Tag Archives: Chinese New Year

Update 2: Grape Fanta! (And Actual Work)

Wednesday January 25th, 12:36pm MYT, 3:36pm AEDST

Yesterday was a productive day! The main reason we’re here is to design and build a website for the Shepherd’s Centre Foundation, and it’s going fairly excellently. Jas mocked up a potential design on Tuesday night, which I set about creating; we’ve got the structure and design of the site down now, but we’ve no content except what we pulled off the current website which is about three years old. We’re meeting with Pastor Moses today to talk about what he’d like, so hopefully we’ll be almost done by tomorrow.

Yesterday morning we were informed that Pastor Jacop and Pastor Bridget were going to take us out for a Malaysian breakfast, and to be ready in half an hour. We were, and we waited. For a while. Around three hours. Turns out that we weren’t being picked up as we’d originally thought, and so each party was waiting for the other; around lunch time we were brought some food from the kitchen, which we hastily ate and went to make our apologies. The beauty of multi-language communities… Instead we spent the morning getting the design of the website up to scratch (and eating sugary things), so it wasn’t all bad.

Despite our suspicions that the thunder and the blue-black clouds filling the sky didn’t herald dry weather, that afternoon we did a bit of exploring around Semenyih. Unsurprisingly we cut it short to avoid drowning in the tropical storm. We wandered down the main road (a mildly adrenaline-filled adventure — the nonchalance of the other residents strolling through the cars was a bemusing sight, but I think my favourite part is the distaste for lane markers) and looked through a few of the shops. Unfortunately due to Chinese New Year almost everything is closed, except for a few food stalls and the occasional convenience store. We came across a giant warehouse full of second-hand clothes; I’d post a photo of Holly in lurid pink high heels but I promised I wouldn’t. We also found bottles of grape Fanta for RM 2 (about 60c), which isn’t officially sold in Australia anymore. Score.
We did a loop and walked back through ‘suburbia’. We saw many Chinese families celebrating the Year of the Dragon, and everyone asked us where we were from; Austrahlya! It’s really cool being the ones with the interesting accent. The warmth and friendliness of the surrounding neighbourhoods is so different to home, for the most part. We were advised against talking to anyone who looked like a local drug addict, although we kind of had that down already. As we arrived home we came across a guy on a motorbike selling ice blocks! Of course we couldn’t not buy them in the humidity.

After we got back we chilled out for an hour or so (at least the ludicrous humidity means that everywhere is well air-conditioned) before being picked up by Bridget and Jacop. We drove into town and found a Malaysian restaurant (one of the few open during the New Year) — if I’m going to miss anything about Malaysia, it’s the food. I don’t even. Pastor Jacop told us that given the choice, they’d go out for Western food; I guess that’s basically what we do in Australia — why go out for something you can eat at home? Malays are apparently big fans of the whole breakfast-for-dinner thing, so Holly and I are right at home.
It makes a difference having ‘locals’ show you around; Bridget and Jacop talked to us about everything, local traditions, politics (Bridget said that their government works so hard to do what’s best because the opposition ‘keeps them on their toes’ — we couldn’t help but marvel at how differently Australia treats the government), their childhoods, the orphanage, their visits to Australia… It was fascinating. The segregation of Indians, Chinese and Malays is so defined, very different to home; any support you might get from the government is dependent upon your race.

I think we’re going to explore Kuala Lumpur tomorrow, possibly with Jacop & Bridget’s daughter Jaime. At the end of the week we’ll probably spend a day or two in KL, and then catch a train up to Penang, Phuket, and then maybe head up the coast… We’re not sure yet. It’s bound to be a little bit interesting.

Jas is also blogging! http://jasmineparer.wordpress.com/


Update 1: Long Flights and New Languages

Monday January 23rd, 7:10pm AEDST, 4:10pm MYT

We have arrived without dying or getting lost. I count this as a success.

We flew out of Gold Coast airport yesterday morning at 9am Australian time (it feels like half a week ago) and settled in for an eight-hour flight. We were kind of over waiting by the time we’d waited in all four thousand queues, but the anticipation helped a little — that and the occasional nap. Our flight consisted of intermittent sleeping, reading, listening, eating and laughing, and the odd question about high-altitude insanity. Unfortunately we were perfectly positioned to hear all about the emotional ups and downs of the five girls in the row behind us (although really, how could they possibly get through all of it in a mere eight hours?) but otherwise the journey was pain-free.

Arriving at KLIA was a bit of a shock after the jumper-worthy temperature of the aeroplane, but wasn’t any worse than your average North Coast summer (99% humidity, Dad?). Thanks to the earnest insistence of family and friends that Malaysia’s equatorial location would result in an experience somewhat akin to the Saunas of Hell, I was a touch disappointed, but generally pleased that we’d not be drowning instead of breathing.

We were picked up from the airport by a group from the Shepherd’s Centre Foundation in Semenyih, the orphanage at which we’ll be staying for roughly the next week. We’re staying in a little two-storey house a few streets over from the main part of the orphanage, which is comprised of a street of buildings. They own almost the whole street bar a few houses in the middle, which (I think) are currently being used as a recording studio, of all things. They’ve turned these houses into the core of the orphanage; church, school room, kitchen, dining hall, a house for the girls, a house for the boys, etc. The staff (volunteers) live in the neighbouring houses and streets; Pastor Jacop and his wife Bridget live in the house opposite the one in which we’re staying, which is generally given to visitors here.

Feeling pretty hungry and tired (we arrived at 3:30pm MYT, 6:30pm AEDST) we quickly checked out the house before raiding the kitchen and chilling out with some cereal and tea and a good book each. We spent some time on the balcony upstairs looking over the rooftops of the rambling houses surrounding us and enjoying the early Year of the Dragon festivities; the crackers and fireworks and atmosphere were all really cool, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the celebrations.

This morning we wandered around the orphanage (the no shoes rule is my favourite part), which included getting to know some of the kids while we helped chop vegetables for lunch. We spent some time talking to a guy on the staff called Michael, who told us how he came to be a Christian and working at the SCF, before settling down in front of the Disney Channel with a handful of kids before lunch. There are around 97 kids here without including the local college kids, which made for an interesting (noisy) lunch experience in the dining hall, which was, incidentally, delicious. The lunch, not the building. It’s a bit disconcerting not being able to communicate with a lot of the people here, but makes for interesting communication. Bridget told us that they speak four or five languages to the kids because of their varied backgrounds; one sentence might contain a mix of English, Bahasa and Chinese, to help the kids communicate more easily with each other.

At the moment we’re sitting in the main office, using one of their ancient computers to check our emails (and attempt to convince Optus to let me use my phone.) We’re investigating the available wi-fi, so hopefully this will get posted online soon enough.

The generosity shown by everyone has been amazing, we feel so comfortable here. I’m looking forward to getting to know the kids better, and we’re all really excited to explore for the next few weeks!