Monday, April 30, 2007

Hi, I'm a Stereotype!

Before we moved to KL, I felt like I was fairly culturally sensitive. I may not have been the most worldly person, but I was sensitive to other cultures and somewhat aware of how my "Americanism" was perceived by many people outside the U.S. Therefore, I've always strived to combat the perception of the obnoxious, rude American expat at every turn.

That's why it drives me nuts when I act like one.

See, ever since we moved to KL, my number one stress trigger has been shifty cab drivers. Specifically:

1) KL cab drivers essentially get to interview you and decide whether or not they want to take you where you want to go.
2) The meter rate is a foreign concept to them. Some of them "forget" to turn it on, and then some just outright refuse to when you ask them.
3) The reasons for not using the meter vary - "It's raining" is a popular one. In fact, forget getting a cab at all if it's raining, but if you are lucky, you can get one and only be charged double or triple. Other reasons include, "Bad traffic" or "It's Tuesday" (or fill in the blank with whatever day of the week it is).
4) Back to being interviewed...some cabs will drive by the cab stands and ask people where they are going and then pick the one that is going where they want to go or who they think they can charge the most to. It doesn't matter where you are in the queue. Still others will queue up in front of restaurants and smoke while calling out "You need a cab?". Then the negotiation starts and he decides what to charge you. If you say no, then that's fine, he will choose to continue to sit by the side of the road and make no money rather than agree to what we consider to be a reasonable rate (and still more than the meter).
5) Most of them drive like a bat out of hell and some don't even have seat belts, so you are paying a premium price for one crazy ass ride.

This happens to locals as well as expats, however, I feel that it happens to expats more often. In fact, when we are with one of our local friends, she will usually hail the cab for us, just so we can get the meter rate.

Let me say, there are some cab drivers who don't do any of these things. Some of them are very nice people and we keep their cards and try to use them whenever possible. So no hate mail, okay? If someone gives us the meter rate, we usually tip extra because we are so grateful not to be cheated. So if your husband, brother, cousin, etc. is a KL cab driver who goes by the meter, don't yell at me. Send me their number and we'll gladly use them at every turn.

So...we were walking up the street after our spa afternoon and managed to hail a cab. This was good, because it looked like it was about to rain, I had on a white T-shirt and we had no umbrellas. Good so far. He turns on the meter. Good again. We needed him to take us by the grocery store, wait for about 5-10 minutes and then take us home.

Now, cabs have two meter rates, a "driving" rate and a "waiting" rate. The waiting rate is less. We got to the store, and the driver said "Five extra to wait", to which Matt said okay. I love these arbitrary negotiations. I was surprised that Matt said yes, because it would have been less than half that had he gone by the meter rate. We figured that he meant a flat fee of five to wait, RATHER than the waiting meter rate. We got back in the cab, and he had kept the meter going, so he was going to charge us five extra PLUS the meter waiting rate.

Okay, please let me say - This is not about the money. I repeat, this is soooo not about the money. This is about our frustration with the treatment we have gotten from most cab drivers ever since we moved here. This is about the principle of the matter.

So Matt told him (nicely, I might add) that we could go by meter rate or the flat five to wait, but not both. So pick one or the other. I'll spare you the gory details, but this pissed the driver off and things escalated pretty quickly. Much yelling was done by all three of us while we are driving down the road. At one point, he pulled over and we were just going to walk. He told us that we needed to read the taxi laws and that it was just one or two ringgit and did we think they they are all just shit, he always uses the meter (hello?) and on and on it went.

We finally struck a deal, which I think ended up being more than if we had just kept our mouths shut. Yes, I will cut off my nose to spite my face for the principle of a matter almost every time. Not about the money. About the principle. But we finally made it home.

Matt and I realized when we got home that it was really probably a misunderstanding. He thought we agreed to five ringgit PLUS meter waiting rate, and we thought that it was five ringgit instead of the meter waiting rate. So of course we felt like giant American turds who raised hell over two ringgit. But it's the principle!!! I would gladly support an increase of taxi rates throughout KL. I have no problem paying more. As long as everyone pays the same amount for the same journey.

So even though the misunderstanding was due, in part, to the lack of clarity about exactly HOW he was going to screw us over, the fact remain that he was going to screw us over. Still, I can't help but feel like a total obnoxious American expat stereotype. Like America needs any help with being unpopular right now...

