Thursday, August 30, 2007

And the difference is...

Here at home, I still:
  • have to work to find things to fill my time
  • eat piles of fruit
  • play piano out of boredom
  • get onto the computer entirely too often
  • wake up early because I've gone to bed early out of boredom
But, there are some major differences:
  • I don't have to deal with the boys' father
  • I don't have to see the boys' father
  • I don't have to talk to the boys' father
  • I don't sweat as soon as I step outside
  • I don't need aircon
  • I have a real room, and I can actually use blankets
By the far, the best thing about being home is not getting yelled at for eating whatever food is available, and it's so nice to raid my mom's stores because she's also an organic/health food freak. The other absolutely fantastic part of being home is being able to hang out with my cat, whom I love dearly and haven't actually been able to spend much time with since I had to take him home from Austria at Easter.

I'm already hard at work on finding a job, and I have an interview at a legal staffing agency on Tuesday in Seattle. Thankfully, I'm on a bus line to the ferry, so I can still get by with not having a car, something for which I am duly thankful. I hate driving, and had no special fondness for thinking of how annoying it would be to have to get back into the American consumptive way of life. Now I don't have to. The Port Orchard library is right next to the foot ferry dock, so I'll get in lots of reading, I do believe. :) I have a feeling this new stage in my life will be much more fulfilling and much better for me, in terms of personal well-being, than the past two months have been.

Monday, August 27, 2007

there is such sweet sorrow at the parting of our ways .... not!

I leave Singapore on a jet plane in approximately 16 hours. YES!!!! There are a number of reasons this is exciting, but by far the most exciting reason of all is that I can leave this stupid maid room, maid bathroom, and worth-less-than-a-maid status with the apartment's leaser behind. Forever! I've had so much fun here with my new friends in the past week that I realized that it's not Singapore I dislike as such - although it is dreadfully boring in comparison with Vienna - it's that my living situation is SO BAD that it makes me hate everything and saps my energy to overcome the dark clouds that are constantly hovering over the condo.

One last mention of his lack of tact or any sense of humanity, and I will be glad never to mention him again. Today, the boys were fighting over chess - because neither of them can actually play, so they fight over moves, turns, and well, anything - so I started playing piano to ignore them, then their father came home and tried to break it up (good luck with that one, they are so sick of each other after two months with only each other as playmates), then turned on the TV while I was playing to distract them. He then told me that he'd rather listen to cartoons (which he hates) than listen to me play.

Okay, so I get the sentiment, he doesn't like the songs I picked, whatever. I don't care. But the least a decent human being could have done is phrased it slightly differently, but he chose to be deliberately rude, as he has done this entire time. He is NOT a decent human being, and I think it's awful of him to tell the boys he doesn't smoke, when they've SEEN him smoking, he smells like smoke, and I've found cigarette butts in my toilet. No one likes a mean, unfriendly liar.

On to a more exciting and better topic: in less than 16 hours, I'm flying out of here! I am well rid of this situation, but I do feel that I have learned a lot, and I am thankful to have made some really great friends here. As Kate Nash put it, "I won't regret those hours / cause you can grow flowers / where dirt used to be."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Night Safari and MacRitchie Reservoir

The Night Safari section of the zoo was an absolute blast. Because there are a lot of nocturnal animals that can't be seen during the day in the zoo, unless they're kept in unpleasant cages, the zoo has an entire section just for visiting at night, lit up with special lights and with a tram and guide.

My favorite piece of commentary, by far, was on a civet that looked like a half bear/half cat. "Like all civets, the bear-cat (forgot the name of it) excretes a sweet smell from its anal scent glands, somewhat similar to popcorn or bamboo."

Today was a 11km walk through the MacRitchie Reserve and Reservoir. Very beautiful, lovely in every way, quite hot, and a really long walk. About four hours, I think, but we took some breaks. I got some great photos today, although I didn't have any film last night at the Night Safari, and my digital is unfortunately not in any way capable of standing in for my Canon in the dark - or in the daylight, for that matter.

