Leaving HOME to go HOME

Global nomads, TCKs, and Expats all know the feeling of leaving your one home to go to your other home.  My family and I just made our annual trip of leaving our home in New Jersey, USA to come home to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter where I am, I always am missing something.

Things I miss about HOME in the USA:

  • Family and friends
  • Food-   real pizza, hoagies, American beef, Mexican
  • Road rules
  • Shopping in malls, Target, huge grocery stores and good shoe stores
  • The weather- no humidity and cool

Our Family at our beach in Ocean City, NJ

Kayaking in New York

 

Things I miss about HOME in Malaysia:

  • Friends
  • Food- satay, spicy noodles, curries
  • Not having to obey road rules
  • Shopping in markets and stalls
  • The weather- hot sunny days everyday

Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur

Rain Forest in Malaysia

 

I guess what is really strange is that the things I miss the most are the things that eventually drive me crazy and make me ready to return to the other home again for a dose of reality!!  I am so lucky to be able to call two amazing places “home!”

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Friendship is a Gem on Gem Island

Friends Looking at the South China Sea

The beauty of friendship is what makes life worth living. Traveling with friends just makes life perfect! For the years we have spent in SE Asia we have been fortunate to make lifelong friendships and share special vacation travels with them. One of our favorite spots is Gem Island on the East Coast of Malaysia. It is a tiny island with only one resort right off of Kapas Island. The snorkeling is gorgeous, the turtle sanctuary is uplifting and the peace and quiet is priceless. We laze in the sea snorkeling or frolicking in the gentle waves, comb the beaches for turtle eggs and shells, swing in a hammock and eat picnic lunches in the cabanas. After a nap and a shower in the garden inspired outdoorsy bathroom we head to dinner in the quaint dining room overlooking the ocean. It is a perfect family getaway and a great chance to unwind and rejuvenate with family and friends.

Frisbee on the Beach at Gem

Cocktail Hour by the Sea

Friends on the Dock at Gem

Gorgeous Gem

Dinner After a Perfect Day

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today~ Ups and Downs of Kuala Lumpur

TODAY some friends and I strolled through my favorite shopping area in KL, Petaling Street. This is in the bustling China Town area of the city.  Everywhere you look, you are assaulted with an overabundance of color and stuff everywhere! Your eyes and mind constantly rivet up and down as you try to take it all in. It reminds me of why I love living in South East Asia. Here are a few snaps I took today.

UP- Incense Burning in a Chinese Temple

DOWN- Looking into the Chinese Temple

UP- A Shop House

DOWN- Shop House Selling Umbrellas

UP- The Tower at Sri Mahamariamman Temple

DOWN- A Vendor Outside the Temple

UP- Looking Up Petaling Street

DOWN- Looking Down Petaling Street

Travel Theme: Street Markets

Travel Theme: Street Markets.
I am reblogging an old post of mine because I saw an interesting travel theme from http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/05/25/street-markets/

Global Anni

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Sunday night in our neighborhood is the Pasar Malam or the local night market.  Traffic is impossible and people are wandering everywhere with bags, trolleys, small carts, back packs.  A road is closed off and in the middle of the road are stalls with rickety tables, portable awnings, and a massive throng of people.  Smells of fresh fish, flowers, and cooking food waft through the air and your mouth begins to water.  You brace yourself and push headlong into the crowd to begin bargaining. 

 

Every Sunday I have a rendezvous with the nut man at the Bangsar Pasar Malam!  He and his wife and son run the first nut stall on the street with giant 10 kilogram bags of nuts that are loosely covered with old plates.  Nuts are my favorite snack and these are the best nuts in the…

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Chiling Out at Chiling Waterfall

The heat, the smog, the buildings, the people, the noise! When I just gotta get out of  Kuala Lumpur, I head for my favorite place in Malaysia, Sungai Chiling Waterfall with my favorite hiking buddy, Kathleen. The easy drive up to the mountains takes about an hour and a half with gorgeous views of the rain forest and a reservoir.

Sungai Chiling Waterfall, Malaysia

Hiking to the falls takes about one hour on mostly flat ground but with enough hills, roots and rain forest trails to keep you on your toes. It is an easy and peaceful hike where you will see many varieties of carnivorous pitcher plants, wild orchids, and lots of wild life such as monkeys, colorful butterflies and tropical birds.