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Random Weekend Happenings

Friday night we went for karaoke. I usually feel the need to belt a tune or two about every couple of months or so. So we went for sushi and then headed over to Red Box in Low Yat Plaza. I love karaoke in Asia; you can make an ass out of yourself in the privacy of your own room rather than up on a stage, like in the US. We did all the old stand-bys, including "Sister Golden Hair" and "Copacabana". This time we added some Air Supply to the mix for the first time, and I have to say, Air Supply is awesome karaoke material. I can't believe I haven't tried it before now!

Around 11 or so, some friends of ours called and we met them over at Finnegans. Well, apparently the rain wasn't through with us, because it started to absolutely pour around midnight or so! We tried to wait it out, but around 1 am, it was still going strong. Our friend has a little car, and she really didn't think she could make it back to Bansgar (where she lives), so....we had our first overnight guests in KL! We were so excited to have company that we even broke out the wedding photos we just received. I'm surprised we didn't break out the video or make them sit through our latest vacation slide show. We really need to get a life.

Saturday we ventured out for our spa treatment that I talked Matt into in return from the Hike From Hell. I am such a spa whore. I can't believe how inexpensive it is here compared to the US. I would go every week if I could. We had a foot spa, sugar and spice scrub, hot stone treatment and massage. It was wonderful, but I've decided I'm a bit ambivalent about scrubs. They feel great, but I don't like them when they are really watery. We had sugar and spice and everything nice in every nook and cranny. We did smell like a cinnamon cookie though :)

The rest of the weekend was pretty mellow, except for the taxi altercation we had on the way home (more on that in a separate post). Sunday I started to feel like I was catching a cold, so we just chilled out all day. Good thing, because today I woke up with a runny nose and a terrible cough. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow, since I have to go to Singapore. Traveling when you are sick sucks.

Friday, April 27, 2007

My Seasonal Affective Disorder is Kicking In

Malaysia, enough with the rain already. I know that this is the tropics, but you are seriously interfering with my ability to get out of this house these days.

Every afternoon, without fail, we get rain. Normally, I like rain. I like thunderstorms, which we get a lot of here (minus the hail and the tornadoes, which is a bonus), as long as I can watch the rain from INSIDE. But lately, it seems like every time I plan to leave the house for something, it starts to rain. And you never really know if a light sprinkle is going to turn into a gullywasher.

This afternoon, I had planned on walking over to the mall to get some lovely reflexology. It had already rained cats and dogs earlier this afternoon, so I figured I was good to go. So I gathered up my things, and between the time I left my apartment to the time I stepped off the elevator and walked outside, it had started to rain again. Right now, it's coming straight down, but you never know when it will suddenly decide to come down sideways, so it's not always safe to assume that an umbrella will save you, should you be caught in it (yes, I learned this the hard way). And forget getting a cab in the rain. Even if I was lucky enough to get one, the price will suddenly be doubled (or tripled) because "It's raining". Besides, getting a cab in KL is my #1 pet peeve anyway. I'd rather walk than put myself through the stress of knowing I am getting screwed over by the cab driver.

Blasted rain! I so wanted that foot massage! Oh well, at least I have karaoke tonight to look forward to.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Our Wedding Pics are Here!

It took us forever to order our wedding pictures. We had already ordered the CD of all the proofs, which we can always print out, but we did want a few professionally printed, touched up photographs.

So, as is my way, I became overwhelmed with decisions, so what did I do? Procrastinated, which is what I always do when I have too many options. Give me three or four, and I'm fine, but give me 500 options, and my brain almost just spontaneously combusts. (Hence my and Matt's discussions every Friday..."Where do you want to eat? I don't know, where do YOU want to eat? I don't know, I can narrow it down to three or four....")

So we finally sat down and made our choices, and they made it here today! Hey, six months after the wedding isn't TOO bad. Now we just have to find frames for them all, which will be another project that will inevitably take at least another few months :)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Let Me In, Dammit

An adorable, very pregnant kitty adopted us at our hotel in Cameron Highlands. She hung around our patio and several others during our stay. She must belong to someone because she was so domesticated. We brought her leftovers from our dinner. (They don't really have "doggie bags" here, so explaining that we needed a "kitty bag" for the remains of our romantic dinner was awkward.) She had leftover chicken for dinner and leftover fish for breakfast the next morning. Kitty ate good.

