Thursday, October 28, 2010

Back From Borneo!

I think this beautiful sunset just about sums up our trip to Borneo! A one-of-a kind, awesome few days in paradise! We had a wonderful time! Borneo is a large island in the South China Sea that several countries lay claim to. We stayed in Sabah, which is a state in Malaysia. The Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort was a wonderful place to relax as well as have a few family adventures! Here is Craig relaxing and enjoying the local musicians in the lobby of the hotel. I have never heard drums sound so mellow and inviting before!
We loved our room as well, ever since school started Craig and I haven't been getting nearly enough snuggles! Brent and Craig had lots of fun in the pool! Craig actually met lots of friends in the kids pool, and the hotel had a kids club where he made a kite and even painted batiks!
Lunch by the pool! For some reason it seemed like too much effort to go into a restaurant!
We weren't all laziness, though! We did go on a few adventures! If you would have told me a year ago that we'd be getting on a jungle river cruise this weekend, I would have completely agreed. However, I would have assumed you meant the one at Disneyland! Life can throw you some suprises, and this move to Malaysia was one of them! But, as much as we love Disneyland, we'll take the real jungle cruise! Here were are getting on a boat called a Lepa-Lepa.
One of the coolest parts of this jungle river expedition was seeing the oyster farms. Here's a lady harvesting oysters. The oysters are grown under water, attached to pieces of old tires. This is a bamboo hut on stilts over the river and was a typical dwelling up until the 1980's. It will have to be completely remade every 3 years! Craig really got along well with the lady inside!
We also got to see a cultural variety show. Borneo has different tribes, with different types of dress and dance. We were able to see the different dances, as well as participate in them!Craig got to blow a dart gun, but didn't want to dance! That's why Daddy's up there! Mommy unfortunately had to man the camera, and could not participate. Thanks, Brent!
The real draw to Borneo are the Orangutans! They are originally from Borneo, but are becoming endangered. The Rasa Ria has an Orangutan preserve right on it's property, just a couple minutes hike into the rainforest. The preserve rehabilitates orphaned orangutans and helps them get ready to go back to the wild. This orangutan is about 2 years old and was incredible to watch! We spent about an hour observing 2 orangutans, but this one tugged at our hearts!
He didn't want the humans to leave! He kept hiding underneath the steps and jumping out, like he was playing hide and seek! It was so amazing to get so close to him!
Another highlight was being able to sail in the ocean, just the three of us! Brent got a quick sailing lesson, and then off we went, into the Sunset! Literally!! It was a lot of fun just sailing around as a family. Don't worry, the lifeguard had his eye on us, and would have jumped onto his waverunner if we'd gone too far out to sea! We had an incredible time! We feel so lucky to be able to live in this part of the world for a little while! We know we said this about Redang, but this place is definitely on our list of places we'd like to visit again. Maybe if we could get some visitors, we'd have to go back!! Hint, hint!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

An outing with the Luscious Ladies of Penang in Shades of Pink!

As promised to my sister, Elizabeth and mother! Pictures of the International Women's Association (IWA, for short) event of the season! The Luscious Ladies of Penang in Shades of Pink Event (I did not make the name up!) This was a charity event to raise money for breast cancer here in Penang. It was held at the E&O, one of the oldest and definitely most famous hotels on the Island. We were told to dress in pink (my kind of function!) and come for a wonderful breakfast and lots of fun! I will have to blog about where I went for my pink outfit later, it's the best store I've ever been to, called Sam's Batik House. Above are some of my favorite ladies in Penang! Mary from Scotland, Kay Lyn from Utah, Me!, Nina from Oregon, Sarah from Arizona and Christine from New Zealand. Below is our table at in the E&O's ballroom. Ladies from Denmark, Germany, the US, Beligium, New Zealand were all together! Most of these are mums from Craig's school.
The organizer of this event is in the pink chef's hat (with blonde hair). She is the head of Penang's Food Friends Club (which I'm a part of!) and her name is Maggie. She is from Ireland and knows how to throw a great party! She had the head chef of the hotel on the stage teaching us how to decorate cupcakes.
After our cupcake fun as well as a wonderful buffet breakfast we were treated to a fashion show! The models are members of the IWA and they are modeling clothing from Designers that are based in Penang.
Here is the fashion show finale - lots of fun and sparkles!!
As you may have heard, I have been having the best time here in Penang!! I love this place! There are a couple ladies that I explore my new home with on a practically daily basis! They moved here within a month of our family and we all live on the same street and our kids go to the same school, which means we have some free time to explore this great place! Sarah, Nina and myself can't go to charity events at fancy ballrooms every week, but we manage to have fun! Here's another little outing of ours! This is another one of my favorite streets (very close to Chulia!) which is also considered part of chinatown. This street is called Campbell Street. There is so much to see and do and eat down this street! Nina's daughter was home with a cold, so she got to explore with us! Sarah is snapping the photo, but you can see her in the Luscious Ladies photos.
Here is another famous eatery in Penang. While it might tbe quite as fancy as the E&O, my friends and I want to try all the local hot spots! This is called the Toh Soon Cafe, and it's conviently located in an alley (literally!) off of Campbell street, right where we were shopping.
This place is famous for its bread, and most of all for it's toast with Kaya. Here is a shot of the kitchen. It's very trendy in it's open kitchen concept!
Here's a close up of the cook making our toast. This place is so well-known because it's one of the few places that still toasts the bread over charcoals. The charcoal is in a oil drum that has a cutout to slide the toast in.
And here's my delicious breakfast! The toast is spread with kaya, which is a local delight. It's a coconut spread that is in between a butter and a jam and it's delicious!! My drink (don't judge me, they didn't have diet coke!) and my toast cost me 3 ringitt, which is $1.00.
So what else have we done on Campbell Street lately? Let Brent and Craig show you, I don't want to hog this blog! Last weekend we participated in a walk-a-thon called Into the Light. Here's a picture of Brent and Craig walking down Campbell Street. Brent was asked to come up with a slogan for the cause and carry the sign. Glad it was him and not me!! You might want to click on the picture to get a close-up version of the sign he carried through the streets of Penang. We are good friends with the organizer of the event and the gym I go to sponsored it, so it was fun to walk around historic Penang with friends!
For those of you who look at this blog just to see Craig (grandparents!) here's one last shot. What a cutie!!
We are off to Borneo for a few days! We'll show you more of this great place when we get back!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

