Tuesday, June 28, 2005

thank yous..

something i will miss about malaysia.. is our new friends Siven, and Kia Meng..
you guys are amazing.. such kindness... you made our trip.. KL wouldn't have been the same without you.. you both showed us that malaysian hospitality means more then generous.. thank you siven... your church rocks.. you are an amazing pastor.. you introduced us to some of the most amazing people.. and thanks to your wonderful wife and beautiful family for sharing your time with us.. and thank you kia meng.. for staying in KL a little longer.. just to show us around..
i have never wanted to move out of california.. but this trip showed me.. that if i ever had to move to KL.. it wouldn't be such a bad move.. i would have a huge group of friends, a church, and a new family.. thank you all so much..

quick update

its still really hot in Thailand

thats all

Our Wonderful Trip in Malaysia

Our visit to Malaysia, or as we call it now MALL-aysia due to its large number and size of malls that we visited during our stay, was a wonderful trip.

We got to visit new friends, and make many more on our short trip. The people and the conversation was absolutly wonderful.

We had wonderful tour guides in Sivin Kit and Kia Ming.

Our last full day in Malaysia Sivin took us down to Melaka where we could see a lot of the history of Malaysia. The museum and old church was very cool. Some of the tombstones unearthed in the old church were amazing.

We ended the evening with a wonderful Indian dinner made up of different breads and things to dip them in. The food was great, and it was very nice to have everyone not sick and able to enjoy some new foods. And I love the tea here. Its like the espresso of tea, it makes me wired. Its great.

We are now heading back to Phuket to our base of operations. We will be spending the next week plus between northern Phuket and Pang Nga province and the Phi Phi Islands helping out where we can.

The trip has been amazing and I really hope we make it back to Malaysia in the future to see friends and more of the great country

Again, Thank you Sivin and Kia Ming and everyone who made the trip so fabulous. It was so wonderful to meet and talk and listen to all the great conversations that were going on.


Malaysia in pictures...

lots of pics below


and if you haven't checked the blog in a couple days make sure to go to the next page to get all of the updates

taking the train... we got quite good at the local train system
outside the KLCC mall at night
the towers at night
cool pic of me and ryan in the KLCC elevator
the bread was so great, and the curry was amazing.
a wonderful Indian food dinner that Sivin took us to. It was so good.
inside the church
more tombstones
the church had the most amazing tombstones
another pic of st. paul
the old church at Malaca
great sunset
sweet picture of Holly and Ben
Our fabulous tour guides at another park
Ryan and Holly on the way down
cool opening in the cave ceiling
more cave pictures
entrance to the cave
Lots of stairs into the caves
the gang at the Batu caves
our sweet ride...
Jesus shines down upon the mac
Sivin Kit's latest arrival...
Elysia Kit Kye Xin
so cute..
Robert and Kia Ming and the gang hanging out at church
the gang at the park
Kia Meng, our most wonderful tour guide and philosopher friend
Chara could always tell when someone was taking a picture of her. this did not make her happy. But she is just so pretty..
The big towers during the day
KLCC is a big mall
Daughter taking Mom for a walk at the mall
KLCC Mall (one of several we went to)
Chara and Holly were not so keen on getting on a plane in thier condition

Things learned in Chinatown

1. Irish people cannot say Power Shower

2. I am a horrible negotiator

As for the first one it comes out sounding like Par Shar and we all had a good laugh with our new Irish friend Robert for that tidbit of information

For the second... I was finally getting good and learning the ways of negotiating at the China town market near the end of our time there. This place was amazing with the sights and smells and hundreds of cheap knock off items and pirated DVD’s that everyone was selling. A lot of crap really. But it was amazing how the sales people would just grab you, pull you in and try to make you buy stuff. At the end I finally figured out the secret to negotiating but by then I’m sure I paid too much for everything I bought.

But here is how you do it:

Enter overly crowded market and walk or be pulled into one of the shops/tables.

Me: (Walk into little area with said crap on tables and pick up desired object)

“ooh this is nice”

Sales person

“you like that? I’ll make you a special deal”


Say nothing and look unimpressed

Sales person: (looks at overpriced price tag and cut 30%-80%)

“Normal price 500, for you… 180”


Say nothing

Sales person:

“you like? Good price?”