I couldn't resist posting this picture. For those of you that love cats, this is classic. They have such distinct personalities. It's a crack up!

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Love Is...

To borrow a title from Donna, love is...allowing your husband to pick the hike that you do on your weekend break.

See, I married the poster child of REI. (For those of you who aren't familiar with REI, it's a US-based store for the outdoorsman (or woman), filled with handy camping, mountain biking, kayaking and various outdoor gear.) I, on the other hand, am not driven to many bouts of physical exertion unless it involves walking to get ice cream.

But I think it's important for spouses to at least make an attempt to try some activities that the other spouse likes. You don't have to like it, but at least try it, you know? That's how I found out that I like tennis. It's all about compromise. So they had these hikes, and Matt really likes outdoor activities. He says it helps his stress levels, and he just genuinely enjoys them. I understand. Little Debbies snack cakes do the same thing for me.

So, they had several hikes, and I told Matt he could pick one, as long as it's not the hardest one. I like being outside. I don't mind getting dirty. I just don't like scaling the side of a mountain on my vacation. For me, vacation = massages and drinks with umbrellas in them. Well, the hike brochure was a bit misleading, as it stated that the hike Matt picked was the fourth or five most difficult trail out of eight or so. Wrong. So wrong.

So after about the fifth round of scaling up the mountain, then back down again (the down part? No picnic either), I turned to Matt and asked him if people really did this for fun. He replied by telling me that he owes me big. Took the words right out of my mouth, he did!

I can barely walk today, and I know tomorrow will be worse. In exchange for the hike from hell, Matt has to go to the spa with me this weekend. Somehow I think he got the better end of the whole deal, if you ask me....

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We Survived our first road trip!

We are back from the Cameron Highlands, and I'm happy to say we survived our first road trip in Malaysia! Since we had never driven on the left side of the road, we were more than a little curious how we would fare. Matt did the driving, and what was interesting to him is that all the things that he thought would be troublesome, weren't. For example, the fact that we were on the left hand side of the road wasn't a problem. What threw him for a loop was the layout of the car - specifically, he would always reach for the seat belt to his right (it's on the left) and every time he wanted to use his blinkers, he switched on the windshield wipers (they are switched). So not only is the driving direction the reverse of what we are used to, all the bells and whistles in the car are switched as well, which we had not even considered. For me, riding as a passenger on the left hand side of the car was pretty weird too. But we got the hang of it, and now we are mobile!

Cameron Highlands was nice and cool, which was exactly what we were after. We stayed at Cameron Highlands Resort, which was nice but totally overpriced. However, we had a chance to drive around and found a couple other less expensive places to stay next time, like Bala's Chalet. We will definitely go back - the weather was fantastic, the scenery was beautiful and it had a nice mix of the types of things we like to do.

The one low point of our weekend was when, on the way back, about an hour or so outside of KL, our rental car just....stopped working. We were crusing down the North-South Highway at about 120 km/hour when, the engine just stopped. No sputtering, no warning, but at least we were able to make it across three or so lanes of traffic to get to the side of the road. And thus began our adventure titled "What the Hell do you do when stranded on the side of a road in a foreign country?"

I will try to make this explanation short, although it seemed the experience was neverending. We called the rental guy, and shortly thereafter a mechanic showed up on the side of the road. We asked, "Did Hawk send you?" he said yes, and that was about all the English we got out of him. That and "Looks like the timing belt." He told us to wait there and left. We called the rental guy back and turns out, no one had called a mechanic. So we aren't sure what that was all about. The rental guy said, "Someone is on his way." Now, this is at 4pm on a sunny day in Malaysia, so it's not exactly pleasant sitting in a car on the side of the freeway in the baking sun. After several more calls to the rental guy (some of which he answered, some went to voicemail), we thought someone was coming to get us. After getting the guy's voicemail, we called the agency number on the sticker inside the car. Guess what? Disconnected. WTF?

