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Shaun and Trina are Sweating

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

New year, new travels and no nudity

Happy new year, everybody. And welcome to 2016. What happened to 2015? One second I was a fully employed, shivering and middling-aged member of Canadian society, and the next, I’m a casually employed, sweating Malaysian restaurant reviewer with a sugar momma. Life is weird, but fun.

We’ve been traveling a bunch over the last few weeks alongside our first long-stay visitors to Malaysia – Trina’s parents. So far, so good – no hospital visits, plenty of sun and a healthy dose of terrible puns from Sir Randall.

Oh, and we climbed Mt. Kinabalu and managed to keep all of our clothes on. Thanks to us, Canadians are now welcome back on the mountain. You’re welcome.

Here are a few pics from our travels…

Shaun

First day of holidays in photos

Tony, Yvonne and Li Shah were great guides through the ins and outs of Imbi market.
Tony, Yvonne and Li Shah were great guides through the ins and outs of Imbi market.
Pictures here are the famous coffee and curry laksa we had heard about. Also a fantastic treat was the Nyonya popiah (vegetable rolls) which seamlessly integrated both sweet and savoury flavours together. They didn't stand a chance.
Pictured here are the famous coffee and curry laksa we had heard about. Also a fantastic treat was the Nyonya popiah (vegetable rolls) which seamlessly integrated both sweet and savoury flavours together. They didn’t stand a chance.
These steamed veggies and tofu with fresh fish tested great especially when dipped into the accompanying spicy sauce.
These steamed veggies and tofu with fresh fish tasted great especially when dipped into the accompanying spicy sauce.
These glutinous sweets come in every colour of the rainbow.
These glutinous sweets come in every colour of the rainbow.

Continue reading “First day of holidays in photos”

MC Hammer in Malaysia?

Even wonder what happened to the stars of the early 90s? Well it seems once their North American fame has long past, they hit up Asia. They can tour for 20 plus years past their fame here, and Asians love them! This might explain the frequent air time artists like KC and JoJo, Rick Astley, Billy Ocean and others get.

Now imagine our excitement when we found out MC Hammer was coming to RetroFest Asia. And then imagine our disappointment when we found out days before he cancelled. Supposedly, he wanted more money for more dancers. So Shaun took to social media to protest. He did get the promoter to change their poster, but he didn’t get a refund and he couldn’t return his Hammer pants.

We decided to make the best of it.  One hit wonders – All 4 One (“I Swear”), Diana King (“Shy Guy”) and Tommy Page (no idea who he is but apparently he did a cameo on Full House as DJ’s crush) were still taking the stage.

So a group of us braved the rain and made the drive to the Sunway Mall / Theme Park (the same place Shaun plays hockey) for the concert. The venue was the Sunway Lagoon. Picture it. Sand surrounds an extensive pool which has been drained just for the concert. A canopy walk overhead is deemed in flashing lights “ASIA’S BIGGEST ATTRACTION”. Families ride a holiday train round and round the venue. Yep- definitely the place for a concert!

The artists played and I have to say it was very entertaining for many reasons. They sounded pretty much the same, their dance moves were well choreographed and they looked – well . . . older. Moments of nostalgia took me back to high school dances and driving in my 1984 Hyundai Pony with friends. That in itself was worth the price of admission!

Trina

 

Christmas tree hunting in Chinatown

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It was less difficult than you’d expect to find a Christmas tree in Chinatown, and when Shaun saw this one was “ONE HALF OFF”, it was the clear winner!

Today is the Sultan of Selangor’s birthday. Today I had the day off work. Thank you Sultan!

Naturally, we celebrated by sashaying around Chinatown trying to find a Christmas tree. Nearly running out of gas in a traffic jam, some drama over a holiday table runner and a claypot curry lunch only added to the Christmas magic. We ended up with a nice little tree, and some very colourful (possibly seizure inducing lights).

All and all, I’d call the day a success.

Trina

Penang in 28 pictures

Penang is a cool, eclectic Malaysian state in the northwest corner of the country. We just spent a long weekend there – full of hiking, eating and, of course, sweating.

