Saturday, January 1, 2011

Greetings from Malaysia

kek lok si temple
me and julian at frim
Happy New Year's Day 2011.  I don't know if 1 is an auspicious number, but it should be today 1/1/11.  My grandfather would have been 110 on 1/11/11.  Pretty cool, except he didn't make it.  Anyway, we've come to explore a bit of Malaysia over the New Year.  Our first impressions (we've been in Penang, KL and today we arrived on Langkawi) are it's a very clean country (at least the cities we've been in) with very friendly people, lush vegetation (especially considering the non-vegetation in AD), and excellent food.  Really, who can ask for more?  Some of the highlights so far.... the Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang which is comprised of a combo of Thai, Chinese and Burmese architecture (possibly, although I doubt it, the largest temple complex in southeast asia--according to my taxi driver, but certainly the largest buddhist temple in Malaysia), hiking in FRIM (the british-planted rain forest on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur) where we encountered leeches, and the gorgeous beaches of Langkawi (I can't vouch for all of them, but ours is top).  The leeches were an interesting event because A.  everyone was freaked out and the leeches were popping up all over the place--inside sneakers, under shirts, inside waistbands, B. if you pulled them off you bled like crazy -- leeches secrete an anticoagulant in order to get as much blood out of you as possible by getting you to bleed easily, if you don't want to bleed like crazy you need to light a match blow it out and put the hot tip against the leech getting it to retract, and C.  if you do pull them out there is a leaf you can chew and put the paste you create on the cut, getting it to clot; unfortunately I couldn't find the leaf again to save me, AND D.  we were of huge entertainment value to the Malaysians around us.
batu caves

 We had an excellent New Year's Eve last night just outside KL (if you're really cool you always say KL) with our Paris friends the McFeeters--complete with fireworks.  We returned to the hotel around 2am and were up at 5:30 for our flight to Langkawi.  We landed in a beautiful resort.  This afternoon they had a snake handler here on the beach with burmese pythons, king cobras and rat snakes.  The kids had an excellent time passing those around.  While we ate lunch something jumped in a tree and there before us was a flying lemur.  They are generally nocturnal and, in fact, she promptly attached herself to the tree and took a snooze.  We then bought our fish on the beach from a local fisherman and are going down to the restaurant now to eat it all prepared.  Not to bad a start to 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

indoor oxymoron?--guest blog by Julian

           OMG!! My mom got our whole family (and Remy) a indoor skydiving for christmas!! Yes, I know i am really lucky and i could tell you all about that OR I could tell you a bit about skydiving. Which one will it be? Skydiving? Okay!

           Ok, it all started when we walked into the Abu Dhabi Country Club: Air Venture building. It was awe inspiring a giant fan twirling at the speed of i don't-know-what  once we walked in my sisters started reading the first magazine we saw: a red bull magazine. Ha! my sisters hate red bull. Once we finished paying and what not our skydiving teacher came up to us. Told us to go to the Bathroom, put on knee pads and put on a suit that looked like something an astronaut would wear. Once we were geared up, at least we thought we were geared up we went up two floor and started our boring training. The training was composed of watching a video about indoor skydiving.

          Once that was over, we all (the family, the teacher and Remy) went to a desk where they handed our  other gear (helmet, goggles and ear plugs), guess what? Dad put on his helmet backwards! Ha! what a fail!!
juji "the epic"
         Once we were actually in the air tunnel the air was so strong you would have to try really hard to roffel. Also me myself leaned forward to much and literally flipped and fell to the ground because not enough air was supporting me. Thank you for reading this blog post by Julian The Epic.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The $11,000,000 Tree

Remy and Pauli in front of ze tree

a special ornament

one stop shopping
Well, actually the tree isn't worth's the ornaments (the tree in fact is a fake...quelle horreur).  If you're looking for the tree, it's not hard to find.  It's just south of the 'Gold to Go' machine in the lobby of the Emirates Palace.  Our own tree is practically worth its weight in gold.  It's not easy to get a fresh tree here--they fly them in from Holland (luckily, before Europe was stymied by a snow storm), but they arrive with snow and ice still clinging to them.  Pretty amazing.  And it's helping us to feel the Christmas spirit.  We've got the carols playing, we've visited ski dubai, and the decorations from National Day are still up (many of them red and green) so if you squint--it looks like, maybe, Miami or Phoenix.  Last year they took them down just before Christmas, but this year I'm hopeful.  It's the 24th and it's Friday (the holy day when almost no one works).  I don't think they'll take them down tomorrow....but we'll see!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

