Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reader's Digest

I purchased a copy of Reader's Digest here in Malaysia and it looks exactly the same. It's in English but once in a while I'm reminded this is the Asian version of Reader's Digest.

They use Metric so I'll read cm instead of inches or km instead of miles, centigrade instead of Fahrenheit.

Of course they speak about Ringgits instead of dollars.

They also use words like tyre instead of tire, petrol instead of gas, kilojoule instead of calorie, favourite instead of favorite.

An article about Podcasting mentions you can download your "favourite" Asian music or video from a yoga teacher in Tokyo.

I get the feeling that the American version of Reader's Digest is re-edited for Asia. It still has a very American feel to it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Malacca + Melilea + Taxi + Health + Size

I have no idea what to title this post. I start out talking about our trip to Malacca to visit Melilea HQ, then I talk about getting ripped off by a taxi driver, then go into changing my health which ends up talking about Asia is too small for me.

Kelly had planned a trip to Malacca for many weeks now. I just let her make all of the plans. I didn't pay much attention to the dates or details. I figured Kelly had it all figured out and we would have a good time with her friends. I didn't even know which friends we were meeting or what we would do in Malacca.

The day we were planning to leave I learned that we would visit the corporate headquaters of Melilea. Kelly and I enjoy their organic products as a way to help us stay healthy. Kelly told me that we had planned to visit them but I honestly don't remember. Perhaps I thought she meant we would stop at one of their stores.

Usually Kelly and I discuss the details of travel by writing notes since my sign language is note the greatest yet. It takes many years to become fluent in sign language and I've been learning it for 1 year now.

At midnight we hopped a bus to Kuala Lumpur with one of her friends. At 5 am we arrived in KL and met up with about 10 of her friends and had breakfast. Hours later we met the group of about 30 people, all deaf, all friends of Kelly. We hopped the bus to Malacca and two hours later we arrived.

There was one hearing adult with us besides me and she was the interpreter. We were given a tour of the headquarters then treated to lunch then we had many long meetings talking about their products and services, then we met the president and vice-president of Melilea who gave long talks.

I was sleep deprived from working so hard the week before and I don't get much sleep on the bus because I don't fit well in the seats so I slept for part of the talk on the couch in the back.

I learned that this is all we would do in Malacca. We weren't staying at a hotel overnight. We would take a bus there, visit Melilea all day, take a bus back. OK, fine. It wasn't the vacation I pictured but it was still pretty cool to visit the HQ and meet the Prez and Vice-Prez.

I was the only non-Asian hearing person so I stood out the Prez, Vice-Prez and many other people working on Melilea wanted to talk with me. For dinner we went to a satay restaurant where they deliver dozens of different types of Satay to your table. In the center of this round metal table is a boiling pot of spiced water. You dip your satay in the secret special sauce and eat it. It was a Thai recipe based on peanuts and tasted very good! If it was raw chicken, you let it cook for a few minutes, but if it was something bread-based, you gave it a quick-dip.

This was definitely 3rd world eating. We ate outside next to sewage pit. We all sat on plastic stools. The president was inches away from falling into the open sewer pit.

It shouldn't be long before I finally purchase that digital camera I've needed for the past year so I can start fully documenting my adventures. I wish that I had a camera that night but others were shooting away so I should be able to score some pics from someone.

After dinner we were saying our goodbyes and the president gave me his card and said "keep in touch". It was really cool seeing someone that I've seen in newspapers, magazines, videos. He was like a celebrity to me in a way.

We took the bus back to KL then hopped a bus to Penang which made it in a record 4 hours! Normally we make two pit-stops for bathroom/snack breaks but this guy sped there non-stop and I do mean "sped". I was awaking many times being jerked in my seat as he rounded corners at high speed. There were handles on the seats in front of me to hold onto. I joked before we got going that I would be hanging on for my life and I ended up using the handles in some turns.

We arrived in Penang and 4 am and Kelly sent an sms to her sister to pick us up. After 30 minutes she didn't show so I called her and woke her up. The sound-tone for the sms was not loud enough to wake her up. I told her to go back to sleep and that we would take a taxi.

The taxi man said it would cost RM 13 for a ride to Teluk Kumbar. When we arrived I gave him a bill for RM 50. He gave me two bills of RM 10 each. I realized that he had charged me RM 30. I realized then that the word "thirteen" sounds a lot like "thirty" and that he may have actually said "thirty" and I misunderstood him. I was too tired to argue but it is possible that he ripped me off with some kind of scam. No biggie. Next time I will be more clear on the price for example say "one three" to make sure we are clear.

