Today was another jam-packed day, full of amazing sites and experiences. We drove downtown and rode in three trishaws for an hour. The drivers took us to Little India and all over Georgetown. The ride was really fun and the kids didn't want it to end... even Josh was enchanted by the ride. During the trip I kept thinking about the Seinfeld episode where the homeless guy steals Kramer's ricshaw and it made me smile. We had to rent 3 of them to fit all four of us adults and three kids and the drivers charged RM40/hour for each trishaw (about $13.) At the end of the trip my dad's driver apologized to him for the bumpy ride. I guess one of his tires went flat half-way through the trip but he didn't want to stop because he wouldn't get his money. My dad gave him RM50 and he seemed happy with that. I felt so bad for him, watching him pedal my dad and Ben around. His sandals were falling apart and his back looked like it was hurting. He had a huge smile on his face though everytime you looked at him. He was a great guide, showing us a few temples, the "floating city" (a city built on the water), and Little India. After that we took the ferry over to the mainland and visited the MegaMall in Butterworth. It reminded me of a very large flea market, except indoor in a mall-like setting. We ate some chicken and rice which was really good and we also had some waffles with kaya and butter. (Those are SO good!!) Ben and Emma found another McDonald's and were very happy about that. After we ate we walked around the mall for awhile. I'm still not used to the people gawking at us. The kids are getting used to it though. Josh gets passed around to about 20 people each time we go out and he doesn't seem to mind. Emma is warming up to the strangers too, saying "bye" and even sometimes giving hugs. After the mall we went to see some Indian members of the Penang Branch. They were all very sweet and didn't want us to leave. They offered us a white drink and it looked tasty. We were all very thirsty and I couldn't wait to chug it down. I took a big gulp and about puked in my mouth. It's called Soya milk. Picture mushing up corn to a liquid consistency, adding a tiny bit of water, and that's about what it tastes like. I didn't want to be rude so kept drinking it, hoping that each gulp would get a little easier to swallow... it didn't. Luckily, Josh was thirsty too and didn't seem to mind it, so I kept giving him drinks. :) It was so humbling to see these families' homes. No carpet, just cement floors with hardly any furniture, no AC. I wondered how on earth people could live like that but of course, this is their life, the only thing they know so it's normal to them. They were very happy and content with all they had and it made me appreciate what I have even more. One of the women, Ann, gave Ben and Emma some little matchbox cars and then gave Emma some Indian bangle bracelets made for kids. These people have hardly anything and yet they were more than willing to give whatever they had to make us happy. It was definitely very humbling. They are such sweet people and I'm glad we were able to meet them. After our visit we took Penang Bridge home and pulled in around 9pm. The kids were out and I'm hoping they will all sleep through the night tonight. Ben and Emma did last night (woo hoo!!) and Josh woke up at 3am for a minute and then at 5:30am (at least it's getting better than the first few nights!) Now I'm getting ready to call Jake at work. Stay tuned for our next adventure...
We started off the day visiting a Buddhist temple called the Kek Lok Si temple. It was amazing and so beautiful. None of the pictures I took could show you its true beauty. We saw some monks walking around and some were praying. The kids enjoyed the view and also picking out souveniers.
We took the tram up to Penang Hill and met a lot of friendly people on the way. One couple is from Australia, another family from Singapore and another family with a small boy (Nicholas) from southern Australia. It was fun talking to them and sharing stories and experiences. The view from Penang Hill was amazing. The picture we had taken just doesn't do it justice. After we got to the top we walked a little over a mile to a free-standing bridge. Ben said it was like the same bridge that Horton from "Horton Hears a Who" walks on in the jungle and that is a pretty accurate description of it. We were all nervous about walking across something so wobbly and seeing the jungle way below us, but overall it was an awesome experience!
We went to the Botanical Gardens after Penang Hill. It was so relaxing and beautiful. The weather was starting to cool down a little too because a storm was coming in so that was nice. As we were going into the park the vendors outside the gate told us to be careful of the daytime robbers (aka the monkeys.) It was amazing to see monkeys and monitor lizards close-up. We got nervous around the monkeys a few times because they would charge after us thinking we had food. The last picture shows our new friend, the well-endowed monkey. Dad fed him some peanut butter crackers and he really enjoyed them.
After the Botanical Gardens we went to a restaurant called Noodle Station (like Noodles & Company.) Ben was so excited about eating chicken and french fries and told me they were the best, even better than McDonald's (that's not saying much though!) Josh was starving and enjoyed being fed my fried wantan noodles with prawns. It was really yummy! As we were leaving one of the workers came up to the kids to say goodbye and both Ben and Emma gave him a hug. We had to get a picture.
After we ate we came home, changed into our swimsuits and went swimming again. This is the highlight of the day for the kids. They LOVE it and count down until the next time we go. After we swam we went to Queensbay Mall. Ben's swim floatie got a hole in it so we went to Toys R Us and bought him another one and some goggles. He's excited to try them out tomorrow. We drove 2 minutes home and the kids were out. Everyone is exhausted from the long day, but it was well worth it. We have stories and memories we will never forget! We can't wait to do more tomorrow.
