Monday, March 19, 2012

My Mom's Penang Transformation

My mom visited Penang about one year ago. In the spirit of catching up on posts that we missed, I'm writing about her visit this week. We had a great time exploring Penang, shopping in Bangkok, and touring Singapore.

Jennifer gave my mom the "Penang" experience, which of course starts at Sam's Batik. Sam's Batik is a wonderful little clothing outlet where you can buy a one-of-a-kind kurtis and cool pants. Here's my mom in her regular "American" clothes, prior to her Penang transformation.

And here she is after, wearing her brightly colored pants and her white kurtis with hand-embroidered flowers on it, ready to enjoy Penang hawker food!

Now that my mom is properly dressed, it's time for a visit to Vincent's. Here is Craig, getting his "rock star" hair from Vincent. We can thank Auntie Em for that one - she gave Craig a shirt that plays guitar (literally) to Craig and he got way into being a rock star. My mom also got the Penang salon treatement, including the famous hair wash and head massage while sitting upright in a chair.

The next step in becomming a true Penang-ite is a visit to the fish spa. This is where the little fishies give you a nice, relaxing foot reflexology treatment by gently nibbling the dead skin from your tired soles. Yes, it tickles -- a little.

After the fish reflexology, you have to go for some real refelexology at Alpha Foot Spa. Here, they don't just concentrate on  your feet, but they also rub your shoulders, neck, head, back, or whatever else ails you. Here's Jennifer getting the knots in her shoulders rubbed away.

While in Penang's Little India, my mom picked out a sari to take home. This one is "ready made", or tailored so that my mom doesn't have to wrap it, it will stay in place on its own. The locals don't have their saris ready made, they literally wrap a six-meter-long piece of fabric around themselves for a dress. For westerners who don't want to run the risk of over-exposure, it's best to get a sari ready made at the local tailor.

After a hectic day getting to know Penang, it's time to relax on the beach. Here we are in Batu Ferringhi enjoying the spectacular sunset and relaxing in the soft sand.

Visiting Penang is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for most people, but my mom didn't end there. She wanted to cram as much into her trip as possible, so we packed our bags and went to Bangkok for a weekend! Here we all are striking a Thai pose in front of the library in the Royal Palace in Bangkok. We toured all of the major sites, including Wat Arun and Wat Pho.

My mom's favorite part of Bangkok was shoppting at the Chatuchak weekend market. This is reported to be the world's largest outdoor market. It's so large that we spent two days there, and didn't even come close to seeing everything.

If you know my mom at all, then you know she loves cruising. Bangkok is a "cruiseport" for old rice barges that have been converted to floating restaurants. We took a dinner cruise on one of these barges up the Chao Phraya river. We enjoyed traditional Thai food while viewing all of the brightly lit wats lining the riverbanks.

My mom returned to the USA via Singapore, so we took the opportunity to spend a few hours touring the city before she left. Here's my mom and Craig standing in front of the iconic Marina Bay Sands Casino and Hotel, which looks like a giant boat straddling three tall buildings.

We had a great time with my mom, and look forward to her return trip this year when we get to see more of Penang and also add Bali to the list of stamps in her passport!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Humans versus Geekoids

Greetings Earthlings! I am Vendar, the leader of the Geekoids! I've taken over this blog to tell you of the injustice we've suffered at the hands of the Troopies and their earthling allies! You terrestrial dwellers may have recently seen the performance of "Out of This World" at the St. Christopher's International Primary School, which detailed the interaction of the noble Geekoids with aliens from planet Earth. Well, if you have, then I'm here to set the record straight, and remove the general bias against the hostile takeover of your planet by the Geekoids.

Here is one of your own dressed as a Geekoid. In my opinion, he bears a nice representation of an actual Geekoid. Isn't he cute? Of course, we Geekoids don't have teeth, but I do find the missing front tooth on this earthling to be endearing! As you can see from this Geekoid costume, Geekoids are a very advanced race. We have spaceships that do not run on so-called fossil fuels. We wear very clean sparkly spacesuits. And, we have colorful antennas.

Yes, here is the opening sequence of the so-called performance which slandered the good name of Geekoids throughout the galaxy. All of the little earth children worked for weeks to learn their musical numbers and their speaking lines. They performed one evening at a local university auditorium. I consider myself a student of alien culture, and I must say that this particular performance from year 2 students (first graders in the USA) far exceeded performances from may productions put on by teenagers in secondary school (high school).

Here is a picture of the earthlings as "space explorers". They, along with the help of their robot, Zap-10, flew a rocket to another planet.

Here is a closer look at Zap-10. Earthlings are quite ingenious, creating a mobile computer that can interact with others just like an intelligent life form. This robot exhibited suprisingly human characteristics, and I believe is friends with the cute little human-dressed-as-Geekoid in real life.

Troopies are a primitive race. We took over their planet so that we could use their natural resources more productively -- namely, to support ourselves. We take all the fresh water, air, and other good things and use it to support Geekoids. Unfortunately, we've almost used up all of the natural resources, so it's time for us to leave for another planet. This time, we want to come to planet Earth. You don't mind sharing, do you?

