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Shaun and Trina are Sweating

Join us as we eat curry, go on adventures and fight the evil travellers' diarrhea.

An experiment in cross country coaching

Here's a few members of the ISKL Panthers cross-country team along with the famous Coach Nada.
Here are a few members of the ISKL Panthers cross-country team, along with the famous Coach Nada, after just completing a 3k road race. We swept the top 6 places. I credit the coaching.

As any successful unemployed person knows, nailing down a daily routine is crucial for mental and emotional survival. A big part of my routine these first few weeks has been helping coach Trina’s school’s varsity cross-country team.

While I’ve never run cross-country and I haven’t coached anything for close to 20 years, I was the perfect candidate for the job (once the first two people they asked turned it down.) Because let’s face it, I’ve got time on my hands and I do ‘like’ to run.

Luckily for the guys, I’m only the assistant coach and they have the very qualified Coach Nada leading the charge. Nada was a world-class runner in the 60s and has coached some of Malaysia’s top running stars over the past 40 years. Not to mention he’s coached at ISKL for close to 20 years.

So really, all I’m there for is to join the guys for runs, take attendance and send out emails to the team reminding them when practice is. Not a bad gig. I’ve also learned that I’m there to keep tabs on kids when we attend races, something which I failed miserably at during our first event.

Here’s a re-enactment of how it went down: 

***

Coach Shaun: Hey guys, has anyone seen Stan?

Guys: Nope

10 minutes before race

Coach Shaun: Any sign of Stan?

Guys: Nope

5 minutes before race

Guys: Stan!

Stan (walking up to us still in his street clothes): I fell asleep and you guys left me on the bus! I woke up and the bus was empty and driving somewhere else.

Coach Shaun (to himself): Oh, shit.

Coach Shaun (to Stan): That was a test, buddy. No sleeping on the bus. I hope you learned your lesson. I’ll show you where the change room is. There’s still time to make the start of the race.

Stan changes and gets to the start line 14 seconds before it starts and then wins the race. (No joke.)

***

Needless to say I’ve got lots to learn about coaching (and being responsible for kids named Stan), however it’s been fun so far and it eats up about 3 hours of my day.

Happy running.

Shaun

Out and about in KL

I went for a round of golf at the local course the other day and stumbled across this interesting driving range into the swamp. Please notice the brave man collecting balls in the boat - luckily he's wearing a face mask and a Kevlar vest.
I went for a round of golf at the local course the other day and stumbled across this interesting driving range into a swamp.  Apparently the range balls float. Please notice the brave man collecting balls in the boat – luckily he’s wearing a face mask and a Kevlar vest. I think these folks are aiming at him.

One of the best things about moving to a new country is discovering all the ‘unique’ nuances that seem to be around every corner. Whether it’s signage on the road, hockey rinks in mall basements or braille on walking paths, there’s never a dull moment in the first few months of living somewhere new.

And because we all carry a phone in our pocket now, here are a few pics of things that have made me laugh so far…

Product names don't usually translate well. But, I think cock brand fire starter is perfect...especially since it's 'all new.'
Product names don’t usually translate well. But, I think cock brand fire starter is perfect…especially with the ‘new’ packing. That’ll get er’ blazing!

 

This was taken in the bathroom of KL's famous Suzie's Corner restaurant, which is famous for $10 sirloin steaks. Apparently some folks feel the need to bring up their steak in the can right after they eat it. Maybe to make room for another one? Anyway, Suzie sets everyone straight with this note.
This was taken in the bathroom of KL’s famous Suzie’s Corner restaurant, which is best known for $10 sirloin steaks (quite tasty). Apparently some folks feel the need to barf up their steak right after they eat it. Maybe to make room for another one? Anyway, Suzie sets everyone straight with this note. As a writer, I suggested she change the ‘from’ to ‘love.’ That’s just me.
This is my new barbershop. I love a good hair cu... What does that door say? Yikes. While it's not as cheap as going to my mom, it's only $3 for a "cut" and head massage.
This is my new barbershop. I love a good hair cu… What does that door say?
Yikes. While it’s not as cheap as going to my mom, it’s only $3 for a “cut” and head massage.