Wild Orchid

Carnivorous Pitcher Plan

The real adventure begins when the trail ends suddenly at the river and starts again on the other side! You must traverse the river 6 times to get to the falls. Depending on the rainfall, the river can be as high as your ankles in some places or up to your waist in other places. The adults make long chains and pass the children along. Sometimes there are ropes to hold or we grab long bamboo poles to keep upright.

Crossing in Waist Deep Water

Crossing the River~ Using Bamboo Poles

After an hour you come out of a bamboo patch to the roaring of the falls. The mist hits your face as you gaze out at the rushing water.

A glimpse of the falls and 3 monkeys!

Once you reach the falls you can swim, picnic and relax at the foot of the spectacular falls. The surrounding rainforest, river and small pools are tranquil and the silence is a soothing welcome after the bustling city.

Anni and kids enjoying the cool pool at the foot of the falls

Kathleen and I usually head up to Chiling with a large group of people and make a daylong outing. The children love this hike with the ease of walking and the adventurous river crossings.

Hiking Pals cooling off

My favorite hiking buddy and her family are leaving Malaysia this year so it won’t be the same without her when I go next year.

My favorite hiking buddies, Kathleen and Derald

Fish in the clear mountain water

Hiking to the falls along the trail

Learning to Breathe…. Underwater

“Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.” James Stephens

I started to learn how to SCUBA dive as a teenager in the Middle East but it was not a happy ending. I will spare you the details of the real life horror story involving a death and a shark during our Open Water Dive test and just state that it has taken 35 years to complete that course. Three friends and I flew to the Perhentian Islands in Eastern Malaysia nestled in the South China Sea. The island is a feast for the eyes with palm fringed white coral sandy beaches and crystalline water. We would complete our open water dives while on the tropical island at Watercolours Resort and Dive Center with Sharon, our fabulous dive instructor.

View from Watercolours Dive Center in the Perhentians

On the first dive we suited up and sped in a motorboat to a small lagoon. As soon as I hit the water I began to look for sharks, but luckily there were none to be spotted. As my head went under the water and my brain began to scream, “STOP IT! Get out! You can’t breathe underwater. There could be sharks here!!  Are you insane!?!” My body started to respond to the commands with panic, but luckily I was able to prevail over my shark terror and ignore my claustrophobia so that I could begin the descent under the water.

Anni Getting Ready to Dive

Once I was under the water, my sensibility returned, my breathing steadied and the dazzling clear blue water and the world of wildlife below astounded me. After completing our skills on each dive, Sharon led us on our fun dives where we were able to see some remarkable sea life. Blue spotted rays floated by while the spikes of lionfish poked out of crevices in the coral. Tiny translucent feeder shrimp pecked at our fingers and a batfish frolicked with my yellow fins. Moray eels snapped their jaws, as hundreds of fish lazily drifted by like a rainbow.  It was a magical scene that we were able to experience four times that weekend. After passing our tests and completing our open water dives, the boat pulled up to the resort where a sign was waiting to congratulate us all on our success. It took 35 years, but I was finally able to conquer my fear of sharks. Another “Mind over Matter” accomplishment! Another bucket list item checked!

Gorgeous Perhentians! Our first dive spot.

Sharon, Angie, Ann and Alexis

Sharon, Angie, Ann and Alexis

It wasn’t until later that day, while snorkeling, that I finally spied a shark. The meter long black-tip reef shark glided in front of me, camouflaged with the white sandy bottom. To my surprise and delight the shark instilled wonder instead of alarm in me. Instead of turning and swimming away in fright, I grabbed my friend by the arm and swam as fast as I could after it, trying to get a better look. He was breathtaking, free and peaceful. Conquering my fear was as magnificent as he was! Anticipation of disappearing below the surface sits in the back of my mind as I return to mundane everyday life. I have spent a lifetime in appreciation and awe of the beach and ocean, but it has been heightened to an elevated level of understanding now that I can breathe under water!

Anni Looking Fearless

Have you overcome a fear?

Third Culture Kid~ Where Are You From?

