Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with 2010, in with 2011!

It's time to say goodbye to 2010, and welcome to 2011.

If 2010 wasn't what you hoped it would be, I wish you a fantastic 2011! On the other hand, if 2010 was wonderful for you, here's wishing you continued happiness!!

See you on the flip side!

(Image: 2011 Natural)

Friday, December 24, 2010

2011 School Holidays - Malaysia

Welcome to Part 3 of the 2011 Holidays of Malaysia! We've covered the National and State public holidays,,, and now, on to the School holidays!

Did you know that most -- but not all! -- of the states in Malaysia go by the "usual work week of Monday to Friday with Saturday and Sunday as the weekend? The states of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu -- read: the more, shall we say, conservative? ones -- have their work week start on Sunday, with Friday and Saturday being the weekend (this is in order to make sure Fridays are free for the mandatory communal prayer.

Back when I was a corporate drone, coordinating best meeting days/times between my company's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur with its branches/subsidiaries in Terengganu posed a lot of challenges; all too often I could only schedule meetings for Fridays, so the unfortunate CEOs and/or Plant Managers often had to sacrifice their weekend for me.

Where is this going? Well, the above explains why I have to provide you with two sets of School Holiday dates for Malaysia in 2011, one for Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu; the other for the rest of Malaysia. ... and here they are:

Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu
    School Commences : 2nd January 2010
    1st Mid Term Break : 11th March - 19th March 2011 (9 days)
    2nd Mid Term Break : 27th May - 11th June 2011 (16 Days)
    3rd Mid Term Break : 26th Aug - 3rd Sept 2011 (9 Days)
    End of the Year Break : 18th November 2011 - 31st Dec 2011 (44 Days)

All States Except Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu
    School Commences : 3rd January 2011
    1st Mid Term Break : 12th March - 20th March 2011 (9 Days)
    2nd Mid Term Break : 28th May - 12th June 2011 (16 Days)
    3rd Mid Term Break : 27th Aug - 4th Sept 2011 (9 Days)
    End of the Year Break : 19th November 2011 - 1st January 2012 (44 Days)

In case you didn't notice, as a result of the difference in how the week is divided, the school holidays of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu start a day earlier than the rest of the country.

I hope this helps with your holiday planning! Because, you really really really do NOT want to be a tourist in Malaysia during school vacation time! Trust me! :D

Image credit: 2011 by grietgriet

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2011 State Public Holidays - Malaysia

There are THREE sets of dates you should keep in mind when planning a trip in/around Malaysia: the national public holidays, the state public holidays, and the school holidays! Today we'll take a closer look at the state holidays: each state within the country has its own unique set of days off, so while the total of ~15 days is the same, the spread of those days can vary widely. Take a look for yourself:

    1 (Saturday): New Year's Day 2011 Celebration
  • only for Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Labuan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Penang, Sabah, Sarawak & Selangor
  • NOT for Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis & Terengganu

  • 11 (Tuesday): Hari Hol Almarhum Sultan Iskandar
  • only for Johor

  • 14 (Friday): Birthday of Tuanku Yang Di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan
  • only for Negeri Sembilan

  • 16 (Sunday): Birthday of Sultan of Kedah
  • only for Kedah

  • 20 (Thursday): Thaipusam
  • only for Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang, Selangor

    1 (Tuesday): Federal Territory Day
  • only for KL, Putrajaya, Labuan

    4 (Friday): Anniversary of Coronation of Sultan of Terengganu
  • only for Terengganu

  • 30 (Wednesday) & 31 (Thursday): Birthday of Sultan of Kelantan
  • only for Kelantan

    15 (Friday): Declaration of Melaka as A Historical City
  • only for Melaka

  • 19 (Tuesday): Birthday of Sultan of Perak
  • only for Perak

  • 22 (Friday): Good Friday
  • only for Sabah, Sarawak

  • MAY
    7 (Saturday): Hol Day of Pahang State
  • only for Pahang

  • 17 (Tuesday): Birthday of Tuanku Raja Perlis
  • only for Perlis

  • 30 (Monday) & 31 (Tuesday): Keamatan Harvest Festival
  • only for Labuan and Sabah

  • JUNE
    1 (Wednesday) & 2 (Thursday): Gawai Dayak Festival
  • only for Sarawak