Shaun

Getting schooled

I'm not sure what's more incredible - a teaching staff this size or the fact that our school owns a drone which took this picture! Bonus points if you can find me in the crowd.
I’m not sure what’s more incredible – a teaching staff this size or the fact that our school owns a drone which took this picture! Bonus points if you can find me in the crowd.

Whether  a student or a teacher, the first days of a new school year bring a mix of excitement and anxiety. Will I fit in? Will I remember my locker com? Will I get lost in the halls? Will the kids make fun of my last name and the fact that I’m from Regina – again?

The first days of school are filled with possibility. This is the year I will be uber organized, the students will learn more than ever before and I will strike the perfect work-life balance.

With two weeks of teaching in,  I am reminded of why I got into teaching in the first place.

Here are some of the best things about being a teacher.

    • You never really have to grow up. My sense of humour and I have been stuck in middle school for the past 12 years.
    • You are learning something new everyday. For example, just a couple of days ago a student taught me what a “dank meme” is. I’ve also learned how to do the newest dance moves including the whip it, the nae nae and the stanky leg – not to be confused with the skanky leg ( I had to correct a colleague on the that one!)
    • Participation in a giant dodge ball game is considered professional development.
    • You get to (have to) be creative. Gone are the days of copying notes and answering questions in a textbook and I love the challenge of making lessons fun.
    • That moment when a student says “Oh – now I get it!”
    • And the summer vacation is not too shabby either.

In case some of you want to practice some dance moves, this apparently is what the kids are into these days.

Trina

Why I love having a house husband

When he's not completing tasks on the daily list I've given him, Shaun sends me pics like this (taken at our condo pool).
When he’s not completing tasks on the daily list I’ve given him, Shaun sends me pics like this (taken at our condo pool).

Having a house husband may possibly be one of the best things ever. I highly recommend it. As we’ve been settling into KL it’s been really busy. I’ve spent the majority of the time at the school. Getting my head wrapped around a new curriculum, new technology, new protocols and everything else that goes along with a new job can be daunting. Doing this while trying to also set up a house can seem impossible at times. How do you meet the internet installation guy or the IKEA delivery person when you are working all day? You have a house husband that’s how and watch the magic unfold. Every night when I come home from work something else is accomplished and I love it! So don’t feel sorry for me slaving away at work while Shaun is lounging at our pool. In reality he’s completed so many items on my lists for me that I’m enjoying a girls’ beach weekend right now guilt free. So cheers to all the house husbands and wives out there. You rock!

Trina

Hockey Night in Malaysia

Of course the hockey rink would be in a mall.
Of course the hockey rink would be in a mall.

You don’t always have to be sweating when living in the tropics. Sometimes, you can simply drive to the mall and go for a skate. Just like I did this week with about 15 other guys from around KL as part of their weekly pickup game.

While the rink was small (one stride got you from blue line to blue line, which is perfect for my loaf-like game) and the ice was a bit mangled from the humidity and figure skaters, it was a great skate. And for the information of my Kaiser hockey teammates back home, I don’t back check in Malaysia either.

Without showers, dressing rooms or rink gates, the facility is not exactly up to Canadian standards. But, you can order a bucket of KFC from the third floor food court or buy some knock-off Oakley sunglasses in the parking lot. So, there’s that.

It was also fun to have a bunch of curious mall shoppers checking out the action perched above on all five floors. I can just guess at the conversations of the onlookers…

Shopper #1 – “What is this game?”

Shopper #2 – “Ice hockey.”

Shopper #1 – “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of this. When do they start fighting?”

Shopper #2 – “Not sure. They look pretty old and slow. Let’s go get an iced tea and some Kenny Rogers Roasters chicken.” (No joke. KR’s Roasters are a big deal here!)

So, who was playing you ask? Well, a couple guys from the Malaysian national hockey team were out. They were very good skaters, however once they skated by everyone, they weren’t sure exactly what to do with the puck, so they ended up stick-handling right into the corner. A bit more work (apparently they have a Finnish coach, so no job opportunity for me there) and they’ll be beating other powerhouse hockey nations like Taiwan and Papua New Guinea.