An interesting mix of British, Malaysian, Chinese and Indian cultures, Penang is a can’t miss when you visit us…you are visiting us, right?

Take a look at our pics and then book your flights…

Peace!

Shaun

 

 

The world needs more poetry, salsa dancing and dreamSS

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This poetry performance resonated beyond the words.

We enter the Sinhalese Bar in Ipoh through sliding saloon style doors. Is this the Wild West? What’s with those doors?

The doors are not the only decor faux pas. The insulation pink walls and mint green tiles immediately have our senses on high alert. But there are an aunty and uncle serving beers, a group of men gathered in the corner playing a lively game of cards, and friendly smiles from a diverse Malaysian group reading poetry that greet us. “There is only one rule.” We are told. “Everyone must read a poem.” I contemplate turning right back out the door. However, something seems inviting in the paradox of Indian, Chinese and Malay Malaysians all gathered in a beer station for The Other Festival.

What that meant – we had no idea. It turns out that The Other Festival is a mix of food, art, poetry and music in the Old Town of Ipoh (about a two-hour drive north of KL).

So being good sports, we read poems aloud to the crowd. Then, we stayed for a performance done to live music by a local poet. The words were in Bahasa Malay, so I have no idea what she said. But she held the audience captive. Even the men in the corner, who had become increasingly loud as they drank their Tiger beers, stopped for a moment to listen.

The next weekend, the same friend and I attended a Latin Ball for charity. We got dressed up, had our photos taken with a parrot and salsa danced the night away.

A few days earlier, Shaun and I met a local man and his wife who followed their dreams to set up their own coffee shop. He spent 5 years making a transparent espresso  machine and quit his job in IT to follow his passion. He’s only been open a few months, but dreamSS cafe (the extra “s” is for extra luck) is roasting their own coffee beans and baking their home cooked meals with love.

Then just today, I received a message from a friend that Sierra Leone is officially ebola free.

“Peace be with you Trina! Good to informed you that the Ebola virus is over. We reached 42 days last Saturday without a case. So we are free from pains and stress. We are hoping to see a good 2016.”

George is a Sierra Leonean teacher who attended the peace curriculum course I was involved with in Freetown in 2010. In spite of all the obstacles that his country has been faced with, he has made it his personal mandate to teach a message of peace and love to the next generation.

It’s moments like these that have me believing in humanity. Some are simple and others more profound. It’s moments like this that I desperately cling to when I hear of another terrorist attack and the subsequent ignorant comments directed at refugees. We are all flawed, but we all also have the capacity to spread a message of peace and love in the everyday things we do.

Trina

No job, must coach

Here's the country team that traveled to Bangkok. I was still hoping we placed first, but they knew we had wrapped up 6th (out of 6).
Here’s the country team that traveled to Bangkok. I was still hoping we placed first, but they knew we had wrapped up 6th (out of 6). It was a development year.

I’m a crappy coach. Whether it’s been in sports, work or just life, I’m not good at translating how to do something to another person. I’ve known this for awhile, but it’s really come to the forefront since it’s become my part-time job in Malaysia. And now that my cross country coaching season is over, I’ve been tapped in to coach the junior girls basketball team. Uh oh, God help me.

(Truth be told the last time I coached anything was 17 years ago when I helped coach the Riffel basketball team immediately after I graduated. And all I really did then was hang out with my friends who were still on the team and run in the drills with them. No real coaching took place.)

The problem with me and coaching isn’t that I don’t like kids or don’t like sports or even that I don’t know about sports. The problem really is that I dislike, and am a bit afraid of, telling people what to do.

I mean, what makes me the expert to boss someone around about how to run a motion offense or use BEEF when their shooting or run 50 suicides? I certainly haven’t put in my 10,000 hours at coaching yet (see Malcolm Gladwell for that reference), and my mind simply works best in slow motion, which doesn’t lend itself to implementing a press break on the fly. And lastly, how/why do I care about any of it?

Just because I’m greying at the temples and played high school sports in the 90s, does that really make me qualified to coach anything?

Well, apparently in Malaysia it does, and I really have no choice but to go along with it because it’s one of my only paying gigs at the moment.

