As you can hopefully tell from the pictures and stories, the retreat in Malaysia was wonderful. Lots of rest, good food and great people. I had a great massage, went for a swim the last morning and was a little sad from saying good-byes to new friends but in general felt very calm and satisfied as we headed across the border to the Singapore airport.
Once at the airport I realized that my flight had been delayed from late at night to the early morning. So I had a nice dinner with the Kings and said good-bye to them on their flight and settled in to make the most of it. A little Starbucks and my book, which I didn’t read at all during the week, helped the 10 hour airport wait fly by. Before 3am we were air born and I was fast asleep in my seat.
I awoke a few times to have some water but thankfully slept for most of the 6 hour flight. Once in PNG, immigration and customs was graciously easy. One of the perks of a PNG resident visa is much shorter lines to stand in and less customs hassle. I was met at the airport by a Port Moresby center employee and then shuttled to the other hangers for my flight up to Ukarumpa. The plane had just landed so the wait was mercifully short. I had another cat nap on the hour flight and awoke groggy but back in Ukarumpa.
The plan had been that Beverly would already be out in Walagu and I would return to Ukarumpa, have a day to pack and finish things before heading out to the Walagu to meet her. However, while I had been out globe trotting, aviation and Beverly had been fighting unfortunate weather patterns and pilot shortages. This meant that Beverly had never left and all the flights and cargo weights were still very much up in the air.
I was running on very little sleep so the discussions with aviation people were a bit overwhelming but we finally decided that my flight would be the same on Friday and hopefully Beverly would head out the next day (Thursday). And so after tracking down my luggage and having a quick snack and visit with friends I headed home to shower and sleep.
Thursday dawned a little too early and before 10 I heard the news that due to pilot illness Beverly still hadn’t left for the village. This once again threw a wrench into the plans and so we spent some time figuring out a solution that would work for everyone. The best solution turned out to be me flying out on Monday in a helicopter with all our cargo and Beverly waiting until November 14th and coming out with the recording guy. Although this isn’t the ideal situation (helicopters are way more expensive and me being in the village alone isn’t my first choice) it does seem to be the correct decision at this time.
So i’m still in Ukarumpa, enjoying my weekend to catch up on paperwork, taking my time with last minute packing, having some wonderful meals with friends and watching Leverage as my escape from reality. Please pray that Monday’s weather will cooperate, the helicopter will arrive safely and that my time in the village will be wonderfully productive with lots of good people time. The evenings are hardest for me being alone but with prayers I know that it will all be ok. It’s almost unreal that this time last week I was in Kuala Lumpur. I am so thankful for this unplanned weekend in Ukarumpa to help make the transition back to the village just a little easier.
It’s the little reminders that make life special and help us to keep perspective. These are some reminders that I saw during my time in Malaysia. Just little things like a beautiful morning sun.
And a little piece of paper with truth from the hands of children. Haven’t seen any good reminders lately? Keep your eyes open because they are everywhere.
So I made lots of new friends in Malaysia. But we spent a lot of time talking and hanging out and well I didn’t really take too many pictures of people because I was too busy taking pictures of food and signs. Wonderful people like Berenice, Shannon and the tea cozy elephant who made my time amazing just being their crazy selves.
Shannon and I roomed with another new friend named Erika. We had a few good laughs and she put up with all, well most of our antics.
People bond easily over good food. A Mexican dinner went a long way for these friendships. People from different places, living in different countries, doing different jobs but still friends.
And then a little poolside bonding with our fearless leader who we lovingly refer to as Dr. P. It’s all about the people you meet along the way.
Cultural diversity leads to amazing culinary diversity. My taste buds traveled from east to west and I enjoyed every minute of it. I definitely agree that once you try it you never forget it.
I got a little taste of Malaysia for breakfast. Nasi Lemak is spicy and delicious. Rice, hardboiled egg, cucumber, peanuts, sambal (a spicy chili sauce) and crispy fried anchovies that I ignored. Not an American breakfast but great with coffee sweetened with a little condensed milk. Yum.
A little bubble tea for a snack. Strawberry, chocolate, rose. Yum.
Lunch brought us to Chinese Malaysian restaurant. I was told to not ask questions and just stir. This picture was pre-stir. You can’t really go wrong with a bowl full of tasty noodles with a little spice. Once again I avoided the crispy anchovies but it was well worth it. Yum.
A tart lime juice with a salty plum at the bottom was the perfect drink. Yum.
Dinner took us to a Pakistani restaurant. The food was so good I had already eaten most of it before I took a picture. Every sauce, the garlic bread and rice was amazing. We left full and very happy. Yum.
We drank sweet lassi and mango lassi. Sweet lassi is basically sugar and yogurt. Can’t go wrong with sugar. Yum.
Other meal highlights included buffets at the resort with a little bit of everything and amazing potato skills (from mashed to fried, they were all delicious). The Mexican was also amazing and the other American food including Pizza Hut tasted very good. We had TGIF for lunch too. Something about a big burger in Malaysia, it tasted fabulous. Yum.
