Thursday, December 22, 2011

Selamat Hari Krismas

Selamat Hari Krismas or Merry Christmas from Penang!  Tis the holiday season and our first one in a predominately Muslim country.  We knew this year Christmas would be different.  For starters it's a comfortable 85 and humid year round, we are a long way from home and not "everyone" here celebrates Christmas.  For many, Christmas is a public holiday here but the whole country doesn't shut down as it does in most Christian countries, the malls, markets and restaurants will be open and busy!

Aside from the religious differences, this Christmas season is among the best one of my life.  We are living in a place where people come from different cultures and religions and not only tolerate but embrace Christmas.  It is truly beautiful.  We have been to countless Christmas parties this month where regardless of race and religion, everyone brought their holiday cheer, sang Christmas songs and exchanged gifts. Restaurants are decorated with Christmas trees, Christmas music is playing in the background and the staff wear the traditional red and white santa hats.  It's Christmas in Penang and it's really magical, really.

It warms my heart to know that there are still places in the world where people are willing to open their minds and hearts and accept and embrace each other as their brothers and sisters, regardless of what god or gods they worship.  This year, for me, Christmas is about finding peace and joy in each other, in the places we live and the experiences we have.  I hope for each of you, this holiday you have peace and joy in your heart!

And now a few pictures:
Two weeks ago we attended a fundraiser at the historic Eastern & Oriental hotel with Tania and Manuel.  We spent the night drinking free flow beer and wine and singing Christmas tunes with our new friends!  It was so much fun and probably the wildest night we have had in Penang!  The band even played Feliz Navidad and La Bomba! It was awesome!

NI Christmas Party - Eric's work had a huge Christmas party.  There was the traditional potluck and gift exchange.  One of Eric's work colleagues learned how to play Christmas songs on his guitar and they all sing carols. Santa made an appearance! The office set up a Christmas tree and everyone embraced the Santa hat.  This picture really sums up Christmas here:


Monday, December 19, 2011


Our little kitten is getting bigger and crazier every day!  She is very much a kitten, going from loving to a monster in less than 5 seconds.  Her newest trick seems to be grabbing the toilet paper roll and running throughout the condo with a long white streamer.  She has also figured out how to give herself a bath! Yay! 
From Crazy to Sweet Kitten

Friday, December 9, 2011

Busy Busy Weekends

My friend Stuty told me that after her and her husband hit the 2 month mark in Penang time started to fly by.  Well, I'm confirming that this is also true for the Hartners.  We have been here for (almost) 5 months already!?!!!! Wow, it doesn't seem like we have lived here that long.  We still have so much to explore and enjoy on this side of the world.  Last weekend was super busy and full, just like our lives here.  With so much to experience, Eric and I did our best to fit it all in and take some time to relax.  Here's the recap:

Friday Night
After a very busy week at work for Eric and a full socialite week for me, we had planned an early Friday night since we needed to travel 2 hours down the peninsula to Ipoh on Saturday morning for NI's family day (more on this in a bit).    Well, best laid plans tend to change here...often.  Our friend Nikki invited us to join her at the Hostie, the local hangout for the Australian/New Zealand/UK military, where the beer is cheap and you can score some Western food.  The long and short of it, we enjoyed a few (4-8) beers, Eric mingled with the military men and I chatted it up with the ladies.  We did make an early night of it, leaving by 10pm and chowing down on our favorite drunk food Roti before heading to bed. 

Saturday -- Lost World Of Tambun, Ipoh
On Saturday we headed to The Lost World of Tambun, 2 hours south of Penang on the mainland, for NI's Family Day.  The Lost World is a Malaysian style water and theme park.  It is very well done and in a beautiful location.

The park was complete with a "spa" area where you could partake in various treatments in 40 degree C water, like the steam cave and foot spa.  See the picture of Eric below!
Finally, my favorite attraction at this park was the petting zoo.  I'm telling you this park had a little bit of everything...a spa, animals and ZIP lines.... For those of you wondering, Eric and I did NOT ride the zips, or flying fox as it is known in Malaysia.  We will just say, that as two trained facilitators in the states, those lines weren't anything I would clip myself into.  The braking mechanism was a tire that you smash into at full speed....

Anyway, back to the petting of the most popular attractions was Ruby and Friends, which turned out to be racoons.  Yes, you read that right...there were big, fat and nasty racoons that people were petting and taking their pictures with.  Obviously, the movie, The Great Outdoors is not popular here in Asia....Racoons are not cute....

After a great family day, we decided to drive back to Penang instead of staying in Ipoh and exploring there.  Too much was happening on Sunday.

Like good Big Ten fans, we woke up early to watch the first ever Big Ten Championship!  The whole family joined in to watch State lose in the last minute...seriously #9 did you have to run into the punter?? Wow!  Coco was even glued to the tube...she is obviously in the right family.

 After we finished the game, we headed to the Penang Turf Club for their annual horse show.  I felt like a giddy school girl going to watch this show.  Eric and I snagged front row seats for jumping.  We sipped coconuts and enjoyed our first Malaysian horse show.

The course was really really nice and I was clearly a giddy little school girl!

Later that same evening, we joined our friends and drove to Batu Ferringhi, the resort area of the island, for the Penang Jazz Festival.  We sat beach side and listened to some amazing music from around the world! 


 It was a great weekend!  Busy, but full!  We are certainly enjoying our life here. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thanksgiving in Penang

We have so much to be thankful for this year!  It has been one of the biggest and transformational years so far and it's not even over yet.  Life just continues to get better and better!

We celebrated this very American holiday with the other National Instruments' expats that are here.  Jeanmarie and Scott Rust graciously hosted dinner at their condo.  We spent the afternoon swimming, chatting and eating a good old fashioned American Thanksgiving.  It was wonderful! 

Eric and I contributed 3 pumpkin pies, 1 apple cranberry pie and cranberry sauce.  I baked 6 pies in preparation for this event, as baking here is tricky but I can now say I know how to make crust from scratch! 

I hope y'all had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving as well!