Say nothing

Sales person:

“ok, how about 160?....150?.....140?)


Say nothing and begin to walk away

Sales person:

“120… ok 100 final offer”

Me: Walking away

“Thank you, no” and keep walking

Sales person:

“80? 60?”


Still walking away

Sales person: yelling as I’m walking away

“40? 20?.....”

Had I known this tactic when I first arrived I would have done so much better. But whatever…

It was still great to see people put things in bags that you were just looking at and hand them to you like you would purchase them that much more if it was already in a bag for you. I love it. Chara did not so much. It’s a very tight cramped space with a lot of pushing and grabby people all around you. My camera died earlier that day, so I don’t have pictures, but I’ll get some from Ryan and post them.

We went out for this great tea after that. The tea is awesome. Its just normal tea, but very strong tea, like the espresso of tea, mixed with condensed milk and its just really good. It makes me wired. I love it. And the guys have this cool way of making the milk foamy buy pouring it from one cup to another but at arms length. So imagine you have one up you are holding above your head and the other you hold at your knees and you pour the milk in between them. The guys are skilled and make some mean tea.


To The BAT-tu Cave!

So I haven't yet seen the new Batman movie (very sad), although I could have bought the DVD of it for 10 ringit at the Chinatown market the other night.

We did however visit the Batu caves while in Malaysia and they were amazing. The long stairs that lead up to the caves are quite something. Not for the faint of heart.

The caves are very beautiful, minus the gift shop inside. The massive structures and formations of the rock are really something.

Lots of Monkeys
There are a lot of monkeys inside the caves who climb around the rocks and want you to give them food. Interesting creatures�

The caves were really cool to see. During the festivals they have here, the caves are filled with people.

The caves were a cool thing to see while we were here.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

I Heart KL

ok Malaysia Rocks

or rather at least KL (Kuala Lumpur) thus far...

the city is beautiful, modern, and the people are wonderful

We made a friend on the plane on the way to Malaysia. Ryan and Holly being the smart people they are, were speaking their Thai to one of our flight attendants. Finally partway through the flight he informed them that he was not Thai, but rather Malay and had no idea what they were saying to him. We made freinds and he actually drove us to our hotel and showed us the train system (which is awesome). We are having dinner with Elmie tonight i think.

Yesterday Kia Ming took us around KL and downtown areas. we checked out a local arts and crafts type of center and took the train all around town and ended up at the big twin tower buildings, as seen in Entrapment. There is a LARGE mall near it where we grabbed some lunch and walked around. At night we met up with Sivin Kit who is our main contact here and had an awesome group discussion with him and a great group of people on the Emergent Church and varying topics around such things. It was really great.

Today, most of us are well, Holly and Chara are still getting over whatever it is they all had. The food here is better in that there is at least a variety and its not all one thing. We visited Sivin's church BLC (Bangsar Lutherin Church) which was really great. We got to share about our experiences in Thailand and got to hear from Robert who is from Ireland and his experiences. Overall it has been a great experience thus far.

Later today we might hit the Batu(sp?) caves and then Chinatown and hang out with our new friend Elmie for dinner and such. Should be a great time.

so far we love Malaysia and KL. The city is great, the people are great and i wish we had more time here. Maybe we'll be back to visit.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

There is truly something beautiful...

about a country where you can walk into the pharmacy and get whatever you want...cheap...

so the thing about anti nausea pills is that you have to take them, and then not throw up for about a half an hour for them to start working.. quite a catch 22.. seriously this trip has been all about the puke..
i'm all better now. or at least mostly better.. but for now i'm sticking to toast and rice..

so we leave for malaysia in about 3 1/2 hours.. i can't tell you how excited i am to get on another air plane..

mmm mmm good

As the girls are laid up in bed and i am considering if the hospital would give us a good deal on a group rate for the four of us so we can all get well.

anyway, our new best friend ever, Phil, who lives in the same housing complex has delivered to us the greatest thing ever invented for the sick person

Bless you Phil. You are a great man.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

and the last one falls...

so it started with me getting sick, then it went to Ryan. Holly decided to top us both and make it all the way into the Phuket hospital while Chara thus far has not been ill... (and taking care of the rest of us i might add)

until tonight...