Anyway, it seemed like the rental car company didn't really have a standard procedure for this, so it took about 5 or 6 calls before we finally got it straightened out and the rental guy came to get us. Luckily we had a bit of water left from our hike that morning, because by the time he got there, we had been sitting in the sun on the side of the road for two hours. Matt and I talked about it, and we honestly don't know if, had this happened in the US, if the response would have been any better. However, while we were waiting, several people stopped and asked if we needed help, which I thought was very nice. And we saw a full rainbow on the way home :)

So, lessons learned:
1) Take water on future road trips. You never know when you will need it!
2) Find out what the procedure is for car trouble. I was all worried about the insurance, but it didn't even cross my mind that the car would break down.
3) Get a car that was serviced in a timely manner. Turns out, ours was overdue when we got it. I don't know if it would have made a difference, but we were less than pleased when we did the math on the side of the road and discovered that ours was overdue.

Can't wait to hit the road again (with a serviced car, of course)!

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Life's Soundtrack

You know how sometimes you can hear a song, or smell a smell, or eat a certain food, and it evokes a feeling, a memory of that certain point in your life when you heard the song, smelled the smell, etc.? I love that feeling. I especially get it with music. See, I LOVE music. It has to be a part of my life. In fact, I took a personality/aptitude test a few years ago at work, and it essentially said that if I can't work directly with music or the arts, that I needed to have it incorporated in my daily life somehow in order for me to be truly happy. So while I don't work directly with music, I almost always had it on in my office (back when I had one), and my 8 GB ipod Nano is almost full.

So anyway, Matt and I are going on a road trip this weekend to the Cameron Highlands. The last time that Matt and I drove together was on our honeymoon in Tahiti. We rented a car one day to explore the island and wanted some local island music, so we picked up a Tahitian CD by Bobby & Angelo, local musicians. And we listened to that thing all day and during our entire honeymoon. So when we started planning this little getaway, I decided we should take that CD, since it evokes such memories of a relaxing, wonderful time and we certainly feel the need to "get away from it all" this weekend. But then....I couldn't find the CD!! I was so bummed. I looked everywhere for it. I knew it made it to KL with us, but that was before we got our household shipment, so I figured there was no telling where I put it.

So after searching high and low, and even looking to see if I could replace the CD or download songs from it off of iTunes (no luck on either), I decided to search one last time. And it was right there where it was supposed to be, which is probably a first for me - in it's own case in our CD cabinet. Seems obvious, right? Well, if you know my home organization skills, it's not surprising that I didn't think to look there the first time. I'm sure I have Matt to thank for putting it in it's rightful place.

So as it's about to pour here in KL, I am listening to my Bobby & Angelo CD and loving it. Takes me right back to Tahiti; I can smell the ocean and feel the breeze...

Other random songs that take me back:
"Free Fallin'", Tom Petty - takes me back to playing darts in a friend's garage in Texas. We did it every weekend and always listened to Tom Petty and Bob Seger.
"Informer", Snow - I wonder if anyone else remembers this song? Reminds me of cruising around town in high school. Same with "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega.
"Africa", Toto - Reminds me of playing in our den (we called it the New Room, since it was converted from a covered patio). I can still smell the way the new room smelled then, over 20 years ago.
"Minute by Minute", Doobie Brothers - reminds me of my dad, patting his legs to the beat, the change jingling in his pocket, jamming on his ginormous headphones that were cool circa 1984.

I could go on and on...

So what songs take you back?

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

American Idol Recap

Finally, it's Wednesday! Time for American Idol in KL. I have been looking forward to this all week. It's Country Week! I was convinced that Sanjaya would entertain us in an outfit from Pauly "Son-In-Law" Shore's House of Rustic Couture. Minus the assless chaps of course. PLEASE.

First, let me say I love Martina McBride. I think she's gorgeous and an amazing singer. And I wish that Paula McSmirnoff would get as drunk as she used to, because that makes the show all the more entertaining. Now that I've gotten that out of the way...

Phil "Scares the Kids" Stacy: He was okay. I didn't think he was as great as the judges did, but he didn't suck. He annoyed me when he said he was a "country boy", since he lived in Wichita, Kansas for a while. Listen, tell that to a girl who grew up in the middle of Texas, in a town of 15,000, with a statue of a Holstein cow in the town square, and she'll laugh. Hahahahahaha.

