Malaysia 101

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June 23rd 2015
Published: June 23rd 2015
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First off, let me apologize for the long delay between blogs. I try to get an update out at least once a week, but sometimes that's easier said than done. This week we've been busy shopping for and getting moved in to our new place, which did not have internet until this morning (also a reason for the delay). But now we are moved in, getting settled, reconnected to the outside world, and ready to share it all with you!

Other than a day trip to the nearby Cameron Highlands (which is coming in the next blog), I don't have a whole lot to share in the way of sightseeing. Last week consisted mainly of trips to IKEA, Tesco (like a Walmart), and a variety of shopping malls to purchase the items we'd need for our apartment. I'm also plowing my way through my TEFL certification course (to be able to teach English online), and Jeremy has been on the hunt for some freelance design work. So...while we have been incredibly busy, it's probably not anything that you particularly want to read about.

What I thought I'd do with this blog is share some basic, interesting, and surprising facts
Road Trip!Road Trip!Road Trip!

With our new friends Daryll, Jasmine, and Suzan in Cameron Highlands.
we've learned about Malaysia. If you don't know a lot about this country, don't feel bad - neither did we, until we arrived! It is a predominantly Muslim nation, influenced also by Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, and other Southeast Asian cultures. At the same time, it exudes a strong western feel, too, from centuries of European colonization. (To give a very brief overview, the Portuguese took control from the Chinese in 1511, then the Dutch took over in 1641, followed by the British in 1795, and even the Japanese had a very brief period of control during World War II!) Everyone wanted it because of its strategic location - halfway between India and China by ship. This history certainly accounts for the rich diversity of cultures (and food!) that you find here. Diversity doesn't end at culture, either. Malaysia is ruled by a Prime Minister, Parliament, and also a group of ruling Sultans. It has huge cities, dense tropical rain forests, some of the best-preserved coral reefs in the world, and mountain peaks well over 12,000 feet.

Basically, if you want it, there's a good chance you'll find "it" (whatever that may be) here.

This past week marked
Jeremy's Favorite DessertJeremy's Favorite DessertJeremy's Favorite Dessert

Sago gula melaka - tapioca balls in coconut milk, with plenty of sweet sago palm sugar on the side!
the beginning of Ramadan. If you're like us, you've probably heard of the holy month but aren't really sure what it's about. (I'm sure I'll be corrected if any of this is wrong, but this is what we've been told). Ramadan correlates to the ninth month on the Islamic calendar. Muslims all over the world fast from sunup to sundown to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran that was given to Muhammad. Consumption of any food or beverages is strictly prohibited during daylight hours. There is also an increased offering of salat (prayers), as well as oral recitation of the Quran. What impact does the holy month have on non-Muslims? More daily calls to prayer from the local mosques and mostly-empty restaurants during the day (that become jam-packed around 7:30pm, once the sun has set.)

A few more interesting tidbits about Malaysian culture:

1) There seems to be a slight obsession with 90's pop music. During the average commute, ever other song is either Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, Celine Dion, or Gin Blossoms. These same radio stations also play Top 40 hits, as well as Malay pop music. Commercials (like everything else here) alternate between English, Malay, and
Middle Eastern FeastMiddle Eastern FeastMiddle Eastern Feast

Two types of lamb, hummus, pita, Turkish coffee, and watermelon juice.
Chinese. Everyone here seems to speak a minimum of English, Chinese, and Malay, and likely a few other languages as well. It is very humbling to listen to someone switch seamlessly between so many languages!!

2) There is some sort of Chinese superstition against the number 4. Like the number 13 is considered "unlucky" in western culture, 4 is considered unlucky to the Chinese. For that reason, tall buildings like the one we live in have no 4th, 14th, or 24th floors. Instead they are numbered 3A, 13A, and 24A.

3) I welcome an explanation on this one, as I have yet to find one. "Black" food seems to be big here. As in, food that is not normally black but has been made black. Hamburgers are sometimes served on what are called "charcoal" buns - a bread bun that has been dyed pitch black. And in the supermarket, beside all the regular chicken meat sits BLACK chicken. The whole bird, cleaned and ready for roasting...except it is BLACK. I have no idea if the flavor is any different or what the purpose is exactly, but I'd love to know if anyone cares to share!

4) As
Room with a View!Room with a View!Room with a View!

Our new bedroom.
Canadians tack "eh" onto every expression, Malaysians tack on "la." It is a normal part of speech that can be inserted in the middle or the end of a sentence. "Okay-la?" "I get you that-la." "Your shirt-la is pretty." No Malaysian that I've asked can come up with a definition of what exactly it's supposed to mean. Whatever the case, it's kind of endearing. And entertaining.

I'm sure we'll come up with some more fun facts as time goes on, but these were a few that stuck out to me. I'm going to get the Highlands blog out to you next, then probably take a late afternoon dip in our glorious 50-meter swimming pool. In the next week or two, we're hoping to take an overnight trip to the seaside town of Malacca (also spelled Melaka), which was our favorite spot from our visit five years ago. Talk to you then-la!

(Additional photos below)

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


A Touch of HomeA Touch of Home
A Touch of Home

My magnets, our friends from Colorado, and Hungry of course!
Shah Alam MosqueShah Alam Mosque
Shah Alam Mosque

The royal mosque of Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz.

23rd June 2015

Your apartment is jaw droppingly beautiful! I absolutely love it. Glad you guys are finally moved in and adds a bit of serenity doesn't it?
23rd June 2015

I'd say YOU HAVE NO IDEA...except I know you actually know what it's like. Accepting reservations for visitors anytime!! ;-)
24th June 2015

Black Chicken
Black chickens are normally used for making tonic soups. Get Chinese medicinal herbs from a Chinese Medicine shop, add black chicken, double boil for a few hours. Voila, a cure for all your ailments!

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