A Long Awaited Visit

family, travel

A couple months ago (yes, I am waaaaay behind on my blogging) my brother, Xander, came to visit us here in Malaysia.  It was a long awaited visit because he is the first member of my family to come and visit us here in Malaysia – and I’ve been here for 9  1/2 years.  I know other members of my family would love to visit as well, but there are many obstacles such as jobs, money, etc.  So I was SO excited last year when Xander said that he was planning a visit!    And even more excited when he confirmed his visit and told us he was staying for TWO weeks!!

The first week he was here was kind of laid back.  Naren had to work for 4 days, so Xander went out by himself for a couple of those days and hung out with us at home for the next couple of days.  It was nice catching up on things, re-living old memories, etc. I haven’t been able to visit the US in three years, so it’s been a long time since I’ve had a face-to-face chat with a family member!  Skype is great, but real-life is better!!  After that week we were full-on with a busy schedule!!  So many foods to try, things to see, etc.

We started with a two night stay in Malacca, a historical city here in Malaysia.  Of course the week before we went had been all sun, but as soon as we arrived in Malacca the rain started!  It rained on and off the whole time we were there.

First up was a trip to Jonker Street – famous for street food, souvenirs, etc.  We got lucky and it stopped raining for a couple hours so we were able to go.  We picked out a few little things, tried some foods, had dinner, and walked back to the hotel (we stayed in a guesthouse that was just a street away).



There was a little “heritage park” in the middle of jonker street, a nice place to take a break, sit down for a bit, etc.  Of course it would have been a nicer place to rest if it hadn’t been soaking wet and still slightly drizzling…




This is what we looked like trying to walk around Malacca… Xander and Svara sharing an umbrella and Naren, Talisa and I sharing another






The second day in Malacca we tried to get some sight seeing done.  We started with walking to Jonker street for breakfast, which turned out to be a dud.  The restaurant we went to didn’t really serve breakfast food, so we ended up ordering “egg sandwiches”.  we thought they’d be fried egg, but it was actually egg salad.  For breakfast.  Yeah.

As we were driving around trying to find the Sultanate Palace, it started raining.  Again.   But we passed by the sightseeing tower in Malacca, so we stopped there first.

Here we are in the spinning tower thing.  It has seats all around, you walk in and sit down and then it goes up a center tower and slowly spins around so you can see the whole of Malacca from up high.  It was pretty cool!





It was raining pretty hard after that, so we decided to eat lunch and head back to the hotel.  We rested all afternoon, and then it stopped raining around 5pm so we headed back to the Fort to finally do some sightseeing.  This place was actually a church that got turned into a fort, it had a long history.







They have a wishing well inside the fort, so we all tossed in some coins.  Svara later confided to me that she was sad that her wish hadn’t come true yet.  She told me that her wish was that her hair would grow as long as Rapunzel (something she’s been wanting for the past year and a half and is the reason I haven’t cut her hair since then!).  She finally decided that maybe the wish wouldn’t come true *right* away, maybe it’d take awhile.  I agreed.  The other day I was noticing how long her hair was and I mentioned that I think her wish is starting to come true, boy did that get a smile!





Svara quickly bonded with Xander when he came.  It was nice to see because the last time she saw him she was 2 1/2 years old and she was not too keen.  He came home for a weekend visit when I was visiting my parents 3 years ago and it was too short of a time for her to get used to him.  But this time?  She clung onto him right away and never let go, he was her BEST bud!  As you can see in this photo he is lucky to have left Malaysia with two arms…




Best buds – she really misses him!





Back to our trip…. it was getting late after the Fort so we went out to eat for dinner and headed back to the hotel for bed.  We hoped the next day we’d have better luck!

We woke up early to go have a GOOD breakfast at a hotel that serves a nice buffet.  The sun was out, it looked perfect! Breakfast was good, and when we came out of the hotel we noticed the ground was wet.  It had apparently rained while we ate breakfast.  We hoped this was it.  But no, as we were driving to the Sultanate Palace it started raining again… sigh…

On our way to the palace we passed by this ship.  It had been closed the day before, but was now open.  We stopped to have a look around!  Svara was enthralled by the ship.  Here she and Xander are being pirates saying “Argh!”  I love Svara’s arms.





Here is the whole ship – quite big!




Our last stop was the Sultanate Palace (the photo is from the day before, but it was closed so we couldn’t go in at that time).  This entire palace is made of wood – no metal nails, etc.  It is not the original palace, but it is crafted from the plans of the original.  There are a lot of historical displays inside.




After that it was time to head home as it was still raining and Talisa had had enough traveling for awhile!

We took a day’s break after that and then the next day headed to FRIM (Forest Research Institute of Malaysia).  They have a canopy walk there, I thought it might be a good family outing.  Our neighbors with a 3 year old son had recently gone here and said that he enjoyed it.  I’ve been on the canopy walk several times since when I was teaching we used to take our students here every year for a field trip (3rd graders).  The walk up was longer than I remembered!  Talisa did well, napping most of the time in the wrap.




We finally made it to the top!  Svara took one look at the walk, took one step out, and that was it.  She was no longer excited!  I wish we would have said “okay, fine” and I would have taken Svara down and we skip the walk.  But we soldiered on and Naren took Svara across.  Svara’s scared and nervous energy transferred to me, and I did not have a peaceful walk either.




Add to that the strange sensation of having my center of gravity off because of a baby strapped to me… eek, I get the jitters just thinking back about it and seeing these photos.  I apologized to Svara the next day, saying I wish we hadn’t made her go on the walk.  She said, “It’s okay, I forgive you.  And maybe I can try again when I’m older!”  So thankfully she wasn’t TOO scarred by the incident…  Xander enjoyed the walk, so that’s good!   After the canopy walk we headed down and had a nice picnic lunch.




The next day Talisa and I stayed home.  Xander, Svara, and Naren went to visit Batu Caves, the most famous Hindu Temple near KL.  Not only is it famous for aaaaaaall these steps you have to climb, but it is home to many MANY monkeys!!  You have to be careful of the monkeys because they’ll grab food or anything else from you that they find interesting.  Xander told me afterwards that the monkeys were throwing pieces of coconut at them!





Xander and Naren enjoyed chatting about cars during the whole visit, and they were able to take a couple visits to some car showrooms.  Here Xander is sitting in a Ferrari!!!




The day before Xander left we went to a mall to see an acrobatic lion dance.  It was too noisy for Svara and of course Talisa, so we waited a bit further away while Naren and Xander “enjoyed” the lion dance.  He was glad he saw it, but a bit shocked at how loud it was.  Certainly they ARE loud!!  The acrobatic lion dances are pretty cool to watch, but definitely would be more enjoyable with less noise.  But then it wouldn’t be a lion dance without all the noise, right?

After that we went to a good friend’s house for dinner and they kindly took a family photo of all of us


On the day Xander left we had relaxing morning at home, and then went out to lunch at at Indian restaurant since Xander hadn’t had a banana leaf lunch yet.  We got super lucky in that we got a parking spot RIGHT outside the restaurant.  This is in a very populated area of town.  And we got a table RIGHT away even though the restaurant was PACKED.  It was a good lunch and then we got to the airport in plenty of time.  Xander got his boarding pass, and we all said our goodbyes.

It was sad seeing Xander go, but I was sooo thankful that he had gotten to stay for 2 weeks.  It was so great having family here and I hope that more family gets to come visit before we leave Malaysia! (not that we have any concrete plans for leaving, but we DO plan on leaving someday, hopefully in the next few years).

Thanks, Xander!!!


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