My favorite drink had to be the White Coffee. Even better than sugar…butter. White coffee is coffee roasted in butter. May not sound appetizing at first but I assure you it was delicious. Yum.
My final meal was at the airport. I enjoyed my Chai tea latte and glazed donut as I read my book and waited for my flight. A great end to my culinary travels. Ok one last…yum!
I’ve seen some nice batik but the process and beautiful batik in Malaysia was quite amazing. We got to see them hand draw the patterns.
Batik is made using a process with hot wax and layers of color. It can be done using patterns too but it’s more wonderful to see the hand drawn art.
Once the wax outlines are done, the color can be applied with what looked to my untrained eye as precise impreciseness. Very lovely.
And the results are…well i’m running out of new adjectives. It’s just beautiful batik.
Here is a little different perspective on Malaysia. These are referred to as squatty potties and are seen as much cleaner than sitting toilets in some places. All I have to say is that they are way nicer then a dirt hole in the ground.
The spray bidet is also full of surprises. Almost every toilet in Malaysia has one. I think America is really missing out.
Oh the places you’ll go.
Ok so the point of the retreat was a nice relaxing, spiritually rejuvenating time at a resort in southern Malaysia. However, I jumped at the chance to see a little more by going with friends up to Kuala Lumpur (KL). It was a short three hour drive on beautifully smooth roads. We shared the roads with lots of motorcycle/scooter drivers and the occasional downpour made the roads slick and wet. The ride itself was relatively uneventful but the lively conversation inside the car made for a very quick trip.
The landscape was beautiful and different. This was my first time in Asia so I just soaked it all up. You can see just the tops of the oil palms in this picture. They looked very similar to the ones in PNG except some sort of vine was growing on the trunks, making them appear fluffy from our car windows.
We drove through the city of KL and right past the Patronas Towers which were the tallest twin tower building until somewhere in Dubai passed them up. As I was taking a picture of the towers, a beautiful little girl in the car next us took a picture of me with her phone. I love the diversity of the city, you never knew what type of face you would see looking at other cars driving by.
The view from our friend’s apartment was also quite amazing. The hazy city in the morning was beautiful to wake up to and it was dizzying to think that we were up on the 18th floor. I tried looking down but then decided that looking out was a better choice.
Here’s the city in cartoon form with some of the skyline highlights labeled. I can say that the weekend in KL was definitely a trip highlight.
Papua New Guinea is a very unique place but I couldn’t help but compare the PNG cities to the Malaysian cities. My head was constantly spinning as I noticed major differences while shopping in both Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru. Malaysia is just so very international and the mix of the very western with the very traditional was quite impressive. Sorry I didn’t take too many pictures of the temples, old buildings and beautiful Asian architecture. When I saw these things, I just wanted to soak it all in. So instead I snapped pictures of ‘familiar’ signs. Here are just some examples and there were plenty more:
In the shopping mall there was also a carousel…
…and lots of advertising that included knees and thighs that were a bit shocking because they are properly hidden in PNG.
But every once in awhile something would be the same or at least similar. These are some culotte type pants that we can buy at Papindos in PNG. They were just on the rack next to all the other clothes but caught my eye because I had seen even the fabrics before.
At the Pakistani restaurant we went to one night, we were given a little treat in honor of Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, which is a Hindu festival currently being celebrated. This display was in the mall and other signs and displays could be seen throughout the city.
I took this picture at the pas pump. Ringgit is the Malaysian money. The exchange rate is about three to 1. It’s always fun to use and see different kinds of money.
So it may be very different from PNG but Malayisa is definitely a wonderful place. A mix of ethnicities, old and new, modern culture and traditional heritage, all melted into one Malaysia in the bustling, beautiful cities.
On Monday, I will be heading off for a 10 day retreat in Malaysia. I will fly from Ukarumpa to Port Moresby and overnight before flying to Singapore. I will be traveling with a family that I don’t know very well but they also work and live in Ukarumpa. Since she works at the school and he works at aviation, our paths don’t often cross. It will be great to travel with them and to get to know them.
Once we arrive in Singapore, we will take a bus to Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Our group will be staying at the Pulai Springs Resort. From the web-site it looks beautiful. I have had some mixed feelings about this 10 day trip because it is taking me away during my last couple of months in PNG. However, after the last two weeks of working non-stop and trying to organize everything and finish well, I am in desperate need of some rest and rejuvenation. What better way then a resort in beautiful Malaysia?
I think I am most excited about the lap pool. I can’t wait to get some time to just swim some laps in my own little world. I may live on an island but at 5000 feet above sea-level, there isn’t really any good place to swim nearby. There are rivers and lakes but no place to just swim, safely and alone. It will be good to be in the water again.
The 10 days should be a nice mix of activities, fellowship and worship but also time to relax most afternoons and a day excursion as well to see some other places in the area. Please pray for safe travels, nice weather and good relationships with everyone else who will be there for the retreat. Hopefully I will have lots of fun pictures to post when i’m back in Ukarumpa before heading out to the village.
For more information about Malaysia, check out the Wikipedia Site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia.