Sunday, September 21, 2014

Kuala Lumpur Kapers

We took a day trip to the Batu Caves. 
Not sure if it's named after the bats, but in one of the caves there are reportedly 200,000 bats! We could hear them squeaking and squirming all over the ceiling.  Seriously creeped me out and made me grateful for my super fashionable hard hat.

Beautiful sculpture in relief of a Hindu goddess. 
(I'd get a lot more done with that extra set of arms, 
not to mention the powers of a goddess.)

I had to cover up my immodesty (knee-length shorts--gasp) by renting a skirt ($1). 
Yea, I'm bringin' sexy back.

It may be hard to tell, but this Hindu sculpture of Lord Murugan behind us was as big as a mountain!  It is 140 ft tall and the 2nd tallest statue of this Hindu deity in the world!
(Look at the people on the stairs next to it.)  
We had to climb over 400 stairs to get to the caves.

But exercising was NOT allowed?  
What do you call 400+ stairs?

Our guide Sha totally ROCKED the hijab/hard hat combo. She was very cute and funny, although she got pretty mad when we wouldn't turn off our flashlights when she told us to.  :/

Bat guano! We could actually hear it dropping.  

What?  There's a big blue monkey behind me?  Yea, right. 
 Glad we didn't get eaten by the real and reportedly ravenous monkeys (only saw 4).  Michael bought monkey food and then ATE IT HIMSELF when seeing signs that said "No Feeding the Monkeys".  OK, it was just peanuts, but still. . .  

???   I'm a sucker for obscure signs.

Check this out.  McDonald's in the train station.  
Durian is only the stinkiest fruit ever created and someone thought of making it into a McFlurry? 
Well, I dared Michael to eat it (I got strawberry) and guess what. . .

"Smells wretched, tastes. . . not bad?"

(Posing in front of Hindu temple with large leaves.)
Overall, it was a fabulous outing.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Big Firsts in Japan

From the desk of:

This is my Japanese/Scooby Doo name. 
Risa. Not kidding.

Japan Happenings this week:

We've had some fun firsts this week.

Griffin went to his first movie in Tokyo with friends--Guardians of the Galaxy. They met under this creepy spider sculpture.  Then he took a taxi home--on his OWN!  First time.  Didn't even phase him. Apparently, he gave the taxi drivers directions (using hand gestures since he doesn't speak any Japanese) and he made it to the Compound. 
 Amazing!  Rock on, Griffin!

We found our first Coldstone, actually right next to a Cinnabon and a Wendy's. 
We are suffering here, I tell you!

**First Church party--a Carnival.  
It was fabulous.  There was face painting, scooter racing,  pie-eating and pie-baking contests (my cherry cheesecake didn't win, but it was GONE ENTIRELY by the time the judges got to it, so I think it should have won something ;)  To top it all off, a super GROOVY live band called the First Quorum of the 1970s totally rocked the house. YMCA and even Shake your Bootie.  No lie. Loved it.
And best of all, they had a game where you won LIVE FISH.
My kids won THREE.  
The day before I left on vacation. 
 If they are still alive when I get back it will be a Christmas miracle. 
In September.  

Good grief and little fishes.  Sorry fishies.

The victims.

Willa making cotton candy. She volunteered--wonder why.

Manon doing face-painting. She also volunteered--wonder why (can you say "artistic genius"?)

**Got hired at my first gym IN JAPAN.
So, here is my FUN and FABULOUS happening of the week. I had walked past this gym called Next a couple of times which advertised Zumba classes. I was planning to go in and see if they needed teachers, but every time I went by it was closed. Last week I got a personal e-mail from Next gym asking me if I'd be interested in teaching. Weird. I asked how they found me and they said it was through! Went in today and taught a couple of songs as an "audition." They hired me on the spot to start in October. A couple of hours later they called and asked if I wanted to teach THAT NIGHT. My third class of the day. I said yes, of course, went and had a BLAST. Very nice people--they smiled and seemed to really have fun even if I was jabbering at them in English the whole time. Awesome!