  • 29 (Wednesday): Israk & Mikraj
  • only for Kedah, Negeri Sembilan & Perlis

  • JULY
    7 (Thursday): George Town Unesco World Heritage Day
  • only for Penang

  • 9 (Saturday): Birthday of Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Penang
  • only for Penang

  • 20 (Wednesday): Birthday of The Sultan of Terengganu
  • only for Terengganu

    1 (Monday): Awal Ramadan*
  • only for Johor, Kedah and Melaka

  • 17 (Wednesday): Nuzul Al-Qu'ran *
  • only for Kelantan, Pahang, Perlis, Penang, Perak, Selangor & Terengganu

    10 (Saturday): Birthday of Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak
  • only for Sarawak

    1 (Saturday): Birthday of Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sabah
  • only for Sabah

  • 8 (Saturday): Birthday of Melaka State Governor
  • only for Melaka

  • 24 (Monday): Birthday of The Sultan of Pahang
  • only for Pahang

    7 (Monday): 2nd Day of Aidil Adha (Hari Raya Haji/Qurban) *
  • only for Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu

  • 22 (Tuesday): Birthday of Sultan of Johor
  • only for Johor

    11 (Sunday): Birthday of Sultan of Selangor
  • only for Selangor

  • NOTES:
    * Subject to change based on moon viewings
    ** Whenever a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a public holiday

New (to me) additions in 2011: the George Town Unesco World Heritage Day, or Declaration of Penang as a World Heritage Site; and Thaipusam finally being a day off for Kuala Lumpur.

Wanna know the significance of these holidays? Stay tuned throughout the year, as a malaysian abroad will feature each holiday as it occurs.

Next, we'll list the schedule for the 2011 school holidays. Don't go away!

Image credit: 2011 by grietgriet

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 National Public Holidays - Malaysia

Planning a trip to Malaysia in 2011? You would do well to take into consideration when public holidays (whether national or state) *and* school holidays are, because, well, things might get crowded and crazy! To help you out, here are the NATIONAL public holidays of Malaysia in 2011:

    [none! because technically Jan 1st isn't a NATIONAL holiday! can you believe it?]

    3 (Thursday) & 4 *** (Friday): Chinese New Year
    15 (Tuesday): Prophet Muhammad's Birthday



    1 (Sunday): Labour Day **
    17 (Tuesday) : Wesak Day

    4 (Saturday): Agong's Birthday


    30 (Tuesday) & 31 (Wednesday): Aidil Fitri (Hari Raya Puasa) *
    31 (Wednesday): National Day (Hari Kebangsaan)

    16 (Friday): Malaysia Day
    [now this is a pleasant surprise to me... is Sept 16th FINALLY being elevated to a NATIONAL holiday? Yay! I gotta say, it's WAY overdue! Want the story? Check out my post on the day itself, okay?]

    26 (Wednesday): Deepavali

    6 (Sunday): Aidil Adha (Hari Raya Haji/Qurban) * **
    27 (Sunday): Awal Muharram (Maal Hijrah) **

    25 (Sunday): Christmas

    * Subject to change based on moon viewings
    ** Whenever a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a public holiday
    *** Except Kelantan and Terengganu

I hope that gives you a bit of a taste of what different events are marked at the national level in Malaysia. How many different religions, and religious events do you count? Do you know why?

The next two posts will help you further in your 2011 holiday planning: the list of Malaysian STATE public holidays, and, as important, the school holidays! Stay tuned!

(tinyurl for this post:
Image credit: 2011 by grietgriet

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's Thanksgiving!

Gobble gobble, (aluminum) foil and (apple) crumble...
... turkey turn and (green bean) casserole bubble!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Nickel and dimed!

Nickel and dimed! is the first in an erratic and sporadic series of posts in a malaysian abroad themed You're Not In Chicago Anymore!

This is a common habit of mine: making the false assumption that that how something works in one place is how that same something works everywhere else in the US. I'll cover recycling next time. Today I'd like to whine about public libraries.

First, I have to declare that I love to read. While 2010 is a slow year for me, in 2006 I read 84 books; in 2008 I went through 49; who knows what my lifetime tally is like! I love discovering new authors, fresh voices, different worlds, thought-provoking concepts.