And to tell you the truth, while I’m no good at it, I do kind of enjoy the challenge and the weirdness of it.

I mean four months ago I was sitting in an office all day writing about Canadian farm financing and now I’m yelling at teenage girls to get back on defense. (God, I hate it when we get beat down the court!)

Maybe I will get used to telling people what to do after all. I’ll let you know how it goes. Now, where’s my f’n whistle?

Coach Shaun

 

 

Commercial culture?


In the last few months, we’ve been lucky enough to travel to a few different destinations in SouthEast Asia. With my daily youtube yoga routine (ok maybe not quite daily), I’ve also been privy to random ads from each country. This had me wondering, do commercials reflect a culture? If so, we might be in trouble. Here are a few samples to see what I mean.

Indonesia (skin whitening deodorant)

I’ve seen skin whitening products in many Asian countries. The obsession with becoming whiter seems strange to us, but is it any different than tanning beds and bronzing cream in Canada? Look out, skin bronzing deodorant might be the next craze!

Myanmar (mobile phones – I think)

Aw, it seems that the Myanmarese are quite sentimental. Can you imagine if you were being proposed to and both partner’s parents showed up? I don’t think we’d have the same reaction.

Malaysia (KFC for celebrating Malay New Year)

In a nutshell, this commercial has you thinking that all Malaysia’s love fried chicken (this might be true) and that they wear toupees (yet to be determined).

Thailand -(fertilizer)

This ad leaves me absolutely speechless. This isn’t quite the same experience I had when living on a Thai rice farm!

Trina

Remember that one time I was a food critic in Malaysia…

Here's me at my first review with the restaurant owner Andrew and Yum List founder Monica
Here’s me at my first review with the restaurant owner Andrew and Yum List founder Monica. I’m not sure why they seem to be sitting so far away from me?

When you move to a foreign country (especially without a job), you have to be open to try new things. I mean, why else, would you move? Most times that just means eating crazy food, learning some phrases in a different language or getting lost on strange streets.

Other times, it can be much more random. Like when I found myself as a high school debate judge on Sri Lankan TV or when we had to track down a senior citizen wood carver from Kandy who took our $50, but never delivered our Buddha sculpture, or when I spent two years going to a Sri Lankan mental hospital everyday. Fun stuff.

My latest adventure in Malaysia is writing for a popular food and lifestyle blog (it has 6 million page views – about 6 million more views than this blog) run by a teacher at Trina’s school. Getting paid in free food and booze, it really is a sweet gig for me. While I’m certainly no foodie (I’ve been known to eat melted cheese sandwiches for weeks at a time), I think I’m up for the creative challenge.

Using words like scrumptious, palette, moist and delectable, have always been on my bucket list. And now I have the perfect reason – free potato wedges and Coke floats!

Take a read of my first review and let me know what you think. Any new food descriptors are welcome.

In all seriousness, the Yum List is a great site, and if you’re traveling to Southeast Asia, it’s a must read for the best places to eat and sleep.

My next assignment is an artisan pasta making class. Wish me luck. Ciao!

Shaun

 

 

 

 

Myanmar: A week of grit and beauty

Stepping off the plane in Yangon, I realized I was some place very different than KL. First, there was no haze blanketing the city (a huge bonus), and second, the airport is the size of a high school gym, yet it still feels bigger than it needs to be.

Taking the 30 minute cab ride to the hotel, I felt as though I was in many different places all at once. I saw India in the random and beautiful chaos, traffic and grime. I saw Sri Lanka in the lush greenery lining the streets and the dozens of Buddhist temples that seem to appear on every block. I saw Thailand in the friendly faces always willing to help, yet not interested in taking your money (not much of it, anyway).

And taken all together I got my first glimpse of Myanmar. A gorgeous and vast country with extremely hardworking, sweet people that are peering over a cliff of exponential development and change – which brings with it both great hope and great fear.

My initial thoughts didn’t change much after spending a week walking, flying, running, boating and biking around. It was an outstanding place to visit at an exciting time in its history. Oh yeah, and the beer’s cheap too. Here’s what our week looked like…

Shaun (and a bit of Trina)

 

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