When I was younger, there was a four-word phrase that sent panic to my mind… “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” Hmmmmmm… How to answer that loaded question? Most people can answer with a one-word response. My response is a paragraph:

Well, I am an American of European descent. I was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, but I moved to San Francisco, California. I was raised in Massachusetts as a young child. I moved to Kuwait and then Bahrain with a short stint in Atlanta, Georgia that I would like to forget! I graduated from an international school in Bahrain. My legal address was in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, but I never really lived there. I went to university in Pennsylvania, but I left after two and a half years. I became a flight attendant where I was “based” in London, but I resided in Bahrain. Then I settled in Ocean City, New Jersey. (This was all before I was 25 years old) I got married and then raised my young children in Ocean City, New Jersey. When my children were 8 and 9 years old we moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I have been for 8 years. We return each summer to the USA and go to PA, NJ, and NY. Our legal address is now NJ, but we no longer own property in NJ. My family and my husband’s family are mostly living in that tri-state area. Hmmmmmm… You guess!?! Where am I from?

Now the questions begin to fly… Am I crazy? Do I have attachment issues? Am I an orphan? Do I exaggerate? Was I a military brat? Am I in the military?NO! I was a Third Culture Kid (TCK) who moved for my father’s work and now for my work. According to American sociologist David C. Pollock, “A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of [their] developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.”

TCKs usually answer the “Where are you from?” question with vagueness like, “Home is where the heart is.”  or “Everywhere, but nowhere.” Many of us cannot easily answer the question. I am living abroad again in Malaysia and for the first time in a long time, I feel truly HOME even though I am not Malaysian. For us Third Culture Kids and adults, “home” is not a place. It is a concept. Home to me is where I feel understood, accepted and comfortable with my life choices. Now that I am an adult and I can appreciate all the advantages of being a TCK, the question does not frighten me any more. I embrace it and look forward to hearing other traveler’s answers.

Are you a TCK? How do you answer the question, Where are you from?

My TCK World Map:

These are the flags of the countries that have influenced who I am.

Nayati is BACK! Student Abducted in KL is Home With His Family!

Nayati is in the arms of his family 6 days after being abducted on his way to school!!!!!! Here is a photo his father used on Twitter showing Nayati and his young sister being reunited. Thank you for all your positive thoughts and energy sent his family’s way!!! The outpouring of love from around the world is astounding! Here is the press release from his family this morning.

Press Release :

We are delighted to tell you that Nayati is back home with us and although it has obviously been a very traumatic time for him he appears at this stage to be in good shape. We cannot begin to say how proud we are of him and the way that he has coped with the events of the past week.

We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from all our friends here in Kuala Lumpurand all over the world. We are unable to find the words to express our gratitude but we will never forget what they did for us.

Even more surprising, because it was so unexpected, has been the support of people whom we have never met – and are never likely to meet – in countries as far away as Zambia and the USA, who have offered their time, skills and, in many cases, money, without any expectation of any form of compensation. We are so grateful for their help.

We also appreciate very much the tremendous practical and moral support we have received from the Netherlands Embassy and in particular the Ambassador, Mr Paul Bekkers. With his help we were able to surmount some “interesting” technical problems.

Finally we would like to express our gratitude to the Government of Malaysia, specifically the Royal Malaysian Police. Their number one priority from the start has been the safe return of Nayati and they have been most careful not to do anything that might have jeopardised his safety. We have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy our stay in this wonderful country.

As we are sure you will understand, Nayati’s kidnapping is the subject of an ongoing investigation so we are unfortunately not at liberty to reveal any of the details of the case at this stage.

There will be a press conference on Friday. Details to follow.
Thank you. – Moodliar Family

Expat Child Abducted in Kuala Lumpur

At 7:40 Friday morning, 27 April, Nayati Shamelin Moodliar was abducted a short distance from the Mont’Kiara International School. His whereabouts are still unknown. He has dark brown eyes and hair. He is about 1.5m tall and weighs 45kg. He was wearing a white polo T-shirt with the school’s emblem and dark green shorts. He is 12 years old. Please, if you have seen this child please call the Malyasian Police at 999, or the school at 0320938604. Please share.

Words cannot convey how my community is feeling tonight and I cannot even begin to imagine what the family is going through. One of our students from our school has been abducted from our neighborhood and our world has been shattered. It has been almost 48 hours since the kidnapping and there is not any word yet. The expat community and the local community are coming together to post fliers and flood the social media networks. Please re-post and spread the word. Keep hope for the safe return of Nayati Moodliar to his family. We are holding Nayati and his family in our hearts until he comes home safe. In whatever fashion you choose, and from whatever religious tradition you come, please keep Nayati and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Break-Bone Fever? The Dreaded Dengue!

