We are in Johor Bahru for three days. Drove down on Friday and we are going back tomorrow, Monday. The main reason for the trip was to visit my husband’s cousin and his family and so we did on Friday. We went to their house, talked and played for some hours and ate really tasty food. Homemade satay, beef and chicken, and the best peanut sauce so far on this trip. Food made with love always taste better, doesn’t it? We booked a hotel over internet, just chose one that wasnt too pricey and had free parking as well as a pool. Turns out we are staying in a new hotel resort, called KSL Resort, that is huge and built on top of a shopping mall. So here we are, lots and lots of shops and restaurants just a stone’s throw away. And the best part is that not only are there two swimmingpools but the resort also has a water park with slides and three different pools. Free entry for the hotel guests, otherwise 50 RM which is a bit on the pricey side. We have pretty much stayed at the resort the whole weekend and for us that is a new experience. Not being that interested in shopping we have spent a few hours at the mall, amazed at how much stuff you can buy. Do we really need all that stuff? Bought two dictionaries as I am on a mission to learn Malay on this trip. At least enough to be able to do a bit more than ordering food and asking for directions, which is pretty much all I can do now. So the children and I are learning a new language together which is nice. Tonight we had dinner at Taiwan Recipe, one of the many, many restaurants downstairs. We paid nearly 70 RM for all of us which at first felt like a lot. We are used to the prices in Kluang which means we rarely pay more than 30 RM for a meal for the whole family. But compared to back home it is still so cheap it is ridiculous. I had 3 cups chicken which tasted great. Lots of garlic, sesame oil, chili and ginger. The fresh watermelon juice was also good, a real thirst quencher. The hotel has like 30 floors and we are on the 16th. Great views of Johor Bahru but for someone having a great respect for heights (as every normal and sane person should have) the floor to ceiling windows are a pain. Good thing there are black out curtains in the room. And in the bathroom there is of course a phone on the wall by the toilet.Who has ever, in the history of mankind been sitting on the toilet and suddenly had the urge to make a call?! I myself have other things to do once I sit down in that particular room. Notice the state of the art bumcleaner installed on the toilet. Do not set it on high, or you’re in for a surprise.
It is humbling to be in a country where you are the foreigner, the visitor, the one looking like no one else around. People stop me in the street, just to ask me where I’m from and why I’m here. They are always so polite and truly interested, they really can’t grasp why anyone would travel so far just to come to Malaysia. And then we talk some more, about the weather, the food, the children. Children stare at me and can’t quite understand what I am, I am so white compared to anyone they have ever seen before.
Of course there are other foreigners here but not around Taman Sri Lambak where we live or Kluang, the bigger city about 11 kilometers away. I saw a white man in the supermarket, we waved at each other. That is how few white people you get here. In Kuala Lumpur it is of course different, there you have loads of tourists and people working in the city for some big company. But still people would stop us just to look at our children and me and ask where we were from.
I am a social person, sometimes a bit too much I guess. I love talking to people, and I guess that is one reason why I have fallen head over heels over this wonderful country and its people. I have had long talks with people in the shop, people that I probably will never meet again but that doesn’t matter. The thing that matters is that here, people truly see each other and have time for each other. Sure, the smartphones are here too, we see families eating in restaurants with a phone in one hand and fork in the other. No one talks, everyone tap taps away on the teeny tiny shiny phones. But they are few and far between. Here, family is the most important of all, everything else comes after it.
In the last few days we are feeling the distance from our own family. Back home my husband’s older sister has been through hell. She was attacked at work and is now in intensive care in our local hospital. The attacker used a knife to her throat and it was very close to ending very badly. Being so far away at a time like this is very surreal, it is hard to believe that it has happened and to her of all people. And in Sweden, a country that used to be known for being such a safe and lovely country. The times are changing and fast. Sometimes I don’t feel like I belong anymore, I am beginning to turn into that cranky old lady who complains about how things are not as they used to be.
But things are not as they used to be and I guess that is a curse and a blessing all mixed together into something we call the present. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn’t arrived. Let’s do our best to make today a wonderful day. Hug your loved ones, help a stranger cross the road, give a hungry man a meal, just do something. And put your smartphone down, it won’t kill you.
So we are on vacation. Yes, I know, the whole trip is one long vacation but now we are on vacation from the vacation. Sort of. We are at the beach, Desaru to be precise. Three nights at the Pulai Desaru Beach Resort. They have a great pool, the children love it. Which is good because the waves are massive right now so the beach is only visited for making sandcastles and looking for shells. The monsoon is here so the trip to Desaru was a gamble, it could easily rain for five hours at a time. But so far so good, it rained last night and there were some lightning and thunder but nothing during the day.
The first night we were really tired so we ate at the hotel. Food was not bad but not great either. So last night we drove 6 kilometers to some local restaurants and boy was it worth the drive. Fresh apple juice, amazingly tender lamb and vegetables in coconut. We paid 23 RM for all of us, at the hotel one juice is 14 RM. And only half as good. So you do need a car when you stay at these kind of hotels, if you want good food like we do.
We are definitely coming back here but after the monsoon season. I like to swim in the ocean as well as the pool so we have to come back when it calmes down a bit. Now, off to the pool, the family are waiting for me. Oh, and don’t forget to check out my husband’s blog, winfredk.wordpress.com
Logged in on Facebook today and it seems the first snow has come back home. Do I miss it? Nooooooooooooo!! But my oldest daughter sighed and said she will miss building a snowman. And then she rushed off and started playing with her sister. Children are funny that way, their minds are so fluid and open to what the world has to offer. I miss that sometimes, that feeling you had as a child that anything could happen. Life does get a bit more boring as you grow up. The washing has to be done, food has to be cooked and so on and so forth.
I remember looking at adults and thinking “I will never ever become as boring as them, I will never stop playing”. And here I am, some 30 years later and I have stopped playing. So when my daughter looks at me and says “why do you have to do so many boring things?” all I can answer is that as an adult you have to do all those things. But for a couple of months I get to do less of those things and it is great! I have time to play again.