the mighty have fallen

the taker care of the sick has fallen prey to that which she said she would not

poor chara

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

20 chickens

so one of the great lessons learned on this trip has been:
check your culture at the door and leave your expectations behind

As chara mentioned in a previous post, the Thai culture is very different from ours and very relational in nature. They love visitors, and would love to just sit and talk with anyone who walks into their village/restaurant/etc.

while we are helping out with tsunami relief it is hard to reconcile our own American goal driven culture of getting things, done, seeing results against a culture that would almost rather you just hang out with them. They all long to learn and practice English with those that would sit and talk to them. This is great as they are also very helpful at allowing us to practice our Thai with them.

that said, learning Thai is interesting. Learning it is difficult, yet seems to be coming along quite well. That said, we walked into a restaurant the other night for our usual: Gai gap kaao nieow (chicken with sticky rice).
as we walked in a group of three guys told us to join them for dinner. We were ordering the food to go, as we had to bring it back to the house for the sick ones in our group. So after we ordered our food we went and sat with the guys. They welcomed us to sit with them and were so happy to have us sit and talk with them. We practiced our Thai with them as they practiced their English with us. Only one of them spoke English but he was so nice. Ryan and I practice our Thai. Ryan is much better than I. As we were trying to say how old we were, Keun a-yu tha-arai (how old are you?). I said, yee-sip gai (20 chickens) instead of yee-sip gao (29). I'm still learning my Thai numbers.. obviously...

to that end, we all laughed. The Thai people have some really great aspects of their culture that I wish we had in ours.

a cool picture chara took of a damaged path
a destroyed palm at a destroyed beachfront resort
yes thats a large US police boat washed up on shore. The boat is about 3/4 of a mile away from the ocean where it was before the tsunami.

ben and chara flying solo

today was a good day.. kinda... it started out with holly being really sick, and needing to be taken to the hospital... ben and i decided last minute to go off on our own.. and thankfully our new friend phil hooked us up with a wonderful woman named kim, who allowed us to help her and her great program 'step ahead'.. so we drove up to kaolok and helped out with some data entry... which seems weird, but that's the help they needed.. kim shared her tsunami story... kim is from virginia... and has been in thailand for many years (15 i think).. she has been in bangkok, but drove down to phang na the day after the tsunami hit.. she helped with translation in the hospitals, and body identification... she's a wonderful human being.. and it was great to work along side her today.. the area where we helped out lost 10,000 people to the tsunami.. you can see some of the damage from the pictures.. it's crazy.. there has been so much rebuilt. but there is so much to do.. it was great to help out today.. hopefully they will need our help tomorrow.. now that they are aware of my mad data entry skills..
it's been a long day.. we did go to see holly.. who is feeling much much better.. she looks great.. it might be the flu.. but they are keeping an eye on her in case it's something worse.. hopefully by tomorrow she'll be feeling good enough to come home..
i would diagnose it as just a flu.. but you know those crazy dr's.. they always want to be extra cautious..
ex-beach front resort
that used to be some sort of house

Monday, June 20, 2005

Wish me luck

so i've driven here for a while

driving on the left side of the road is not that strange.

it actually kind of feels natural.

the turn signal and windshield wiper being reversed still thows me a bit but its ok.

but now we just rented another car that is a manual. So now i have driving on the left, siting on the right, shifting on the left, turn signals on the right...

wish me luck


culture clash

so i'm realzing some of the differences in our culture vs. thai culture.. thai culture is a relational culture... where more of a difference is made by hanging out and making connections.. i come from a goal oriented culture.. where i want to see goals met.. the two are not meshing well.. i'm only here for three more weeks.. and i want to see results.. projects completed.. thai people want to take us to lunch.. it's all very interesting...
holly is super sick today... ryan has taken her to the hospital.. so ben and i are on our own to find projects to do.. we are on way to kao lok to volunteer with a progam called step ahead.. so much to do.

Things you see at breakfast in Thailand

Things you see at breakfast in Thailand

there was a lady in the chair on the right laying out and listening to headphones
she did not notice the elephant until it was right in front of her.
it was quite amusing to watch.

