Celebrating the Chinese New Year – Year of the Dog 2018

Chinese New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur are slowly coming to a close! The official Chinese New Year also called ‘Spring Festival’ or ‘Lunar New Year’ began on February 16th and although the first 3 days are the most important, many celebrate for 15 consecutive days! The Chinese Zodiac for this year was the Year of the Dog. Just to note, my Chinese Zodiac is the Monkey, Antoine’s is the Pig, Ariane’s is the Horse and Aegeus’s is the Rooster! So we are one big happy Chinese Zodiac animal family!

KL was bustling with the color red, which is the main color for the festival and symbolizes prosperity and good luck! Red lanterns, cherry blossoms and red couplets adorned the malls, restaurants, buildings, streets and homes!

There are many traditions that come along with the Chinese New Year and so I wanted to share some of my favorites…

Dragon Dances
I was not in Malaysia for last year’s Chinese New Year celebrations, so seeing these dances and performances were a first time for me and I really enjoyed them! To Chinese people, dragons are legendary animals that are helpful and friendly. They are known to scare away evil spirits, bring wisdom, good luck, wealth and prosperity. Ariane had a small fear of these dancing dragons until we reassured her that they were ‘friendly dragons’ and then she was all good! Hopefully when we one day return to the States and she starts seeing the super scary fire-breathing dragons that steal princesses, eat people and tongue torch homes, she will remember the ‘friendly dragons’ from Malaysia!
Okay so dragons are known to have super powers that enable them to fly in the air, swim in the sea and walk on land. It is the tradition that every year during Chinese New Year for dragon dances to be performed in homes, condominiums and even shop fronts in shopping malls. The dragons used in Dragon dances are made from cloth, held and raised by a pole and can measure anywhere from a few metres long up to a hundred metres. Supposedly, the longer the dragon, the luckier one will be if touched by the dragon. Good news for Ari because I think the ‘friendly dragon’ at her school during the dragon dance skimmed the top of her pigtails so Ari should be pretty lucky going forward. During the dance there is one man who acts as the head or dragon master as I will call him; and as the dragon master, he entices the Dragon by using a pole and the Dragon will follow him around supposedly searching for wisdom.

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Lion Dances
Different then the dragon dance, in a lion dance, there are two performers making up each lion – one is the head which defines the lion’s personality, and one at the back for the tail. Apart from their legs, they are completely covered by their costume.
A typical lion dance would have one or more lions performing different acrobatic movements, as the art form has its basis in Chinese martial arts.
It’s accompanied by a live percussion band, featuring drummers, cymbals and gongs. And is quite loud!

The lions literally leap between stilts and perform some moves that are quite daring, yet very entertaining. It is amazing to me that the two people in the same lion suit are able to do this without face planting!
A key part of the dance is cai qing, or plucking of the greens. The lion picks up a head of green lettuce, which is generally tied to a red envelope of cash and may also include auspicious fruits like oranges. The lion begins spitting out the torn up leaves and orange peels to signify the distribution of wealth and prosperity.
For being the brave ones inside the lion costume, they get to keep the red envelope as a prize, there is generally two or more lions to ‘fight’ over it as part of the performance. Best lion wins!

Chinese New Year Food; Yee Sang
Yee Sang is comprised of thinly sliced pickled vegetables, strips of raw fish (usually salmon), other sauces and condiments like ground peanuts. If you know me, you know that I won’t eat this BUT popular practice is that everyone gathers around the dining room table to toss the ingredients high in the air while shouting well wishes and joyful exclamations of what they hope for in the coming year. The significance of the toss symbolizes an increase in abundance, prosperity and all good things. Some even believe that the higher you toss the salad; the more good things will come your way. So don’t forget to cover your head! Ariane was able to participate in this at her school’s CNY celebration! She grabbed the chopsticks and started tossing away! And just like her mommy, she kindly passed on tasting this ‘good luck salad’. Guess we will have to find our luck elsewhere!

Decorations
Along with the red lanterns, couplets and cherry blossoms, you will also see an abundance of oranges and tangerines throughout the Chinese New Year celebrations. Tangerines represent wealth and oranges are a popular symbol of good luck. So basically symbols of abundant wealth and happiness! Going forward I will gladly accept bags of oranges and tangerines as gifts, as long as they come with an adjoining bag of cash so I can immediately feel like I have an abundance of wealth! Ariane received an orange at our condo’s Chinese New Year celebration so it looks like her luck is already starting to turnaround despite not eating the Yee Sang!

Ang Pau Packets or Red Envelopes
Ang Paus are usually given by the married adults to young children as a sign of continued prosperity. The amount given doesn’t really matter (although I am not sure I agree with this….ha!), the important part is the receiving of Ang Pau. Whether small or large amounts, it’s something that is fun and exciting, especially for young children. However, it is important to note that when giving an Ang Pau, it should be a red envelope and not white as money put in white envelopes are meant for funerals. So choose your envelopes carefully! Ari scored a red envelope at our condo CNY celebration that had RM 10 (or approximately $2.50 USD) and one from her school that was filled with RM 1 (or a Quarter in USD). She happily filled her piggy bank with her cash! This tradition I would have loved as a child or even when I was single but now that I am happily married I can no longer participate. Although my husband might say that he gives me red envelopes everyday and that if I don’t watch my spending habits the envelope color may change from red to white….ha ha ha!


The Tray of Togetherness”
I just learned about this as I was putting this blog together. I really loved the symbolism and think we could all use a Tray of Togetherness! The tray includes preserved kumquats (BELIEVE ME, I had to Google this just to make sure I even wanted the word in my blog….it is a citrus fruit people so let’s carry on!) , coconut , longans (an edible juicy fruit from SE Asia that is similar to the lychee), red melon seeds, lotus seeds and peanuts are some of the candies that typically make up “The Tray of Togetherness”. There are usually 8 compartments to the tray because 8 is a symbolic number representing prosperity. Therefore, 8 different types of candies are served or given as gifts. These candies represent all good things: kumquats for prosperity, red melon seeds for happiness, coconut for togetherness and sweets for a sweet and rich life for the coming year. I love this so much I just might make a Tray of Togetherness for the Wade Household.
Other traditions worth mentioning include firecrackers and fireworks, housecleaning, praying at the temple, family dinners and shopping, each of which has a special meaning or purpose.
The traditions mentioned above in detail are the ones that I loved the most now that I was finally able to be a part of the Chinese New Year celebration. It’s been so incredible to experience things like this while living as a family here in Malaysia.

Here are a few more pictures and a couple of videos from Ariane’s school during the Chinese New Year Celebration.

Although Aegeus (our 7 month old) may be too little to participate in or remember our experiences while overseas we definitely plan to share our stories with him one day. He does however get bragging rights for being ‘Made in Malaysia’ so I’m sure he will always rub that in, especially to his Big Sister. Ari on the other hand may be lucky enough to remember some of our experiences here. She was absolutely beautiful in her traditional Chinese dress that she wore to her school’s CNY celebration. Despite not being the biggest fan of the oversized, a bit crazy looking lions she is celebrating a holiday that she wouldn’t get an opportunity to celebrate if we were back in the States. We love to see her celebrate with different cultures, to see her celebrate our differences and to know that despite our differences, we can all celebrate each other TOGETHER, no matter what color we are, what religion we believe in, what holidays we choose to celebrate or what part of the world we live in.

And last, I would like to share a video that I made of the Chinese New Year Celebration at Ariane’s school…enjoy!

Gong Xi Fa Cai! (Happy New Year or Wishing You a Joyful & Prosperous New Year)

Truly a Kid’z Paradise

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I personally had never heard of a soft play centre until we moved to Kuala Lumpur. I was obviously familiar with places like Chuck E. Cheese’s and Monkey Joe’s, but I don’t think either would be considered a soft play centre. Monkey Joe’s I guess would be the closest comparison due to having soft, inflatable slides, but the soft play centres here in KL are actually quite amazing and fun!

Ari and I decided to head to our very 1st soft play centre a few weeks ago.  Daddy dropped us off because it was conveniently located directly across from his workplace.  Our first soft play centre adventure was to Kid’z Paradise at Quill City Mall.