National Day

The UAE was 39 on Friday.  It's not much when you stack that up against Japan or France or even the USA, but they are very excited about their 39 years.  At first blush the celebration definitely looks like redneck universe.  The most popular outward expression of their excitement seems to be lots of lights on the streets and a major car pimping movement.  We saw many many vehicles completely covered in decals (the three 'big' sheiks were the most common decal--Zayed, Khalifa and Mohammed), sequins (my personal fave), ribbons and boas.  There was a whole lot of silly spring being sprayed from cars and a propensity to disconnect mufflers.  All the cars hightail it down to the Corniche where they cruise.  Up and down in one long traffic jam.  It's topped off with a huge fireworks display that we can see and hear a couple of miles away from our rooftop deck.

It's funny though, two days later I'm still thinking about it.  Really how different is it from other celebrations.  In the US we decorate our lawns, front porches and, yes, sometimes our cars.  We dress in red, white and blue.  We have parades, barbecues and fireworks.  In France where we spent many years--there are fireworks, but beyond that, few individuals dress up or even celebrate too much.  This celebration here in the UAE kind of reminds me of home.  They're proud of their flag, their colors, their Sheikhs, their country.  And hey, it doesn't hurt that the decorations are often red, green and black (the colors of the flag)--it makes me feel like it's Christmas...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

india-- part one

This family, we're a pack
We travel all around.
This week we explored India,
Those exotic sites Mom found.

We started out in Delhi,
Seperated into Old and New,
Followed Gandhi's footsteps
Saw a mosque and temple too.

Next day, off to Agra!
The Taj Mahal we did see
Stood on line to look inside
And got there, finally.

Jaipur was our next visit,
We stayed in a palace (number one).
Did you know all their buildings are pink?
The elephants were so much fun!!
in front of the taj

From palace to tents  
We went to the camelfair
We saw them dance and prance
And shopped with care.

Today it rained and poured
outside jaipur
But luckily we were in the car.
Tonight we sleep at a palace 

(number two)
For tomorrow we travel far. 

camels at the pushkar fair

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Turkey, A Julian Orillac trip

     When I think about Turkey these are the words that comes to mind: FOOD and fun, but I am guessing you want to know what actually happened on the trip. So it was 10: 47pm exactly when my grade got onto a bus and drove to the airport. When we got to the airport all I could thing about was Sleep and Food, and any ways I got onto the airplane at 2 am and i am full on sugar like always and cant go to sleep but after 10 minutes I look next to me and my friends were asleep. But here's the funny thing, almost 2 hours into the flight I really had to go to the bathroom I was on the window, food was on the small tables and the people next to me were asleep so i was in a small corner having to use the little boy's room dying thinking of pee. So half an hour later I grew desperate I climbed over the chairs next to me and ran to the bathroom, I was enlightened. 
        Once we arrived in Istanbul I was about as dead as Napolean is and there was a 5-hour layover and I felt like I was about to die so I looked across the gate and saw just what I needed starbucks at that moment this was what I was thinking:
Coffee=energy energy=good. So you can guess what I did, I bought a large Frapachino and drank it down in one gulp. My first.

 5 best things of turkey:

  1. Tunnels, long and mysterious underground tunnels
  2. Rock churches
  3. roommates 
  4. nature
  5. amazing view from airplane

Sunday, October 17, 2010

dining in the desert

With the dips in temperature bringing us into a season of delightful evenings (even if the days are still toasty) we headed out to the desert this Saturday for a barbecue in the dunes.  It's true that Abu Dhabi has some downsides for someone who has lived for the most part in the most cosmopolitan cities--but it does have the desert (and plenty of it).
A short 45 minutes from our downtown villa had us pretty much in another world.  This time we had no one to follow so it was a bit more of an adventure, but when we spotted a troop of camels we figured we were in the right spot.

The camels were completely befuddled when they saw our cars and finally sent an emissary to lead them around the cars.  Once he was safely by the rest of the group followed.  They didn't even glance at the humans...
Our dogs made the journey for the first time -- it wasn't a walk in the Burgundian countryside, but they were pretty excited.  Of course we came back with more than our share of the desert attached to us (this is when the pool really comes in handy) and our dinner was crunchier than usual--it was still an excellent way to spend an evening.