School Days in Malaysia!

Ok! School started a month ago - I know! We are settling in so nicely here! I tell Brent on a regular basis that he needs to dread the day he takes me off this island. There are lots of reasons why I love this place so much, and Craig's school is one of them! We are really lucky to have gotten Craig into a great school here in Penang. He is going to St. Christopher's International Primary School, or SCIPS, for short. It follows the British school system, and really allows Craig to get a truly international experience. There are 25 children in his class from all around the world. Malaysia, China, Belgium, Australia, England, Denmark, France, Germany and Uzbekistan - just to name a few. He is the only American in his class, but there are a few others scattered around the school! Here's a picture of Craig on the first day of school. This is the uniform that the children wear. The shirt is a batik shirt and the print is exclusively for the school and is made right here in Malaysia! Another reason we are so lucky is Craig's teacher! Miss Parker is from England and is so great for Craig! I won't lie and tell you he took to school straight away, but Miss Parker worked wonders on him. She's such a fun teacher and I don't know how she gets her energy!
Now this is a British school, and we do thing in proper style. The school's pupils are divided into 4 houses (like in Harry Potter). The houses are mainly used for sports, so on PE days you go to school in your house color. Craig is in the yellow house. There wasn't a talking hat that put him into the yellow house, but Craig is happy to be there. He said that gryffindor is maroon and gold and yellow is close to gold, so he's in gryffindor. Whatever it takes! Here he is as I send him off on PE day. Don't ask my why he wears white shorts to PE. Luckily Uncle David has a trick for getting stains out of white! We use cascade dishwashing detergent and tide on a weekly basis - thanks so much Uncle David! Don't you love the little cap?
Now, as I said before we do things properly here! The children tend to get a little sweaty after PE so they change into a different school shirt after PE. This is how he comes home:
As I mentioned, Craig had a bit of a rough go at first. It took a couple weeks to calm his nerves (and mine!) and I got to be in the classroom with him quite a bit and meet him for lunch. There was a lot of pleading to go back to the nurturing environment of Miss Becky's preschool and at a certain point he was determined to walk there if he had to. He also considered Jupiter and the South Pole as places to relocate. Primarily because he believed that neither location had a school. But a wonderful little angel in his class named Sophia really took him under her wing. I don't know what we would have done without her! She's from right here in Penang and has been going to SCIPS for a few years now (nursey and reception - which is preschool). They try to share lunches, but she doesn't like the "junk" that Craig eats and he's not so sure about her lunches either (I don't send junk, by the way, that's just what Sophia calls it!) Lunches aside, I think they're the cutest little friends!
Another thing that made the transition to this school finally click was that this school has pets, just like his last school! SCIPS might not have a big black dog, but it does have a turtle pond! These are just steps out his classroom door!
SCIPS is currently building a new school house on it's property and Craig's class will move into the new building after the Christmas Holiday. Here is the front of the school.
One benefit of being in Craig's class so much the first few weeks is that I got picked to be the Class Mum! And yes, I spelled that correctly - this is a British school, remember? I am so excited that I get to be in the classroom so much - it's always the highlight of my day! It's also helped Craig realize that since I'm always in and out of the class, that I must be close by. And one more thing that I love - boy does this school love to party! They are learning about the local culture here through the local celebrations. We've celebrated Hari Raya and we're headed into Depavali! Hari Raya is Muslim and Depavali is Hindu. We'll do Christmas for the Christians in December and then Chinese New Year for Buddists in January. We'll even get to tour a Mosque, Hindu temple, Buddist temple and Christian church! But here was the last celebration, the class bear, Henry Bear, just had a birthday party!