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A Home Away From Home

For two weeks we have an address in Kuala Lumpur: Lorong Taman Pantai 2, Bukit Pantai, Bangsar. We also have "house” responsibilities in addition to walking and feeding the dog, Rosie.

*Aside* Somehow learning our address eludes me throughout our stay, so every time we get into a cab I must bring it up on my phone to show it to the driver. I think the fact that I have no idea how to pronounce it may be part of the issue. Whenever I try to say the address I’m faced by a blank stare, so I have to present the written address anyway. Then the driver says, “Oh, yes, Lorong Taman Pantai 2,” and it sounds nothing like what I thought it should be. Ah, well.

The first thing we notice is the front door is HUGE, AND there is a tremendous locking system on the inside with huge sliding bolts that can be reinforced with padlocks. In fact ALL the outside doors and even many of the inside doors have sliding bolts with padlocks. Apparently when this house was built back in the 80’s there was a significant problem with crime in the neighborhood. This is now a gated community with round the clock security and crime is not the worry it once was. Ah, the good ole days - apparently NOT! We were told that there was actually a steel bar that went into the brackets on either side of the front door to even more thoroughly barricade it. For a minute I felt as though we had entered a medieval castle. Tuesday and Friday Steven comes to clean the pool.

*Aside* Yes, we have a swimming pool. We have a swimming pool with a canopied lounging area with outdoor ceiling fans and outdoor couches loaded with pillows; a breakfast patio with a table and chairs also with comfy pillows; a large living room with a dining table at one end; a room I dubbed “the morning room” with a couch and two high backed stuffed chairs around what looks as though it could be a surfboard table; a big kitchen with eating space; a wet kitchen; a room where we feed the dog and her food is stored; a bedroom and shower at the back of the house, ostensibly for the housekeeper, but there is no live-in housekeeper; a storage room; and a half bath. Our bedroom has its own ensuite bathroom with water hot enough to boil your backside if you’re not careful and tremendous water pressure.

*Aside* This almost sounds brutal, but believe me it was delicious after the some of the miserable showers we’ve had in the past. I am definitely a hot-shower kind of girl, even in the tropics! The bed is comfortable and we have big fluffy feather pillows - two each! Additionally there are four bedrooms upstairs each with its own bathroom. *Aside*I only went upstairs once when Rosie disappeared. She let herself into the master bedroom and pushed the door closed (yes she is that smart). She then toothily maimed her master’s toothbrush before I found her. After that we kept the gate to the second floor closed. Yes there was a steel lattice gate that you could lock with a padlock to the second floor. We didn’t bother with the lock. Rosie isn’t THAT smart. The doors all have levered handles so Rosie would stand up on her hind legs and push down on the lever to let herself into a room. After she woke me up one morning with a wet doggy tongue kiss, we also learned to lock our door when we went to bed.

*About Rosie* Rosie is part Telomian or Malaysian Jungle Dog. Telomians were used by the indigenous Malaysian Orang Asli as hunting dogs to protect them against snakes and rats. Telomian developed the ability to climb a ladder into the above ground huts of the Orang Asli to eradicate vermin before their owners entered. *Aside*This means that geckos and the large water bugs prevalent in the tropics make Rosie crazy. We often found her in the middle of the living room with her eyes darting around the ceiling making little growly, woofing noises, frantically trying to protect us from geckos and flying insects. Wednesday Gandeesh, the gardener came to tend the yard. There isn’t a big yard but there are lots of trees and plants everywhere. I’m happy to not to be responsible for them. He sweeps the patios too! Maria, the housekeeper came on Tuesday and Friday. This means that I only have to worry about our own laundry and cleaning up our personal dishes. Bangsar Village is about a fifteen minute walk away from us. There are a couple of good sized grocery stores and lots of restaurants including a Thai restaurant that served good noodles and Tom’s favorite: Mango Sticky Rice.