Tomorrow is my final full day in Singapore, and I am probably going to go out with J., from Birmingham, and my German friends. I'm packing tonight, and I am beyond excited to be finally leaving. Today, there were moments when I actually enjoyed being in Singapore. I think my adjustment to living in this climate and in these living conditions took a lot longer than I expected it to. But, I have clearly adapted to the rigors of the climate if I can walk 12.5km in one day (my road was closed this morning, had to walk for 1.5km in the morning to catch the bus to church). Regardless of my body's ability to acclimate, I'll be happy to come home, to the blessed, beautiful rain, and the constant gray skies. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Colbert Report

I was laughing so hard, I couldn't believe I was watching Colbert (generally more of a Stewart fan). This is SO funny! And Richard Branson is clearly desperate for attention.


I just read online about this new lifestyle choice called Freeganism, which, of course, started in Seattle and Portland and has now spread to the rest of the US. It's based on the idea that we're all wasteful users of the environment, and if we don't change what we do, soon there will only be animals in zoos and massive holding/slaughtering farms, and there will be beach front property at the foot of Mt. Rainier.

Apparently the more adventurous adherents not only are vegans, but are also 'dumpster-divers' - which is illegal in a number of places. However, when one takes the time to see how much food is wasted on a daily basis, it really does turn one's stomach upside down.

I have been considering a more drastic change in my diet (I'm already an organic foods freak, and avoid non-local products like the plague), but I don't know if I am hardcore enough to really go all out vegan, or even vegetarian. I like chicken. But I feel so horribly guilty every time I eat something I know is bad for me (which is less and less these days, because I don't relish feeling guilty as a constant of daily life) that I might end up going down that road. One really nice side effect of all this - it's a lot easier to lose weight and be more healthy. I figure I'll outlive my peers who suck down McFlurries and eat out regularly at Applebee's this way.

let the good times roll

Last night, I went to see a live show with M. and J., my friends from Melaka. It was really fun! The drummer of the first band that we heard had a really rich voice, he was really fun to listen to. The lead singers were awesome, though - a girl and a guy. Not so much because of their voices, which were good, but not spectacular, but because they really did a good job owning the stage and involving the audience. The second band was fun, but I don't think as good. The lead singer girl was super skinny. I'd rather look like Beyonce than Nicole Richie. The funniest part was the bass player from the first band who only needed to close his eyes to look asleep. He seriously looked completely catatonic while his bandmates were all getting into the music. Absolutely hilarious!

I was working out today and reached the three minutes jogging mark no problem, wasn't even breathing hard - my hard work is finally paying off! I'm on a plan I found in a magazine, and it seems to be working well. Next week, I go up to four minutes, which I have never done before in my life, so that will be a satisfying mark to reach. I also did twenty cheerleader pushups no problem. I was feeling so proud of myself, I couldn't help but crow about it. :) And hey, if I can find the self-discipline to get myself into shape, anyone can.

This Saturday night, I'm going to the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo. I've heard it's really neat, and I'm looking forward to bringing my camera. I'm hoping that I can get some good shots, but I'll have to read up again on what settings and exposure times I should use. I also need to check out Little India before I go, so perhaps I can manage that tomorrow night, who knows? Unfortunately for me, the malaise and mild depression that gripped me for almost the whole time I've been here has only gone away in the last week. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the fact that it is, indeed, the last week that I'm stuck here. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Anyone who's ever seen the movie by the creators of South Park, Team America, knows how utterly brilliant Trey Parker and Matt Stone are. I didn't always like South Park because I thought it was all fart jokes and other humor of a similar intellectual level. Then I actually started paying attention and realized how incredibly brilliant they are. Absolutely nothing is safe from their lampooning (which I applaud, even when they skewer issues/people that I believe in - that's the point of our system), and this was especially clear in Team America.

I mention this because tonight one of the Germans mentioned the movie (because of Matt Damon - hilarious) and it prompted me to look it up again and I found this article. The reason I loved the movie when I saw it originally is because, as the authors say, Parker and Stone take the pompous and the overdone and turn it into the ridiculous (Kim Jong Il singing, anyone?). I honestly can't think of Kim Jong Il any longer without having "I'm so ronery, oh so ronery..." play in my head. Kind of takes the wind out of a dictator's sails when he knows people are laughing at him.

