Friday, 29 September 2017

Basking At Badminton At The 2017 SEA Games

The SEA (Southeast Asian) games were held in Malaysia this year, a nice bit of timing for newly-arrived Sarah and James. In case you're not up on your worldly competitions, the SEA games are held every couple years on a rotating basis between the 11 member area countries. Think Olympics, with a concentration on sports that are big in Southeast Asia.

Maybe you love muay or pincak silat. The SEA games are for you. James dipped his sports toe lightly and went to see some epic badminton matches.

Badminton, staged as high theater.

Standing room only and wearing the country colors.

They're serious about badminton in Malaysia and have the equipment to prove it.

They also practice synchronized cheers and waving for every play. You do not want to be in/near those sections unless you're all in. No matter, closed circuit can always give you the at-home TV look.

Badminton, super-intense. Who knew?

For the record, Malaysia won its matches the day James went and the team went on to win team gold. Hooray to the Malay!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

A Visit To An American Corner In Malaysia

Part of Sarah's job in Malaysia is overseeing a group of small sections of libraries scattered around the country. They're called American Corners and they're mini-libraries, full of media materials that help expose Malaysians to American ideas and culture.

Recently, Sarah had the opportunity to check out an anti-wildlife trafficking program at the American Corner in Alor Setar. After you've consulted Google maps to figure out where in the world is Alor Setar, check out the photos.

The Corner at the state library. They're in the process of being renamed - from "Lincoln" to "American."

Sarah, checking out the display of illegal poaching trophies.

Lots of school kids, bouncing between various exhibit stations.

Bringing some new technology to the masses. They loved it.

The Diplomat at work.

Boys, what do they love around the world? Video games.

Being impressed.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Kuala Lumpur, Open (Sewer) For Business!

No doubt about it, Kuala Lumpur is a hot, tropical, rainy place. A break from the heat? Forget it. Rain? Frequent. When you walk around the city, you look down and have new respect for water removal. Why?

Behold the drainage system in KL!

Wow. One person's efficient water removal system is another person's incredibly dangerous open sewer. What's a few lost children if the streets stay passable?

Maybe you find a section of sidewalk that's covered, yay! Just don't expect it to last. That hole is about three feet down to serious injury-town.

So what's your choice? One way is down to the sewer, the other option is into traffic. People don't really walk much in KL.

Drain grates are frequently broken, missing.  Sometimes people do what they can, plug a hole with what's around. Such variety!
You really don't want to fall in. Yech.

A little late with the warning cone. Finally, an open, legit looking sewer run.

Have we died and gone to sewer heaven? How it's supposed to be, a wide, groomed sidewalk, fencing and a closed sewer.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Living In Kuala Lumpur

New post, new digs. Kind of similar to Chennai, India. Nothing like ye olde living of Vilnius, Lithuania. Moving every two, three years around the world isn't for everybody, maybe not for most people. Sarah and James enjoy the variety of housing, the experience of being thrown into a different way of living.

Speaking of living, the living (and dining, kitchen in the background) room.

First housing quirk, kitchens in KL can be split between "dry" and "wet." On the left, "dry." It isn't really dry by western definitions, since it features a sink. For Asia, it's the part of the kitchen that is presentable to the family, guests, hence part of the living area. On the right, the "wet" section of the kitchen. This kitchen is the workhorse, with cooktop and dishwashing area. This kitchen is for the maid/cook/live-in help. The door shuts, the laundry room is located beyond the kitchen and there's a small sleeping/bathroom prison area attached, should you choose to hire live-in help.

It's a bit of an adjustment to ping pong between the two kitchens, especially with the giant front door as a sort of DMZ zone in the middle.

More quirks, the magical glass cube bathroom in the master bedroom.

Storage is always an issue in hot climate apartments. Who wears clothes in this climate? What to do with all that American food you brought? Shove it.

Moving beyond the apartment, did we mention we have a nice view of our.....

60+ meter pool?  We'll have webbed feet by the end of this tour. Out of the water, choose between the gym or tennis court.

If Rabbit is home, we're home.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Being Crateful In Kuala Lumpur

You know you've arrived at a new post when your stuff shows up. It all seems a bit abstract until that truck pulls up, the back opens, revealing your material life. Be careful what you wish for.

Set for the big unload.

Checking the shipping label. If it says Talalay, it's got to be us. Tools to open the crates. Like a dentist, just rougher. 

The real sign that you've arrived: Rabbit Revealed.

Another, more ominous sign: your apartment packed with boxes. Let the stowing begin. Ugh.

No worries, once Rabbit is out of the bag (box), life at the new post begins!

Monday, 18 September 2017

On Tour To See Kuala Lumpur

Sarah and James have arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ready to enjoy their next three-year posting. Let the Asia adventure begin!

The State Department is great in getting you acclimated to your new post. Housing is provided. A couple, who acts as your "sponsor," shows you around, answers all those typical logistical questions. "Where do I find tahini?"

In Kuala Lumpur, there are also U.S. Embassy-organized little city tours one can take. It's a dozen people in a van for a quick romp around the city to see the highlights. No time for getting out, best to soak it all in as the van drives around.

Snap! All images are quick shots from the van. Hey, it gives you the feel of the tour.

Some sort of skyline. Moving on, driving on.

Craning to see the tall buildings, built and promised.

Asian brand, Malay language, temple to commerce.

Signs of a modern society, giant outdoor video screens.

Combining it all, video boards and the urban fabric.