I knew from the moment we were at the front entrance of Kid’z Paradise that Ari was going to have a blast!  I did not know at the time, that Mommy would also have a great time and a newfound addiction to visiting all of the soft play centres in KL.

A few things to keep in mind that we quickly learned upon our arrival.  The cost to enter was RM 28, which is equivalent to approximately $7 USD.  This specific play centre only accepted cash (I believe it had to exceed a certain amount for a credit card to be accepted), which is fine, but annoying at the time since we waited 20 minutes for the place to open. Ari was so excited to go in and start playing and extremely upset when she was forced to go in the opposite direction to locate an ATM.  Like near temper tantrum upset.  We finally found the ATM, took out some cash, made our way back to Kid’z Paradise, got settled in and put on our socks, which are mandatory for hygiene purposes.  If you forget socks, don’t worry because they sell them at the entrance.  I fortunately and surprisingly had thought of this, which was probably because of the 4 years that I worked at Chuck E. Cheese so we were sock ready!.  No socks at these establishments is just gross.  Even though this soft play centre doesn’t allow food & drinks in the play area and is constantly being cleaned, germs are germs and they lurk everywhere so SOCK UP!

Upon entering, I let Ari explore and decide what she wanted to do first.  It was so nice because we were the only ones currently there so the place was all ours.  I can only imagine what this place would look like on a Saturday, Sunday or Holiday.  In fact I will probably avoid places like these on the weekends, because if they are anything like the congestion and chaos at Chuck E. Cheese’s then they would need to serve alcohol.

Ari immediately gravitated towards an area that is known as the Cassia Seed Pool.  Cassia seeds are widely cultivated in China  The best way to describe them in my opinion is similar to brown rice.  The seeds are actually used in a lot of tea blends, often times in detoxing teas as a natural ingredient that helps promote weight loss.  As far as I was concerned, it was a nice substitute for sand as I looked at the area more like a giant sandbox with a ton of cool sand toys!  The cassia seeds were not as messy as sand would have been and were very easy to brush off of us as we went from playing in the cassia sand pool to playing in the other areas. This was especially nice for Ariane who doesn’t like to stay in one place for very long.

After having lots of fun in the cassia seed pool, we were off and headed for the ball pit!  Ari was both serious and a bit curious as to what this was all about and what we were exactly supposed to be doing as we were surrounded by an endless amount of colorful plastic balls. After awhile she had so much fun walking through them, falling down into them, being buried in them (well she liked this, but was also slightly terrified; she would be smiling and laughing one second and then have a look of sheer panic the next) and tromping through them so she could make her way up the colorful and soft shaped ‘stairs’ so she could then slide on into the ball pit!

I have to say that as a Mom who worries all of the time about her child getting hurt, especially when we go to playgrounds, this experience was completely different.  She was exploring and doing things that she had never done, like inclined wall climbing and jumping on trampolines and because of this soft and safe play environment, I was at complete ease while she did a thorough exploration of this joint.

Besides seeing my daughter have an incredibly fun experience at this soft play centre, I too had so much fun.  At first I was just enjoying watching Ari explore and observing her from a distance while she moved from one play area to another, but it was then that I was informed that I too could also get involved!  I was allowed to play in the cassia seed pool, get buried in the ball pit, go down the ball pit slide, jump around on the trampoline and slide down all of the slides. It was so much fun and overall just a really great Mommy/Daughter day date. My favorite moment, even though there were many, was when Ari wanted to keep going down the slides with me.  All she kept saying when we got to the bottom was ‘more’, ‘more’, ‘more’ as she giggled.

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After a couple of hours of play, it was time to head on out and we did with surprisingly little resistance from Ari.  It was very clear just a few short minutes later that our time at Kid’z Paradise also resulted in an almost immediate 2 hour nap session!  Needless to say, we will be visiting again as we had such a wonderful time and I don’t know any Mom that would complain about their child taking a 2 hour nap.

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Next up on our soft play centre adventures will be Kid’s E World at The Gardens Mall. Can’t wait!

 

Ariane & Mommy Day Date at Kid’z Paradise Video

 

 

 

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Since moving to Kuala Lumpur we have encountered many things that are strikingly different from what we were used to back in the states.  I wanted to share some of these with you, not because it is my intention to make fun of or ridicule these differences, but because it really does amaze me how differently people live from country to country.
It is very normal to have your own opinions or thoughts about the way things should be and some of the things that have stood out to us have been so different from what we are used to that we can’t help but talk about it, at times laugh about it or wonder why it is that way here.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that our way is the right way or that their way is the wrong way, it just means that there are clearly a lot of different ways of doing things.

Believe me, if people who have lived here all of their lives visited the states, I can guarantee you that they would also instinctively form their own opinions because of the noticeable differences.  With that being said, we are embracing our life here in Kuala Lumpur and learning that one of the most beautiful things about life are in fact our differences.

I hope you all enjoy learning more about our new city in this blog and I really do hope that you find humor in some of our ‘different’ experiences.

Our Beautifully Different City ❤

Food Sharing

This very well could be what I loathe most about living here.  And that actually is a really good thing, because there could be far worse things to dislike about a city.  So here is the deal.  When you go to a restaurant together as a family or with a co-worker or with a friend or with your 2 year old daughter named Ariane Wade, you typically look at the menu, choose what you want to eat & drink, place your order and voila some time later everyone’s food is served.  How lovely right?  You eat together, have enjoyable conversation and maybe (I said maybe) offer a bite of your food to the person that you are with and if you are lucky maybe you too get a bite of their food in return.

Not here.

I would say 9 times out of 10 this is not what happens. Typically when just one person’s order is ready to be served, it gets brought to the table to that one person.  And also that one person typically is not me. It is even worse when it is not Ari’s food that comes out first because as a parent you know that if you can just get your child eating, they will be content for a decent (short) amount of time.  When this first happened to me, my husband had a yummy plate of food in front of him, I had nothing and Ari had nothing.  I start looking all around the restaurant like our food has to be on its way out, otherwise why in the world would they have just brought food out to my husband?  Here it is…ready for it? They expect you to share.  Well I don’t like to share my food all that much, even though I try to teach our daughter to share every single day.  Asian countries have a strong tradition of food sharing.  Supposedly you aren’t supposed to be territorial when it comes to your food. Blah, blah, blah.  This is definitely something that I will have to continue to work on and in the meantime you better believe if my husband’s food comes out sooner than mine, I do now freely stick my fork all up in his food to steal me a bite or two.  What can I say, he is a far better sharer than I am.

Another Round?

Here you are enjoying some drinks with your husband and a few friends when the inevitable happens.  You can see the bottom of your glass, like literally not one drop left bottom of your glass.  You casually glance around looking for a server and even though you see many servers, not a single one of them are showing much awareness to your table and your desperate situation of needing another round.  I will admit that it has taken so long at times that back in the states I would have been served 3 glasses to the 1 that has now been finished for quite some time.  I am convinced my mom is reading this right now thinking that this isn’t so bad and maybe that 1 drink was enough, but my dad is reading this thinking that there is now officially no way in hell that he is going to come visit us in KL. Ha ha!  It is just very unusual for us.  Back in the states you are offered another drink when you have maybe 1/4 of a glass left.  They keep an eye on you and make sure to offer you another round.  It isn’t that they are being rude about it here, but it just doesn’t seem to be a priority.  No one is really in much of a rush so the sense of urgency when it comes to restaurant service here is pretty leisurely.  Due to this, we may just double up on drinks so the wait doesn’t feel as excruciating.

You Are a Bartender Right?

Antoine & I rather enjoy being able to belly up to the bar every once in awhile.  It is not only an opportunity for us to talk and socialize with ourselves, but perhaps even the bartenders and  other bar patrons.  We have found here that the interaction between the bartenders and the customers are very limited.  So much so that when you are ready to order your drinks and your food, you actually order from a server and not the bartender that is standing directly in front of you!  It is a very odd feeling when you are ready for another round and the bartender is looking at you and your empty glass and doesn’t immediately come over to offer you another one.  Instead you keep your eyes peeled for a server, ask for another round and then they walk a few feet away to put your order in with the bartender that is standing closer to you than the server you just ordered from.  This is truly backwards and will never make sense to me.  I am happy to say that we have become regulars at a local watering hole and the bartenders there do in fact allow us to order directly from them.  Complete game changer!  However they do make a cocktail that appears to have pieces of raw chicken hanging over the top on a stir stick.This just about had me running in the opposite direction!  I was quickly informed when asked what in the world it was and kindly mentioned that I would never be ordering that, that the raw chicken I thought I saw was actually lychee.  It is a fruit, but in my defense it is white and does appear rather fleshy.  It originates from China and is very popular in Southeast Asia.  I reluctantly tried it and it was actually pretty good.  It is sweet with a combination of a fruity, floral, tropical taste.