Jordin "She's 17!" Sparks: I like her, but there's not a lot to make fun of, so I'll move on. I did think she was a bit pitchy in a spot or two. But I will go out on a limb and say that I've thought she was a sleeper to win the whole thing for a few weeks now. I genuinely like her. And she could kick Ryan Seacrest's ass, so that's a bonus.

Sanjaya Malakar: I can't even come up with a nickname for this guy; there's an overabundance of material, and you guys know I'm not good at decisions. The thing about this guy is, he takes each week's theme and turns himself into a caricature of it. That's why I was expecting something along the lines of Pauly Shore's outfit in Son In Law. I mean, last week during Latin Week he turned into a total Latino stereotype. But I did predict that he would break out a bandana this week, I just figured it would be around his neck rather than on his head. He looked like Gerardo this week. Wrong week dude.

Now, usually as bad as his performances are, I can usually pick out a few parts that are decent. But this whole thing was just batshit crazy. I can't decide whether to feel bad for him or give him kudos though. I mean, the whole world is poking fun at him, but man, he is totally riding the wave. He is balls out embracing the limelight and going for it, and I kind of admire him for that.

Oh, and I loved the catfight between Ryan and Simon afterwards. Awesome.

LaKisha "Did I Tell You I Have a Daughter?" Jones: Gold scrunchy boots? Really? Anyway, this performance was not that good. I think the judges told her that she was shouting, but my ears were ringing so I didn't really hear.

Chris "Righty McTimberFake" Richardson: So nicknamed because of his irritating habit of turning his head to the right after he sings a line. Maybe it's a tick, I don't know. He always looks slightly constipated when he sings, which is distracting. He was less so this week, but that didn't help him much. This was pretty cringe-worthy. According to him, "nasally" is a form of singing. Uh....k. Moving on.

Melinda "Am I Really Good???" Doolittle: She can sing the McDonald's menu and it would sound good. I'm glad Simon called her out for her faux modest reactions every time one of the judges compliments her. Have you heard yourself, Melinda? Are you really surprised? You don't exactly sound like shit, you know.

Blake "Fauxhawk" Lewis: This was okay. I think I like the song better than than Blake. He's starting to pick up on Chris' irritating habit of looking to the right after almost every lyric.

All in all, another entertaining week. I'm a bit disappointed that no one broke out the cowboy hat or sang "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy". Maybe Haley would have if she was still around.

Now nothing to do except wait until the Results Show!


Monday, April 16, 2007

Watch out, Malaysian roads... we come! That's right, someone actually gave us the legal right to drive in Malaysia.

Right now, neither Matt nor I drive in Malaysia. The fact that we live in a VERY high traffic area and are already close to work, we figured it was a bit pointless. Plus, we thought it would be a good idea to learn how to get along with the traffic and the whole left-hand side driving thing as a pedestrian before putting ourselves behind the wheel of a vehicle. Call us crazy.

But several weeks ago, we started to feel like we could tackle the Malaysian roadways. Maybe not KL during a Friday afternoon rush hour just yet, but we figured a weekend road trip was doable. So Matt applied for, and about six weeks later, got his license. Well, actually, his work did it so that made it very convenient for us.

So we are ready to hit the road! This weekend we are going to drive to the Cameron Highlands to get out of this heat and humidity. Now we just need to buy a good road map and a handy reference guide for the road signs, which happen to be mostly in Bahasa Melayu once you get outside of KL.

Woo hoo, our first Malaysian road trip!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Well, they say you can blog about anything....

This post is not for the squeamish. Okay, I've warned you. Now on to my thoughts on visiting the gynie for the first time in Malaysia!

I was in need of a visit to the gynocologist. No, Triad, I'm not pregnant.

Now, for any men still reading (which I doubt, as the word gyno usually sends them running the other way), a visit to the hoo-ha doctor is never pleasant. So going to a new one is usually a bit nervewracking, but add on to that fact that I am now in a new country where I really know very little about the quality of medical care, and that adds a whole new dimension of ickiness to the whole thing.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at the differences between going to the doctor here versus the US.

