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Archive for April, 2007

Banned in China

Is your blog banned in China?

greatfirewall.jpg

Because mine is! You can test any website to see if it’s censored on The Great Firewall of China website. I guess the real wall doesn’t work so well anymore…

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A weekend in KL

My next article on the Viator Travel blog is up! My budding career as a freelance writer continues!

This one is an introduction to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Take a look – maybe it will inspire you to come visit!

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One of my absolute favorite things to do is read the blogs of other expats – it doesn’t matter what country they’re in, I just love reading about their adventures.

So, I am very pleased to share with you the Expat Women blog database. There are around 140 expat blogs listed (all written by women), including my own. Many (if not all) of the blog authors are also mentors for Expat Women – helping women transition to life in their new country (update:  the mentor service has since been cancelled).

Another favorite site of mine is Expat Blog – the online exptriate community. Here you can find links to many blogs, written by both men and women, about their expat experiences. All of these blogs are self-submitted and could be about any aspect of expat life.

Are there any other expat blog databases out there?

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Photo Hunt: Rare

Living overseas gives us lots of opportunities to travel, and while we’re traveling, to see some crazy and rare things. For this week’s theme, I decided to post one rare thing from each of our three major trips this year (click on the pictures for a larger view):

While in Bali, we saw

a huge Banyan tree. In Bali they are used as gathering points for town meetings, or just for hanging out.

While in Vietnam, we saw

snake wine! Imagine jars and jars of grain alcohol with preserved snakes inside. Definitely something I had never seen before!

And, while in the Philippines, we saw

boracayboat.jpg

cool outrigger canoes. This one was made right before our eyes – on the first day there was just a big pile of lumber, but by the last day it had been built and painted – right on the beach.

Here in Malaysia, we have some very cool rare things, two of my favorites were actually posted for an earlier Photo Hunt: Growth, but just in case you didn’t have a chance to see them then, here they are:

A baby orang utan with his mother at the wildlife sanctuary in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Someday I want to hold one of the little orang utan babies – they are so cute!

The largest flower in the world: the Raffelesia. Here’s Alex leaning over a slightly dying flower (they only “bloom” for about 5 days every few months, so we were lucky to even see one at this stage). These are only found in Borneo – they are definitely rare!

Although all these items are may not be rare in their native country, they are certainly rare for me! What kind of interesting and rare things have you seen lately?

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Today, my wonderful husband surprised me with a bright bouquet of sunflowers:

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I love getting flowers! There’s just something about having fresh flowers in your house. I wish I could get my act together to have them more frequently – I certainly have enough empty vases lying around. I love all kinds of flowers, but my favorites are orchids and calla lilies, which is why I had them in my bouquet:

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(I really can work in a wedding reference into pretty much any post… it’s quite a talent).

What kinds of flowers do you like?

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Feelin’ Chilly?

Here in the tropics I have enjoyed 2 years of wearing only capri pants, flip flops and T-shirts. Occasionally I do find myself yearning for a cool breeze, or perhaps, a crisp fall day. Alas, I know these days will never come. The weather in KL is steady at around 90 degrees, 90% humidity. It makes for an easy morning routine – definitely no worries about what to wear. And no question about the sweat – its an every day, all day affair.

However, if you’re feeling a little cold, you can always purchase yourself a downy winter coat, hats, mittens, scarves, wool sweaters and pants in any of KL’s many “winter wear” shops, like this one in One Utama:

chilly.jpg

I’m assuming these shops are for people who are going on a ski holiday, or back to their, obviously much colder, home countries for a holiday, but it’s still pretty funny to see the full-on winter gear here in the tropics.

Have I mentioned that you can buy just about anything in KL?

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The Happy Ending

I have quite a vast collection of DVDs, but I have to admit, I like the ones with a happy ending the most. I am American, after all. I just can’t stomach anything that doesn’t work out juuust right in the end.