Second, you might know that I am loathe to discard any book that has come into my possession, unless it was a particularly ungripping tome. In fact, of all the stuff of mine that's still in storage in Malaysia waiting to be shipped to the US one day, I would say perhaps 80% of it all is books. And that's after I hardened my heart and drastically vetted through them, saving only those very dear to me. I'd amassed quite a large number of books because it was so much more practical to buy rather than borrow back in Malaysia.

Third, my hubby is just like me... perhaps even worse in terms of his packrattishness (yes, I just made that up), so our apartment already has more than enough books in boxes that need a few more rounds of purging.

As such, we simply will not buy a book unless deemed necessary: the entire Dark Tower series, for example; hubby's working on Frank Herbert's Dune spin-offs by the son; I'm working on Isobelle Carmody's Obernewtyn, Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, George R R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. The only reason I've not bought Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind is that I want to buy the complete set in one go - so maybe in 2015? LoL!!


Where was I? Oh yes: we cannot and will not buy books unless utterly necessary. Therefore, the local public libraries provide the important service of allowing me to read to my heart's content, without breaking the bank or adding to the clutter.

Here starts the whine.....

Back in Chicago, I enjoyed a three week lending period. Overdue fines were 10 cents (later doubled to 20 cents) a day. My neighborhood library was open 6 days a week, and the main library was open every day, from early morning till late night. Best of all, items that were in the overnight return bins at the start of the day were considered to have been returned the day before.

Then we moved to Springfield IL, where its public library has a mere two week lending period, and overdue fines are 25 cents a day. In terms of operating hours, the two satellite branches were open twice a week but are now closed due to financial difficulties, while the main (and only) library is open daily but with much shorter hours than expected. Worst of all, the 'bonus' overnight return allowance doesn't exist.

I really feel I'm being both shortchanged *and* nickel and dimed here in Springfield IL.


    DISCLOSURE: the links to are affiliate links. Please don't hesitate to click them to get more info on the authors/books I've highlighted: the links are safe, and cost you nothing. I receive a commission only if/when somebody purchases goods or services via these links (I believe it's a 24-hour cookie, but don't quote me on that). Said commission is paid by the seller, not you the buyer. Any commission earned is greatly appreciated :) however, rest assured that any compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

oops I *didn't* do it again!

If you've dropped by my Life After Work blog recently, you'll know that I got my hair cut a few days ago. I just realized, however, that I'd neglected to tip the person who'd done my hair!


Tipping is so NOT part of the culture I grew up in.

I've pretty much gotten used to leaving a tip for waitstaff at a restaurant, but that's about all my exposure to a tip-required service, except for the rare haircuts (and I do mean rare! Prior to this recent trip to the salon, my last haircut was in September 2009!), so I'm not surprised that it might slip my mind... but still... I feel bad about it... I am planning on going back in a month or two to 'refresh' my cut: I'll just make sure I get the same person, and will make sure to specify I'm tipping for two sessions with her!

A blog buddy of mine is starting a career as taxi driver in Las Vegas, and recently blogged a little about tipping. I would think that at major tourist spots such as Las Vegas, the taxis would be fitted with a sign saying that "a xx% gratuity is expected" so that drivers wouldn't be gypped... especially when they get taxed on an assumed amount of tips whether or not they actually get to that amount!

How about you: what's your opinion on tips?

(image source: wikipedia)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

PLX2010: update and results of the "I'm feeling generous" drawing

Oh my, was it already a week ago that I was seething at the woman in 5D? Where has the week gone?? Thankfully I worked in a LOT of buffer for the Postcard / Link Exchange of 2010 (PLX2010) so this update isn't late at all, despite the move from to a malaysian abroad's new home here in blogspotland.

To refresh your memory, here are the rules for PLX2010, and the participants this time around are:
... creating my life has already blogged about the postcard! Yay! A little earlier than the official rules stated, but I'm throwing those rules out the door anyway, LoL! Thanks, dude! Hope you liked the card :) {if any of the other participants have also already blogged about their cards, sorry I didn't notice! Just tell me and I'll correct this post, k?}

As you may recall, I had had an 'extra credit' portion of PLX2010 that didn't really get off the ground. Steve, who RT’d my tweet, won himself a little Malaysia-themed gift as thanks. I then put the remaining four participants in the drawing for a box of Boh Seri Songket Passion Fruit flavored tea.

This morning TK-217 graciously volunteered to pick the winner:

Congratulations to Jeanette Eats Spaghetti!