Excuse Me.  I’m Here to Buy, Why are You Not Trying to Sell to Me?

One thing that we learned very early as we were getting adjusted to life in KL was the sales approach when in retail stores or even restaurants for that matter.  The only way to describe it would be ‘soft selling’ and yet I struggle with summing it up that way, because there is little to no persuasion happening so I guess it is more like ‘not selling’.  It is very confusing.  I think it ties in with the whole laidback approach that we have experienced while here.  Sometimes it is nice and sometimes it is really frustrating.

So my husband and I walked into ALDO to try and find him some new sandals.  They had at least a handful that he liked and a couple that he really wanted.  He typically wears a size 12 shoe and so when he asked for a size 12 in the shoes that he liked, the lady went in the back and came back sandle-less.  Our 1st observation was that when we entered the store, no one came to ask if we needed help finding anything.  Our 2nd observation was that when they didn’t have the sandal in the size that he did like, there was no recommendation made to him for sandals in his size that he might like. We thought maybe we had just dealt with an inexperienced saleswoman, but this didn’t just happen at ALDO.  It happens just about everywhere.  Don’t get me wrong, the employees are cordial and willing to help with what you are looking for, but they definitely seem to be okay with you leaving the store and not buying anything.  It really is the same in restaurants as well.  There is no hard sell for appetizers, or strong recommendations for specials or a push for dessert at the end, let alone ‘another round’ of cocktails being relentlessly pursued. I guess at times it is a bit of a relief to just be able to walk around and truly browse until I find what I am looking for or eat and just order what I want and nothing more.  But part of me is missing the pursuit and the drive and the sales oriented approach.  This topic actually leads me to my next topic…..tipping etiquette.

To Tip or not to Tip?

The reason the above leads me here is because I wonder if there is something that I don’t know about the way employees here are paid versus our norm of the sales, commision and bonus approach.  For the most part, Malaysia is a non-tipping culture.  Tipping here is not expected.  Crazy right?  As a side note, I am not quite sure how I will handle coming back to the states to visit and having to tip 15-20% for good service!  I will say that the service here for the most part is good.  Some places are great and others a bit too relaxed which leads to a so-so experience.  But I will tell you that when that bill comes and the server hovers you for you to sign and keep it moving, I get really uncomfortable.  I quickly scribble my signature and hand it back, thus resulting in no tip.  If I pay cash, I have read to leave the ‘loose change’.  This could literally equate to 4 RM or $1 USD.  I am almost relieved when restaurants do charge a 10% service charge, because it makes me feel a bit more comfortable.  Another difference here is that when you are dining at a restaurant, typically you don’t have a permanant server.  You might order from one, have your food brought from another, order something additional from another, get your bill from another and close out with yet another.  So are they more able to do this and share customers because there isn’t that dependence on the amount of the tip?  I have been told that the way they are compensated does somewhat offset the non-tipping culture, where in the states you make less and depend more on the tips that you make. It is just so opposite of how tipping is perceived in the states so I am not sure that I will ever be able to be comfortable with it.

Doctor Appointments – First Come, First Serve

Those of you that know us very well, know that our daughter has an arsenal of doctors. Yes she is doing fabulous, but does require routine follow-up appointments on a somewhat consistent basis. That being said, I thought that the hard part was over.  I located all of the doctors that I wanted her see so I figured that it would be smooth sailing from here.  I was so wrong. I would make an appointment for her to see a doctor at 9am.  I would get a response that her appointment was confirmed for 9am-11am first come, first serve.  So basically a 9am appointment means absolutely nothing.  We have now gone to 3 different appointments with 3 different doctors and it took anywhere from 2-4 hours just to get through the full appointment.  It is extremely frustrating.  I have obviously accepted it because that is just the way it is and for our daughter, my husband and I would do anything.  I just so miss the ‘your appointment is at 9am.  Don’t be late’.  This is something that I will not take for granted when we return to the states.  We will be early and we will love it.

Lift Problems

So here in KL, we call elevators ‘lifts’.  I frequent the lifts often, not because I am lazy but because I am typically rolling with my girl Ariane and her stroller requires them.  It is kind of funny, because when she isn’t with me I sometimes find myself waiting for a lift and then get really excited when I realize I can take the escalators with everyone else! So my only issue with lifts here is that it is basically a free for all.  Imagine yourself walking up to a lift and being the one to press the ‘up’ arrow.  Only to have 10 other people approach the lift also wanting to go up.  As soon as the lift arrives and the doors open, it is like a herd of people bum rushing into the lift and not even caring if there are people already on the lift that need to get out.  And even worse some people even ignore the fact that I was there FIRST and in my opinion should be able to get on the lift first, but that doesn’t always happen. I have also been the one on a lift when I arrive at my floor and need to get off not just with myself, but with my daughter who is in a stroller and have 10 people in my face wanting to jump into the lift when we haven’t even been able to get off.  It drives me nuts.  Needless to say there have been some toes run over by Ariane’s stroller just to prove a point.  And I don’t hesitate to throw elbows when trying to hold my place in the lift entry line.  If I press the button, it is my lift!  And please wait for others to exit, before you bum rush the door.

Russian Roulette Anyone?

People who drive here are crazy.  It is why I don’t drive pretty much at all.  And as much as I say people who drive here are crazy, people who walk here because of how people drive here are just as crazy (I am one of them).  Red traffic lights here seem to be optional.  Not optional like the occasional person runs a red light, but optional in the sense that just because it is red doesn’t mean I can’t go.  Specifically motorbikes.  If the light is red and you are on a motorbike, it just means casually scope out the scene and if the coast appears to be clear by all means go through the red light.  So as a daily KLCC walker, who is often times walking my precious cargo (Ariane), there is not the ‘look both ways and if the coast is clear you may proceed’.  It is more like if the coast is clear, it isn’t going to be clear long so haul ass and look like a crazy lady with your head on a swivel until you get across the street!  Even on ‘one-way’ streets where you should technically only need to look one way to see if there are cars coming isn’t the case here.  You still need to look both ways because if you don’t a whole family on one motorbike might be heading your way, the wrong way, literally driving on the wrong side of the road!  I say a whole family because it isn’t uncommon for a family of 3 to be on one bike.  The child sometimes as young as a year.  It just isn’t frowned upon here.  It is the norm.  When walking sometimes I feel like I am playing damn double dutch!  Should I go now?  Nope, not yet.  How about now?  Nope, not yet.  Okay, how about now?  Yes, yes now!  And run really fast!

Teksi vs. Uber

Uber in KL is awesome.  My experience with Teksis (Taxis) not so much.  Also there is an ongoing, quite hostile fued here that exists between Teksi drivers and Uber drivers.  Teksi drivers are not fond of Uber drivers.  So much so that Teksi drivers openly harrass Uber drivers on occasion.  I fortunately have never witnessed it, but have had Uber drivers be very specific as to where they will drop me off so that it is at a distance from Teksi stands.  I even had one Uber driver that requested that I sit up front with him so he doesn’t look like an Uber driver.  Fortunately, we recently heard that a Teksi driver can have his license revoked if caught harrasing or threatening an Uber or GrabCar driver (GrabCar is very similar to Uber).  My experience with Uber has been great.  I believe I even have a 5 star rating.  The only really random experience I had with Uber was that shortly into the ride I heard a cough coming from behind me, which startled me a bit.  I looked into the cargo space of the car and noticed what appeared to be a 4 or 5 year old boy taking a nap.  It surprised me and yet at the same time it didn’t.  As judgemental as we would be about this back in the states, here it is not abnormal or necessarily frowned upon.   Rather it is a father trying to make an additional living for his family and doing whatever he needs to do to make sure it happens.  Anyways, Teksi drivers here are not my favorite.  They usually don’t know where they are going and just don’t seem to have the friendliness that the Uber drives have that I have come across.  Team Uber.

