Sunday, January 22, 2012

Adjusting to life in Penang

We have been here in Penang a little over two weeks, and there are a few things I am still trying to get use to so I thought I would share some of them.

1) All the switches - There are probably over 40 switches in our 3 bedroom apartment and there is still one switch we aren't sure what it does. There are switches for everything including the water heaters for the kitchen and each of the bathrooms.  It takes the water about 30 minutes to heat up so I have gotten wise and now turn the water heater on at night in my bathroom so I don't have to get up 30 minutes early or take a cold shower.  The kids are learning to turn theirs on early, too.
2) The driving - they drive on the wrong side of the road and the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car.  However, I have started getting use to it and I have learned to just drive in the middle of the lanes because you never know when your lane will end so it is just best to stay in the middle.  I'm not sure if I will ever get use to the motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic; especially the ones with the little babies on them!
3) The weather - it is tropical so I have decided there isn't much point in drying my hair and makeup isn't really worth it.  We have gotten use to going to the beach and the pool in January! 
4) The white tile floors - oh, they do look pretty when they are clean, but put some kids in the apartment and that won't last long.  I think we have decided to hire a housekeeper to come in once a week because there is no way to keep up with cleaning the floors since it is all tile or wood. 
5) The two burner induction stove - I realized how spoiled I was with the five burner gas stove.  It is very different to cook on and I definitely have to think about what I am cooking since I don't have all the burners.
6) Shopping - the one stop shopping at HEB once a week doesn't happen over here; it now takes a trip to Cold Storage (like a small Whole Foods), Tesco (similar to WalMart), and the wet market to get what I need for just a few days because the refrigerator and freezer are much smaller so I can't buy up for a week.  Then trying to get some additional gluten free items will also involve trips to one or more organic markets around the island. 
7) Wet Markets - yes, they are great for the fresh fruits and vegetables, but I am still adjusting to the whole chickens and all the seafood with the heads still on. 
8) Knowing my address, phone number and passport number- I have my address and cell number in Texas memorized and even my drivers license number, but I am really struggling with learning all these.  I have just put a cheat sheet in my purse.  Thank goodness my email address didn't change:) 

I am sure there are  other things I am adjusting to, but these are a few that have really stuck out to me.  I have been reminded how blessed I am with all I have back in Texas.  However, I know our move here has been and will continue to be an amazing blessing.  It might take some time to get use to some things, but I can trust that God has us here for a reason and He will provide us with what we need when we need it. 

Hong Kong Highlights

Victoria Peak

We had a fun time while we were in Hong Kong.  When we arrived, we headed with all of our bags (16 in all - 9 checked and 7 carry ons) to the DisneyLand Hollywood Hotel.  Of course, it was about 6:30 in the morning so our room wasn't ready, but we were able to drop the bags off (thank goodness) and eat at Chef Mickey's.  For those of you who have been to Chef Mickey's in Florida, it isn't the same because there are no characters, but the kids did get their first experience with Asian breakfast buffets which includes everything from our normal breakfast foods to what we would think to get at for dinner at an Asian restaurant. 

We then headed out for Victoria Peak where we had our first experience with our kids pictures being taken by strangers - Cara's blue eyes are very popular and we had people taking their pictures while we were but some would ask to have their picture taken with the kids and for either Chris or I to take the picture. 

We then went to the tallest building in Hong Kong, the International Commerce Center because Cade is planning our trips over here based on tall buildings in Asia.  Of course, now Cade is comparing all elevators to the elevator that took us to the 100th floor in less than sixty seconds.  Needless to say, the elevator at our apartment to get only to the 26th floor takes more than sixty seconds.  We were very lucky with the weather in Hong Kong because it wasn't raining and it wasn't very hazy which is definitely not the norm for Hong Kong.

Day two we went to Disney.  It isn't the same as Disney World, but we had a great time.  The weather again was nice, but a little cool.  Cara and Cade both loved Space Mountain and we all had fun at the new Toy Story Land that had just opened up. 

Day three we went to the Hong Kong Zoological Gardens and went for a ride on the ferry.  We had plans to see the light show that night, but it started raining and we were all a little tired.  So, that is on our list when we go back.

Hong Kong is a great city!  We can't wait to go back.  I highly recommend it to anyone coming over this way.  I know we will be going there at least once more if not twice. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

The 'vacation' begins

I can't believe that just a little over six months ago Chris got an email that set this whole Penang "vacation" into action.  It has been clear from the beginning of it that this is where God wants us to be right now.  Not sure why, but we prayed that if this wasn't what He wanted that He would close the door, and He very quickly opened them (and has somewhat had to push me through it).  I thought we would live in Georgetown until the kids graduated from Liberty Hill.  I was perfectly happy with how our life was, but my plans aren't always God's plans as I have been reminded of over the past few months.  This is a big change for us, but we are trusting God with it and going to do our best to enjoy this "vacation" that will last about nineteen months.
Getting here was an adventure to say the least.  We left on Sunday, January 1st.  Our flight from Austin was a little late so we just made it in LA to our flight to Hong Kong.  Cade and Cara each only slept about five hours on the fourteen hour flight from LA to Hong Kong.  There were too many movies and games to play on the entertainment system I think.  For anyone who comes to visit us, just know you don't need a bunch of stuff for your kids (or yourself) on the plane because there are so many movies and shows to watch; at least if you fly Cathay Pacific. 
We did plan a four day stay in Hong Kong and got to go around Hong Kong some and go to Hong Kong Disneyland.  Hong Kong is a great city and we are hoping to get back there before we move back to Texas.  There is so much to do and we couldn't get it all in. 
We finally arrived in Penang on Friday, January 6th.  We were all glad to finally be able to get settled and get our suitcases unpacked.  All of our stuff arrived on Monday, January 9th.  We learned from the families that had come over in July and had our stuff shipped over very early so it would arrive soon after we did.  Our stuff actually made it here before us so it was great that we could get it delivered right after we arrived.  And, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that part of the delivery included unpacking all the boxes.  Now, I did have to find where to put it all, but within three hours, they had it all moved in, accounted for, all the boxes unpacked and the boxes and wrapping taken out.  I can't imagine how long it would have taken me to get it all unpacked and organized if I had to do it all plus we would have had all the boxes and wrapping to deal with.  What a blessing!
The kids were very happy to get their toys that they hadn't seen or played with in three months.  This was nice because it bought me time to get things organized without them wanting to go do something.  One thing that is taking some getting use to is they can't just go outside to play.  There is a playscape at the apartment, but it involves me going downstairs with them.  We are all use to them just heading out when they want to and not needing me to be out there with them because they were just in the backyard.  Not quite the same when you live on the 26th floor!  Of course, we do have some great views from up here.
So, we have been here now for a week.  I have yet to brave driving because these people are crazy - the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car and they drive on the wrong side of the road!  I did tell the kids I would drive us to church on Sunday and I know I will have to drive next week because we have two playdates scheduled since the kids don't start school until Thursday, January 26th.  Praying my driving experiences are uneventful and that I don't get hit by any motorcyles because they are especially crazy. 
I am going to be doing my best to update this weekly of places we have gone, foods we have tried, trips we have taken, etc.  This is definitely God's doing in getting us here, and I can't wait to see and share what He has planned for us while we are here.  Now if we could just decide where our first trip is going to be - so many choices!