So anyhoo, I decided to bite the bullet yesterday, looked at a list of doctors, picked the ones that I had heard good things about and that had good credentials, and did some calling. The first place I called could see me on Monday. Monday! That's unheard of in the US. First of all, some doctors in the US won't even accept new patients, so you have to call around until you can find one that does. Even then, the best they can usually do is 2-4 weeks out, sometimes longer. Now, if you have a regular doctor, it's usually less of a wait, but I didn't have high hopes as I was going to be a new patient wherever I went here.

Then I thought, "well, I hate to wait the weekend", so I thought I'd try my luck and call the next one. They got me in the very next day. How's that for service?!

I arrived early, since I figured I would have to fill out mountains of paperwork, like I always have to in the US. Whether you are a new patient or not, the amount of paperwork they ask from you is often so large that they mail it to you ahead of time so that you can fill it out at home. But it was just a couple of simple forms that I had to fill out. You may ask, "So how do they get your medical history?" Here's the lovely part. After being called back (right on time, another vast difference between here and the US), I was in the doctor's office. The actual office, with a desk, and diplomas, and books and the whole bit. And the doctor was already there! And he got my medical history the way it's supposed to be an actual face to face conversation with the doctor. I never felt rushed, or like he was simply ticking boxes; I felt like he was actually listening. Many times in the US, I would feel like the doctor was too busy, or just going through the motions, so this was really a nice change.

So after our conversation, I went into the other room where the exam would take place. It was right off of his office, so no shuffling around, waiting for the nurse to come and take my vitals (he did it right there in the office), waiting for the doctor, etc.

I'll spare you the details of the actual exam, but we'll just say it was fine. A nurse was in there the whole time. Plus, he did an ultrasound (again Triad, no, I'm not pregnant) to make sure that my inside bits were all where they needed to be, etc.). And what made the difference for me is that he took the time to explain to be what we were looking at, what he saw, all in a very professional but non-clinical way. The ultrasound even looked for cysts and checked to make sure the bloodflow to my ovaries was good. I know that's more info than you really wanted to know about my ovaries, but for a borderline hypochondriac, I like lots of information at the doctor. Plus, I got to see my cute little uterus on ultrasound. Sexy! :)

Then back out into the office, where we talked some more, he told me what he thought and wrote out prescriptions. All in all, a good experience as gyno visits go. I was able to get my prescriptions filled at the pharmacy right downstairs in about 10 minutes. Very efficient. Plus, the whole visit and prescriptions was about what I would have paid in copays alone in the US, and that was the whole amount! (Here, they usually don't file claims for my insurance, so typically you pay for it all up front and then file a claim later).

I felt like I got excellent care, and a compassionate, well trained doctor who didn't herd me in and out of his office like a number. It was such a pleasantly different experience than in the US that I had to share. Okay, overshare, but it's my blog, right?

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Sunday, April 8, 2007

The New Bond?

Matt and I discovered the Times Square mall this weekend. In short, we dig it, although now Matt is convinced we must go back to ride the roller coaster inside. It's so much less crowded that the other malls, and it has some good stores. It was impulse buy day on Saturday (ask me about our new remote control helicopter), so we came home with a few new movies. The Rock for Matt, Four Weddings and a Funeral for me, Casino Royale for Matt, Joy Luck Club for me (which Matt thought I was kidding about) and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

So we are watching Casino Royale tonight. I have to say, Matt and I went back and forth on Daniel Craig as the new James Bond, and we have to say "two thumbs down" on that. Don't even get me started on the chronological errors in the movie (i.e., it's supposed to be early in the series, when he first gets his "00" or whatever, and there are cell phones? That kind of stuff drives me nuts in movies.), but the mere fact that he looks like Deiter from Saturday Night Live is just it for us. Seriously. Those pursed lips, that affected manner, and you just expect him to say "Touch my monkey. Love him! Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!". Something about the way he poses just doesn't say "James Bond" to me.

And now that I've completely shown my age, I'll try to continue watching the movie. All things considered though, there are explosions, and he saunters around without a shirt, so it's kind of a win-win for both of us.


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Lan Kwai Fong

Lan Kwai Fong is the "happening" place in Hong Kong, as the locals say. It's a several block radius of bars, nightclubs and restaurants. It's built into the side of a mountain, so the farther in you walk, the farther uphill you walk. During Hong Kong Sevens Tournament, it's party central.