Here are some pictures I took a few minutes ago. The sunrise was beautiful this morning. You can see the Penang bridge behind the kids. My parents have a great view from their balcony. We are still trying to adjust to the time change. Josh only slept one hour yesterday during church and that was it, so at 4:30pm he was ready for bed. I wanted to keep him up but he was so cranky I knew that wouldn't be happening. He slept until 1:30am and then he was up until 2:30am and slept for another 2 hours, so up at 4:30am. I put him down again at 6am and he woke up at 7:30am and now is up for the day. Ben and Emma went to bed at 8:15pm and woke up at 5:15am, so they are getting back to normal. If they could sleep an extra hour though, that would be just fine with me!
Yesterday we went to the Penang LDS Branch. The people were so warm and friendly. It was so interesting, feeling the same spirit we feel at our home ward in a place so different from what we are used to. My parents told us many of the members' life stories, some very sad and tragic, and yet you would have no clue they had been through so much just looking at them. We stayed after church and had choir practice. Next week is their District Conference in Ipoh and the Penang Branch was asked to have a choir sing so my dad headed it up. They are singing "Love is Spoken Here." When the women started singing their part I could hear a strange high voice singing behind me. I turned around to see what it was and it was an older guy singing the part in his falsetto voice. It actually sounded pretty good. He was doing it as a joke and making other guys around him laugh. Whitney and I started singing the men's part with deep voices and they got a kick out of that. Here are some pictures taken just outside the meetinghouse. The Malay woman with us is named Katelyn. My parents give her a ride to church every Sunday. She is 34 and speaks amazing English (and Malay, Mandarin, French, and I think one other language.) She also studied law and she teaches an Enrichment program for gifted children (4-7 years of age.) She studied in Australia for awhile and if you listen to her speak you can hear a hint of an Australian accent. Anyway, I really like her and think she is wonderful.
Josh is getting used to being passed around to complete strangers. Everyone would love to hold Emma and Ben too, but they are a little more cautious and reserved. They are fine giving handshakes or waving 'hi', but that's about it. This first pic was taken on Saturday at the Sunshine Market. We had some really good apple and orange drinks (reminds me of an orange julius.) Right when we walked in everyone was staring and this old man walked up to Josh and held his hands out, and Josh went to him. It was really cute watching this elderly man and his granddaughter play with Josh. The last pic is of the Elders' Quorum president, Danny Ching, playing with Josh. He took him for probably half of church and seemed to have more energy than most children I know. He was great with him and said he will definitely be playing with him again when we see him next Sunday.
We are HERE! I'm so thankful we made it safely and that the trip was rather uneventful. I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers as we flew here. I know they definitely helped! Also, I want to apologize in advance if any of this post doesn't make sense. I'm pretty tired and too lazy right now to proof-read my thoughts. As for our trip, when we flew to LA it was easy. The kids were so excited and wouldn't stop talking about the plane and how cool it was... little did they know this was only just the beginning of a very long day of plane rides! When we left LA it was 2:15am Utah time. We were all exhausted and it was hard trying to sleep on the plane. I think I got maybe 2 hours of sleep the entire trip (and that's not consecutive hours, just minutes here and there where I dozed for a little bit.) Our flight to Taipei, Taiwan was very long but not as bad as I had envisioned it would be. Josh slept pretty well and the kids kept themselves entertained with the free movies (the tv screens were in the seats in front of us and they gave everyone free headsets.) Ben watched "Alvin and the Chipmunks" a couple times and has it almost memorized now. :) When that 14-hour flight was over we were all definitely ready to get out of the plane. We wandered around the airport and I tried to help Emma get the wiggles out. The last leg was probably the hardest, just because the kids were tired but so excited they couldn't sleep. When we flew over Malaysia I thought how pretty it looked. There is a lot of jungle here. When we got off the plane the first thing I noticed was the humidity... I thought I was going to pass out! It's definitely a big change from where we just came from! I was nervous about going through customs but luckily, the people just waved us through and didn't even make us go through. It was wonderful... weird, but wonderful! Then grandma and grandpa were just outside the exit waiting for us. The kids ran up to them and gave them huge hugs. It was so nice to finally be here with them! One thing I have to mention is how I think I finally know what it feels like to be a celebrity. Once we got to Taipei I noticed EVERYONE stared at the kids and I. They all would point, smile, want to touch the kids, tell them how cute they are, etc. It has been like that here too. Everywhere we go people want to touch and hold the kids. Josh is fine being passed around to strangers. Emma, on the other hand, is much more apprehensive. She's warming up to them though.