First Cockroach Sighting (It looked like this.)
Tip of the day: If you are in a funk and missing your Nana or other loved one, have your youngest child scream, "Help! Help! The cockroach!" This will engage the "Xena Warrior Princess" instinct. Proceed quickly to said child's room. Help her "clean up" her room to avoid future places for (2-inch long--no lie) cockroaches to hide. Then locate vile creature underneath the rug. Calmly announce that you have found the monster. Stall for time, hoping that the husband gets home soon. Give up on that, put on heavy shoes, instruct daughter to do the same, jump and stomp around and around on the carpet (this is very therapeutic by the way) until you are laughing together in spite of yourself. Look under carpet. Locate totally squished disgusting-ness. High fives and happy smiles all around. Sure-fire cure for the blues--at least for now. 

**First vacation while in Tokyo.  I flew to Kuala Lumpur to join Michael on a business trip.
Started off like this--

Airport store--super handy, I'd say!

Some kid really wanted some candy,just not crunchy.  That's how it got it's name (I think.)

Uh-huh. Clever.

Stayed here in Kuala Lumpur--Niiice. . .

A room with a view--

Went swimming. It was delightfully refreshing--until it rained. Glad I caught a few rays!

That night we went to get Thai massage.  
Here is happy Lisa (Risa) post-90 minute massage (30 USD!) 

I survived (and enjoyed) having the masseuse pummel and then stretch my body like a life-sized Gumby doll.  Yes, she kneeled on my calves.  And it felt great.

 Then ate dinner at a Malaysian food place on this crazy street.  Still hopping at 11:30 pm!

Passed on the Frog Porridge, though sorely tempted.

So glad we didn't order the frog.

 Shopping Mecca--

It's been a great vacation!  But, wait!  We live in Tokyo.  That's like a permanent vacation. So, come and visit.
Love and hugs to you all!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Random and Sundry Japanese Happenings

'Twas a busy week here in Japan.  Lisa had an intensive 4-day Survival Japanese course Tues-Friday, 8 hours of nearly incomprehensible, 12-16 syllable words that sounded practically exactly the same.  In one ear and out the other. Good thing I wrote them down, so I can study later.  Can you say fried brains?  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of my classmates.  : (    My teacher's name was Mayumi and she was very patient with us as we sounded pretty much like this guy--check out 2:10-3:00 of this video from Monty Python.  "Ni!  Ni!"  "Noo!  Noo!"  no  "Ni!"

More Tokyo Street Adventures

Flutes or Fruits??  Which is it?

Shiny, happy buses.

Frank Lloyd Wright would definitely approve of this cool cantilevered house.

Trying new flavor sensations at Doner kebabs. 
Getting adventurous. 
Pretty awesome.

Cool Japanese junk-type ship.  Bad picture--use your imagination. . .

Afterwards, we went shopping in the 100 yen store 
(basically the Dollar Store.)

We were seriously tempted to buy these quality products.

 Bring home your own hovering Darth Vader blow up figure.  
With a side of sardines.

Speaking of sardines--

Learning some essential Japanese gestures.

We took a trip to the mall for a snack and found this-
Square watermelon.  Seriously?

Looking for ice cream, without any luck.  But found amazing French pasteries.  

Attractively packaged, including mini ice packs.  
Which we didn't need since we ate them on the spot.

Huge bamboo growing out of the floor.  Fabulous!

Willa modeling $24 grapes (again attractively packaged).  Needless to say, we didn't buy any.

Interviewing next week to teach Zumba here.  
Looks like a great gym.  Can't wait!

And ended the week by stuffing our faces with curry at 
"Good Smell, Good Curry" (how could we resist.)

Read the directions on the spice-o-meter carefully before ordering.  Consider the consequences.

More plastic food--my fave.

Went to church on Sunday and Lisa was called as 1st Counselor in the Primary (children's organization.) 
Heaven help her. 

Overall, it was a good week.