At the tournament itself, there is an area of the arena called the South Stands (being that they're at the south end of the arena and all), and that's where all the partyers hang out. Most of them dress up in costumes as groups (think big stuffed cows, wedding dresses, men in Singapore Air flight attendant uniforms) and party the day away. Then they head to Lan Kwai Fong after the tourney dressed in their uniforms for a night of debauchery, which made for some outstanding people watching opportunities for Matt and I.

The first night we went down there, we were lucky enough to score an outdoor table at a bar right at the first intersection, so we could see everyone walking up the street and into the area. Hookers and drunk guys and costumes, oh my!

The second night we went, we went a bit early before the street was completely crowded with people. As I mentioned, this area is on a hill, so we were treated to several drunk guys in Russian military uniforms sliding down the hill on a food tray. Well, sliding isn't exactly the right word. Rather, it was the guy seated on the tray with two other guys on either side of him holding his arms, taking a running start, and then flinging him down the hill. Sometimes into the curb, sometimes into the back of a cab, one time almost into Matt, and sometimes they get some real distance and just sailed down the street to the delight of everyone sitting at the bars along the road.

Then after some more awesome people watching, we discovered that the bar we were at had Jaegermeister! We hadn't had Jaeger since we moved, so we had to partake. Several times. Tasty! Then we decided we had to have the sunglasses that lit up that the street vendor was selling, so $10 later, we had them! I've already decided not to post pics of myself here, so no photos, sorry. :)

So after Jaeger, taking my picture with a British guy dressed in a Singapore Air flight attendent dress, and some guys taking pictures of my cleavage (unbeknownst to me, but still funny to think that in Asia I actually have cleavage worth a photo op), we decided that it was time to head home. We had fun, but I felt a little like a soccer mom, plus hangovers don't go away by noon the way they did in college. When did I get old???

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Hong Kong

I'm a bit late on this post, since we got back from Hong Kong last week, but here goes.

As I mentioned earlier, Matt had a business trip in Hong Kong, so we made a weekend out of it. The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens Tournament was going on, so there were a bunch of people in town. To recap:

Matt went to his meeting, then to the tournament for some testosterone fueled bonding. I worked from the hotel. After work, I went in search of jeans in what is supposed to be Asia's shopping mecca known as Hong Kong. What I discovered was that it is a shopping mecca if you are a sub size zero. So after a couple of hours torturing myself, I made myself feel better with a pedicure. Then Matt and I went to Lan Kwai Fong for a night out. More on Lan Kwai Fong later.

Saturday (a.k.a, How many different modes of transport can we take in one day?):
After rolling in around 2am the previous night, we got a late start. Took the ferry over to Hong Kong Island, went on the Peak Tram, took photos, then took the ferry over to Lantau Island to see the Big Buddha. We had a yummy late lunch (satay anyone?). Sidenote about the food: Now, I really like American Chinese food, but I found out when we went to Beijing last year that American Chinese food is not real Chinese food. Real Chinese food is not my favorite. I have too many texture issues with most of the food, and I don't like chicken feet floating in my soup. So I steered away from Chinese food this time.
Then we tried to find a cab to take us up to the Big Buddha. Uh, yeah. Not a lot of cabs on that island. So after an unfortunate encounter with the one cab driver we could find (in which I wasn't at my most ladylike best), we luckily came across an expat, Amanda, that said we could share a cab with her. Very cool of her! She gave us some great sightseeing tips. So after a scary cab ride up some winding roads, we arrived.

The Buddha was great; I'm glad we saw it. We didn't realize how many steps would be involved, but we walked up them anyway. Took lots of photos.

Bad hair day being in the clouds and all. Then we took the airtram down. We hit a night market (all the same stuff in Chinatown in KL), then we rounded out the day having some drinks in a bar in Kowloon.
All in all, we figured we walked somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-10 miles that day. Modes of transport: Walking, bus, subway, ferry, cab, ground tram, skyrail.

We got up and headed out to see the tournament. We really didn't know much about rugby, but we enjoyed it a lot. I now kind of understand why some people think that American football is for weenies. These guys were hard core. No pads, lots of brutal hits, and they never stop moving. Even when they get injured, they lay there for a minute, walk it off and get right back in the game. The 7s series is a tournament with teams from around the world, and it differs from regular rubgy since it is played in two seven minute halfs with seven guys on each team.