I am confident that there will be many differences that we will come across during our time here in KL.  However we are embracing our differences, finding humor in how different countries can be and realizing that perhaps there really isn’t a ‘right’ way or a ‘wrong’ way of doing things. Being different is in fact a beautiful thing.

It’s All About Perspective


 

 

 

 

 

Family Fun Day at Titiwangsa Park

This past Saturday The Wade’s decided to visit one of many recreational parks in the city. Upon arriving we knew that we had stumbled upon something great!  As we were looking for a parking spot, we couldn’t help but notice all of the different things that we would be able to do on this sunny Saturday morning.  Our main mission while here was to take an enjoyable family bike ride through the park.

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Can I please add that the last time that I physically rode a bicycle was probably in the early 90’s!  I was slightly terrified, yet confident that I would be a natural and that I would be as the so called saying goes, ‘once a biker, always a biker’.

Okay so we park the car and immediately begin to scope out the bicycle inventory.  This was by the way going to be the very first time that Ariane had been ‘biking’ obviously on the back of a bike and preferably with Daddy, because I unfortunately could not guarantee her complete safety.  After trying out a few bikes that weren’t quite the right fit (it kind of felt like Goldilocks and The Three Bears), we finally found a bike for Antoine that had the child seat in the back and a bike for me that also had a child seat that Ariane would not be riding in and a basket in the front that was perfect for my purse.  Our bicycles were just right! The cost for renting two bicycles for an hour was 20 MYR (Malaysia Ringgits) or $5 USD  Okay so off we go!

So many to choose from….need to find me one with a basket!

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Ariane looking for a bicycle that was JUST RIGHT!

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I am not going to lie, I was a bit rusty.  Antoine was casually riding along (too fast in my opinion), Ariane’s curls were blowing in the breeze and I on the other hand was struggling and sweating, lagging behind by roughly 30 meters (yes I said ‘meters’.  I am trying everyday to figure out meters, kilometers, kilograms and Fahrenheit to Celsius conversions…it is exhausting).  So close to 100 feet.  Better?  The point is that I am trailing far behind.  I will say that I was enjoying myself, despite my husband turning around to laugh at me and probably half the time wonder where I am.  The park was absolutely beautiful, extremely well kept and there was so much going on and it really did feel good to be out in the hot KL sun with my family taking a bike ride and just enjoying our day together.  Before we even got to the park, I had thought about how adorable it would be to take a picture of Daddy & Ariane riding a bike together.  I was confident that I could get the perfect shot.  Well it turns out that I probably would have ended up on the ground with the bike on top of me so I decided to settle for the pictures that I was able to capture.  Did I mention that I almost took out a 3 year old rollerblader?

A few pics while bike riding (at a complete stop of course!)

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The Wade’s getting their bike on!

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Halfway through our family bike ride, we took a break at an awesome playground so Ari could get out, stretch the legs and have a bit of fun.  I can not believe how many awesome playgrounds are in Kuala Lumpur.  They are all so bright and colorful and just seem never ending.  It is one playground structure after another, after another, after another.  Ari has so much fun and is so curious to discover what new things she can do or learn when faced with playgrounds that offer new stuff like floating wood bridges, long spiral slides, monkey bars and teeter totters.

So bright & colorful!

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Hello to my many admirers!  I am the playground queen!

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Daddy helping me figure this ‘ol wobbly bridge out

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This is how cool people slide….want to see it again?

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Once the fun at the playground was over, we finished our grueling bike ride back to where all of the fun had started.  We then noticed some powered ride on toys for kids (you know, like imitation Audi’s, Mercedes and Volvos in a miniature size) and figured we would rent one for Ari just to see how she would do cruising the designated park streets.  I was sure it would last all of 1 minute, but then we discovered that these were actually more than just powered ride on toys, this was an actual remote controlled car track where parents could help their little ones control the car with an actual remote controller!  This was a lot of fun!  Ari was whipping around in a Range Rover, going through red lights (well actually the blame here would be on Daddy as he was the one in full control of the vehicle).She got in a fender bender with another child, she just about drove into a tree and she seemed to like opening the driver side door while the vehicle was in motion.  I am glad we have 14+ years until we need to put this child on the streets!

Close Call!

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Ariane runs these streets!

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Probably getting pulled over for reckless driving

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After leaving the ‘speedway’, we ventured off to find some ice cream to top off our awesome day at Titiwangsa Park.  Needless to say, this may have been Ariane’s favorite part.  Clearly leaving a few ice cream licks for the car ride home.

Snack & Ice Cream Shop!

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Yummy!  I’m sorry, why are you staring at me?  Is there something on my face?

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Want some?  I am practicing how to share.  No?  Okay then it is all mine!

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All in all, we absolutely loved this park and will definitely be returning.  Aside from being able to rent bikes, spend countless hours at the playground, speed around at the remote control car track and eat some yummy ice cream, the park also offers visitors great walking/jogging paths in its beautiful surroundings, paddle boating, canoeing, rollerblading, plenty of locations to picnic, horse riding and tennis courts.

The Wade family left Titiwangsa Park unscathed and ready for more!  Ariane clearly loved it as well and left there saying ‘bike’, ‘bike’, ‘bike’.  She wasn’t ready to leave, but nap time was approaching and I might add that her exhaustion level was at an all time high because she took one hell of a nap!

Great day with my incredible husband

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And our amazing daughter.

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And a couple of videos to further sum up our awesome Saturday!

https://goo.gl/photos/HUDXgo22FSdTfTY78
https://goo.gl/photos/QnYiYm1tpx8X61ky7

Who Am I in KL?

My personal transition to Kuala Lumpur has been absolutely wonderful, yet absolutely confusing all at the same time.  Before making the decision to relocate our family internationally for my husband’s job, I too had a career.  A 16 year career with the same company since graduating college.  I was a working woman, a wife and a mom.  I had everything figured out for the most part, although my husband may beg to differ.  But honestly, things were relatively routine.  I was proud of what I had accomplished thus far in my life and now I was giving up a lot of it to relocate our family to a city that I knew very little about.

And just like that,  here we are just shy of 10,000 miles from that life that I once knew.  I no longer have a career.  I am now a ‘stay at home mom’.  Everything that was so normal and routine for me is no longer normal and routine.  We obviously faced an adjustment period of acclimating to the new time zone, but once we began to settle in and my husband was routinely going to the office, I was challenged with trying to figure out what to do with myself.  Initially I was spending the day with Ari, which for the most part kept me busy because she is a toddler and is quickly approaching the terrible twos, but there were times that I felt like I was walking around aimlessly and not quite able to figure out what my purpose was and what I was supposed to be doing on an everyday basis.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been incredibly happy ever since we touched down in Kuala Lumpur.  It is a beautiful city and I am with my 2 most favorite people in the world.  But things were different.  I was different.  I wasn’t quite sure who I was.

So I don’t have a career, I am a ‘stay at home mom’ and now we made the decision to enroll our daughter into an educational daycare program at a Montessori school.  She would be there Monday-Friday from 9:00am-3:00pm.  Some may be wondering why we would do this given the fact that I am not working, but our daughter thrives in this environment.  We have seen the impact that it has had on her and were even more excited about the fact that she would be surrounded by so many different people and cultures. This was a good thing for her.

Ariane eating breakfast at school

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Ariane’s school reading center

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So to sum things up, my husband is at work everyday Monday- Friday.  My daughter is at school everyday Monday-Friday.  And I am home everyday Monday-Friday.

