A Travellerspoint blog

June 2018

First 2 Days of Project

We finally started our volunteering project! I’m in the construction and renovation group. We have been working at a special needs school in Taiping.

Our first day was a little crazy. We were asked to clean out a shed that the school used to store some outdoor equipment, tools, and cleaning supplies. It was not something that the construction group normally does so we were just the unlucky group assigned this task.
Before we went in, our coordinator Mona told us to watch out for Mr. Long. We were all confused but she explained to us that they had found a snake in the shed several days earlier and warned us there might be more.
Here are some before pictures so you can see what we were working with.
It definitely needed a good cleaning. I was working with Tom, Sabrina, and Joanie. Tom and I were taking a box of balls down from a shelf to sort through it and something massive jumped out of it and ran into the corner. It was probably the size of a grapefruit. We were so shocked it took us a few minutes to recover. We assumed it was a rat for a while because it was about the right size and moved so fast.
The next crazy thing that happened is we found that the shed had a little pest problem. When cleaning out some bins Tom and I found a massive cockroach crawling around. We freaked out and didn’t know what to do. We ended up moving the bin as fast as we could to a grassy area and then flipping it over to let the cockroaches run out. We were terrified of the first 20 but after that we got used to them. We found some insect spray in a cabinet but it really only worked on the spiders. We ended up using shovels to smash the cockroaches when they ran past us. I never thought I would have to kill a cockroach much less hundreds. Tom and I figured that the “rat” we thought we saw was actually a massive cockroach. We also had a few run ins with massive spiders and a lizard but those were both very manageable situations. We never did see a snake so we were grateful for that.
After work we took the long way home to try and stop by a stand that supposedly has the best watermelon juice in Taiping. Unfortunately they were out of watermelon juice so we got fried bananas instead. They were really good! Then Mona poured a cup of ice down my shirt. After that I met up with Clara (my roommate) and we talked about our days. After dinner we went to go see the incredibles 2 which I thought was really funny. It was a very long day.

Today was a much more normal day. One of the teachers at the school asked us to construct a small bookshelf for her classroom. We tried to use what wood we had available. We ended up taking apart the thing that goes on the base of a forklift. I’m not sure what it’s called. We measured out all the different pieces of wood and the space for the bookshelf. I ended up taking over planning the bookshelf out. In my engineering class this past year we learned how to draw designs for things and use proper measurements and annotations so I was able to draw diagrams of what we were building. It felt like a giant math problem where you’re given certain pieces of wood and you have to decide how to use them best. I came up with two designs but upon further consideration I realized the pieces of wood we were given weren’t long enough for the second design to work. I’ll post the pictures of the designs I made.
These pictures show the essential views and measurements needed to construct this object. Tom also took a year of woodworking so he is helping us know when to use screws or nails. It was a lot of fun. Here’s some pictures of me using a hammer! (Enjoy Dad)
I also added a photo of me trying to figure out the measurements for everything. It took me probably about an hour to come up with a solid design. We took the short way back from the school (it doesn’t pass by the watermelon stand) and me, Mona, Sabrina, and Joanie went to Taiping Mall. We got rolled ice cream. Look up a video if you can. It’s really cool to watch them make it. It’s a big deal in Asia so we thought we’d try some. I’ll put in a picture of what I got. It’s Oreo and milo. (For those of you who don’t know, milo is like chocolate milk powder.)
That’s pretty much been my day today. We’re about to go have dinner and maybe figure out what to do after dinner. We don’t like to plan things here so we’ll see!

Posted by Ilana'sGapYear 01:50 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Pulau Pangkor (1st Weekend)

For our first weekend, 8 of us decided to travel to the island Pangkor and spend the weekend relaxing on the beach before our program started. The people that went were Clara, Joanie, Sabrina, Tom, Shane, Amy, and Helena. On Saturday morning we got up at 5:30 to catch a 7:10 bus to Lumut. The bus ride took about 2 hours and we ate breakfast on the bus. Then we took a ferry from Lumut to the island. It was pouring rain when we got there so we took a taxi to a restaurant called Daddy’s Cafe for lunch. We arrived at the cafe at about 10:30 and didn’t realize before heading there that it opened at 11. They seated us anyway and we were able to order. We checked the weather and it was supposed to rain all day so we were all super bummed. We rented an apartment for the weekend but it wasn’t available until 2 so we had a lot of time to kill. We ate lunch and talked until about 2. Some people chose to go swimming anyway. I played a little frisbee with Sabrina. She played in high school too. We then took another taxi to the apartment and checked in. It was really nice. I was in a room with Clara, Sabrina, and Joanie. By then the rain had cleared so we put on our swimsuits and went to the beach. We relaxed for a few hours then went back, showered, and went to dinner. We didn’t really know of many other reputable places to eat so we went to Daddy’s Cafe for dinner too. The next day I got up around 10 which was nice because we had been waking up at 7 every morning. I went swimming in the pool for around 2 hours and then we checked out of our apartment. The people who rented us the apartment were super proud to have western/European visitors and asked to take a picture with us. Then we went to the beach for a few more hours before heading to lunch and back to Taiping. I’ll post a picture from the beach this weekend. The view was incredible.