The rest of the players were aging Canadians, Americans and Europeans just like me, who had shipped their stinky hockey equipment across the world just to play beer league hockey at 10:30 on a Monday night in the basement of a mall. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Taken just before I went offside for the 15th time.
Taken just before I went offside for the 15th time.

Shaun

What to do in KL when you’re “in between” jobs

When you're unemployed, you have time to stay up late on a Sunday night and take pictures of the fireworks out your bedroom window.
When you’re unemployed, you have time to stay up late on a Sunday night and take pictures of the fireworks out your bedroom window. Our view is pretty good, so be prepared to get really sick of pictures of downtown Kuala Lumpur over the next few months.

For the first time in 15 years, I’m officially unemployed, or in between jobs, or a freeloader or a loser. Pick whatever term you want, but I have a lot of time on my hands at the moment. But, don’t worry. I’m alright. Food here is cheap, we have a pool and Trina leaves me a fresh ‘to do’ list every morning before she leaves for school. Here are a few other things I’ve been doing to pass the time (in between my exhaustive search for a job…of course).

Delicious Nips.
Delicious Nips.
  • Enjoy local snacks – I always like to check out the names and tastes of the junk food wherever I travel – even if it’s just to Minot, North Dakota. In Malaysia, you can get all the chocolates and chips from home, but they also have some new treats, like Nips. Think M&Ms with much more hilarious name.

 

Ice cream is just better out of a coconut.
Ice cream is just better out of a coconut.
  • Eat ice cream out of coconut shells with buds – This is me and our first house guest Mark, who actually arrived from the U.K. on our first night in our apartment. Great timing. I was the best man at his wedding in Sri Lanka a few years back, so we’re used to sweating in strange places together. Sorry, that sounds weird. I highly recommend this ice cream though.
  • Visit the jungle, a local market or IKEA – Sometimes a jungle, a market or IKEA can feel the same. So far, they’ve all been quite enjoyable, except IKEA on a Sunday. Don’t go to IKEA on a Sunday in KL.

That’s it for now. We get our car on Thursday, so there will be plenty more unemployed adventures after that. Stay tuned and take care. Oh yeah, and my first hockey game is tonight!

Shaun

What we’ve been doing while homeless

The Curve (home of IKEA and Tesco) is one of the many shopping complexes in KL. It seems shopping is a national pastime as the locals love to hang out in the a/c!
The Curve (home of IKEA and Tesco) is one of the many shopping complexes in KL. It seems shopping is a national pastime as the locals love to hang out in the a/c!

With our big decision made about our housing, we’ve been excited to move in. Unfortunately, our place isn’t ready yet.  So we’ve been freeloading off of others. With our shipment not here yet and no car bought (that’s a whole different blog), we’ve found ourselves in the awkward “in between” stage.

So what have we been doing? Getting familiar with the city and the culture I guess.

A couple of Sundays ago Mr. Foo called us up on our old school Nokia (getting a different phone has proved to be a bit of a process). “He’s taking us for a cultural experience since all the Malay’s are picking figs” is what Shaun heard. We ended up at IKEA! Although Shaun probably didn’t hear Foo right, this has been a perfect example of the cultural dichotomies we’ve experienced since.

We’ve been kept busy shopping, going to school social gatherings and orientations and trying to keep fit by jogging and dodging monkeys. Below are some pictures to show you what our lives have been like lately.

Trina

And the decision is…

Check out this view from a spacious balcony!
Here’s the view from our new balcony.

The negotiations are complete and the rental agreement is about to be signed – and a room with a view is the winner! While it was a tough decision, this really was the nicest place we looked at with the rent being slightly under our housing allowance and only a 10-minute drive from Trina’s school. Also, it received the most votes in our poll at 48% just edging out the cozy character place.

It’s 1,550 square feet including three bedrooms, two baths and a nice storage room for my hockey equipment. And, plenty of room for guests just like you!

The best part is that I’ll never have to leave home as it has a pool, a gym and various shops soon to be added right on the main level.