Maybe we should all follow their example. A little more laughter, a little less terror tactics. I don't understand how many of the security measures implemented in recent years have actually helped prevent incidents of terror. Such as the security guard in New York who took my water bottle, or the security lady in Tokyo who jacked my Coke. Yes, indeed - I am planning on wreaking havoc on my next flight with this Coke can. I fail to see how such things make me any safer. But it does make me feel at least a little less unhappy about the threat posed by douchebag jihadists or my own government to think about them perhaps a little more the way Cartman would.

Movie Review + Germans

I went to see a movie tonight with my German tourist friends from Melaka, the Bourne Ultimatum. Much fun was had by half of us, one girl from Britain prefers romantic comedies, and one German guy decided he likes Bruce Willis better. But, I thought it was fantastic! Lots of fast chase scenes, fight scenes, jumping around, clever traps, clever ways out of traps - really, a very well done movie, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The sound editing is pretty good, too, good enough that I actually noticed how good the sound editing was.

I really like Germans. I also like Austrians. I don't like Italians. I have decided that this is because Italians are too friendly. In a bad way. I have also realized that the reputation some Germans have for being stand-offish is probably deserved, but more than likely results from the shyness a lot of Germans have about their English. They're so much fun to hang out with when they're speaking their own language. Amazing how that happens. Of course, none of my jokes work in German, but I sure am learning a lot. I have learned a lot of fantastic new German phrases, too, to add to my collection from Austria. :)

All in all, it's shaping up to be quite the nice final week here in Singapore. Not only do I have my imminent return to look forward to, I have also done some fun stuff and met some very nice people in the process. What else could one ask for?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Music Lists

Music I want to buy when I have the money: I say 'buy' because I feel guilty about the amount of music on my computer for which I have no/never had a receipt. In my defense, I didn't 'liberate' it through file-sharing (although I think I might have a few old napster songs on here, from back before napster went all legit). Anyway, I feel better if I actually pay for things. :) Even if the bulk of the moolah does go to Sony, Corp.
  • More Led Zeppelin
  • More Green Day
  • Justin Timberlake - I feel ambivalent about this because N'Sync was SO stupid, but his stuff as a solo artist is pretty good, I think
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Bob Dylan - especially the early acoustic stuff
  • Jane Monheit
Music I think you should check out:
  • Kate Nash - I recommend Merry Happy and Foundations. My favorite line from Merry Happy: "chatting with you on the phone, I won't regret those hours, because you can grow flowers, where dirt used to be." Brilliant!
  • Plain White T's - Delilah is cool. Me likee.
  • Birth of the Cool - I know it's an oldie, but it's classic, and if you were ever in a jazz band, Miles Davis will blow your mind.
  • Jane Monheit - especially 'I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good' - fantastic!
  • Falco - I know everyone knows Rock Me Amadeus, but he had other good stuff too
  • Existential Blues - I think by Dr. Demento, I seem to have lost my copy. Anyway, it's stupid and hilarious

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Dutch windmill - complete with palm trees.

I enjoyed Melaka, although it wasn't as interesting or as big as I had been led to believe by online and other sources. There was plenty of time to see everything I wanted to see in one day, so I came back on Saturday night instead of staying the night, and used Sunday for a Singapore picture taking day.

The influence of various groups of Europeans can be seen all over Melaka. There are some pictures that I took that really don't look like they're taken in Asia at all. Except for the flora, of course. The highlight of my day was going to St. Paul's church, which was really neat. It was delightfully ruined, lots of headstones, really dreary looks, with a cheerful, fun guitar player singing in Malay. Really the high point of the day, and I absolutely loved that and the Porta di Santiago, the leftovers from the Portuguese walls, saved by Sir Stamford Raffles, who really seemed to have gotten around in this part of the world. Other than that - Melaka is good for shopping, but I guess I'm just not that interested in Asian culture. My favorite parts of Melaka were the European parts.