Friday, June 17, 2005

water water everywhere..

the boat ride was actually awesome.. except for the moment i did get hit in the head with a bag of puke..
the boat ride started off fine.. really easy.. no big deal.. once we hit big open water.. we hit some big waves.. everything on the deck was getting wet.. so we had to take our stuff and put it downstairs.. downstairs on the boat was a little dramatic.. from where we were, with the waves crashing, it looked a little like we went under a couple of times.. so ryan turns to holly and says "i love you".. cause at that point he is sure we are not going to make it.. we soon decided to go upstairs and out on the deck.. our reasoning was that if the boat were to go under.. we would atleast be able to swim for it.. the deck is drentched.. we are drentched.. at that point we decided to sit down, and hold on for the ride... and just get wet.. now people are throwing up.. one guy throws up into one of the bags provided.. instead of throwing away, and completely unware of this thing called physics, he throws it up in the air.. and of course this bag hit me on the head on it's way into the water. not a smart guy.. but i bet he was feeling pretty bad.. and not thinking clearly.. so i forgive him.. my hair was thankfully puke free.. so now throw up guy is at it again.. and we all move to the other side of the boat.. where ryan and holly are lauging at me.. and i can't quite figure out why.. finally.. holly informs me that i do have puke on my shirt.. great.. good thing i'm wearing two shirts.. so the top shirt comes off.. and now i am puke free.. soaking wet.. in a little tank top.. now i'm guessing it's a good thing the puke guy puked on me.. because i don't mind puke as much as the next guy.. i don't love it.. and i'd rather not be puked on.. but if it's going to be anyone, it should be me.. if holly or ryan were puked on.. they would have been at the back of the boat with ben.. wishing they were dead..
so.. other than that bit of fun.. the boat ride rocked.. huge waves.. and it was so warm outside.. we were sopping wet and it didn't matter.. i'd go on a boat ride like that anyday..
so ryan and holly.. next time i have puke on me... just let me know..

I wished I were dead...

So as several people on the boat swore we were going to die, I was wishing it were so...

To begin, I get seasick on boats. That said, the boatride out from Phuket to Phi Phi was great. I took a Dramamine which I am not sure I even needed, stood outside on the boat and just rocked back and forth with the waves and was totally fine.

to contrast this... I took a Dramamine for the boatride on the way back, which I should have taken the whole box... and well, yeah, it did not go as well as the boat right there.

12 foot swells, 3+ hour boatride back to Phuket, lost feelings and control over both my hands and feet, drenched in salt water, blacking out at moments, and finally puking my guts out 80% of the way through the trip (I almost made it)

I have been seasick before, but this was something else entirely. Seriously, I wished I were dead. That would not have been so bad. I welcomed the sweet kiss of death at any moment during that trip.

all that said, Phi Phi island is seriously the most beautiful place on earth I've seen. It was amazing how and what the tsunami did to that place. I'll post more about that later.

to sum up... big waves + small boats = a bad time.


oh and Chara got hit in the head with a bag of puke. I'll let her tell that story.

Volunteering on Phi Phi

We headed off to Phi Phi island for a couple days to work with HI Phi Phi (help international).

Phi Phi island is an amazing place that was devistated by the tsunami. The way the island is layed out it has this amazing strech of land that is surrounded by beach on both ends and it got two sets of waves that came through from both ends that completely demolished everything in the middle.

We took a boat out from Phuket to get there. It takes a couple hours and the boat ride there was great. The boat ride back was not great at all.

We arrived and signed up with Hi Phi Phi and began work on one of thier projects. because both waves came through it destoyed almost all the vegitation in the area. we worked with a group to help clean up the beaches and help plant a garden.

the experience was great. the people we met and worked with were awesome. We are planning to come back here and spend a majority of our time if we can. This is a great place that needs a lot of help. Thankfully they are getting a lot of volunteers from all over showing up to help.

see some of the pictures below. I'll add more soon.

the Phi Phi islands are amazing. Probably the most beautiful place on earch i've ever seen. And we only saw Phi Phi Don. Next time out we will travel to Phi Phi Lay, which is where The Beach was filmed. The islands are amazing.
Traveling to Phi Phi. The boatride was great. The islands were beautiful. (the boatride back was not so good. see post below)
I need to find a better picture to show the before and after, but what was once a lush green tropical oasis is now just dead
Amazing to see what the tsunami did