The only downside is that it still needs curtains, lights, appliances and all the furniture – some minor technicalities. Luckily, they work fast here in Malaysia and we’ll have the keys in our hands by next Friday. Until then, we’re in the hotel for a few more days and then we’re moving into a friendly teacher at Trina’s school who has offered us a room at his home. He’s from Swift Current, so his hospitality makes perfect sense.

Next up on our agenda is buying a car. Stay tuned for the hilarity that will ensue once we start driving here…yikes.

I hope everyone is doing well. Bye for now.

Shaun

House Hunters Malaysia


So we’ve arrived in Kuala Lumpur safe and sound only to find ourselves in the swept into the exciting albeit exhausting whirlwind of house hunting. It’s been a busy few days trying to narrow down the search. Now we much make a decision if we are to have a place to stay by the time our hotel allotment runs out. Thank goodness for Mr. Foo – realtor extraordinaire! Please review the following summaries and cast your vote to help us decide.

#1 House on the Hill

  • in the midst of nature
  • running paths and golf course nearby
  • school is close but amenities are far away
  • private yard / nice views
  • terrible decor
  • 1400 square feet
  • 2 bed, 2 bath
  • 4000 MYR (local currency)

#2 Luxurious City Living

  • Beautiful, spacious and modern suite
  • great layout
  • lots of extras
  • minimum commute of 30 minutes to school (could be hellish if traffic is bad)
  • close to great restaurants, clubs and city centre
  • 1700 square feet
  • 3 beds, 3 baths
  • 5600 MYR (top of budget)


#3 A Room with a View

  • brand new complex
  • fantastic views and layout
  • large balcony with the view pictured below
  • best pool and fitness centre (Shaun would never have to leave the building)
  • 10 minute bike ride to school
  • amenities close
  • might not be ready on time
  • furniture needs to be negotiated
  • 3 bed, 2 bath
  • 4500 MYR


#4 Cozy Character

  • waterfront view (lake is a bit green)
  • 10 minute walk to school
  • tried and true (other teachers live there)
  • low density
  • good layout
  • fully furnished
  • small pool and fitness centre
  • older and a bit worn
  • 1500 square feet
  • 3 bed, 2 bath
  • 3800 MYR


So weigh in with your votes in the poll below. We’d appreciate all the help we can get and will definitely be blogging about the final outcome!

Trina

3 easy steps to saying goodbye

Later peeps.
Later peeps.

Well, Malaysia awaits on Monday. After a short 25-hour flight and 14-hour time change, we’ll be back to sweating on a full-time basis.

Our bags are packed and I’m now officially unemployed. It’s scary, it’s sad, and it’s exciting.

While you’d think we’d be spending our days planning the next crazy chapter of our lives, almost all of our time has been spent saying goodbye to family and friends the last few months. And that’s been a really good thing.

We’ve had coffee and beers and meals of food with people we haven’t talked to in years and spent more quality time with our families than we ever would have if we were staying.

Since this is our second lap at leaving home, we’ve developed a bit of a science to saying goodbye and making sure everyone gets a piece of our time. Here are the top three tips to saying goodbye the right way…

1. Never sleep – Since the end of May, I haven’t slept a full night once and I’ve been out every night. I’ve been to every restaurant, bar, coffee house, park, golf course and gambling den in our fair city. I don’t even want to look at my Mastercard bill, but extending your days and nights is a great way to make sure you’re spending quality time with your buds. I’m proud of my 423 going away events.

2. Tell sensitive people that you’re going on a long vacation – This is obviously a bit of a smokescreen, but it seems to help those folks that are prone to the waterworks. “See you in a few months” and “talk to you next spring” have jumped from my mouth many times and it seems to dam up the tears.

3. Make people sick of you – This is perhaps the most important thing. Once you’ve heard – “You haven’t left yet!” or even better “Just leave already!” – you know you’ve done a great job of saying goodbye. Making people tire of you and your ‘adventure’ is a sure fire way to ensure they don’t miss you too much – and hopefully they’ll be interested in visiting again when you return.

I hope those can help you one day.

Please keep checking the blog for much more regular updates as we set up things in KL. And please comment on the blog. It’s great to hear from our friends at home and all around world. And remember, we expect visitors (we promise to have air conditioning)!

Take care and talk to you soon.

Shaun

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