Stacey Fujikawa blog - Summer Work-Study in Malaysia
May 3, 2010 - We are here! It is hot and humid… and I love it!
Our airport escapades were long and tiring, but after three flights(18hours in the air) and about 28 hours of travel time we finally landed in Kuala Lumpur. We took van taxis to our apartment buildings (Bistari Apartments). I sat in the front beside the taxi driver. He taught me how to say thank you (terima kasih) and you’re welcome (sama sama). He is from Melaka (south of Kuala Lumpur).
Our apartment building is right by the PWTC station which is in the Putra area… It’s an interesting place. We are near “The Mall”, yes that is the name of the mall by us… haha. A canal or river and the train run by our apartment building. The water looks gross and smells even worse. But we have great security at our apartment, a pool, tennis courts, squash courts and a gym. They have set us up with transit cards, sim cards for our phones (I had to buy a phone cause I couldn’t jailbreak my iphone, but Hassan bartered for me and I got a sweet gold sony ericsson smartphone for 220RM/$73ish Canadian). I am living with Doug, Brice, Hassan, Kasha and Allison. The apartment is pretty nice and we get maid service every day.
On the first night the owner of our apartment building, Bernard, took us to a local restaurant for dinner. We all had great tandori chicken with naan bread! Some people had coconuts, fresh orange juice, ice coffee (kopi ice), or ice tea with milk. We ate with our fingers… kinda weird. haha. We try to eat at a different place every meal! Most places have been pretty good so far.
My roomies are great! We all laugh a lot and go on adventures together. The entire group on the work-study is actually pretty sweet! We all get along great!
Kasha and I tried to find our work place today. It was an interesting experience… haha. We took the wrong train the first time (two trains go the same way but split off just after where we board the train) and then couldn’t find klpac after we went to the right station (Sentul). We asked two people and it didn’t work out so we jumped in a cab. Our cab driver didn’t know where klpac was either… so we showed him our map and eventually found it. Looks like Kasha and I may have to grab a taxi every morning after the train. The train is only one stop away from our apartment though. Doug came with us and we went with him to find his work place. He is working in the Golden Triangle area of KL, which is really posh. A lot of expats live in/work in the area so we saw more white people than in our area. The Pavilion is a shopping centre and basically has all the stores you would ever want to see in one location… from Top Shop to Coach to Louis Vitton to every thing else you could want.
Tomorrow is the first day of work!
I’ll let you know how it goes!
May 5 - "Working Woman": Tuesday was the first day of work.
My supervisor was sick so Kasha and I got a tour of the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac) and then tagged along with the artistic director, Joe, for lunch and in the afternoon. klpac is located in Sentul Park, which is one train stop away from a station near our apartment building/an eight minute cab ride away. The park is pretty cool with British ruins and lots of large trees. klpac is an old warehouse that has been converted into the performing arts centre. Some of the original brick that is over 100 years old still remains as part of the open concept design of the facilities and theaters.
Now that Kasha and I have gained an understanding of klpac, Actors Studio, the culture and the history of the companies we are doing more day-to-day tasks. In the morning Kasha and I read about klpac and upcoming productions. We then researched contact information for radio stations to contact about promoting the upcoming production ADAM The Musical. I can’t wait to go see the production now that I have heard so much about it and read about it! We prepared a letter to email to radio stations with a press release and an audio clip from ADAM. The last couple hours of the work day were spent inputting data from surveys from previous productions. It went by fast and before I knew it, it was time to go home.
Last night after work we went and checked out the market in China Town. It was pretty cool. Lots of stalls with fake designer bags and some clothes. We ate dinner at the Reggae Bar! The food was decent. I’ve heard about the Reggae bar from previous work-study people cause they used to live near China Town, as well as from travel books. It was a cool place and I am sure we will go there again. I think it’s a pretty touristy spot for young people.
May 9 - Batu Caves and Night Out
This weekend we stuck around KL to go see some of the sites and to go out to a club.
On Saturday we went to see the Batu Caves. The caves are a popular Hindu shrine. We climbed a baffling 272 steps to get to the caves which are made of limestone. There were lots of monkeys on our way up to the caves, as well as in the caves. I got to put my new lens to use.. I love it.
In the evening we took cabs to a club called Zouk. There were two rooms that played different music. The main room played house/electronic and upstairs played house/electronic mixed with Black-Eyed Peas and other popular western music. We tore up the dance floor! Mad props to Hassan for dancing almost the entire time we were there!
Sunday was a chill day. I slept in… called Loveleen when I woke up… did a little shopping in the afternoon. It was a good time and then just hung out with the roomies at night.
Today we are back at work for week 2! ADAM The Musical premieres on Wednesday! I really want to check out a show asap!
May 11 - Show Premiering Tomorrow!
