Monday, December 8, 2014

Leaning on the Dashboard

8 December 2014

We leave Malaysia tomorrow, so we've been visiting all our favorite spots, as well as saying goodbye to people in our neighborhood and our hotel.  I think that's the most difficult part of travelling as a life - we make friends wherever we are, and then we leave.  And probably never see those people again.  Just like I'll never see my little buddy Comel again.  It's rather sad.  But there are always friends to come in new locations, and we'll have friends if we return to the places we've been.  And, well, it's part of the universality of the human experience, right?  We make friends, share experiences, and continue with our often separate lives.

And sorry about the blurry pictures of little Mr Baby Cat - now that he has figured out walking and jumping, he doesn't stay still very long.  Except when sleeping, which he still does in my hands.  I really will miss our little baby guy.

I met a nice Malaysian family who were all intrigued with Comel, and we chatted a while.  They invited us to stay with them in their city down south, but we're already booked to leave tomorrow so the timing wouldn't work out.  But the father explained that Malaysians decorate and celebrate for every holiday, whether it is part of their belief system or not.  I told him I was surprised to see so many Christmas decorations all over, since this is a Muslim country for the most part.  (And the family was Muslim, the mother and daughter were in long clothing with head scarves.)  He agreed that yes, this is a Muslim country, but they celebrate Christmas and decorate for it.

So I visited my favorite mall, the Pavilion, in Bukit Bintang (it means Star Hill).  This is the place that had major decorations for Deepvali.  And yes, they really decked the place for Christmas!

The day I visited, there were activities on the ground floor, with people on a stage and tons of music amongst the crowds of families and all the Christmas things.  I'm talking mechanical Santas and Frosties and elves on merry-go-rounds and who knows what else.  Best I could figure out, the people on stage were getting the children to exercise to Christmas carols.  I'm not kidding, they did everything but jumping jacks.  I really have no idea what was going on, though I did recognize the music.  But the dancing looked like gym class in 4th grade or so.  Minus the kickball.

I think my favorite, though, was the Santa Claus tree.  Really, a giant artificial red tree decorated to be Santa Claus!

We took the free Go KL bus up to Bukit Bintang, and Richard headed back earlier than I did.  When I caught the bus to head back, it was crowded when I got on.  I was one of the last people on, so I just stood up front, near the driver.  Next stop, probably another 50 or so people crammed into the bus.  I'm talking crammed, all leaning on each other and just jammed together.  My feet were straddling the safety cones the buses carry, and I was literally leaning on the dashboard because people in back of me were leaning on me.  Man next to me kept apologizing every time I shifted - I finally told him he wasn't in my way, I was just trying to move out of the driver's line of sight so he could see out the mirror!  Turned out the poor guy had the accordian doors trapping his foot each time they opened!  It was insane, the most crowded bus I've ever been on.  I couldn't even reach the buzzer, so I just leaned over and asked the driver for my stop, and kind of squeezed my way off the bus.  Whew!

So, we're off to Vietnam tomorrow.  We both are excited, but also, well, it's just kind of weird, thinking about going to Vietnam.  I think anyone who came of age in the late 1960s or early 1970s just thinks of Vietnam as a place to NOT go, a place to actively avoid.  But the war is history, the country is apparently gorgeous, and the northern monsoons of this time of year are moderate.  

We'll see what we find, and keep you posted!

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