Both Steve and Jeanette happen to be fellow Springfield tweeps: if I don't manage to meet up with them by next weekend to hand off their prizes personally, I'll send the items via snail mail instead. Hopefully we'll do it live - then there might be more pix! :)

One final PLX2010 post to come, featuring the participants' posts about their postcards: stay tuned!

PLX2010 image derived from mailbox by clix

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Recoloring May 13th, 1969

The May 13th 1969 race riots are a painful, shameful chapter in the history of multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious Malaysia that continues to hang over the collective consciousness, casting a dark shadow over the political landscape of the country.

"...When reflecting on May 13, 1969, we can blame others for what happened, blame the situation, or we can choose to transform things for the better, to be change agents and constructively fill our hearts and minds with what needs to be done so May 13 does not ever happen again, and that no one uses the day to bring about fear and negativity..."

Read more about anas zubedy's recoloring effort.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Healhcare in Malaysia: ankle woes, part two

As you may recall in Part One, I shared the cost incurred for going to the emergency room to have my ankle looked at, and estimated that the total out of pocket would be about USD$100.

Boy was I wrong!

You see, on Monday I went to see the orthopedic specialist... okay so he took a look at the Xray and dismissed the chip, saying it was an old injury, based on the fact that I wasn’t in pain where the chip was. He poked my foot here and there, and declared I probably had partially torn ligaments, and prescribed an ankle brace and continued use of the crutches.

I musta spent like 5 minutes total in his office.

Specialist consultation: RM 120
Ankle brace: RM215
Refitting the crutches with new foam thingys: RM35

Total: RM 370 (= USD$ 115)

Total $ spent on my ankle at that hospital = about USD$210

... and yet just a few hours later, I was off the crutches and brace!

On one hand I’m kicking myself for having thrown away that extra $ at the hospital, but on the other hand I really did need to know that I wasn’t sporting a chipped bone... knowing I was only dealing with hurt ligaments, I gave myself the green light to explore other therapies. And the opportunity to visit my traditional massage torturer presented itself only when I was done with the hospital. Things just worked out the way they did. Bottom line, YC worked her magic on me. THAT was RM60 very well spent!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Healthcare in Malaysia: my ankle woes

Oh what fun, I’m hobbling around on crutches no thanks to an accident on the tennis court yesterday :p It’s given me some comparative blog fodder though, so yay!

I’ve incurred about RM240 so far:
  • RM65 for some pain killers and anti-inflammatories
  • RM65 for the xray
  • RM65 for the cast/bandages
  • RM30 consultation
  • Balance for registration/administrative stuff

I expect to incur at least RM60 just to see the ortho specialist on Monday, and will assume that that should be the end of it lah... if I need to follow-up it will have to happen in the US.

So I’m looking at an out of pocket of about USD$95 right now.

And now I’m wondering what a similar incident would cost me in the US. It seems my insurance deductible is $100, so either way I’d be out about the same amount... except that I have a feeling if I went through the same things in say Springfield, I think I’d be more than a C-note poorer!

How about you? Have you had the misfortune of hitting the ER? How bad was the damage to the wallet?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

.. oops, 'ice' did it ..?

I forgot a cardinal rule last night, and am still paying for it... ugh...

When partaking of drinks in areas where food prep standards might be low, it's not advisable to get anything with ice, because ice is one of the main culprits of contamination/spread of tummy-upsetting bugs.

... but it was so warm and muggy last night, the air so stagnant, that I HAD to have an iced drink, then another and yet another while attending the #chickenwingtwtup... I thought nothing of it at all as I was gulping down the drink, then the melted ice... until this morning...

I was scoring #7 on the Bristol Stool Chart

Later in the day I had a small lunch, but was in pain while my tummy digested it.


I managed to find a pack of rehydrating salts that I've consumed with lots of water, in addition to the litre of water I've sipped throughout the day. Hopefully I'll be game for something simple for dinner. Otherwise I'll get me a can or two of 100PLUS.

What a bummer.

Coulda been a lot worse tho, so I'm thankful I'm only mildly discomforted by all this. Still cancelled a teh tarik date with my tennis buddy tonight tho, didn't want to risk it...

Hopefully I'll be recovered tomoro.

Have you run (haha) across this on your travels? Or do you take precautions to save yourself from what I'me going through, and worse?