Friday, September 19, 2008

Batu Caves

It is the weekend and today we decided to see a little more of the city we live in. We drove just north of KL to the Batu Caves.

This is a limestone hill and a series of caves and cave temples. It is the most important Hindu shrine to Murugan outside of India. If you have never been to a Hindu temple it is quite an attack on the sense. Hindu temples are full of brightly painted and odd statues of various gods. They have many different smells, mostly of incense and flowers. These guys make flower leis for you to take as an offering to the temple. They are so beautiful. Batu Caves has a giant golden statue outside but the main temples are at the top of 272 steps. We loaded James into the baby backpack and Carley put on her running shoes and off we went. This is the view from the bottom. We stopped twice for a little water but Carley made it all the way to the top by herself the only thing that really slowed her down were the monkeys. There are a lot of monkeys and they are always looking for a handout, and people are more than happy to give food to them for the photo op. We got to the top and did some exploring. This is one of the many shrines in the caves. You have a picture of the outside from above and the next picture is close up on the inside. Carley had her picture taken by several tourists. They are just amazed at this fair skinned blond headed child. Carley really does not enjoy having her picture taken especially when strangers try to pick her up. But she made a new little friend in an Indian little girl who was there for a blessing. She stood still and even held hands to have her picture taken. Here is James. He tried to chase the monkeys, but we would not let him. I was afraid they would bite or charge him. So instead he chased the birds which he thought was great. Carley was rewarded for her good climbing with a 7-up at the top of the hill, which she even shared with her brother. Here is Carley sitting next to the top step, number 272 We made our way down while I counted the steps backward. Carley commented as she and I were on our way down that she was glad we had gotten out of the house because "it can be hot." Brian and I are hoping to head back to the Batu Caves in February for the Thaipusam festival. On this one day over 1 million people flock to the temple. We will not be taking the kids, but what an experience. Well that is what our Saturday consisted of we hope you had fun too.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Chinese Wedding

Last night we had the honor of attending the wedding of Kai Li, one to Brian's coworkers to Pui Keong. We drove about 90 km north west to a town called Sekinchan. Sekinchan is located in the rural area of Malaysia. It was a beautiful drive through palm oil plantations and kumpongs (a rural Malay village) until finally we arrived in an area known for its rice patties. This town is all Chinese and the whole dinner was done in Cantonese. You do not actually attend the wedding ceremony it takes place in the homes of the family and at the local temple, only family attends. We attended the wedding dinner. It was a 7 course meal of traditional Chinese food. It began

with this large boat being delivered to the table. It was full of small bite size treats that we would consider appetizers

. I enjoyed the pork packets and Brian tried the crispy crab. The next course was shark fin soup, which is a real delicacy. I tried it and it was not horrible but not something I will be running out to have again. After that it was course after course of main dishes, chicken, pork and sea cucumber, shrimp rolls, abalone and mushrooms, this beautiful fish

and so much more I can not even remember. I stopped eating because I was so full at one point

just trying a bite to taste and see. In Chinese culture, it is a show of true hospitality to serve your guests beer and Cognac and keep it free flowing. The picture above is one of the "beer girls," her job is to walk around and make sure all the guest have plenty. There were also the Hennessy girls. Most of them looked like they were not old enough to drink what they were serving.
We could not understand most of what was being said but Brian's friends made sure that we know what was going on. Another tradition is these large toasts that they make at the table in honor of the lucky couple. The whole table stands up and shouts "yum seng," which means cheers and then empties their glass. The above picture is when the bride dressed in green and the groom came to join our table for a toast. The couple is expected to travel from one table to the next greeting their guests and join them for a toast if they are asked. I expect that the groom can get a little tipsy if he truly empties his glass at each table. You can pass your glass to your best man, but most of the time that would not be macho so it is down the hatch. Kai Li looked very beautiful in her modern gown. You like Carley are probably asking why she is not dressed in white. Chinese do not where white to their weddings it is considered bad luck. Kai Li wore traditional Chinese dress to the temple ceremony we saw pictures of the wedding couple dressed for the ceremony and this is the dress she wore for the dinner. Carley had a great time. She loved standing up and yelling with the toasts. She was the hit of the dinner since she was the only little blond girl and she was dressed in her silk traditional Chinese dress. She had her picture taken with many of Brian's friends from work and even the bride and groom. The traditional entertainment at a Chinese wedding dinner is Karaoke. Guests come up and sing songs in tribute to the happy couple. Some of them were very good, but you can imagine as the night went on and the alcohol flowed more freely it started to get a little crazy. Here is one of our entertainers.

