belly-ripping buffet breakfast.
Though I'm still unimpressed by the cost of these things, I am thankful that they are available for those who need to be extra vigilant. And certainly wearing one of these devices gives one a different perspective on things, and helps me understand what my patients have to go through.