Saturday, January 15, 2011
Orientation has now progressed to the next level! We are currently kickin' it in Terengganu, the very province we'll be teaching in. The Terengganu state department are taking care of us, and we're doing about two weeks of detailed orientation and preparation before the actual ceremony where we get handed over to our schools.
I had no idea there'd be a ceremony, or a small paparazzi when we got to the KT airport. There were about two dozen schoolkids there to greet us at the arrival hall, as well as five or six men and women with cameras, I couldn't tell if they were press or just other teachers from the schools. Turns out, the schoolkids were from my school, Lembah Bidong, and were most likely there to greet us because their previous ETA was basically a rock star.
I actually got to meet their previous ETA a few days ago and ask some questions, and it's true, she is awesome. It's going to be a tough act to follow!
Anyway, since I last posted, we've been having a lot of fun times. Almost all the ETA's went out to this club in Kuala Lumpur, and it was huge - like four rooms with different music, lights and bars and smoke machines everywhere, even (clothed) go-go dancers on platforms in one room. A night or two later, for a nice contrast, I went swing dancing. The swing scene in KL is small, but really cool! I got to meet and dance with some really good dancers, including a visiting couple of teachers from Sweden. Hopefully I'll get to go back before too long.
We also went to a reception at the Ambassador's house, where a lot of YES! program students were being given a farewell party. The YES! program is a six-month exchange program for Malaysian high schoolers, run by AFS, where they spend a semester in America with host families. As a matter of fact, a Malaysian youth TV network runs a very popular show about these students, sending its host to visit several of them and report on their lives and experiences. Look up Field Trip USA - the host, Qi, was actually emceeing the reception, and he called up all the students who would be on next season's show!
The rest of the reception was a lot of the ETA's and the YES students swapping stories and bits of culture, like strange language dialects, football alliegences, and even dances like the macarena and the chicken dance! Four kids, including one of the guys who's going to be on the show, are going to Wisconsin, by the way. La Crosse better treat him well!
We also visited a really pretty historic town called Melaka, where the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the British had all at some point conquered. I got lots of cool pictures, maybe I'll post them all later.
Here in KT, the buildings are shorter, but the beach is much, much closer. We've been trying to get used to lots of meat, fish, and fried foods, so we were really happy to see the hotel buffet having fruit and salad available every night. Today for lunch, they even served us a surprise four-course meal! It was legit cuisine, too - the food was delicious and it was arranged to take up maybe 1/10th of the surface area of the plate.
So here's all those extra photos I thought you might enjoy!
A woman missing an arm paints Chinese calligraphy in Melaka.
Awesome flip-flops for sale in Melaka.
An old woman prays before an altar in a Chinese temple in Melaka.
The signs in front of the elevator in our hotel - durian fruit and mangosteen are not allowed! For real, guys. Durian apparently stinks to high heaven and mangosteen stains badly.
Women making coconut pankcake-y things at the market in Kuala Terengganu.
Look out, baby rider!
Guess somebody thought she'd be happier sitting on her daddy's moto while daddy was busy at the market.
Funnily enough, a huge wave crashed over this whole area a split second after my friend took the picture. My knees got soaked and the words were gone just like that.