Next post will be about our first day volunteering.


Posted by Ilana'sGapYear 03:52 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

End of 1st Week in Malaysia

It’s been a while since I’ve written. We’ve been on the go pretty constantly for the past week. I’ll try and catch you up.

We visited the town called Kuala Kangsar also known as the royal town. It was where the sultan of Perak lived. (In case I forgot to mention it, Malaysia is divided into 13 provinces. Taiping is in Perak. Also Singapore used to be the 14th province but gained its independence in 1965.) We saw where the sultan lived and his mosque. We actually got to go inside the mosque which was so cool!
I tried to insert the photos above. I hope it worked. Anyway, the first picture is of the royal mosque. The second picture is of Clara and I dressed up to go inside the mosque. It was so beautiful and it was really cool to be able to go in. It’s definitely an experience I never thought I would have.

We visited the city of Ipoh which is the capital of Perak (our province). We had a tour guide walk us through the city. They had some really cool street art and murals. I’ll try to post some of those photos. We went into a few museums including a tea museum which was really cool. They gave us teas to sample at the end of the tour.
We walked through the Chinese area there and learned about how the Chinese came to Malaysia. They came because of the tin mining industry. We also tried these cool Chinese dessert/snack things. They were little balls of dough shaped like fish with custard inside. They were really good so we bought some.


Here’s some photos from Ipoh. I can’t tell which ones which but there is one of a clock tower. That was dedicated to one of the first British rulers of the area. Another one is a mural. White coffee is a really popular drink here and we had time to try some from the place where it was originally created. So there is a picture of that.

We went to Penang which is a province but is also an island. We toured the Chinese area there and had an amazing lunch of Indian food. By this day all the tours were starting to sound the same talking about the Chinese and tin mining so I definitely did not pay as much attention as other days. It was still cool to see the island. They have a ton of street art too. I’ll insert some pictures.


I put in 2 photos. One is of the amazing Indian food we had for lunch. They served it on a banana leaf. We had so much rice and curry and an amazing dessert but I’m not sure what the name was. Probably the best meal we’ve had yet. The second picture is of the sea from a long dock we walked on. There is a large Chinese population that when they originally moved to Penang built their houses on the water because the land was so expensive. Many continue to live there and raise their families there. They built two long boardwalks with houses on either side. A lot of the houses turned the front of their home into shops for tourists. There were a lot more tourists on Penang but it was still pretty cool to see.

We went to see the mangrove forests. I’ll post some pictures. It was super beautiful. I saw a giant spider!!!! We also saw lots of butterflies, crabs, fish (including one with large eyes on the top of its head that moved 360 degrees), lizards and birds. Most of the pictures from Friday are on my camera/kindle so I’ll upload those separately because I’m posting this from my phone. We also saw a charcoal factory which was neat but super dusty. We then stopped for a quick smoothie (I got mango) in a small fishing village and then we toured the village. It was really pretty. We walked up a bridge and looked over the river. I got pictures but they’re also on my camera. I’ll upload those later.

Anyway, that’s the end of orientation week! More updates from this weekend and my first day on the project to come!

Posted by Ilana'sGapYear 01:59 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

First Day in Taiping! (40 hours later)

So I’m finally in taiping! It took a really long time to get here. It started with an 8 hour flight to Amsterdam. Then I had an 8 hour layover. After that came the 12 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur. Once I arrived it took an hour to get through immigration and then another hour to find the program. We were supposed to meet the person picking us up outside the H and M store but we didn’t realize it was in the other terminal. Anyway, I was lost for about an hour before I finally made my way to the second terminal. Once I found the group, we still had a 3-4 hour car ride to the city (Taiping) we are living in. But, it’s the Malay new year which means everyone is out of school and work so there was a ton of traffic. The drive ended up taking 6 hours. We got into our hotel around midnight.
At the airport I met 2 people: Clara from England and Shane from Ireland. I’ve since met a ton of other people from all over. I’m the only American but there are people here from the Czech Republic, China, Germany, and Canada.
Today was our first day in taiping. We had a tour guide show us around the city. We saw a museum and the famous taiping lake gardens. I’ve included some pictures of that. We also saw a WW2 memorial so there are some pictures of that too. We also had a language lesson today so we are starting to learn a bit of Malay. I think it’s pretty hard because it’s spoken so fast and part of pronouncing it correctly is how fast you say the word.
Another thing to get used to here is the driving. Pedestrians here don’t have the right of way and cars and motorcycles won’t stop for you to cross. It’s quite an adventure trying to cross the street. They also drive on opposite sides of the road here which I’ve never seen before.
Tomorrow I think we are going somewhere on a small day trip. I’ll keep you posted!

Posted by Ilana'sGapYear 06:13 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Test Entry


Posted by Ilana'sGapYear 10:03 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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