3.3.15

Five Fun facts

There's so many odd little things that you get used to when living overseas.  Things that I never notice any more, except when I travel back to the U.S. or have visitors come.  Here are a couple of examples from life here in Penang. 

 1) Malaysians have their own way of doing calendars.  If I look at them for even one second I think my brain is going to explode.  Really, though, it's just the Western calendar flipped on its side.

I'm not looking

2) Marshmallows.  I feel ridiculous investing the one minute of my time that it will take to type this because it's such a silly little thing, but let's talk marshmallows.  Marshmallows would have a very short shelf-life because of the heat here, so they are formulated differently in order not to melt.  That's right, our marshmallows are unmeltable.  A friend and I were talking about them the other day (because conversations here go that sort of way) and I also know because I tried to make myself s'mores in the microwave. So much for that s'mores pie I was planning to make. 

3) Drive through fruit.  These are awesome.  The best part about them is that you don't even have to get out of your vehicle.  You just drive up next to them (they park on the side of the road) and tell them what you want from your window, and they bring it to you.  Just like a Big Mac.   It's so convenient with a baby in the car.  The guys that sell this fruit are experts, and if you tell them you want "bananas for tomorrow" or "mangoes for today" they will bring you your perfectly ripened-as-requested fruits.  Our fruit guy's name is Tony and we love him.


4) Tree temples.  There's something about big trees in Malaysia that make people (the Buddhists, particularly) want to build little houses (altars) in them.  

 



One little story: A couple of years ago, I used to walk past this tree every day on my way to work.  Once in a while a man going past on a motorbike would wave to me.  I had no idea who he was.   Not only are we out and about all the time but we also stand out, so it's not unusual for people to recognize us when we have no clue who they are.  So I try to be at least a little bit friendly with everyone, because they might actually think they know me.  So every time this motorbike man would wave to me, I would wave back, but it was always a little bit strange that he would never actually look at me.  Finally, I put two-and-two together and figured out that when he waved at me, we were always near the tree.  Then I saw someone else going past the tree and waving at it, while I was some distance away.  They were acknowledging the temple in the tree all along, not me! 

5) See anything unusual in the picture below?


That's right, there is no 4th, 13th, or 14th floors.  The Chinese are very superstitious here and those numbers are considered unlucky.  For example, the word "four" in the Chinese language sounds very similar to the word for "death".  So they call the fourth floor "3A", the 13th floor 12A, etc.   Clever!  Our building, however, doesn't do this.  It's likely, though, that the apartments on those floors are owned by foreigners who don't care, or are much lower in rent.  And speaking of floors, here's a bonus fun fact: the floor at street level is called the Ground floor.  They borrowed that from the British.  If someone tells you to go to the third floor here, it would be the American equivalent of the fourth floor.

There you have it!  

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