Did I mention that we hired a part-time cleaner/helper/nanny?  Alright stop rolling your eyes!  I know what a lot of people are thinking.  “She’s not working”, “her daughter is in school for the majority of the day” so why in the hell would they need any help?  Well, hired help is very common here.  Whether “live-in” help or “live-out” help, many families, specifically expatriate families hire some form of help.  I personally did not want full-time help and I absolutely refused “live-in” help.  I want privacy with my family and I want to be the one, along with my husband caring for and raising our daughter, so to have somebody there all of the time wasn’t an option for us.  I was okay with having someone come in for a few hours a day to routinely clean our place, occasionally help with Ariane and have a presence in our home so that Ariane can build a relationship them.  This would also help us so that our help could watch/babysit Ari when me and my husband want a much needed night out.  Well we found somebody and she is great. So great that let me tell you that my purpose here became even less defined.  The lady who helps us out can iron & fold clothes like nobody’s business.  Not just that, but the way that she sorts and organizes our closets is quite amazing.  My husband literally comments on how amazing his closet looks every single time he opens a closet door.  She folds towels perfectly and just does things in a way that makes our home feel so great all of the time. Needless to say, we are now addicted to things being done a certain way, so I guess I have 2 years to learn how to properly iron & fold clothes, fold towels, organize closets and clean like this chick.  There you go, perhaps that is my new purpose.

The Much Needed Night Out!

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Drift Dining & Bar

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Okay so my husband is adjusting relatively well to his new job.  It has been an an adjustment for him and not necessarily an easy one, but he is doing an awesome job. We are in a completely different environment, the culture is different and things are just done extremely differently here.  However, in true Antoine Wade fashion he is working incredibly hard to accomplish all of his goals that he has set and his company has set for him while we are here.  Ariane is adjusting really well to her new school.  She is surrounded by toddlers similar in age everyday and has incredible teachers or “aunties” as they call themselves here and we are just so happy that she is able to balance learning and playing on a consistent, everyday basis. And then there is me…..still trying to figure things out day by day, but patting myself on the back when I have small wins along the way!

Let me walk you through my grocery shopping nightmare.  I had no idea where to buy groceries from.  I was told by a few people to go to a store called ‘Cold Storage’.  Okay perfect.  Cold Storage is at Suria KLCC mall, which I frequent just about daily.  I couldn’t believe a mall had a grocery store in it that was so convenient to where we lived, so I was excited.  I walk in, I see food aisles and I am feeling a lot better about being able to buy food from somewhere so I can make a home cooked meal that my husband will love.  I have my recipe in my hand and now all that I have to do is find all of the ingredients at my “new favorite grocery store”.  Epic Fail.  Their fresh meat was pretty much depleted. They had none of the produce that I needed.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, I got blank stares when I asked where the applesauce was since my daughter is obsessed with applesauce.  In fact, I believe they led me to the condiments section. Okay I can do this, my husband and I might not eat tonight, but I am sure they will at least have a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for our daughter.  Nope, they had Magicaroni & Cheese.  Guess this will have to work!  Hope Ari loves it!  It’s going to be Magicaroni & Cheese for The Wade Family tonight!  I left almost in tears, because I really was so excited to cook for my family and even grocery shopping was no longer effortless or routine or normal.  Something as simple as grocery shopping was making me feel like I had never gone grocery shopping in my entire life.

Magicaroni & Cheese ended up being fierce competition for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

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Finally found grocery stores & am cooking away!

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Chicken Lasagna 🍽

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Chicken Lasagna with a View 🏙 🕌 🕍

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I guess I really was feeling like a foreigner.  I like to have things figured out and so this all challenged me in a way that I have never been challenged before.

We are finally getting settled into our 2 year home, which feels great.  I am sure many of you are wondering what in the world I do on a daily basis since I am not working and am for the most part by myself, except for our hired help that comes from 2:oopm-6:00pm. Well my typical day consists of getting Ari ready for school, dropping her off by 9:00am, getting a workout in, which is something that I had strayed away from for over a year and that situation in itself will have its own blog, I then shower, run the necessary errands and then it all gets a little bit cloudy.  What do I do with extra time?  Well a few times I have gone to lay out at the pool.  I felt guilty as hell!  Just laying there, reading a book, soaking up the sun.  How is this even okay?  You judge yourself. You feel guilty. You question your purpose.  I will even go out to lunch by myself following my workout or pool session before going to pick up Ari from school.  It really does take time to realize that my life here is simply different then what it was like in the States.  But that is okay!

Welcome to our new home, The Avare

An impromptu video of our new home

https://goo.gl/photos/NU2kKqAUMcLH2ekG6

 

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Me laying out poolside feeling a bit guilty

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Getting my workout in!

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I remember a few times before we had left that my husband had told me that this was my time to be selfish.  To spend more time worrying about me, taking care of me and doing the things that I wanted to do.  He even said, “if you feel like taking a nap, take a nap”.  It all sounded wonderful and I was very appreciative that I had his support, but it still makes you feel like you aren’t contributing enough.  I try to have a daily checklist of things to accomplish, but I swear when my husband asks me every morning what I having going on that day, I try to spew a to-do list to try and validate myself and to have him feel like I am contributing something to our family and our life here in Kuala Lumpur.  That is important to me.  I want to feel like I am doing my part.

At the same time, I am seriously convinced that my husband thinks that I have lost my mind since living here.  I have had some serious fails since moving into our new place.  The other week, I clearly put too much detergent into the much smaller washing machine then I am used to and suds were literally pouring out of the top and sides of the machine. Go ahead and laugh, I eventually did and just blamed the machine for being too small.  I also put “dish washing liquid” into the dishwasher and had water and suds all over our kitchen floor.  In my defense, I couldn’t read the bottle, but really thought that it was intended for the dishwasher.  My Dad had did this once and I never let him forget it, needless to say I am fairly confident that my husband will never let me forget it.  It is new brands and new products and it is just a never ending learning curve.  We finally stumbled upon an Ace Hardware and I was in heaven!  They had just about every cleaning supply that I was familiar with.  Needless to say, I filled the cart and walked out of their feeling a bit of relief.

Bought this…..

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And then this happened!

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My life has done a complete 180.  But I have started to tell myself that it is okay.  Since I have a decent amount of time to think, I have started to ask myself what I can do while we are here to make myself better for me, for my husband and for our daughter.

I have decided that I need to stop thinking about what I am not doing and focus on what I am doing, what I am learning and what I could be doing and could be learning.   I recently signed up for a Malaysian cooking class and I can not wait to do this.  I love cooking and want nothing more then to be able to bring back some Malaysian recipes that I can share with others and enjoy with our family as a way to reflect and think back on our time here in Kuala Lumpur.  My husband and I are going to take Bahasa classes, which is the official language of Malaysia.  I am doubtful we will be speaking it a lot, but we think it is important to do since we are blessed with the opportunity to be among so many different cultures and it just seems important out of respect for the city that we live in and the respect I feel for everyone here that does their best to speak to me in English, which is just about everybody thank God.

I became a part of a Facebook group that has 100+ incredible women from all over the world that are here for one reason or another, but join together in an attempt to make friends and grasp on to one another for the few years that you have together in the same city.  They host family BBQ’s, brunches, ladies night out, sports teams and more. I also began following another woman’s blog that moved to Kuala Lumpur in 2015 that has 5 year old twins and writes about their experiences, particularly their travels and the places she takes her kids. She calls it ‘a KL city guide for families’ and it is awesome!  It has given me so many ideas for things to do as a family like places to go bike riding, kite flying, strawberry picking, not to mention the National Library of Malaysia, the Bird Park and the many soft play centres that are available for kids.  Someone I don’t even know that will have a big impact on my family making the best of our time here in KL.  I would one day like for my experiences to help another family or a Mom that ends up here, who early on feels just like I do, a bit lost and confused.

Fortunately we have been able to meet a few families since living at our new place and I am excited to get to know them even more.  As an expat, you will meet people, like them, become close and in the blink of an eye they are gone and either headed back where they came from or headed someplace else to start all over again. I met a Mom of two this past weekend that has been here for 2 years and has 1 year left.  We discovered that we both blog and I told her that I was going to be blogging about my transition and trying to find who I am since my life has changed so much since leaving the States.  She said, “If you have found yourself already, I totally applaud you!  It took me a year here to figure out my KL self”.  So she’s saying that I have time!  Plenty of time.  There is so much to do here and so much to learn, I am just grateful to be here and to be in a position that is pushing me to grow as a person and to become a better me for myself, my husband and our daughter.

I will end this blog by thanking my husband for the incredible opportunity to be here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  As a family we will be able to have unforgettable experiences and for that I am thankful. Not everybody is given this opportunity and not everybody would be willing to take the leap and move to another country on the opposite side of the world.  I will even admit that I am a bit proud of myself for being brave enough to leave my career, move further away from family & friends that I love dearly and for supporting my husband with everything that I have.  It is a blessing to be be able to grow closer together as a family as we go about this journey, to learn more about a beautiful city and the people that live here, to learn more about ourselves and the people that we want to be and will strive to become and to create everlasting memories that we can cherish forever.

