Friday, May 21, 2010

Real Cheese

Ok so I know there is no picture of cheese here but trust me that was the real reason we went to Kuala Lumpur, the largest city in Malaysia.  Here at ISR we are given two personal days a year.  These cannot be carried over to the next year so it is a use it or lose it situation.  So we left Pekanbaru on a Friday for K.L. and stayed until Tuesday.  It was mainly used as an opportunity to shop for groceries we cannot get in Sumatra, but we found some time to do some sightseeing as well as eat at some U.S. chain restaurants.  However our trip was not without drama.

Anytime you leave the country here in Sumatra you are required to pay a Fiscal Tax of $250 per adult.  We now have paperwork saying that we pay Indonesian taxes that allows you to not pay that tax.  However regardless of which way do this you are required to head into this smokey room and deal with Immigration officials that can be less than accommodating.  This was the case on this particular visit.

Once we get there they make us go and get a photocopy of something they didn't need.  This took about 10 minutes and the hassle of running downstairs and to a totally different part of the airport.  Well if that wasn't enough when we handed our passports to the Immigration officer in order to get to the gate they told us that Sydney would not be allowed out of the country because she had no more exit permits left in her passport.  (Long story short: When you are on a work visa the rules are different and Sydney had just left the country for a field trip the week before so that was the snaffu)  They were refusing to let us get on the plane (well at least Syd, and don't think I didn't think about letting her stay behind).  I was ready to call it a day, lose the money for the airline tickets as they were non-refundable and the first nights hotel and spend two days in my house across from the school sulking and throwing darts at a picture of an Immigration officer.  

Lucky for me Kathi was a quick thinker.  I thought there was no way to get this straightened out since we had about 20 minutes until the plane was to leave.  Kathi called our secretary who then talked to the people at Immigration and "negotiated" a deal to let Syd go. While that was happening Kathi talked to the Air Asia manager who told us it was her job to get us on that flight and had the baggage crew work as slowly as possible.  They actually held the plane for us which was amazing.  So we actually made the trip and disaster was averted.  Great Job Kathi!

Once we got to K.L. we hit the pool at the hotel which was great.  We went to the Petronas Towers (shown in the picture) which had great shopping and food.  We pretty much stuck to buying groceries as we made sure we would be able to bring back two suitcases full of it back with us.  We also ate at Chili's, California Pizza Kitchen, and McDonalds.  If is were up to me we would have ate Thai food and Italian but I wasn't in charge of the meal plan.  The kids loved it!

Most people when they go on a vacation come back and the highlight is something along the lines of the cool stuff they saw, the hotel they stayed in, or the night life scene.  On this trip for the Getzingers the highlight was  definitely the cheese.  That's right we were able to purchase cheddar, and colby-jack cheeses.  To the average person, not so exciting, but we all were picking it up and showing each other the different kinds of cheeses they had in the stores where the rest of us would ooh and aah at the various cheeses being held in our hands.  Very exciting!  You see here in Sumatra you can get good mozzarella and well that is pretty much it.  They have a cheese that comes in a small box that they call cheddar but it isn't orange, it doesn't melt and well it doesn't taste all that good.  Needless to say we were doing the happy dance.  We also picked up some other essentials like icing sugar, finely granulated sugar (which they don't have in here) and brown sugar along with a lot of other cooking essentials.  We also picked up two boxes of Cheese-its that the kids fought over once we got back home.  It was more vicious than the fight over the remote on Saturday mornings.

All of that sugary goodness caused another problem on the way back into Pekanbaru.  Here they x-ray all of the incoming bags off of international flights.  If they see something suspicious or something that they think they might like to take home with them (i.e. art, electronics, etc.) they put an "X" in white chalk on your bag and they hand search it right in front of you.  Well as you can imagine a suitcase full of various powdery substances can be a red flag in an airport setting.  They X-ed our bag and pulled out the sugars.  They asked me what is was in their broken English.  I told them it said on the package it is icing sugar.  The officer had no idea what that was (well, duh, they don't sell that here.  That is why I am bringing it in.)  He opened one of the packages with his razor blade and put some in his hand.  He was looking a little leery about this and wouldn't try it himself.  He then motioned for me to try it first.  With a little smile I tried it and then he was willing to taste some himself.  I was considering pretending to become ill on the spot but though better of that considering our previous encounter with the Immigration staff.  He let us go after tasting it and back to camp we went with our sugar and cheese safe at last. 

Summer of the Monkeys

Last week Kade had a Mutual of Omaha: Wild Kingdom moment on a walk back home from his buddy Trent's house. While he was walking along the 200 meters or so between our two houses he was accosted by a long tailed macaque. This particular monkey is the smallest of the monkey varieties we have here on camp. The picture above is the species in question. We have often walked right through the troupes of monkeys like this without them even paying any attention to us. For some reason right now they are showing much more aggression.

When Kade left Trent's house knew there were monkeys out so he picked up a rock just to be safe. We have never had a monkey do more than make mean faces at us so he was feeling pretty confident. Luckily he did pick up that rock because a male monkey jumped on Kade and grabbed his left arm. Kade reacted by taking the rock that was in his right hand and smashing it into the monkey's head. This got the little guys attention and he retreated. Kade then ran back to Trent's house.

Kade ended up with a small red mark on his arm from the encounter that faded a few hours later. He was pretty freaked out but we were proud of the way he handled the situation. Once we got him settled down he went to a friend's birthday party. When we told people why we were a little late Kade was like a rock star. He ended up feeling pretty good about himself. We now carry a little league bat with us when we go on walks around the neighborhood. I am sure that this won't happen again but we just want to be on the safe side.

Now Kade has a good story to tell when he wants to impress the ladies.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Yes, another earthquake. We are all fine. Didn't feel a thing because we were in the swimming pool. Happy Mother's Day, everyone! Love, Kathi

Monday, May 3, 2010

West Sumatra

Nerf Wars

Kathi Photo :0)