Soo… at work they have their longest running production opening up tomorrow - ADAM The Musical. Kasha and I spent the day at work on Monday and then went with Ashraf (an actor in ADAM and an employee at klpac) to help him buy foundation, powder, and fake eyelashes for his trannie role in the musical. It took us a little while, but we found some stuff that works! SUCCESS!!
Kasha and I watched the dress rehearsal of the show last night (Monday). The understudy for the main role performed. She did a phenomenal job! The band playing is younger than I am used to seeing in Canadian performances, but they are extremely talented!
I took tons of pics and a lot of them turned out pretty good! Today, I uploaded them onto Facebook and The Actors Studio Facebook Page! Check them out! klpac is going to use a few of them for posters at The Actors Studio… I am so honored that they liked my photos enough to use some of the them for the public to see!
And tomorrow is the premiere of the show! Everyone seems to be really excited and anxious for the shows to begin! Kasha and I will be attending the Thursday performance. ADAM seems to be getting some pretty good press in newspapers, magazines, and such so it’ll be interesting to see how the reviews are in the next couple days.
May 17 - Weekend in the Clouds
On Friday, the roomies and I went for dinner at the shopping centre located in the Petronas Towers. We got some great shots of the towers and had a chill night just hanging out and walking around.
The next day we went to Genting Highlands. We took the train to KL Sentral, then took a bus and the skyway (gondola) to get to Genting Highlands.
The resort area is literally on top of a mountain and up in the clouds! There are some great views of KL in the distance and the Chinese temple sits on the side of a mountain so the clouds were eye level. There is also a 60ft Buddha at the temple!
We stayed at the cheapest hotel which has over 6,000 rooms (2006 Guinness Book of World Records)!! On Saturday we wandered around, went on a roller coaster, went for dinner and then went out to a disco called Safari. The club was a lot of fun!
Sunday was spent in the outdoor amusement park. We went on rides most of the afternoon, and by the time we were done dinner most of us were ready to go back to KL. Our bus was scheduled for 11pm, but four of us caught a cab back to our apartment early… it ended up costing 90RM for the cab…. so $30 for an hour long cab ride down a mountain back to KL and to our apartment building. I slept for almost the entire cab ride and went to bed early that night.
Overall, a fun weekend away from KL…. and now looking for things to do next weekend… perhaps take a short flight or a bus/ferry combo to an island on the east coast…. still undecided.
May 19 - Fieldtrip!
Our work-study group went to visit our sponsor university, UiTM, on Monday for a tour around the campus and the area. The campus is quite large and has many faculties. UiTM has campuses located in all 14 provinces of Malaysia and most major cities in the country. There is something like 147,000 students currently enrolled at UiTM. The men’s and women’s dorms are separate buildings in different areas of the campus… a little different from Canadian institutions.
After the campus tour we went to the blue mosque, out for lunch and then to Putrjaya to visit a pink mosque, as well as to see Parliament building and Prime Minister’s house. The ladies had to wear robes to go to the pink mosque. They supplied us with pink robes…they were so hot! The girls were not allowed to enter the main level of the mosque, but the hostess allowed us to go to the upper floor that looks over the main level. Our hostess was an older woman. I learned a lot about the Islamic religion. You know… I get confused as to how to properly use the terms Islam and Muslim… so I looked it up on Wikipedia and I have deciphered it as Islam is the religion and the person that follows the religion is referred to as Muslim. I hope I am getting this right… perhaps my cold meds have made me incoherent.
The weekend took its toll on me… I napped on the bus and on Tuesday morning I had a sore throat and the sniffles. I have a cold in a hot and humid country in the middle of summer…
June 9 -Wrapping it up!
It is now my second last day of work! CRAZINESS! Last week seems like forever ago… hmm… this past weekend I went shopping to buy some presents and went to the Lake Gardens. The Lake Gardens are near the national mosque and have four parks (deer, butterfly, orchid and bird). We wanted to start at the butterfly park, but Kasha’s and my taxi driver said he only knew where the bird park was. They are all beside each other, but who are we to argue? The bird park was expensive so we went to the orchid and hibiscus park for RM1. Big spenders! haha. There were some really pretty flowers…I am sure most of you know that I love flowers!
The heat was exhausting so Kasha and I decided to go to the Islamic Arts Museum in search of art and air conditioning. I really enjoyed the museum. They had cool displays and the museum itself has a very interesting design. We caught a taxi to Time Square Shopping Centre to purchase a few things we couldn’t find on Saturday and then met some of the work-study peeps for a movie date. I feel like I have seen way too many movies in KL… I think I see one every week or so. We couldn’t get tickets until the 9 o’clock showing of The Killers (meh, it was ok) so we got some dinns, looked around Pavilion Shopping Centre for a while and then went to our movie. In Malaysia you pick your seats when you purchase tickets so there’s no need to be early, and they also don’t let people into the theatre until ten minutes before the movie starts anyways.