I return home in a little over a week. It's close enough that I can just about taste it, but far enough away that I know it's going to drag. I have seen nearly everything I wanted to see (I still want to go to the Botanical Gardens and perhaps the Chinese and Japanese Gardens and take pictures - I'm told that the gardens are only of interest to botany and photography hobbyists, and I do like to take pictures - and it's free), I've done what I came to do, and I'm ready to leave. I think it would be more interesting here if I knew more people, but I don't particularly like hanging out with other Americans abroad, because they're annoying, and I haven't really been here long enough to meet many people anyway. So, I'll be glad to be back. But all in all, it was a alright for a summer job, I learned a lot, and I got to see and experience some really interesting and cool stuff. Chalk this experience up to more positives than negatives. :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sentosa, Part II

So this time, we steered clear of the Merlion. Honestly, how could something that big and impressive looking be such a rip-off? Anyway, we started with the 4D Magix and Cineblast things, which the boys enjoyed immensely. Best part was when Leslie Nielsen spit on the screen (3D glasses), a little water spigot in the seat in front of us sprayed us with water. Leslie Nielsen and one of the Python guys (who played a French pirate) totally phoned in their performances. I wonder how much they got paid for them?

We got to go on the luge for an hour uninterrupted. Most fun - even though it started pouring on our way back up on one run and soaked through our clothes. I would rather be soaked through because of rain than sweat, though, so it was okay by me. The miniature golf course was awful! I have never been on such a terrible course before. We actually had to skip a hole because there was too much bird offal on the course. GROSS. Fort Siloso was fun, and the boys enjoyed the giant guns. I was rather impressed as well, but not much could stand against the Japanese juggernaut in 1942, so it fell, just like everyone else did.

Last night, there were two cartoon re-runs. It's bad enough that I'm forced to listen to cartoons for a couple hours of my day (I don't let them watch them when I'm in charge, but their father finds it a convenient baby-sitting tool) if I want to sit in the living room or dining room. Unfortunately, the boys don't remember the cartoons they watch, so they watched two re-runs yesterday without realizing at all that they were re-runs even when I pointed it out and told them what was going to happen next. I hate bad cartoons. Tom & Jerry still rocks, though. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

'Budget' vs. 'budget'

I am going to Melaka this weekend, and I have just booked my hostel for the night I'll be there. It cost me $5.39. No joke. It looks clean, has good reviews, and is on the studentuniverse site, so I figure it's probably a perfectly acceptable hostel. I've never had any problems with studentuniverse endorsed hostels, and in fact, when I had the opportunity to compare notes with other travelers about their hostels, the studentuniverse hostels usually were better for the same price.

When I was planning my trip, the boys' father suggested a nice hotel in Melaka that he called a 'Budget hotel.' He said, "I think you can get a room for under $50/night. Really quite reasonable." $50?? $50 is a lot of money! I will pay $50 for a good pair of shoes, or perhaps for a truly well-made piece of clothing. I might even pay $50 for a ticket (I would have shelled out $50 for Ian McKellan playing King Lear here in Singapore, but unfortunately, it was already sold out except for the $200 seats, which made it a moot point since I can't afford $200 seats at all). But, I will, under no circumstances, pay $50 for a hotel outside of the United States. Hostels are gross in the US, so I will spring for a hotel if I have to at home. But outside of the US, most backpacking hostels are perfectly acceptable, clean alternatives. And it's just sleep - my bed would probably be just as lumpy in the other hotel. I can sleep anywhere anyway.

Tomorrow, we're going back to Sentosa. We were thinking of doing the 'swimming with the dolphins' package. Then I looked on their website and realized that for 3 people, there is a Trio Package of S$425 to swim with the pink dolphins here. This is a savings of S$25 from paying for three people individually at S$150/per person. So, we're going to watch a movie instead.

Tonight at dinner, their father was talking about a new electronic Chinese language dictionary that he bought. He said the salesmen were trying to sell him the cheaper model, but he opted for the more expensive one. He said, "It was only S$100 more." I don't think I've ever said that in my life. What gets me about that sort of cavalier approach to money is that he's such a tightwad about anything the boys and I use, but it's okay to splurge when it's for his own use (seriously, he won't buy me the granola cereal I like because he thinks I should eat the cereal he buys for the boys. I hate shredded wheat).

Both of these brought me back to the question of budget, and what exactly it means in an individual context. To me, $5 is a fairly significant amount of money, but not enough to freak out over, and I've never been much for coupon cuttings. But starting at $10, I start getting antsy, and something has to be really worth it for me to shell out more than that. I will pay for good chocolate. The imported organic European dark chocolate at the grocery store costs S$6. I pay for that - Asian chocolate has the consistency of melting rubber.