Many traditions that you would see in an American wedding were present. Below is a picture of the car decorated to leave. They are much nicer to cars in Malaysia. It is wrapped in Colorful tulle and bows and have a pair of stuffed animals attached to the front dressed as a bride and groom. You can see they choose Mickey and Minnie.

The couple was toasted with beautiful words by family and friends. They poured a champagne fountain, that only they got to drink. They even had a small cake which Carley had been up to check out twice. But she was very disappointed because while they cut he cake they do not serve it for dessert. Instead you get fruit that has been stewed in this sweet soup and then chilled. Carley was not very excited when they served the traditional dessert. Because she will tell you that her favorite part of a wedding is cake followed by dancing and seeing the girl in the pretty dress.
One of the oddest things happened just before we left. This guy showed up selling newspapers and lottery tickets. As you can see he did not even bother to take his helmet off, since he rode up on his motor bike.

Just before we walked out the door to shake hands and give our well wishes to the bride and groom a woman in a yellow dress walked up and handed Carley a small box. It turned out it was Kai Li's mother and she was so taken by Carley and how cute she was about the cake. She had told Kai Li what a beautiful bride she was and how delicious her cake looked and she could not wait to have some. Kai Li's mother gave Carley the whole top layer to take home. We could not say no because that would have been rude. So with a huge smile on her face, Carley said thank you to everyone and carried her prize to the car. I made sure it was OK with Kai Li and she said it was fine. I guess they do not save the cake and have it on your one year anniversary.

But we were honored to be asked to attend. Kai Li was a beautiful bride and I am sure she and Pui Keong will have a wonderful life together and we got to experience something new and make memories that we will hold onto for the rest of our lives.

And after lunch today, with a huge smile on her face, Carley got to have a piece of wedding cake.

Blessing to all of you. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all our friends and neighbors who are picking up after Ike roared through Texas. As far as we know everyone is okay with just a lot of trees down and fences blown over.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Time Flies

I feel like I posted just yesterday and I look and it has been almost two weeks. Just to let everyone know we had water running in our pipes in less that 24 hours after my last post. But we have been with out water for about 6 hours twice more since I first wrote about having dry pipes, but it always returns by bath time. Needless to say the rain has not stopped. We have had two days where it has not rained at all in the last two weeks but most days we have at least a good heavy down pour in the afternoon. Last week we had a day where the rain lasted all day and after relentless please mommy please I finally gave in and this is what happens when there is rain but no thunder in Malaysia. We go out to play. Carley in her raincoat and boots ran around like a crazy woman. She went out and played in the yard, splashing in mud puddles and floating leaves down the drain. Yes she is jumping in the mud and yes she did need a bath immediately when she came in the house.

And of course if sister can so can I, James put on his new fireman raincoat and road Carley's tricycle out into the rain. He was not as keen to stay out and play with water running down his face, but he enjoyed it for a little while.
We celebrated Merdeka of Malaysian Independence day on the 31st of August. Brian was off of work and we went to the park and had a blast hanging out. We missed the fireworks because unlike in the US they are at midnight just as it turns the 31st. The parade was that morning but we ventured off to church instead.

We have fought off the usual respiratory junk that plagues us and won again. And now it feels like we are back in the swing of things. Carley is back in school, taking gymnastics and playing with friends. Tomorrow we have an ice cream date with Pete and his mom. Just to let you know Carley calls Pete her king and they have informed us that they are getting married when they get older. Sorry Misti it looks like we will not be in laws after all. Pete is Irish so we will have family in Ireland in the future.
James is starting his own gymnastics class this week and I am looking for a play group. I am trying to get him used to playing with kids his own age. He is a little rough since he is so used to playing with his big sister.
I am back to yoga, piano lessons, and weekly bible study. Brian and I are starting working out with a personal trainer at 6 am twice a week. We decided that we needed to work on our fitness and someone else telling us what to do would be good for us.
SO that is about it. I will try and finish telling you all about the rest of our summer travels soon, but tonight it is off to bed. Five thirty will come quickly.
Good Night and blessings to all.

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