After a few hours of that, we took a cab to see the bird market, flower market and goldfish market. Then off to Lan Kwai Fong for another night.

More on that in a separate post.

Then we came home on Monday! All in all, it was nice to go, but I don't have any real desire to go again. Hong Kong is very modern; in fact, the most westernized city we've visited since moving to Asia. And I have to say, big westernized cities aren't really what I'm interested to see while we live over here. Plus, the sheer number of people would be maddening if I had to deal with it every day. Especially when many of them don't realize that they share their world/their space with other people (like on subways, sidewalks, etc. - let's all work together to move in the same direction, people). But I'm glad we went.

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Maintenance Woes

Our bedroom air conditioner is leaking. Again. Okay, a bit of background here...

We have had numerous maintenance issues since we moved in last October. The one that is probably most bothersome are the aircon leaks. I mean, who wants a big water spot on their ceiling? They service the aircon once a month here. I don't know what they do, but they come in with their ladder and do something to it. Last month, after they serviced it, we had a leak. This involved me calling the management office repeatedly until I could get someone to answer, explaining the problem, and then at some random point within a few days the maintenance folks come up and look at it. Now, they usually can't fix it, they have to call the aircon people to fix it, so I don't know if they just come up here to verify that I'm not crazy or what, but anyway. So then, a few days later the aircon people will show up to fix it.

So, we had the leak. They fixed it. Then about a week after they fixed it, the aircon stopped cooling in the bedroom. We had it on 16 celsius continuously and it never got cool. I hate being hot when I sleep. So my husband, who has some background in HVAC, said it needed a charge. So I call and explain this to maintenance, telling them to go ahead and call the aircon people, there was no need to come check it out first. Let's cut out the middle man here. But of course that didn't happen so about 10 days later the aircon was fixed. Ah, sweet air conditioning!

That's just about the time that it was time for the aircon to be serviced again. Once again, after they serviced it, there was a leak. A big leak. So again I call. Again they come and look at it. They said that the drip pan (I'm assuming) was tilted so the water was dripping, which made sense to me. So they fixed it and left. Then I went back there and while they may have fixed the leak, now the damn thing is making this rattling, whirring noise that it did NOT make prior to their little visit.

So I again call the management office repeatedly, finally getting someone, and they send maintenance back upstairs. What a shocker! They are going to have to call the aircon people! So apparently they fixed the leak, broke the damn thing and now can't fix what they broke.

So hopefully in a week or two we will have fully functioning aircon. Not a bad thing to have in a tropical environment, huh?

Ahhh..just another fun filled day in Malaysia :)

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

7 Songs

Donna sort of tagged me on this, and it looked cool, so here goes. The tag is for "Seven Songs I've Been Enjoying Lately". I don't really listen to the radio, so I usually find out about new songs through TV promos and airline music stations. So this is a mix of new songs and old favorites.

How can you not shake it when you hear this song? I like this courtesy of StarWorld (the US TV channel here in Malaysia) and the fact that they showcased Scissor Sisters for a month, so I heard this song a lot. In fact, I'm surprised that I still like it after hearing it so much, but I do.

I like this guy courtesy of another promo on StarWorld. Although I don't know why they promo'd it when you couldn't even buy it in Malaysia. I could only buy the import from, so I had to buy it last time I was in Dubai. Great CD.

Another feel-good song. I make an ass out of myself every time this comes on my iPod while I'm on the plane. I must look like I have a twitch or something.

A rediscovered old favorite

I will never, ever, ever get tired of this song.

I liked the original version of this song (played on the finale of Six Feet Under) but it can be a bit depressing, so I found this groovy remix.

Okay, okay, blame AstroWorld for this one too....I can't believe that I like this song, but I do. So shut your piehole.

A few shout outs to some songs that I am listening to right now that I couldn't find streaming audio for, which means that they are either totally edgy and out of the mainstream, or so old or lame that no one is listening to them. I prefer to think that I am terribly cutting edge. It's my world.

Susie Suh, "Petrified to be God-Like", "Won't You Come Again"
Cake, "Short Skirt, Long Jacket"
Gear Daddies, "Boys Will be Boys"
Tori Amos, "God"
Lyle Lovett, "San Antonio Girl", "She's No Lady (She's My Wife)"