Friday, June 29, 2012

To Penang: We Love You!!

Our 2 years in Penang has just flown by!  It feels like we just got here!!  We are sad to say goodbye to our beautiful, tropical home of 2 years.  We are also grateful we were able to experience living in such a wonderful, diverse area of the world.  We thought it would be fun to show what we did on our last day in Penang.  We have never shown one of my favorite places in all of Penang!!  I can't believe it hasn't made our blog!  We started out our last morning with a trip to our beloved Pulau Tikus Wet Market.  This is where I did most of our grocery shopping, and I loved any excuse to go there!
Obviously we weren't going to buy groceries on our last day, the wet market also has one of the best hawker centers on the island!  We LOVE our breakfasts here (which we have shown before!) and had to go to the wet market for our last morning meal.
My favorite breakfast comes from these two men, a delicious tofu fa!  A silken tofu with a wonderful sweet syrup on top.  It's so good I could eat it for dessert!
Craig and Brent love Wan Tan Mee.  Here is Julie Chen, the best maker of Wan Tan Mee on the planet!  We especially love coming on Saturdays, because that's when she mans the family stall.  She and Craig have become cute little buddies!
When Craig isn't eating his fishball soup, he eats his Wan Tan Mee, doesn't it look delicious?!  You can see my yummy bowl of tofu fa in the corner.
A quick walk past our favorite fruit stand!  They had the best jackfruits, watermelons, finger bananas and mangos!  Craig will definitely miss tropical fruit in his lunch every day.  He was shocked to find out that watermelon isn't in season year round in the US.
Here is Dallas, our favorite produce vendor.  He and his wife Mary can get us anything we wanted, even squash for Thanksgiving!
Here is his stall, and Mary working in the background.
Here is our beef vendor.  Yes, I really bought that beef hanging at the stand.  It was much better than the supermarket, and more fun to buy!
The wet market isn't just for food!  Here is our flower stall.  They have the most beautiful orchids!  I liked to go on Thursday mornings, so I could get the orchids right after they'd been delivered.
Here are our fish mongers! 
Loads of fresh fish here!
Here is my spice aisle.  I made sure to pick up plenty of spices to make my favorite Malaysian Curry!
No trip to the wet market is ever complete without stopping by to talk to our local "eccentric" guy on the corner!  He would spot us and wave like mad every time we came!  He also made sure to sell us overpriced mangos or papayas every time too, but he was so funny we didn't mind.  If I showed up without Craig, he would always say, "Where is your son!?"  He didn't think school was a good excuse.  Today he wanted to dance with Craig in the street, but Craig wasn't too sure about the dancing bit.   Craig, by the way refers to himself as Indiana Craig, or Dr. Horrocks. He is never without this cute outfit!
After the wet market we drove into Georgetown.  It is filled with the most beautiful colonial shophouses.  Many of them are being repaired, but my favorite ones tend to look like this!  It looks like something straight out of a movie!
Our next stop was to our absolute favorite store: SAM'S!  We have practically transformed our wardrobes and decor at Sam's!  The owner and his wife (Michael and Rachel) have become our good friends, and we needed to stop by to make sure there wasn't anything else I needed (it turned out that I needed quite a few things...) and to say goodbye.  This is one of the haunts of mine that I will miss the most!!  They have the most beautiful Indian items I have ever seen!
Wow!  We underestimated the amount of luggage we needed to get home with.  A quick stop to one of my favorite little alleys for a piece of luggage for Craig.  This alley specializes in the beautiful and colorful outfits and headscarves that many of Muslim women wear in Penang.
On to lunch!  Our friends the Lau family came to Penang (they just moved to another city in Malaysia) to say goodbye.  We choose to have our last lunch with them at our favorite Chicken Rice Shop!  You might remember this shop, we found it when we very first moved to Penang!
This was an extra special lunch because we were celebrating Joseph's,Craig's best friend and babysitter, recent mission call to the Hong Kong, China mission!  We are so excited for him!
A quick goodbye to the best Chicken Rice chef in Penang!  He also loves Craig, and is disappointed when I show up on a weekday for lunch without his little blond buddy.  I don't know what Craig is going to do without all this constant attention from people on the street and in restaurants! 
Our afternoon was spent running errands, and a quick stop at our favorite reflexologist!  No photos of that, we were way to relaxed to reach for our camera!  On to our last dinner in Penang!  Our last meal was at Straits Quay with the Kelly Family.  They moved to Penang within a month of us, and they're moving away from Penang within a month of us.  You probably have seen them on our blog before, we have taken lots of trips with them during these 2 years!  We are going to Folsom, CA and they are moving to Portland.  We had one other family leave us just a few week before, the Wilson family moved to Munich, Germany (lucky ducks!) We know we will see them, and all the other friends we that we made here!
Here is Craig with the Kelly kids, Liam and Willa.  Such cute friends!
Here is one of our last goodbyes!  Here is Gary, who was our personal trainer, surrogate uncle for Craig and all around great person!  He trained myself, Brent, as well as Sarah!  We still can't believe we won't be seeing him several times a week! 
Well, after dinner we packed up our apartment and headed to the airport in the morning.  We had the most amazing time in Penang!!  We can't possibly picture everyone who meant so much to us!!  We know we will see you all again - and still can't believe we had the good fortune to live in such a wonderful place!  It's really not goodbye, we know we'll come back!  To Penang, we love you!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ending with a Bang!

