What a day. We mostly wake up at 6 AM, which is common here – getting things done before the day gets warm. First we went to the “wet market” – produce, meat, spices and sundries, in a warehouse with aisles and aisles of booths. We gave each of our boys 5 ringgits to buy something. Caedmon picked out broccoli, which actually cost 6 ringgits ($2) for 3 heads. It was his job to pay, but he couldn’t reach, so the woman came out from behind her wares and gave Cade the kindest smile, patting his head and pinching his cheek. Everyone does this here with kids – tender smiles from everyone passing by at the mall, head pats and “hello”s from so many people.
Dante couldn’t decide what to buy, so we finally agreed on a bag of cooked lo mein noodles and a strawberry soda. Soda is a treat since we can easily boil water and carry it with us. Then we walked back up the stairs from downtown to the seminary. We had thought it was 90 stairs, but having counted once it is somewhere between 110-150. One loses count, though, as there is so much to see – lizards and ferns and such.
Then is was time for showers and off to Karamunsing – the mall for electronics. It is what we now think of as an Asian mall: Lots of technology, and yet in a smaller space with no clear layout. It’s little things that are different, like stairs instead of escalators, and people wearing anything from jeans to hijabs. It is foreign to us but very accessible. Today was a day for big purchases, so the I.T. director from the seminary accompanied us as we bought a tv for our apartment (we will get satellite – ESPN and NatGeo Wild, plus local tv so we can practice Behasa Malaysia, the local language). We looked at desks for the boys (at the top of their wish list, we don’t really know why) but someone from the seminary will soon be moving to Hong Kong and may have furnishings, like desks, to part with. We are settling into our apartment quite nicely, with our rice steamer and toy boxes.
Then we came home and rested. Then we set up the tv (though we don’t have anything to watch yet) and I mopped the whole apartment – it’s amazing how much dirt and dust comes in even when we don’t wear shoes inside. I was grateful for my camp days that taught me to mop a floor well. And it was good that I did, as Cade later broke a glass on the floor, and we could see easily where the pieces were.
Last was dinner, which we had ordered from the school’s canteen. We figured that ordering what the students are eating will help us learn local foods that we can then try to cook. Tonight was a major challenge, though: whole fried fish. We wanted to balk at that one – other foods have been more like things we would get in a Chinese restaurant in the U.S. But we were brave and tried them. Tricky to eat, but delicious. A local would probably have been horrified at how much meat we left on the bones, and would definitely chide us for leaving the best part – the head and eyes. But we had used up our brave quotient for that meal. Dessert was the biggest treat for me (Wendolyn) – years ago in the U.S. I had a yellow watermelon, and I’ve been trying to find them ever since. Well, here they are. I sliced them in small pieces and we ate ½ of a watermelon in no time at all.
Then it was off to bed at 8 PM. We are going to Church tomorrow with the YAGM coordinator (Young Adults in Global Mission – one-year volunteers from the ELCA come to serve in one of 8 locations worldwide). We’ll go to an English-speaking congregation of the BCCM – what Lutherans here are called.
Time to go now and see if there are fireworks – Monday is “Malaysia Day” when the states of Sabah and Sarawak (on the island of Borneo) joined peninsular Malaysia. A day off from school and a day to celebrate this amazing nation which has welcomed us. Thank you for reading this – I hope it gives some clues and images for life here. Perhaps it will let you look around at where you live and see what you can celebrate or mull over. Peace!