Friday, August 31, 2012

Routines, foods, and other supplies...

After 4 weeks in Malaysia, I have visited 6 grocery stores (Cold Storage, Village Grocer, Carrefour, Tesco, CMT, and Mercato, 4 outdoor markets (Chow Kit, Pasar Malam, TTDI, and Mont’ Kiara night market), and 2 megamalls, MidValley and KLCC (we’re talking 6-7 stories high and about 300 stores each). I feel like I’m getting a pretty good grasp on what is available where and how much it costs. In fact, I feel that almost all I’ve done the last 4 weeks is shop! Now I just need to figure out where and when my regular shopping will be done. Since I don’t have my bike or car and can’t reasonably walk to inexpensive stores, it becomes a little more challenging finding a good deal. Other factors to consider when planning the shopping are our small refrigerator size, how quickly foods spoil in this weather, and the speed at which our family eats the different foods.

Anyone that knows me knows that I thrive on routines, so I know that I need to set up a routine for myself to get through this next year. Especially if I want to fit in any non-shopping activities. Tentatively, we will go to Pasar Malam on Monday evenings as a family (assuming activities and homework don’t make this problematic), eat dinner there and then grocery shop for the weekly produce, vegetarian bow to snack on during the week, and fresh fish as desired. Wednesday night, I can visit the lorrie at the condo next door if I need to restock something essential. For the dairy foods, I will just hit the grocery stores in the neighborhood as these are priced similarly to the other stores and I can get them into the refrigerator faster. For dry goods, I will try to make fewer bigger runs to the larger grocer/department stores like Tesco and Carrefour.

Thought some of you might be interested in some food prices (in US $) here in Malaysia:

1med lg artichoke $14, large butternut squash $25, 1 gallon milk $8 (all stores), pineapple $1.50, 1 carton of tofu 50 cents, 50 cents to $8 for small containers of yogurt, 1 box of granola $8-12 (most stores), can get lg box of cornflakes for $2 at some stores,1 pint of Haagen Daz ice cream $10 (all stores), mangoes 50 cents at outdoor markets, $1 at expensive stores,
eggs 3 cents each.

Update: After 12 weeks in Malaysia, reality has set in and I have decided to do almost all of my grocery shopping at the local market, Village Grocer which is less than a 10 minute walk from our condominium. There is just too much heavy stuff to cart home and taking a taxi just takes that much longer and and is that much more inconvenient getting into and out of the taxi with multiple bags. I still try to pick up larger items like laundry detergent or other expensive items at Tesco when I am there, but I am not making special trips there just for groceries anymore! Below is the green cart that I roll my groceries in from Village-not quite my bicycle burley from home, but it'll do for a year ; ).
special area for non-Mulsim meats (beef and pork)

checkout at Village Grocer

checkout at Village Grocer

inside KLCC megamall, looking up

one stand at indoor food court at KLCC

M & G (can you see the name of the store in the background?)

indoor food court at KLCC

inside KLCC megamall during Hari Raya
my shopping cart

$80 worth of groceries

National obsessions, sweeping and mopping

It would be difficult to miss all the people sweeping the streets, sidewalks, plazas, houses, and condo buildings. With all the warm, wet weather and the rate at which plants grow here, there should be leaves, foliage, and plant matter scattered everywhere, except for the fact that people are constantly sweeping this stuff up. I am glad about this for 3 reasons: more people have jobs, no one is using leaf blowers, and the streets stay clean. The two most common brooms I have seen are the ones from Myanmar (which I bought for our condo, but I think it is from some kind of grain and it sheds so much that it makes more mess than it cleans up. I think it might be better for outside to sweep large items together and not worry so much about the small stuff-just like life ; )) and the other more common broom (below). 

Myanmar house broom
street sweeping broom

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Our new environment-what is normal?

How long is it until we stop noticing our environment because we have gotten accustomed to it? Already, the monkeys on the tennis courts and at school have become the norm, people wearing all varieties of clothing (I have only seen one burka so far, but many covered heads on the Muslim women) are seen everywhere, security guards are a dime a dozen, maids rooms are present in almost every condo unit, outdoor kitchens reign supreme (to keep the heat and mess out out of the home), electrical switches control every facet of your life (lights, fans, a/c, water heaters, kitchen appliances, and all electrical outlets).

We are living in an expat community called Mont’ Kiara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which includes 2 international schools (one British and one American, though there are a number of other international schools in the Kuala Lumpur area), 3 neighborhood grocery stores, a few neighborhood malls within walking distance, and many expats from many nations. It is very common to hear languages from around the world. And American stores abound; to name just a few: Tony Romas, Baskin Robbins, Swensons, the Coffee Bean, Subway, Nike, Forever 21, Starbucks, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Coach, Wendys, Dominoes pizza, Pizza Hut, GNC, Gymboree, ACE, Krispie Creme, Borders, Bubba Gumps, and McDonalds. 

It is very easy to get around this area as long as you are willing to take a taxi or try your luck at the spaghetti like highways. And it is much easier than I thought it would be to do/find/arrange things here because so many people speak English. (Sadly, even the broken English I hear is so much better than any other second language I can speak!)

Everywhere we go, American music is the standard. Most of it is American pop music, but recently, I was in a linen store and they were playing 40 year old American music (on a cassette, not the radio).

Malaysian truisms: no matter what you are wearing, you are going to sweat; wherever you go, there will be someone sweeping or mopping the floors; rain is in the forecast; always carry tissue with you (the bathrooms often don’t have toilet paper in the stalls) and napkins with you for the restaurants (to blow your nose repeatedly because the food is so spicy).

monkeys on tennis court

the kid's school

electrical craziness

security guards at the kid's school

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Brain stimulating experiences

It’s funny, but as I experience all the new things in my new home country of Malaysia, I think about how much my brain is getting stimulated with the new people, places, foods, stores, ways of doing things, and many more things. I have always been very practically minded and now as I get closer to my 50th birthday, I think more about not losing what I have gained over a lifetime of experiences. We all know that if you don’t use it, you lose it, so this trip is an attempt to stimulate all of our brains with a year of fantastic experiences. 

It is so easy and comfortable to just relax into our daily routines which then sometimes become grinds with all things that MUST be done. When we made the decision to travel overseas for a year with our two teenagers, I felt a strong urge to break out of our routine and take on new and exciting challenges that could bring us uncountable benefits. I look forward to sharing some of those experiences with you this coming year. 

Below, I have included some pictures that I took our first week in Malaysia. Enjoy! Wishing you many brain stimulating experiences of your own...

 in the airport on the way to Kuala Lumpur

 tower of power

 madeline's new look

 gabriel's new look

 dragon fruit (bland despite the beautiful color)

 chicken with feet at chow kit market

shoes at chow kit wet market

 chow kit market

 chow kit market

 my new guitar in sri hartamas

 workers taking a break

street food in sri hartamas