And when I say “happy ending,” I mean the lighthearted romantic comedy kind. Not, my most hated genre of movies, the ones I like I to call “heart-warming” movies.

These “heart-warming” movies are very different from romantic comedies. They often involve animals, or sweeping historical romances, or perhaps some sort of wrenching relationship saga. Things like Seabiscuit, Cinderella Man, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The Straight Story, etc.

No thank you. They just irritate me to no end.

Basically my criteria for a good movie are:

Either:

  • sweet special effects with a futuristic story (a la The Matrix or X-men)
  • or

  • hijinks and antics – especially when physical comedy is involved, or a naked Will Farrell (such as Wedding Crashers or Old School)
  • or

  • some sort of high school dramatics (something along the lines of Mean Girls or Bring It On)
  • or

  • real-world political thrillers (like Blood Diamond or The Constant Gardener)
  • or

  • Indiana Jones-style adventures (I’m thinking Tomb Raider or Sahara)

What kind of movies do you like?

Image: http://img6.imgspot.com/u/04/288/16/seabiscuit.jpg

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Photo Hunt: Steps

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Back in October, Alex and I went to Bali for the first time. One of the things we loved most about traveling through the countryside was the stepped rice terraces. Bali is full of hills and mountains, all of which are covered in beautiful bright green rice, glimmering slightly because the rice needs a few inches of water to grow. It’s absolutely stunning. If you’re interested, you can see more pictures of Bali here.

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I have spent the last 2 days rushing around trying to complete my application to Syracuse University’s MS Library and Information Science program.

Seeing as I already have an M.Ed., I wasn’t really planning on going back for another Masters, but this program at Syracuse seems really awesome – totally into 21st Century Literacy and very forward thinking. Clearly just the right program for my new job at International School Bangkok.

Plus, it has the added advantage of enabling me to work in a public or university library, if I so desire, sometime in the future.

I always say – if I end up going back to the states (not likely), I would want to work in a university, like my friend Lisa, who works at Yale (she’s a smarty-pants – when I grow up, I want to be just like her). I have this imaginary expectation that university staff get more vacation time than the standard (and pitiful) 2 weeks that everyone else in the US is allowed. Seriously, how can you live on 2 weeks vacation?

So, here’s a question for all you expats out there: if you were moving back to your home country, what would you do for work? Would it be the same thing that you’re doing overseas? Or something fun and new?

Image: http://www.library.ex.ac.uk/trainees/librarian.jpg

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The Dentist

One of the hardest things about living abroad is finding health care professionals that you actually like. Doctors, dentists, hairdressers, facialists, whatever.

There are always abundant lists of “English Speaking Doctors” for you to choose from, but you never really know if they’re any good or not until you make an appointment. And then you usually find out that “English Speaking” was used very loosely, or that they are on the verge of death and can barely stay awake for your appointment, or their equipment is so old that you’ve never personally seen it in your lifetime except on old black and white movies, or they’re kind of a “groper” looking to cop a feel at any opportunity – all of which have happened to me. Every time you move you end up going through dozens of health care professionals before you finally find the one that’s right for you. And then, naturally, you move again.

Well, folks, 2 months before we’re about to leave KL I have found the perfect dentist. So perfect, in fact, that I’m considering coming back to KL from Bangkok next year to have him clean my teeth again. Basically it was the best dental appointment I’ve ever had – quick, efficient, professional, courteous, and painless. Seriously, I’ve never had a painless dentist appointment. Ever. But this was it. He used that fancy ultrasound thing to perform the cleaning and he was done in about 20 minutes.

I had such a positive experience there that I think, I’m not sure, but I think, I may have actually had fun at the dentist. So, if you happen to be living in KL, I would like to suggest that you find your way out to Bangsar Shopping Center and your pearly whites painlessly cleaned by Dr. Eugene.

Image from: http://www.betz.lu/media/blogs/c/dentist.jpg

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