But I hope that, no matter what job I get, or what happens to me in the future, I always remember how I used to laugh at a $50/night hotel being in any way 'budget.'

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

goodbye, Patch

Today, H. got the news that his pet rat, Patch, has died, probably of a brain tumor. This made him quite sad all day, so he got a piece of chocolate and cancellation of long division for today. It's not every day your first pet dies on you.

He was a stinky, nasty, long-hairless-tailed rat, but he was Henri's rat, and that's what mattered. So, goodbye Patch - I hope you have no idea that your body is now living in a freezer, awaiting pet cremation. That would just not be cool.

Note: I don't really like this whole pet cremation thing, or this trend towards spending billions of dollars on pets. I'm attached to my beautiful Caesar, but I don't buy him those massive giant cat play dealios. I certainly won't be cremating him when he dies. He'll be buried in a cardboard box with holes poked in it for faster decomposition, just like every other pet I've had. I'll probably plant some sort of pretty bush or tree on top of his grave to remember him by. But pet cremation? It's like $100. That's a lot of money, just to keep a pet's ashes. Thoughts?

Monday, August 13, 2007


I must have died and gone to purgatory sometime between when I came back home and arrived here in Singapore, because if this isn't purification through fire, I don't know what is.

On the weekend, the boys watched at least seven hours of TV each day. They also played gameboy, and didn't get any real physical exercise. They were bored, sniping at each other, and all around miserable. Then they went to bed late last night.

Today, we started back up on our routine of long division, then bookwork. They especially need this because they have serious concentration problems. Which is why seven hours of TV each day is NOT helpful.

I already have a headache. I'm quite certain it will get worse. I've never looked more forward to working out each day than I have here in Singapore. It's amazing how much frustration and aggression one can release each day through exercise. Unfortunately, the tension is an every day sort of thing, so, I work out every day. My body will thank me, even if my poor mind feels like this is some sort of extended form of torture.

Addendum (9pm) - My headache went away after my workout. But I did end up crying from frustration after their father snapped at us about leaving the lights on. Of course, that's not that surprising since I cry when I'm sad, angry, hurt, upset, happy, tired, whatever. But it will be SO good to finally come home.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Barry White rocks!

As does the rest of the music on my computer. :) I've done a pile of work today, since today is one of my days off, and I've done it all using my noise-cancelling Sony headphones and my music. The Dead Presidents soundtrack is pretty sweet.

Some of today's samplings:
  • Maroon 5
  • The Average White Band
  • Dead Presidents soundtrack
  • Herbert Groenemeier
  • Avril Lavigne
  • Green Day
  • Carly Simon

Countdown - and what I have learned

Today is August 11, meaning that I have 17 days until I fly home. YES!! :) I am doing this countdown thing in my head every day to keep myself sane.

What I have learned:
  • I would not do well working for a year alone teaching English in Asia.
  • I knew already that I hate hot climates, but I know now that I really, really hate hot climates
  • My Chinese class has helped me immensely - I can understand "Ta shi wo baba!" on a Chinese language program. :) Of course, I haven't been practicing. I've decided on Farsi of the three difficult languages I tested out in Austria. It's the most fun, imho.
  • I know now that - if necessary - I can function pretty much normally in a hot climate. Shorter trips to hot climates formerly induced dizzy spells and headaches.
  • I am not cut out to be an elementary school teacher or tutor. I'm doing a good job, but it's maddening.
  • There are some people that you just won't like. I have the happy circumstance of liking most people I meet (some sour on acquaintance), rarely do I truly dislike someone. Now I can add one to my list.
  • I really like to be in the water. I used to be waterphobic, and now I've at least conquered that. Now to learn to swim without a board!
  • I don't like washing dishes by hand. I especially don't like it when I have a dishwasher available.
  • I don't like real Chinese food (honestly, pig stomach soup??).
  • I do like these nifty little things called 'char siew pau' which are these spicy red pork dumplings. They are SO good. I know Central Market will carry them in the Asian section (along with the pig's stomach, pig's blood and pickled pig's feet - GROSS)
  • I prefer Europe and the countryside to visit. I've never had the opportunity to be much of a city person, and I loved Vienna because it's the perfect size - 1.6 million people or so, just big enough to be big, but you can get out quickly. Singapore is too big. And clean. There's no dirt anywhere - that's just strange.
  • My hair is twice its normal size in humid temperatures. I have learned not to let this bother me.
But the best thing I've learned is how important it is to really think about things when you commit to a big project. I really miss my friends and family at home, and except for two short visits, I will have been out of the United States for a year when I return. I think I'm ready to come home. For now. :)