We immediately bought things for breakfast: eggs, yogurt, fruit, bread; and salad fixin’s: lettuce, walnuts, tomatoes, cucumbers, canned garbanzo beans and a tasty tamarind salad dressing; so we can begin eating breakfast and lunch at “home”. I glaze the walnuts creating us salads as good or better than we would get in restaurants. Our one exception was Christmas eve when we got up late and went out for breakfast at a restaurant with two or three different names. *Aside* The one on the sign was The Social, but there was a different name inside on the wall and a third name on the menu. The name didn’t matter though because I had a perfect Eggs Benedict and Tom had “The Big Breakfast” with so much stuff he couldn’t eat it all. We then went to the grocery store and bought the makings for a homemade Christmas dinner: a chicken for roasting, potatoes for parsleying; and carrots for glazing. *Aside* We are in Malaysia, a predominately Muslim country and yet the obviously Muslim girl (in hijab) at the cash register in the grocery store wished me a Merry Christmas. Our Hindu taxi driver also wished us a Merry Christmas. Malaysia is dressed to the nines in Christmas decorations, but in America we have to say, “Happy Holidays” or worry that we’ve offended someone. When did we Americans get so thin skinned? Back in the house we decided on Sushi at U Restaurant for Christmas Eve dinner. The Sushi was good but the Guinness Stout Christmas pudding from The Pinch Restaurant, down the strip, was even better. *Aside* The Christmas Pudding was more like a fruitcake with a delicious creamy vanilla sauce. I had a Passion Fruit Panna Cotta that was good but not as good as Tom’s “pudding”. Dessert envy hits again! I’ll never get over the Chocolate Purse at Meriman’s in Maui, Hawaii, but that’s a totally different story. Come to think of it, I believe my dessert that time was a passion fruit concoction as well . . . Next day I converted Celsius into Fahrenheit, deciphered the symbols on the oven and roasted the chicken. It was the first home-cooked meal I made for us in seven months. It might not have been “Haute Cuisine” but it certainly was satisfying to us. *Aside* The best part? The leftovers made us five more meals in various forms including potato salad and chicken sandwiches and chicken in our luncheon salads. We settled into a routine of waking up, letting Rosie out, making coffee for Tom and tea for me, feeding Rosie, eating breakfast, waiting for the service people, making and eating lunch, feeding Rosie her dinner, then wandering down to Bangsar Village for our dinner. We ordered in pizza one night and December 23rd we FINALLY got reservations to Fuego Skybar for dinner. The food was good to ho-hum but the view was awesome. Third try was the charm!

But our stay was routine. We were staying for free, but we had obligations for the care of the house and Rosie so we couldn’t just run away for the day. It was pleasant but not exciting. It was relaxing, but not engaging. Luckily we had done a lot of the touristy things we wanted to do in Kuala Lumpur the last time we were there so we were able to kick back and just relax, enjoying our comfortable surroundings. *Aside* However getting up at 6:00AM to let the dog out so we would not have an “accident” in the morning room fell to me. Tom stayed up to let Rosie out last thing at night, I got up early to let her out. If I couldn’t get to sleep promptly then I got very little sleep. So much for rest and relaxation . . . We booked New Years Eve dinner at Opus Bistro - near the U Restaurant where we ate Christmas Eve dinner. They were offering a special menu set for the evening. We ate early - about 6:30 - wanting to return home before the roads got crazy. We started our meal with Lobster Bisque which was more like tomato soup with a couple of nice chunks of lobster. *Aside*I wouldn’t have called it bisque, but it was tasty.

Tom chose the Tenderloin and Lamb Chops while I chose the Baked Cod: both were really good. The dessert of Christmas Bread and Butter pudding was good but not stellar. I should have left it on the table and gone down to The Pinch for that Guinness Stout Pudding. Kuala Lumpur does amazing fireworks at midnight. I know this because Rosie went crazy when they started. I sat on the floor in the living room and soothed her while we watched what we could see through the French doors looking out over the swimming pool. Rosie calmed and I went back to bed. Then the second round began. I almost completely gave up on sleep when later the neighbors set off their own personal big bang. On New Year’s Day I finished our laundry and packed our bags in preparation for the owners return. It was a lovely respite with the ability to stretch out in comfort. Will we pet sit again? Good question.

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