It just doesn’t get old

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My 2 Favorite People ❤!  Love them both so much!

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XOXO until next time!

 

Potty Training – The Malay Way

As I mentioned in my last blog, you will find me from time to time, like just about every day, at a mall running errands, eating lunch or enjoying a Saturday afternoon with my family.  It is the inevitable that at some point you will find yourself in need of a bathroom for either personal use or perhaps to even change a diaper or two.

Fortunately at Suria KLCC there are a lot of bathroom options.  So many options, so many lessons learned.

Lesson One

So the time had come that Ari was in dire need of a diaper change, like this girl needs to be changed sooner, rather than later or right now versus it can wait a few minutes.  Are we all on the same page here? So were on Level G.  Level G is the floor with all of the designer brands like Enzo Angiolini, Chanel, MaxMara, Bvlgari, Carolina Herrera and Kate Spade.  I saw the sign for the bathroom that also had a nice little symbol for ‘changing table’.  I know there are other moms out there that feel my pain when you come across a bathroom with NO changing table.  It literally drives me nuts!  The places I have had to change my daughter and the quite ‘inventive’ ways I have changed my daughter when there is no changing table available is quite ridiculous.  So needless to say I was extremely pleased to see that changing table symbol.

I make a left to turn down the hall where the above hanging bathroom sign instructed me to go and just then, I walk right into an additional sign that read,

Premier Paid Toilet (please provide exact change)

RM 2.00 per entry

Non-Paying toilets are available on all other levels

The Actual Sign

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The Actual Receipt (possible tax deduction?)

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So the currency here is the Malaysian Ringgit. 1 Malaysian Ringgit equals $.25 US Dollars. So RM 2.00 would be $.50 or fifty cents.

I know that fifty cents is not a lot of money, but seriously I am just trying to change my daughter and even if I had to use the bathroom at this point I don’t even know what sort of royal treatment I am in for at this Premier Paid Toilet!

The other issue is that although I did have cash on me, I did not have ‘exact change’. I figured I would give it a shot, perhaps they would have change or just let me sneak in because all I need to do is change a diaper.  Um no such luck.   This lady took her job seriously!  As I was fiddling around in my purse trying to find loose change to equal 2 Ringgits, which I knew I didn’t have by the way, she was sitting there expressionless, no empathy for the mom with the adorable daughter who was might I add a bit stinky at this point, I was not getting past this lady without handing over 2 Ringgits in exact change.  I am convinced that if my daughter would have pooped up her back, this chick would still have been looking at me like, ‘2 Ringgits or no bathroom for you’.

Thankfully we live in a world where sometimes you still have the good Samaritan who is willing to simply help out someone else who is in need.  A kind gentleman approached the bathroom ‘bouncer’ with his 2 Ringgits, she smiled, graciously took his money and motioned him to the men’s bathroom.  He however, noticed me frantically searching for change that I didn’t have and kindly offered me 2 Ringgits.  Some good ‘ol Southern hospitality smack dab in the middle of Asia!  I graciously accepted his charitable contribution and was finally on my way to what I assumed would the most palacial bathroom that I have ever seen.  Not so much.  It did have a very nice changing area, not luxurious by any means, but it also wasn’t just a pull down changing table.  Other than that, I couldn’t quite gather what I would gain personally from paying 2 Ringgits to use the bathrooms on the ‘Fashion’ level of the mall.  I think I would have expectations like some sort of plush toilet seat or someone handing me a warm towel to clean my hands or a mint perhaps.

Anyways, Ari and I fled the ‘Premier Paid Toilets’ and have yet to return.  We found a much better place on the 4th Level within a store there called iSetan that seriously has a mother/baby lounge that is quite magnificent and is free.

Lesson Two

Where do I even begin?  So now it is my turn.  I thought Ari’s changing table situation was challenging.  It is now time for me to use the bathroom.  I waltz right in and notice the first 3 doors are occupied, but the last 2 doors are vacant and waiting for me.  Pretty normal, right?  I was just pleased that there wasn’t a line. I stroll right on in and out of habit immediately reach to lock the door, turn to take a seat and it was then that I literally froze in my tracks. I had so many things running through my head. Where am I?  This is new to me. Did I go into the men’s bathroom? Is this a urinal? What the hell am I supposed to do here?  Are these the toilets that are in all public bathrooms here? I panic, I open the door, peak in the last available stall and am hit with the same situation.  A cleaning lady appears, notices how confused I am and motions me to one of the first stalls that is now available.  I hesitantly walk towards it and am immediately relieved to find a toilet, a toilet that I am accustomed to and know what to do with.  The cleaning lady probably rolled her eyes after I went in and thought ‘stupid Westerner’.  So what was behind door #4 and door #5?

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Ladies & Gentlemen, if you haven’t yet been introduced, let me introduce you to a squatty potty.  These were foreign to me.  They are sometimes also referred to as a squat toilet,
pit toilet, shit pit (this is my favorite!), The Asian toilet, The Eastern toilet or the
poo hole.  Okay I am literally laughing out loud right now.

Just in case you missed the shit pit above

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Back to business, I have since realized that they are all over the place here in Malaysia.  In fact, my husband had to go to the bathroom when we were recently shopping at Mid Valley Megamall and opted not to go due to his only choice being a squatty potty.  He said he will need to practice….ha ha!  What does that mean?  It is no joke, I came across another blog that literally is titled, ‘How To Use An Asian Toilet – The Art Of Squat, Go, Wipe, and Throw.

Using An Asian Toilet – The Art Of Squat, Go, Wipe, and Throw

This is a serious matter people.  It is time to get serious and start practicing.  I vow to use a squatty potty before leaving Malaysia.  Although the sheer sight terrifies me, there is a reason they exist.  I will spare you all graphic details and the benefits of utilizing a squatty potty, but let me direct your attention to this.  Anyone watch Shark Tank?

http://www.squattypotty.com/

I have no words.  Only hope that this information will help some of you with your ‘kinked’ colons.  Hope you know someone with a birthday coming up! On to Lesson 3.

Lesson 3

Butt sprayers are the norm.  Google ‘asian toilet sprayers’.  You will soon find out that some call them ‘bum guns’ or a ‘bidet spray’.  I had to stop looking at that point because I couldn’t stop laughing.  But seriously, my husband and I would both agree that they are strangely awesome.

Bum Gun #1

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I say that because it is a hygiene thing.  Please do read at your own risk, but this just about sums it up!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bidet_shower

Some may think this is just gross and upon my initial introduction I absolutely refused to use.  However, we eventually got to know one another and for my 2 year duration here in Malaysia, I think we will remain close friends.  And if I know my husband as well as I think I do, we will be the butt spraying trend setters back in the states.

Bum Gun #2

Sprayer

If you are trying to conserve toilet paper, this is the apparatus for you!  They even sell them on Amazon.com.  Would make a great Christmas gift. Y’all can thank me later!

 

 

 

 

My New Addiction

Shopping Malls.   I will be quite honest that when I was in Junior High, High School and even College I really did enjoy going to the mall.  I am not sure I actually did much shopping, perhaps some, but whomever I was with at the mall, we would usually just walk around rather aimlessly.  Browse this store and that store on occasion, but we would just spend an absurd amount of time people watching and a ridiculous amount of time at the food court.  Cinnabon anyone?

Then I got older and I came to a point in my life that I hated malls.  Like I seriously loathed them.  The thought of having to physically enter a mall and deal with a ridiculously absurd amount of people was absolutely appalling to me.  Before you could even get into the mall you would have to deal with the horrendous mall parking and that annoying person who would wait literally 5+ minutes just for a car to back out of a spot that was no closer than a spot they could have parked in 4 minutes ago!  It drove me crazy! If only Fitbits existed back then, maybe more people would have been okay taking the extra 3o steps to park just a bit further away!  Okay so you finally get into the mall and then you have to deal with people that walk so slow, so slow that you are trying to scope out a way to move past them only to see a stroller with a screaming child approaching! Time to stay focused, just go to the store you have to go to, bypass all the rest and get the hell out of there.  Did I mention how much I hate fitting rooms?!  These experiences my friends are what led me to become a perpetual online shopper.  I was loving all of the stores that were in malls that offered their inventory online, I grew very strong feelings for Zappos.com, I mean seriously free shipping & returns, yes please!  And then my husband came along and I fell madly in love with Amazon (and him of course).  Amazon is everything.  I am not joking when I say that they delivered to our house at least once a week, probably more accurately 2-3 times per week.  Don’t believe me, ask our neighbors.