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Today, we went to Sentosa, being that it is National Day here in Singapore (yay 42 years of independence from Malaysia! And yay to Malaysia for 50 years independence from Britain! And yay to Britain for... wait, oh yeah - bad Britain!), and their father had the day off. It is expensive to go to a theme park! It's a reclaimed island that is part of Singapore, and it's basically a giant resort/theme park with lots of stuff to do, nice beaches, and expensive places to give yourself skin cancer.

1) Luge and Skyway - this luge is a plastic sled on wheels ridden down a concrete path. VERY fun. I love driving fast (*sniffle* my poor old Thunderbird will never again allow me to pass nearly everything on the road) and it's even more fun when your plastic luge feels like it's about ready to fall apart under you. Great adrenaline rush! Speaking of adrenaline rushes, there have been a number of shows recently on Discovery about skydiving accidents. I still want to go skydiving, I don't care how much they try to scare me.

2) Hands-on culture - I know it's not cool, they're wild animals, blah blah blah - but the boys LOVED being able to hold the giant constrictor snakes. They also, in addition to everyone else, loved the 'touch a fish' display at the aquarium, where you could hold a starfish, pet a small shark, pufflefish, or an eagle ray. Seriously - they had a blast.

3) Dolphin show - dolphins are just awesome anyway, and these three pink dolphins were super well trained and did lots of fun stuff. Next week, we're going back to Sentosa, and the boys are going to go swimming with the dolphins. I can't actually swim, so I'll just watch. Anyway, these dolphins did amazing jumps and tricks with balls, the whole nine yards. Lots of fun. I especially loved how they danced to the beat - so cute!

4) Ben & Jerry's - I swear, every time I go to Ben & Jerry's, I find another flavor of ice cream that I love. Today it was Chunky Monky, but I love Phish Food and Strawberry Cheesecake, and Double Chocolate Fudge.... Bad calories! Bad! At least I got the small... and I like their business model.

Not so much of a highlight - the Merlion was a total rip-off (mer as in, coming from the sea, lion as in a lion - mix together and you have the head of a lion and the body of a fish - kinda weird looking, but apparently the Singaporeans like it). The show in the overly air-conditioned theater was stupid, the lookout points were tiny, and there was nothing to do in them. WAY cooler from the outside than from the inside. For anyone else who ever happens to make it to Singapore and go to Sentosa, DON'T go inside the Merlion. Save your money, go to one of the shows.

When we go back next week, we're going to get the unlimited luge rides for an hour, do some paddleboat stuff on one of the tiny islands there, and go to a 4D cinematic experience - regular screen with the 3D glasses - you may ask - 4D? huh? 4D refers to someone's bright idea to add smells and other effects, such as water in the face at an appropriate moment, and call it '4D' to attract more visitors and make more money. It's working. Emeril's 'smell-o-vision' has come to life!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Accompanying Pictures for KL

Here's the dude in shorts with the woman in the black tarp

Yes, that's chocolate. A chocolate dragon. TWO chocolate dragons! Awesome!

Petronas Twin Towers (now the tallest in the world, thanks to 9/11 - this was pointed out multiple times by multiple people there) and downtown Kuala Lumpur from the KL Tower

Monday, August 06, 2007

KL Recap

My time in Kuala Lumpur was great, in spite of one big mistake initially that eventually worked itself out. I was a little worried about traveling there by myself, I ended up not going with a package tour, although I did go on a city tour while there, and walked around the city a lot by myself. I was thinking that maybe Malaysians would have a problem with Americans, since Malaysians are very proud about being an Islamic culture. However, everyone was really nice, and I was really impressed. The service there is fantastic, only one taxi driver tried to cheat me, and prices are dirt cheap.