The little earthlings performed extremely well. They all had a chance to sing. Many of the songs had a choreographed dance to go along with them. As I mentioned before, they did a fantastic job, even if they only reprsented one side of the story.

Troopies had never really given us much trouble, but you earthlings, well that's a different matter. You tried to out-wit us, and capture one of our Geekoids and hold her for ransom! Well, we Geekoids couldn't allow that to happen!

So, we retaliated, and captured one of your earthling space explorers. Here are the guards pictured above!

From this video, you can tell that our guards, though powerful, are not "inhumane" (as you earthlings would say). Have I mentioned how cute Geekoids are?

So, while we were justly arranging for a way to exchange your earthling for our Geekoid companion, the cunning group of space explorers re-programmed our navigational computers to take us far, far away from Earth! Can you not see the great injustice we've suffered at the hands of there earthlings? We Geekoids are so cute!

Here is further proof of how cute we are! We can dance just like the little humanoids above!!

We implore all who read this blog to stand up for the injustice done to the Geekoids! All we wanted to do was take all of your resources! Now, we are doomed to wander the galaxy using a navigational system that was unjustly tampered with by your space explorers.

Aren't we Geekoids cute? This program, while fabulously executed, showed the human race as the heroes, and the poor Geekoids as villains. But how can a villain be so cute?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Aaron, Leticia, and Chris! Oh My!

We've been really lucky to have had lots of visitors from our family to Penang! Last year, the handsome and distinguished Dr. Aaron Craig Jessop, brilliant visionary of the arts of Nuclear Medicine (and Jennifer's little brother) was invited to give a speech at a medical conference in Beijing, China. We were pleased that Aaron, his  spectacularly beautiful wife Leticia, and his awesome brother-in-law and favorite uncle to all nephews (and those who think they are his nephews) Chris took the scenic route to Beijing by way of Penang and spent a few days with us. We had such a wonderful time!!

Here is Chris, Leticia, and Aaron in front of Masjid Kapitan Keiling. This is one of the most picturesque mosques in Penang. It was originally built in the 1800's by Indian immigrants. It's been expanded upon several times since.

Here is Aaron and Leticia in front of the Khoo Kongsi, or Khoo Clan House. This is where the film "The King and I" starring Jodie Foster was filmed. It's a wonderful example of Chinese architecture and style.

Just behind our house are two Buddhist temples, one Thai temple and one Burmese temple. This is the Thai temple, Wat Chaiyamangalaram, with an enormous reclining Buddha inside. According to tradition, this is the position Buddha was in just before he entered nirvana. If you were born on Tuesday like Craig and me, then this is your Buddha pose.

Across the street from Wat Chaiyamangalaram is a Burmese temple, the Dhammikarama temple. Yes, we know the difference. Do you?

Of course we had to take them to our favorite shopping down a street alley in Georgetown. This is where you can buy silk pajamas and cotton shirts. It's also where Jennifer can find her sewing notions.

You haven't experienced Penang until you've been to the Ritz Salon and had your hair washed -- while sitting upright in your chair! The hair wash includes a head massage and one of the best haircuts you've ever had.

After leaving the Ritz Salon, we were all feeling like a million bucks - so now everyone wanted to dress like a million bucks! So we went to our favorite tailor where Aaron and Chris both had suits made. Leticia had a Chinese style Chamsum tailored just for her. No one who has had 4 children should look so good!! (added by Jennifer)

Ah, then we hit the fish spa. This is where you can have the dead layer of your epidermis eaten off by tiny little fish. It's not for people with ticklish feet!

And then there's the food! We LOVE Penang food, and so did Aaron, Leticia, and Chris. Here we are at our favorite chicken rice spot. I could eat chicken rice all day long!

This is our favorite breakfast spot where we eat tofu fa, wonton mee, and kway teow th'ng (also known as super soup).

And then there's the Fishing Villiage restaurant near the end of the world. Well, the end of the road on Penang, anayway. This is where you can get fresh seafood like red snapper, garupa, and lobster.

The most famous dish, however, is the black pepper squid. We eat it like it's candy! These little crispy critters are covered in sweet black pepper sauce then served up so that we can eat them by the plateful!

We had a great time touring, shopping, and most of all eating with Aaron and his co-travelers!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Craig!

Craig celebrated his birthday a few weeks ago! He's now the ripe old age of seven. Like every other seven-year-old, he is an Angry Birds fan, so he asked for an Angry Birds party at an indoor park on the beach!

Craig and his friends got to climb and slide all over the place for a few hours!

"Look Mom! No hands!"

Even some of the adults joined in the fun!

Of course, no Angry Birds birthday would be complete without a birthday cake in the shape of one of the characters. This is the new "orange bird", which is Craig's favorite angry bird.

We all sang "Happy Birthday" to Craig,

And then he blew out the candles!!

Here is Craig hanging out with some of his friends. They had a great time!

Craig's actual birthday was a school day, so his mum brought Angry Birds cupcakes! They all sang Happy Birthday with their cute British accents!

Here is Craig with one of his classmates. He had a wonderful birthday celebration! Happy birthday Craig!!