Sunday, July 19, 2009

Best of Malaysia

We just got back from a week in Malaysia. It is one of the most interesting places I have ever been, mainly because of the Muslim culture. On the ceilings of our hotels were arrows pointing the direction to Mecca. All the restaurants posted what dishes were hallal or not. Malaysians themselves don't wear the full burka but the city was full of Arab tourists who did. One of our cab drivers told us that since September 11, it has been difficult for Saudis or other Middle Easterners to get visas to vacation in Europe, so they now come to Malaysia instead. As he put it, "Now you drive down the road and see black, black, black." I even saw a woman in full burka riding a jet ski. She had a neon orange life jacket strapped on over the burka. All very interesting.

My other favorite thing about Malaysia is the food. We ate fantastic Indian food, Middle Eastern food, Italian food, and Western food. We got to eat at Chili's (!!!) and sip Chai Lattes at Starbucks. My friend Beth says that it's impossible not to be happy when you eat at Chili's. It's just a happy place. I couldn't agree more. I'm now convinced that chain restaurants are the best things ever. They all look the same, have the same menus, same food, even the same decorations on the walls. It's like I'm taken back in time to the Chili's on George Bush in College Station where Sally would always order chips & salsa and I'd add way too much salt. Or the Chili's on Burnet Road in Austin where my daddy always orders peppercorn hamburgers. Or the Chili's in Kingwood where we all ate after my marathon. All the same! It's a great feeling when you miss home.

Another favorite thing about Malaysia is that my new best friend got to go with me. Yes, of course Kevin the Permanent Best Friend came. I'm talking about my new best friend. For Christmas, my parents decided to be entirely too generous and buy us a Canon Rebel camera. It's my new best friend. It makes vacations so much more fun. So here are my best & favorite shots from our trip:

This is a cannon ball tree. The name needs no explanation I think! The cannon balls look like coconuts but they're not. To tell the truth, I really have no clue what they are.

This is Kevin doing his Jesus impersonation. It really looks like he's walking on the water, doesn't it?

Can you even believe that I took this picture? That super-zoom lens was certainly a good purchase! If you look at the monkey on the right, you can see a little baby attached to her chest. There were monkeys EVERYWHERE. We saw them almost everyday. All the green & animals of the tropical jungles was quite a welcome relief compared to the concrete jungle we call home.

One morning, we went to a Butterfly Farm. I'm not really sure why they call it a "farm." It's not like the butterflies pick up their hoes every morning and dig potatoes.

The timing of our vacation was perfect because next week we're doing a kid's day camp at our school. So now we're tan and rested up to wrangle these rather rambunctious little friends. I'm not exactly sure how brown thighs will help out with that but I'm sure it can't hurt...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Snakes, snails and puppy dog tails
That's what little boys are made of

Sugar, spice, and everything nice
That's what little girls are made of

Is it a boy?

It is a girl?

What do you think?

The answer:

None of the above.

It's an appendix.

Which, after this harrowing weekend, Kevin no longer has.

Let me first preface this story by saying that we are SO thankful for Father's provision. The medical care was much better than I expected, and with the help of a lot of friends, we never once felt at a disadvantage with the language. So feel free to read on without a nagging feeling in your stomach that fears for Kev's life.

It all started on Friday morning when Kev was complaining of a little bit of stomach pain. We assumed it was the same ol' thing that happens rather frequently when you live overseas, especially in light of the fact that Kevin had eaten spicy local food the night before. After lunch, he went to bed, hoping he could sleep it off.

Within a few hours, things were certainly not slept off! The pain was worse, the groans were louder, and I had no idea what to do for my guy. I certainly didn't want to fall into the category of hypochondriac where every headache is a brain tumor and every stomach cramp is appendicitis. But you just can't be too careful with these things...

After consulting some American doctors and everyone's hero WebMD, our other American friends in our city & I decided it best to take Kev to the ER. Without a car of my own, this of course proved to be a bit of a challenge for several reasons:

1) how exactly do you say hospital?
2) how do I explain to the cab driver that he needs to go back inside my apartment complex to pick up my husband who can't even walk?
3) what do I do if there are no cabs?

All of these proved to be a challenge when a cab driver did in fact reject me after I told him I needed to go to the hospital. On cab #2, words of some manner came out of my mouth, and he indeed went to pick up Kevin and delivered us to the hospital. Perhaps I accidentally said something along the lines of "Please drive like a crazy maniac" because he certainly did.

As you can imagine, hospitals here are not like back home. You have to pay for every test before it's done, and your friends/family members play the role of hospital nurse/orderly/lab technician. We nabbed a hospital bed in the hallway and rolled poor Kev all over the place as they did various tests on him. Our favorite was the ultrasound, where Kevin had lucidity enough to ask the tech in our new language if he was pregnant. Her response: "Oh humor."

While Kevin was having his blood drawn, I had to step out of the room for a bit to collect my emotions and to keep from passing out. I figured an emotional breakdown or a collapsed wife wouldn't really contribute to the situation. So there I am, trying not to cry, when what do I see? A man (a really dirty man mind you) making his way through the ER with a wheelbarrow full of rocks. Big rocks. Really dusty rocks. Never in America...

They finally diagnosed the problem, and Kev was whisked away to surgery around 10 PM. By 11:30 PM we were in the recovery room. On Saturday afternoon, we were moved to a private room (which was really more like a deluxe sweet, complete with leather couches, a private bathroom, and a mini-kitchen) and we got to go home on Monday afternoon.

Overall, we were visited by 13 local friends, 5 Americans, and 3 kiddos. We received 24 juice boxes of milk, 15 oranges, one bouquet of flowers, one box containing 12 cans of gruel (the literal translation), one loaf of bread, two pastries, and four cucumbers. If the gifts alone don’t convince you of what an interesting experience this was, then perhaps next time you need your appendix out, you should head to our side of the world!