A few comments about things I saw. The Petronas Towers are really nifty. I didn't go up on the bridge because the line to get a ticket up was too darned long. I got some good pictures, though. Malaysian women wear the prettiest head scarves! Some of them were simply beautiful, and they're all so well-coordinated. Still, I saw how sweaty their faces were - they are not particularly comfortable, especially when you're also fully covered in tropical heat. There is definitely a generation gap - a lot of the younger women wear jeans and t-shirts, or even short skirts. If any of you have heard about Gwen Stefani's concert in KL, where she will actually be wearing clothing due to protests, you can see why this is interesting. The Muslim men's organization that protested her concert said she would corrupt the morals of the young. By the time you're worried about things corrupting the morals of the young, you're probably already too late.

Most annoying thing I saw - women wearing burqas (the full covering with just the eyes showing) walking dutifully two paces behind their husband, who wore the traditional garb of shorts, Birkenstocks, and a polo shirt. Why does HE get to wear Western clothing that's comfortable in the heat, and make HER wear some horribly ugly and uncomfortable drape? If the Malaysian women wearing headscarves were uncomfortable, I can't imagine how a huge black thing that made me look as shapely as a barrel would make me feel. The whole concept that it is a woman's fault that a man can't keep it in his pants is beyond me. If they're so worried about moral corruption, maybe they should look in the mirror first - Mr. Shorts-wearing-Western-looking-man. Okay, rant over.

My hostel, Pondok Lodge, was reasonably clean and decent. My 'blanket' was a thin linen sheet, but that was sufficient enough for the climate. The bed was lumpy and so was the pillow, which was also rock hard, but I've slept in enough backpacker's hostels that I expected nothing else. The breakfast also was typical hostel fare - one piece of sweet bread, a piece of fruit (peach colored banana), two pieces of white bread toast, and jam/butter packs. I also asked for tea. Anyway, it was satisfactory. The thing that annoyed me was that it is directly above a club, and being Saturday night, they were open and loud until about 2am. So, trying to sleep was a bit of a problem.

All in all, I really enjoyed my weekend, which is good, because I haven't been enjoying my stay overall very much. I'm still looking more forward to Melaka, but that's because I find the history of Melaka interesting, whereas I find KL and Singapore of passing interest, at best. Singapore is so safe, and the toilets are real toilets, not squat toilets (which I was also expecting, so it didn't bug me as much as before), but it's also a little boring. So, if you're ever in East Asia, you should go to Malaysia. :)

Final note - Starbucks saved my sanity. Because I missed my first bus in the morning (the mondo mistake), I also missed my tour to the Batu caves, which I was pretty mad about. Then after I arrived, I started walking and got overheated, and then arrived at a shopping center with a Starbucks, whereat I immediately bought a caramel frappuccino. I love those things! Drink them no more than every couple months, though, piles 'o calories. Anyway, it was fantastic. There are so many Starbucks in KL that it almost rivals Seattle. And that's impressive. I still feel slightly ambivalent about the fact that I went to Starbucks only once in Vienna, and have already gone a good five times since I've been in Asia. I guess I've needed the homey comfort of a fattening coffee drink to keep me going. :)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Kuala Lumpur

For the next two days, I will be in Kuala Lumpur. I figure - I'm here, I ought to go see that cool building from 'Entrapment.' :D

My hostel is supposedly quite near the Petronas Towers, and I am definitely looking forward to going up to that bridge thingy that links them. Anyway, I desperately need a vacation, even if it's only two days. I was feeling so irritable today that I actually yelled. Well, not really a yell, it was more shrill than that. I think it was a combination of feeling so bored I was miserable (I keep myself busy, but I don't have enough money to buy books, and their father hasn't gotten a library card yet - if he ever does - so I can't check out any books to keep my brain from going stir-crazy) plus the frustration of teaching long division. Today, 3-digit long division started, which is not significantly different than 2 -digit long division, but it was treated by my charges as something horribly new and difficult. They will probably do very well in school this fall, but these topics aren't usually even covered until the 4th grade (they're starting 4th grade this Fall). And, unlike some kids who did deserve to move ahead in math, these ones are better at English and drawing and imaginative sorts of things than math.