We had been at my parents' condo less than 30 minutes when the kids persuaded us all to go swimming in the resort's pool. They LOVE it! They didn't want to leave to go eat dinner but telling them we could go every day made it a little easier to get out. The pool is awesome and overlooks the ocean. There is even a kids' part where Ben and Emma can go down slides and it's pretty shallow so they can walk around by themselves. Josh was also in heaven, splashing himself and drinking the water (on purpose, and on accident.) After we were done swimming we went to Queensbay Mall, a 7-minute walk from my parents' place. The mall is HUGE and looks just like the ones at home, sporting a Gap, Gymboree and other common stores. Ben was the most excited about seeing a McDonald's. He scarfed down a Happy Meal and even ate a huge ice cream cone afterward. We got back around 7:30pm and everyone was exhausted. My mom put the kids down for bed and I went in to say goodnight and they were already out, not even two minutes later! Whitney and I went to bed at 8:15pm and I was hoping to get a great night's sleep... too bad it didn't happen. Emma woke up crying around 11:30pm, just wanting to be comforted. Then Josh woke up at 1:30am. Then Emma woke up again at 3am and Josh woke again at 4am. This time he didn't want to go back to sleep, he wanted to play. I tried putting him to bed but he would have none of it, so I went in the living room and played with him for awhile. My mom came out and we talked and played with Josh, and I called Jake (since it was about 2pm his time.) Finally around 6am Josh was tired again, lucky for me he was back up again before 8am. To say the least, I'm really hoping this does not repeat itself tonight!
Saturday morning we went to the Snake Temple in Bayan Lepas. The temple itself is really neat. It seemed out of place though, when you looked at the other buildings and busy shops surrounding it. We saw some pit vipers hanging on these chandaliers when we first walked in. Supposedly they are made sleepy with incense. We were told there were some other snakes we could touch just down the hall. They said we could hold them and they would take our picture and laminate it for RM30 (about $10.) My parents were nice enough to buy them for us. It was pretty scary when they put the big python around your neck, and then after they took the first picture they put a pit viper on your head and took another picture. When the guy put the python on me, he showed me where to hold it and at that point the python turned towards me and his head was coming close to my face. It really freaked me out. The man pulled the python's head away from mine and positioned it so you could see it for the picture. Ben didn't want to wrap it around him at first, but when Aunt Whitney did it, he decided he was okay with the tail being on him. Emma wouldn't touch the thing. Overall, we thought it was definitely worth the trip and something we will talk about for a long time. Here is a website that tells a little bit about the temple: http://pulaupinang.com/snaketemple.shtml
Ben was the happiest boy today when he saw a Pizza Hut in the middle of an outdoor market near my parents' condo. He is my picky eater and so hasn't eaten much since we left home (besides goldfish crackers, granola bars, mini-cookies from Costco, and candy (very healthy, I know.) Emma, on the other hand, wants to try what everyone else is eating. She even had a bite of a rambutan this afternoon (spiky fruit you peel, the inside is a lot like a pear with a seed in the middle.) She was nervous to touch it because of how weird it looked. She thought it might hurt her. :)
Now this brings us to the present. Josh and Emma are taking much needed naps. Ben is playing his Leapster. My parents, Whitney and I just finished watching "Enchanted" (cute movie.) Tonight Whitney and my dad are going to a baptism and my mom and I are going to take the kids swimming again. Once we have all adjusted to the time change and can get on a schedule again, I'm sure it will be smooth sailing (that is until we have to turn around and go home in two weeks.) We are having a great time though and can't wait for more adventures to come. I'll try and keep you updated if we have time. My parents internet takes awhile to upload pics. Anyway, until next time...
The kids, Aunt Whitney, and I leave for Malaysia tomorrow! We are so excited and can't wait to see Grandma and Grandpa Call. The kids and I are busy packing today, doing last-minute laundry, and trying to rest and relax so we will be ready for our 28 hours of travel (20 1/2 in the air, the rest spent in airports.) We fly to LA and have a 3 hour layover, then fly to Taipei and have a 4 hour layover, then it's off to Penang, Malaysia. We should get there Friday around 2:30pm Malaysia time (12:30am Utah time.) I've tried to brief the kids many times on security procedures, layovers, and plane etiquette, but I think they are too excited to even soak in all that I have told them. I think overall they will do great... it's Josh I'm worried about. He's a crawling machine now and I don't know how he will take being confined in an airplane for over 20 hours! Let's just hope he decides to sleep most of the trip... wishful thinking, I know. My parents have a big list of things for us to do when we get there. I posted some pics I found on the internet of a few places we will be visiting. I'll make sure to blog about it all when we get back! Until then, adios my friends and we will see you in a few weeks.
I'm a strong-willed woman, wife, mom of three, LDS, U of U grad, runner, gymnastics fanatic, card maker, piano player, slightly OCD, singer, chocolate lover, office manager, cancer survivor, and friend. I started this blog to keep in touch with family and friends, and it slowly turned into my own personal therapeutic outlet. Nothing better than typing out your thoughts, trying to make sense of life.