The peace of the gorgeous tropical day has been shattered. Sitting quietly by the pool, I suddenly feel the presence of a predator. I try to nonchalantly peer into the bushes to see what is making my hair stand on end. There he is, in his gray-striped pants, but he is unaware that he has been exposed. I shudder as he inches closer to me holding his weapon out in front of him as he looks for the best place to strike. It is now or never; kill or be killed. He doesn’t sense my awareness as he boldly makes his move. I am quicker! I am ready! I swiftly make my blow and blood splatters across my arm! His body lays crushed on the pool deck as I lie back down to try and enjoy my reading again. Another mosquito bites the dust! Since that fateful day in September, I am now always aware of the dreaded Dengue carrying mosquitoes.

Dengue Fever is a viral disease, spread by the Aedes mosquito, which infects 50-100 million people and kills about 25,000 yearly. It is a virus similar to Yellow Fever and West Nile Virus and has symptoms like Malaria. The mosquitoes which carry Dengue are active in the daytime and can be identified by their ugly little gray stripes which I can now spot from miles away! Symptoms include high fever, flu-like symptoms, vomiting, severe joint and muscle pain, and a ruthless headache between the eyes. It is a tropical illness that is more prevalent in cities where mosquitoes can breed in stagnant water.

As soon as we moved to Malaysia we heard the horror stories of Dengue Fever. Most people described it as a fever and illness so intense that your bones feel like they are on fire and are cracking into pieces. That description was enough to strike terror in my family, but apparently not enough to take full precautions. After avoiding the mosquito carrying virus for seven years, one bite was all it took.

I awoke one Friday morning in early September to go for my morning swim before school. I felt a splitting headache coming on so I took two Motrin and headed for the door. As I put on my flip flops I realized this was not an ordinary headache so I slipped back into bed after popping two Tylenol for good measure. Although I had a relentless headache and felt terrible, I made it through work by taking a ridiculous amount of pain medicine throughout the day. At 3:00 as the bell rang, I achingly plodded home and crawled into my bed as my head felt ready to be cracked apart and the mere act of opening my eyes was painful. By 6:00, I could barely lift my head or move and my clothes and sheets were soaked in gross yellow sweat. I had a 104 °F fever and my joints hurt so badly that the shaking from the fever sent excruciating pain shooting through my body. I knew I had the dreaded Dengue Fever.

The doctors confirmed my fears on Saturday morning with a blood test and suggested that I get admitted to the hospital right away. I was feeling a bit smug, thinking I could beat this, so I opted for my comfy bed, bad sit-coms, and People magazines. On Sunday and Monday I felt a lot better if you can call flulike symptoms “feeling better.” I went to my local doctor each day to have my blood drawn and to check my platelet count. The doctors were concerned because my platelet count was rapidly dropping and I was having a hard time staying hydrated despite drinking tons of water constantly. I knew the stories had been exaggerated, this wasn’t so bad….HA!  Nobody told me about the “honeymoon phase!”

When I awoke on Tuesday, I was convinced that I was going to die. The only problem was that I didn’t have enough energy to actually die and I could barely move. After the doctor insisted, my husband took me to the hospital where I proceeded to collapse in the waiting room. I got two bags of IV fluids in the ER since I was severely dehydrated, delirious and fainting. The pain in my head, joints, muscles, and bones was unbearable. The ER doctor admitted me to the hospital and I was hooked up to an IV bag for six days.

During this time I would be faked into believing that I was getting better only to have the fever and pain return again and again like that bad top-ten song on the radio. Finally I broke out in a rash that lasted for weeks and needed to be scratched to the point of bleeding. To top off all of the torture, a pleasant smiling nurse would prance in and jab a needle into my arm to draw blood for the platelet count three times a day. Every day it dropped a little bit more. Luckily I was too ill to care! I slept my way through the week with painkillers, sleeping pills and an IV bag as my constant companions. Finally the doctor released me on Sunday since my platelet count was stable, but I was still sick in bed for a few more days and the rash was worse than ever!

For weeks I realized why it is called break bone fever! My joints and muscles continued to hurt at the slightest effort and were swollen like they had been during my pregnancies. Eventually I felt better, the joint pain subsided and the rash finally faded. However all these months later there is one long lasting effect; I am seized with panic when I see a gray stripped mosquito flying around me. I am frantically swatting one right now as I sit at the pool writing this. Insect repellent and insect killer are never far from my reach. My family looks at me like I have three heads as I chase down a single mosquito like it is a murderer in a bad horror flick! Better to be safe than sorry. One bite is all it takes!

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