So, I'm looking forward to my two days of freedom from the hated cartoons and long division.
And I'm looking forward to going on the two tours I booked, one a city highlights tour, and the other a tour of some caves with nifty Hindu statues and stuff near Kuala Lumpur. I'm hoping to get some good pictures there. I am still more excited about going to Melacca in a couple of weeks, but Kuala Lumpur isn't anything to sneeze at. Updates will come shortly!


I just read online that Stevie Wonder is going to be performing from Aug 23-Sept 20 this year! It's the first time in about a decade he's toured in the US. Now, he's an act I'd like to see live. I bet the tickets are outrageously expensive, though. They go on sale on Aug 11, and I'm sure will sell pretty quickly. He's stopping in Portland, OR and Woodinville, WA, so it's actually possible that I could go. I missed Simon & Garfunkel when I was in Austria a few years ago, and it would be just fantastic not to miss Stevie Wonder. Who is great. And fantastic. :D

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Singapore Zoo

Today, all I did was go to the zoo and go swimming. And watch TV and make food, but that happens every day, so it's not really worth mentioning.

The zoo was quite fun! I was soaked in sweat, hot, hungry, and absolutely in heaven. When there are so many photogenic creatures around, you could spend hours just getting awesome shots of beautiful creatures. The only problem is, I got my shots with my lovely film camera - so, no prints for now. Must wait to get those developed. All of the shots I've uploaded onto my flickr page are from my cheap-o Nikon that I bought for the specific purpose of snapshots. I don't like the expense of film for taking dorky pictures of boys running around the apartment, so it seemed a good compromise, being that I cannot, as yet, afford the digital version of my camera. The ones I got with it are alright, but my real hopes are with my Canon.

Tonight's dinner ended up being a mish-mash, because the boys are the most homebodied homebodys ever. We were left money for going out to eat, and they begged to stay inside. So, we had pork chops in honey-teriyaki-orange sauce, steamed broccoli and carrots, with spinach spaghetti noodles. And hot chocolate for dessert. All in all, an excellent day.

The first picture is the photo we bought from the Zoo people. They did the same thing the cruise people do, and snap shots of you doing stuff so they can make piles of money printing cheap digital prints with zoo animals for borders. Anyway, I thought the boys' mother would appreciate a souvenir of our little jaunt, and zoos always need money, so we bought it. The second is my favorite picture of the giraffes. They're such lovely creatures! The giraffes, orangutans, and white tigers were the most irresistible today.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I'm listening to Carly Simon as I sit in my humid little room, in anticipation of tomorrow's fun adventures. 'Anticipation' is really a rather good song, it's too bad it's forever associated with the ultimate tease - a Heinz ketchup bottle. 'You're So Vain' is still my favorite, though, just for the 'you had one eye in the mirror' line.

Tomorrow, we're going to the zoo! I'm very much looking forward to that because I haven't been to the zoo in years, since I went to the zoo at Schoenbrunn in Austria in 2003. I am going to take my nice camera, make sure I have plenty of film, and snap lots of animals. Definitely bringing the telephoto to this place - I am really hoping for a Bengal tiger picture. If it comes even close to my brother's awesome picture when they went to the zoo a while back, I'll be quite satisfied.

Cinemax is currently running the old Star Trek movies, tonight was Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home. The storyline is really quite terrible, as with most Trek movies, but the one-liners are fantastic! As is having a Russian (Chekov) ask about where the nuclear 'wessels' are in 1980's US, and watching the great tard William Shatner for an entire movie. I'd never watched the whole movie through before, having only seen parts of it on TV (sorry, but I'm not going to bend over backwards to see Star Trek IV), and I kinda felt sorry for Leonard Nimoy, who reprised the role of Spock - something he had said he never wanted to do again - and that he will also be reprising his role in the new movie. Does anyone know Leonard Nimoy for ANYthing else, other than Star Trek? Maybe the Bilbo Baggins song.... :)

By the way, in case you were ever in any doubt as to the technical quality of the Star Trek series, The Voyage Home was nominated for four Academy Awards, for cinematography, sound editing, music, and sound (just nominated, though). It, of course, was nominated for piles of awards by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, but only won for best costumes. Best costumes?? Well, whatever.

McCoy: My God, man. Drilling holes in his head isn't the answer!

[on 20th Century America]
Kirk: This is an extremely primitive and paranoid culture.