Expats Malaysia

Selamat Hari Raya

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Life with Miles

Miles is doing really well and we are all enjoying the newest member of our family.  It has been great having my Mom here and I’m not sure what we would do without her.  Miles turned 1 month the other day and is up 3 lbs from his birth weight and thriving.  He is a pretty good baby and being the youngest, he has learned to sleep around loud noises (we are trying to teach Gavin a quiet voice) and to go with the flow.  Ella is great with him and enjoys singing to him and while Gavin is very interested in Miles, he is not the gentlest.  Last weekend at the beach he threw a stone at him in fact, which I’m sure won’t be the last.  Gavin likes to share his cars with Miles, although he sometimes doesn’t like when I feed Miles.IMG_9000

You’re Out?!?

After Miles was about a week old, we started running into people out and about in town and they were shocked to see Miles and I out so soon.  Even strangers would ask us how many months he was and when we replied X weeks, their faces showed a mixture of confusion and shock.  In Asia it is common for women to have a confinement period of one month after giving birth.  A woman and baby stay home, eat special foods and recover before venturing out.  In fact, often a confinement nanny is hired that lives in with you for that month, cooks special food and helps take care of the baby.  So in Malaysia it is unusual to see a 1 week old baby out at the grocery store and it was hilarious how many “you’re out already” comments I got from friends and strangers alike.IMG_3427

Ramadan and Hari Raya (by Paul)

As Malaysia is predominantly a Muslim country, it has been interesting for us to observe Ramadan.  This year the fasting period is for the month of August.  The fasting period is for daylight hours, therefore the muslim population eats early in the morning before morning prayers and then fasts the entire day.  Fasting doesn’t just mean no food; but also no water, as this time is supposed to be spent focusing on worship.  Ramadan really takes over the country and food stalls startup all over the city just to serve food for the month. August 1, small tents are put up all over the city and by 5pm they are packed with people picking up food for dinner.  But since they must fast until sun down and evening prayers they have to carry the food home and wait to eat.  Most of the stalls are run by muslim people; it must be tough cooking food all day to sell in the evening without being able to taste any of it.  The whole country adapts for the month of Ramadan.  One thing I thought was strange is that McDonald’s changes it’s breakfast hours for the month. They don’t serve breakfast until after 6 am (about sunrise) to allow their customers access to the entire menu. ?? I don’t quite get it, who wouldn’t want to do their morning feast on a sausage and egg McMuffin?

It’s been interesting at our work site during the fasting period.  Try working in 35C heat all day without being able to drink water.  Plus, the expats, chinese and indian staff all eat lunch in the office while the muslim staff don’t (most go to prayer).  It must be tough for the staff, and I keep saying I will try it for one day, but have yet to try.

The big event each night is Buka Puasa, which is the feast after the day of fasting.  This is a big event (hence all the people buying food at the stalls) and all the big hotels host huge buffet dinners.  Families go out for dinner most nights and from what I’ve heard it is very much a “keeping up with the Jones’ ” kind of atmosphere, where families eat elaborate buffets and can spend a lot of money over the course of the month.  My work does one Buka Puasa every year and we went out as a company to one of the local golf courses hosting a huge buffet.  It was an interesting experience. The buffet was setup outside, such that you had to walk through the buffet to get to the tables, which must be painful for the people who have been fasting for 12 hours.  You then wait for the sun to set and the evening prayer to be said.  After that you could start eating.    What I thought was funny, was that the muslim workers all filled their plates (2 or 3 for some) before they sat down; then waited with plates full of food in front of them for the sun to set and evening prayer to be said.  Then they dove right in.  The feast is exemplified by the fact that most muslims eat with their hands (to be specific their right hand).   The food was excellent.  During dinner a cheesy band played music and then after dinner the karaoke started.IMG_3456

Last night the whole family went out for dinner at a local indonesian restaurant recommended by Nini. We forgot about Ramadan so the whole restaurant was set up for a huge Buka Puasa buffet dinner.  We were early (6pm) and so the place was still setting up for the big feast.  We didn’t have a reservation but they setup another table for us (even though it was empty). We met a great waiter that helped up pick items from the buffet and then we all sat down for dinner.  Slowly the place started to fill up with local muslims coming for their Buka Puasa dinner. We felt a bit awkward eating while everyone sat at their tables, (food already served) and waited for the sun to set. Once the sun set everyone dug in, by then we were done so we quickly headed out between the melee of people filling plates from the buffet. The fasting month ends with Hari Raya (Eid in Canada) which is a 3 day holiday filled with more big feasts and celebrations.

Trip to Canada

The kids and I leave on Wednesday for our trip home to Canada and Paul will join us in mid September.  We are very excited to visit with friends and family and enjoy all the Canadian things we have been missing. Like Tim Hortons, Swiss Chalet, bagels,   We are a little bit worried about how we will adapt to the weather.  We have been following that the temperatures in Guelph are in the high-teens, but we have become accustomed to plus 30 degrees.  The other day we thought it was a bit chilly and it was 28 degrees.  It will be hard to be away from Paul for over 3 weeks and I’m sure the kids will really miss him.  He is looking forward to un-interupted sleep and working on his honey-do list.  We are back in Malaysia early October and look forward to hosting lots of visitors in the Fall.

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