Seen this cute cowboy before?  Here Craig is, all dressed up to represent his home country on the last day of school at St. Christopher's International Primary School.  This isn't the last day of term, but Craig's last day as we are moving back to the U.S.A.  We have LOVED living here for 2 years, and are sad it has to end.  But we did end our time here with a bang!  Today the Olympics were celebrated at SCIPS! 

Craig is standing in front of the school with the school Principal, Mr. Jones.  Mr. Jones stands outside of the school every day, rain or shine to greet the students as they arrive at school.  He knows every single child's name - all 575!  As you can see, Mr. Jones is from Wales!
The Olympic Celebration began with a paradeof countries! The school had a flag for every country represented at the school (I think close to 40!) and every child walked with the flag of his or her country wearing something to represent their homeland. It was a truly impressive sight!

United States of America!  We had some very good representatives!

Of Course Cowboys,  Mickey Mouse and Uncle Sams!
I love how we ended with Abraham Lincoln and the Statue of Liberty!
This was truly an impressive parade!  All done to Olympic Music - such a festive atmosphere!
The students gathered with their fellow countrymen and  to line up on the field with all the flags.

But the celebration didn't end there. Each classroom represented a different country and the children were given some time to tour each class and sample food from the country, play games and experience a little bit of the difference countries. The school also allowed the parents to accompany their children. But when that was over, we had a little bit more celebrating to do!
Here is Craig, in his classroom.  They are looking at a world map to see where Craig will be moving next.  California seems like a long ways away from Malaysia!
We are so sad to leave such a wonderful school, but more than anything grateful that we were able to be a part of it for 2 years!  Craig has blossomed and is such a happy, well rounded 7 year old!  We had everyone's favorite treat, cupcakes to celebrate his time at SCIPS!  Thanks for a wonderful 2 years! 
(Craig and one of his favorite people, Miss Martinez, Head of Early Years)

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Very Bali Wedding

Jennifer loves Bali. She loves it so much we've been there three times. On our last trip, we actually got an invitation to a traditional Balinese wedding near Ubud! My mom came with us for this trip, and she was happy to come along for the wedding as well.

The whole village dresses up in their batik shirts, sarongs, and headgear for the wedding. Craig Jessop says to never mis-match your plaids, but in Bali, it's okay to mis-match your batiks.

The wedding starts at the bride's house where the bride and groom kneel in front of her parent's room. It's here that the representatives of each party negotiate the terms of the wedding and give advice to the new couple.

Here is the bride and groom in traditional Balinese dress. The man wears a gelong and a sarong. The woman wears a kebaya, sash, and sarong.

Before leaving the bride's house, the couple pays their respects to the family by praying at the ancestral altars located within the inner walls of the house. Everyone in Bali is extremely religious. The official religion is Hindu, but the Balinese have blended in their own ancient traditions to create a very unique version that is only practiced on the island. The Balinese believe that all of their ancestors still live at the family house. Because of this, Balinese rarely sell their homes, and instead, they are passed down for generations to the oldest son of the family. The corner of the house that is closest to Genung Agung is considered the closest to heaven, and contains the ancestral altars. This is where the spirits of the family's ancestors reside.

After praying at the ancestral altars, the bride and groom lead the wedding party to the groom's house. Do you see the two blondies in the wedding procession?

After arriving at the groom's house, the wedding party continues praying and offering food to the ancestral spirits. They wash their hands, and then breathe in the incense. This cleans the outside and the inside of their bodies before the final parts of the ceremony.

The bride and groom also pay their respects to the ancestral altars at the groom's house. After all of the praying, then the bride and groom are officially married, and then everyone joins together for a buffet dinner. Some traditions are universal!

It was wonderful to participate in Balinese culture in an intimate setting! Plus, we got to mis-match our batiks! Well, Craig and I did anyway!