So online shopping was now my best friend and the thought of malls still made me ill. And then we moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  In all fairness, I had been warned.  My husband told me that a lot of people spend their time in malls.  Doing what?!?!  It drove me crazy.  How was I going to do this?  I was having flashbacks of everything that I hated about malls.  I convinced myself that I was not going to be one of those people, that I could live in KL and not touch foot in a mall unless absolutely necessary.  I can do this, I got this.

Y’all.  My name is Theresa Wade and I am addicted to malls.  Hello Theresa.  Also, our daughter is sometimes the screaming toddler in the stroller.  I guess payback is sometimes a you know what.

Malls are all over the place and there is one that is like maybe a block or two away from where we are currently living.  I go there just about every single day.  I am not lying. We have officially been living here since Friday, June 3rd 2016 and there might be just a handful of days that I didn’t physically enter that mall, but I probably did go into another one.  Sometimes I visit more than one mall a day.  So what has changed?  Why do I now love malls so much?!  Malls here are a bit different.  First of all they are enormous….like 4-8 floors enormous.  And the floors are long, like you could sometimes get lost long. They are beautifully decorated and they are from my experience thus far pretty immaculate.

Suria KLCC

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Suria KLCC (decoration for Ramadan and anticipation of Raya Aidilfitri or the celebration for the end of Ramadan)

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More decoration during Ramadan and and anticipation of Raya Aidilfitri

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Okay so big malls that are pretty and clean.  Awesome.  But there has to be more right? There is.  Malls here for the most part have everything!  I am talking all of the stores you would think that they would have like Nike, Gap, MAC, Bath & Body Works, Guess, Armani Exchange, Toys R Us, Sephora, and so on and so on.  And then they have the high end stores like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Michael Kors, Balenciaga and Versace.  Did I mention the restaurants?  Suria KLCC is the mall that is right by us and they alone have 30+ restaurants, some inside and some with outside dining options and 2 food courts, one of which has the absolute best chicken ramyeon ever.  But this isn’t all, malls here are like a one stop shop.  They not only have the stores and the restaurants and the movie theatre, but they have hair salons, nail parlors, banks, pharmacies and at least one grocery store in them.  Suria KLCC also has a walkway that not only takes you to even more restaurants/food courts, but takes you directly to Aquaria KLCC (the aquarium) and connects you to yet another mall.  Rather convenient I must say!  Some even have indoor amusement parks, water theme parks and ice skating rinks.

Suria KLCC

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Ariane’s Toys R Us

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So why all the mall love?!  The malls here are still busy, mostly on the weekends, but it just doesn’t seem as busy or maybe that is because I go there like everyday even before they open at 10am to just walk and grab a coffee from San Francisco coffee.  There literally seems to be a coffee shop at both ends of every single level.  There is even a Starbucks, which I was addicted to back in the states, but now not so much.  There are way too many other options and my only experience here at Starbucks had my Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte tasting not as great as I was used to.  Anyways, I run all of my errands at Suria KLCC and it is air conditioned!  Another reason why I think people gravitate to the malls here. It allows you to de-sweat.  Not a word I know, but it works.  We will walk around KLCC Park a couple of times and be drenched in sweat.  We take one step into the mall and it is like penguin heaven.

This is our new Barnes & Noble

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This is our new Macy’s or Boston Store or Bloomingdales, but most importantly my go to grocery store because it is right across the street.  They have clothes, shoes, furniture, kitchen appliances and more!  It is 4 levels.

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Okay so since moving here I have been to Suria KLCC (pretty much daily), I have also been to Avenue K, The Pavillion, Starhill Gallery, Sungei Wang Plaza, Bangsar Village and Publika!  Almost all of these are in the Top 20 Malls in Kuala Lumpur, that leaves 14 more malls that I need to go visit.

Starhill Gallery (this place is gorgeous!)

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Ari devouring Baskin Robbins ice cream at Publika

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Top 20 Shopping Malls in Kuala Lumpur

I usually don’t even buy anything, but groceries.  Okay well my husband would disagree since I have bought some clothes and shoes for Ari and a pair of sunglasses for myself (and wine, just a few bottles of wine), but typically the mall is where I go to run my everyday errands.

This is a day in the life.  Grocery bag filled with groceries and Ari in the stroller.  I know you can’t see her, but she is helping this stroller from tipping over!

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And I will get into this at a later time, but I have NEVER been in a mall here where I didn’t see a 3ft selfie stick in action and selfies galore!  It is quite entertaining and ridiculous at times.  And NO I do not own a selfie stick

I guess you can say that I am back to loving me some malls! When my husband asks, ‘what would you like to do this weekend’?  I say, ‘wanna go to the mall?!’.  Lol.  Fortunately there is so much to do in Kuala Lumpur and we have our bucket list of places we want to go and things we want to do, but ladies and gentlemen, the mall has a big fat check mark next to it!  6 down, at least 14 more to go!  Happy Shopping Y’all!

Hopefully Ari is up for the challenge!  Clearly this day, Mommy overdid it!

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But clearly this day, Ari had her shopping shoes on and was working that bag!

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My First Impression of Kuala Lumpur

Where do I even begin?!  Here we are in Southeast Asia and I have absolutely no idea what my experience is going to be like, let alone our experience here as a family.  I have so many first impressions of so many different things that I am going to highlight those impressions, but may not go into a ton of detail, because some alone deserve their very own blog post!

Holy Humidity!

My husband had told me MANY times before we left the states to come here that it was going to be hot.  Like really, really hot and that I would pretty much get my face slapped daily by the humidity.  He was not joking.  Although it’s not just my face, it is actually my entire body that feels like it is beaten by the humidity day in and day out.  I am not joking.  I am currently sitting on the 22nd floor of our temporary residence out by the pool on a visually beautiful evening and I am sweating.  It is 8:00pm here.  Yahoo weather is telling me that it is currently 83 degrees with 94% humidity so it actually feels like 100 degrees.  Usually the humidity is 100% so I am quite shocked at the moment that the humidity level dropped ‘so low’.  Fortunately drinking red wine at the moment is helping.

Me & the Hubs Sweating on our 1st KL Date Night!

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Ariane Relaxing in the Pool & Staying Cool!

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Kuala Lumpur is a Real Melting Pot

It doesn’t take long to get intrigued by the melting pot of races and religions that are represented in KL.  Indians, Malays, Chinese and many others that I am okay with saying that I may not be perfectly sure as to where they originate from.  It is a fascinating mix of cultures; a seamless blending of Malaysian, Indian and Chinese cultures.  And this melting pot of different people isn’t just in certain areas, it is everywhere.  It doesn’t matter where you go, the mall, restaurants, Chinatown, Little India, street food stalls, our daughter’s new school, the beauty of differing races and religions is evident and in my opinion it is rather intriguing.  Just a huge melting pot of beautifully different people living their lives.

Kuala Lumpur is a Mix of Modern & Old

So this caught my attention rather immediately on our drive into KLCC from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and has continued to catch my attention anytime we go out driving to different areas within the city.  At one moment you could be looking at what appears to be crumbling buildings or houses, the next moment at beautiful, old historical buildings or mosques or embassies, of which most seem to be relatively well maintained and/or well restored, and then the next moment at modern, architecturally fascinating buildings like the Petronas Towers.  I guess you could call it a City of Contrasts.  One second you are looking at luxury hotels, grand shopping malls with world class brands and then the next second you are driving down an uneven road that isn’t as well maintained and notice food stalls with people cooking directly on the streets.  It is quite captivating and I think it makes it rather unique and gives the city a special flavor.