And now the last week of work is almost over. Kasha and I went to see a dance performance Tuesday night at a university. It was the showcase for the graduates of their dance program. The first half was Malaysian styles of dance. They wore ornate costumes and performed very intricate dances. I was really impressed. In the opening number the girls danced with candles and in another they had glass bowls as props… nothing broke and no one got hurt. haha. The second half of the performance focused on contemporary. They were pretty good, but you could tell that the school focuses on traditional styles of dance. Overall, I was impressed with the performance and was glad that we were able to attend.
Wednesday was a long day. A bunch of us went to lunch because it is our coworker's last week also. She is starting a new job soon. It was a lot of fun and a great way for Kasha and I wrap up our last week at work, too! Our supervisor is so nice, she bought us lunch! Kasha and I, along with many of our coworkers, stayed at work late to catch the Dewandaru Dance Company’s opening performance. They are here from Japan and are performing a fusion of Japanese and Javanese styles of dance. The co-founder, Rianto, has studied Butoh dance which seemed to be an influence on the choreography. Facial expressions were just was influential to the choreography as was any other movement of the body. I’ve never seen dance like this before so it was very interesting to experience. Rianto performed a solo piece first called Hallucination and the second piece was a group performance called Pintu Amaterasu.
On Saturday Kasha, Allison, Doug and I leave for Perhentian Islands! We are going to chill on the beach for about a week before Kash and Doug head back to Canada on June 18. I am so excited to start the traveling part of my trip! Allison and I had originally planned to travel through Vietnam and Laos on our way to Thailand, but we have decided that we don’t have enough time so we will be traveling throughout Thailand, then to Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong… and home!
End of the Journey - Langkawi
Well… looks like the old saying, “time flies when you’re having fun” hits a home run yet again. That’s it folks! I can’t believe the work-study went by so fast! KL, Bistari Suites and klpac feel like home now. I randomly run into coworkers and work-study people all over the city. I know exactly what route the taxi should take on the way to work each morning. And if a teksi (taxi) driver says he doesn’t have or use a meter…I know it’s not true!
First, I really do need to talk about our group’s long weekend trip out to Pulau (Island) Langkawi on the Northwestern coast of Malaysia. The flight was delayed, which is apparently the norm when you fly with Air Asia. The flight was right around an hour long…so short and sweet. Our bus host in Langkawi was entertaining…he had a map of the island that lowered down from the ceiling of the bus. He told us where the duty free stores were… very helpful man! When we arrived at the Mutriara Bay Resort we were welcomed with a complimentary beverage. We took our luggage to our rooms and then hit the beach! The sand was pretty good and the water was so so… not quite as nice as the beaches and water that I have been to in the Dominican, but I don’t think Langkawi is well known for its beaches anyways. It was so nice to swim in the sea though! Meals were included so we all went to dinner together and I watched the man make my naan bread… maybe took a picture or two of the process.
Saturday we had some more beach time, ate lunch by the water, then went and bought duty free alcohol. More beach and swim time when we got back to the resort… dinner together and then night time drinks at the beach. It was a full moon that weekend and fairly clear skies so we got some wicked night time shots!
Some of us went on an island hopping tour Sunday morning. There is a formation of mountains that make up the silhouette of a pregnant woman. Legend has it that if you are infertile and drink from the lake at the bottom of the mountain formation it will make you fertile. It kinda reminded me of Chief Mountain. The woman was laying the same way (when you are looking at them their heads are on the right and they are laying on their backs facing the sky). We stopped mid route to take some pics of the mountains during the tour. We then went to a fresh water lake to swim in… I don’t think it is the lake that you are supposed to drink from to become fertile… that would be icky.. haha.
We went to an area where eagles were feeding. Langkawi is known for their red eagles and the name Langkawi actually consists of helang = eagle and kawi = reddish-brown or strong (courtesy of wikitravel). From there we went to a beach where they had tubing, parasailing, and beach time. It was fun and relaxing. We met a couple guys from Ottawa and got some travel tips for Thailand from them. The boat ride back was bumpy and since I was the silly one that loved sitting way at the front I became airborne during more than a couple of the bumps. When we got back we spent more time on the beach and swimming… who would’ve guessed. We showered up and met in the lobby to wait for the bus. We ended up waiting for over an hour… normally this would bother me, but Malaysia is a very laid back country and I have grown to expect that most things will be late. We had the same host for our bus back to the Langkawi airport, we all stopped to eat a delicious meal at a Chinese restaurant! The fish here always have the head on still and it creeps me out… but I tried it and it was yummy. Our flight back to KL was, you guessed it, delayed! We rolled up to our apartment building around 2:30am. I don’t think anyone in our apartment unpacked, we all just went to bed.