RM 30 is about USD 8 for a 20 minute taxi ride. Even though he probably ripped us off, the price is normal for the USA. I keep telling Kelly that taxi's are very very cheap her compared to the USA. She'll see what I mean eventually … hehe.

I awoke today and decided to change my ways. I've been drinking large quantities of coffee and Milo (hot chocolate) take it thru the day. All that stops cold Turkey and I'm now suffering from caffeine withdrawal. I figure that I won't get much work done in the next couple of days as I recover. My goal is to have enough energy from enough sleep and proper diet. I'm not into diets but Kelly and I enjoy the organic products from Melilea and think that they really do make a difference.

As I was typing the words "hot chocolate" above the song "hot chocolate" was playing and the lead singer sang "hot chocolate" right as I typed it. The band is a Japanese girl band named Shonen Knife.

The Asians love to have boiling hot water on tap. This family has this nice dispenser where you push a button and out shoots boiling hot water. They have delicious powdered coffee and milo along with cups and spoons so it's more than easy to get a nice hot steaming cup any time I want but all that has to stop. I really don't need the calories and I could do without the caffeine.

They are expanding to the USA soon. They just need to find the right leadership there. I'll have to take my "before" pics now so later after I lose 30 pounds I can have great "after" pics.

I weighed myself at the doctors office and I weigh 111 kg (244 pounds). Kelly weighs 46 kg so I'm roughly 2.5 times heavier than she is! I don't think it's fair to say you can fit two of her inside me. I think the truth is, I think my body is more dense. I have more muscle and bigger heavier bones so by volume I'm probably only 2 times more than Kelly.

Back in 2003 I weighed 276 pounds so I've lost more than 30 pounds since then. I probably have 30 more pounds to lose. I won't know my best weight until I reach it but it's certainly won't be any where near what the charts say I should weight and especially not what the Asian charts say I should weigh. The last time I looked, the charts were telling me I should weight 180 pounds. My optimal weight is probably more like 210 or 220 pounds. I'm heavier than I look which may be one reason why I've had knee problems. The extra wear and tear took its toll. The tallest people in the world tend to have joint problems as well. I am jealous of the Asian man. I think they have perfectly sized bodies. I really wish I was more like 5 feet 8 inches (172 cm) but I'm sure if I was short I would be wishing I was tall not knowing about the disadvantages like head-bumping dangers in Asia.

Actually this is a serious danger for someone 6 feet and higher in Asia I've noticed. Everything is designed assuming you're no taller than 5 feet 11 inches it seems. The bus seats do not have enough leg room, the bus ceiling does not have enough head room. I can make a long list but I won't. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it … I'm too big for Asia.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Why can't you understand me?

I've been living in Teluk Kumbar, Penang, Malaysia for almost a year now and up until yesterday I had no idea why no one could understand me when I said "Teluk Kumbar".

When you get on a bus in Penang, there is a person that collects your fair while the bus in motion. They don't have a nice computerized system like Singapore which probably used RFID tags. In Singapore you pass your card past a reader when you get on and off the bus. It beeps to let you know that it read it.

But in Malaysia, you get on the bus and sit down and someone collects your money while the bus is moving. The woman in front of me was also going to Teluk Kumbar so when she spoke it, I heard her say "Telukumbar" very fast. She merged the two names into one which makes sense.

We do it in English all the time.

did ya eat yet?
did you eat yet?

If we say something enough times we begin to say it faster and faster and we begin to drop letters and merge words.

But as a visitor I was saying "Teluk Kumbar" slowly with a nice big ole pause between the two names. I was saying it correctly but nobody understands correctly.

If a word ends in "K" and the next words starts in "K" then obviously you're going to merge those two words when you speak it fast ... "Teluk Kumbar" becomes "Teloo Kumbar". You basically drop the K from Teluk and say "Teloo" followed by "Koombar". The "u" is pronounced "oo" is in gooey not "u" as in "just" which.

If you pronounce the "u" like "just" you'll really throw them off! They only way they're gonna know what you're saying is if you say "Telookoombar" really fast. You almost have to slur and run it all together like you're trying to say as one syllable.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Malaysian Mystery Magazine

The local market had these Mystery magazines in view for all children to see. The covers were quite shocking. I wish I could have bought them all. There were like 20 different magazines to choose from.

Porn is illegal in Malaysia but this comes pretty close.

I discovered why they wrap them in plastic. So you can't open it up and find out how boring it is. Inside is simply pictures of people telling a story. Many of them have their faces blurred or they are shot from the back.

The pages that are in color always feature underage girls. Hmmmm