The Petronas Towers

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Rooftop at Our Temporary Residence

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Ariane & the KL Tower

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The Every Night Lights

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Food is Ubiquitous

You. Will. Not. Starve. Here.  It is rather impossible.  Food is everywhere!  From top of the line restaurants to a random street stall.  The question isn’t where should we go eat?  It is what type of food do you want to eat?!  Chinese?  Malay?  Indian?  Japanese?  Western food? They even have McDonald’s y’all!  I have spotted KFC, Burger King, T.G.I Friday’s, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Hard Rock Cafe and so on and so on. Now we haven’t eaten at any of those places, because there are just way too many other places to eat, but every once in a while it just gives you the comfort of home (where I also didn’t eat at those places, but you get my point!).   And seriously the Ramen here is insane!  I could eat chicken ramen every single day. If I could sum up my first impression of what it will be like to be here surrounded by such amazing cuisines, I would easily call it a culinary journey.  One that I am happy to be on and one that I will continue to share with you all.

Can’t remember what this was, but it was so good!  Lunch at Central Market.

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Ramen, Ramen Ramen!

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Traffic & Driving in KL is Like HELL!

So I have never formally been introduced to hell, but we all have our own assumptions of what hell would be like.  After witnessing the traffic and the way in which people drive here I am pretty sure my assumption of hell is spot on.  The streets are extremely congested.  There is a distinct lack of pedestrian crossing.  What does this mean?  This means that there is a lot of scary jaywalking going on.  Not sure they know what a crosswalk is and even if they do some cars and I am going to go out on a limb and say 95% of motorbikes just don’t feel that they are very important.  Not just about crosswalks, but about that important traffic color that I will refer to as RED.  It also means STOP!  I swear you should never even attempt to walk across the street if you don’t want to risk having a body part removed by a crazy lane weaving motorbike.  We almost witnessed it.  The poor man.  He was close to being catapulted into the air and landing somewhere minus a few limbs.   Okay I am going to stop there on this topic, because this warrants an entire blog post.  Did I mention that they drive on the opposite side of the car and the opposite side of the road?

A Suit?  A Sweatshirt?  A Jacket?

So due to the weather I am always wearing a light dress, preferably one that won’t show any sweat, because ladies and gentlemen it is hot. I know that I said it before, but it is worth repeating.  I literally die when I see business professionals in suits and ties dining outside like it is a comfortable 60 degrees!  I sweat for them.  I don’t know how they pull it off.  I have seen people wearing sweatshirts and jackets on a ‘chilly’ KL morning.  By chilly I mean low 80’s with 100% humidity.  It is quite interesting though.  Throughout the course of a day you will see women wearing shorts, dresses, t-shirts, tank tops, heels, sandals and then you may also see women wearing burkas and hijabs.  I seriously don’t know how they do it, how they wear the burkas and hijabs because it is damn hot, but it is KL and the different cultures represented here result in many different clothing choices often times because of cultural norms

The People of KL

Our experience thus far, it would be easy to say that the people of KL have been very nice. The majority of people are extremely cordial, will take the time to acknowledge you with a friendly smile and with sheer adoration of Ari, while others may stare probably because we do not fit the typical mould of how the majority of people look here. Miss Ari’s curly hair is ridiculously popular with people here! The way Ari is treated you would think she was a celebrity! I look forward to sharing more about how kids truly do run Kuala Lumpur.

Relatively Good English

Thankfully I knew that moving to Malaysia was not going to result in a huge language barrier.  Although the primary language is Malay, just about everyone you come across is able to speak English.   The accent may be a little thick at times, but it is easy to have a full conversation, with little to no confusion.  This has helped tremendously with our transition.  I will share with you all soon some of my encounters that I have had due to the different languages.  They are fairly entertaining!  Just when I thought I knew what a Rest Room meant, I quickly realized that I did not.

All in all, my first impression of Kuala Lumpur has been great!  Antoine and I truly do embrace differences and we allow those differences, whether ways of life or cultural differences to help grow us as people.  Some people around here may be crazy drivers and wear warm clothing when it is hot out, but the food is damn good, the people are fascinating and the city is absolutely beautiful.  Cheers to our differences!

Y’all Are Moving Where & Why?!

Great question!  If we go ahead and rewind a few months back, I can share with you how we ended up moving to Kuala Lumpur.  My husband had recently graduated from Georgia Tech with his MBA and aside from that impressive accomplishment, he also had a goal of finding a new position within an international company that would increase his job responsibilities and further advance his professional career.

Just before his graduation, he landed an Associate Vice President role for a global software company.  Soon after his acceptance, we found out that we would need to relocate to Austin, TX as that is where the company headquarters is located.  It was definitely a bittersweet moment.  We absolutely loved our life in Atlanta, GA and had lived there for 7 years.  Some of our biggest life accomplishments happened while living there.  We moved into an apartment together for the very 1st time, we got engaged, we got married, we built our first home together and we welcomed our beautiful baby girl into our family.  We developed strong friendships with so many people and had family that lived close and even more family that lived just a short road trip away.  How can we leave all of this?  Are we ready?

The answer is that we can and we are!  We both had an itch to do something else, explore another city, have a new adventure.  We were extremely excited to move to Austin.  It was going to be our next family adventure and we were ready for it!  We were excited to expose our daughter to a new city and conquer it together like we had as a couple in Atlanta.  We also had really close friends that already lived there (love you Julia & Matt!).  They were not only our friends, they would be immediate family to us as we started our lives in a new city.  We started researching areas to live, places to visit, daycares to consider and everything else that you take into consideration when relocating.  Our house was on the market, buyers were interested and the Wade Family was ready to head to Austin!

That is when things changed rather quickly (and with Antoine Wade as my husband, this should have been no surprise for me!)

Antoine’s new company was also looking for an Area Vice President over their SE Asia market.  This position would be based out of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Like many people, we enjoy a good House Hunters International episode.  Some watch it and can’t believe that people would uproot their lives to go live somewhere overseas outside of the United States and then others watch and wish it were them with the opportunity to live elsewhere. For us, it always resulted in numerous conversations about our interest and willingness to live internationally. We both had serious interest and really considered it as a potential opportunity.  This was solidified after we had taken a vacation to San Jual Del Sur, Nicaragua in late 2013. We fell in love with the simple life, we loved the feeling of being immersed within a different culture, we enjoyed seeing how different people live and how an opportunity to live in another country should definitely be considered.

Fast forward to my husband and I sitting at our favorite local bar in our neighborhood, Rick Tanner’s.  Antoine told me about the opportunity in Kuala Lumpur and asked if I would be interested.  I said well sure, thinking it was a long shot, but definitely one that we would be open to.  Antoine immediately (like immediately) emailed his boss, voiced his interest and it was LITERALLY within minutes that he received a response from his boss, ‘is your wife on board’?  Obviously I was and things from there moved very quickly.  Our move to Austin was postponed, our move to Kuala Lumpur was a reality.

As we shared the news with family and friends, responses and reactions were quite entertaining.  Our family was very supportive, yet they had a lot of questions and hesitations.  Friends for the most part were excited, yet those we were closest to had mixed emotions.  From the time we committed to moving to Kuala Lumpur to the time that we actually left, my eyes were opened to just how blind most of us are to life on the opposite side of the world.

Here are some of the serious and quite comical questions that we were asked. You are moving where? Why would you move there?  Is it safe?  Do they live in huts?  Is it in the dessert?  What will you eat?  Dog meat?  How will you have to dress?  Do you have to cover yourself from head to toe?  Is that near Saudi Arabia?   Where will you shop?  Where will you buy food from?  What language do they speak?  What side of the road do they drive on?  Do they have a Target?  What is the weather like?  Do they drink alcohol?  Have you visited?

The questions kept rolling in!  The best part prior to our big move is that we were able to educate so many people about our soon to be new city.  One that we didn’t know much about, with the exception of my husband visiting KL before on business and assuring me that I would love it.  Aside from that we had done a lot of research on KL to know that we were going to be living in a beautiful city, with extraordinary architecture, a melting pot of countless cultures and an opportunity to live internationally in an exquisite place with a ton of history that we look forward to sharing with all of you on our journey.

I would like to share just a couple of videos that Antoine and I really enjoyed watching before our big move…..people love it here!  The food, the culture, the city!

More to come on The Wade Adventures in KL!