My time in Malaysia has been a lot of fun so far, despite having a bout of severe indigestion yesterday. Barb said she felt horrible because they always tell foreigners to go easy on the local food until they have been here long enough. Instead, I ate too much and suffered the consequences yesterday. As a result, I did absolutely nothing but sleep and try to hold down water and crackers.

Today, however, we did get to go up to Batu Ferringhi. I suppose should clarify some things first, because I know I haven't been too clear about where we're staying and where we have been:

Penang is an island state off the west coast of Malaysia as well as a little slice of the peninsula. Jonathan's parents live in the city of George Town, which is the capital. George Town is located in the north east corner of the island. Batu Ferringhi is on the northern tip of the island. THere are many resorts located there, as well as a batik factory, which is why we drove up the winding highway today (and the road IS winding - think hwy 101 ON CRACK).

THe factory is a small area with open walls and a light roof. Inside, a nice woman showed us the different ways that they create the patterns. The first we saw was block printing, in which they dip a wooden stamp in the wax before printing it on the cloth. They also do hand printing as well. Next she showed us where the women were hand painting the cloth with the dye. After they were finished, they will boil the cloth to remove the wax. They had a show room with a gift store and some wonderful things to buy.

Oh - a note about the cultures here in Penang: earlier I said how wonderful it was to see how well the different religions and cultures get along, but aparently that's just on the surface. Here, they are very good about being polite in public, but according to Jonathan's dad, once you live here for a while you find out that the different groups are not as happy as they seem. I guess that's kind of like in America, only people are more polite outside.

We also went to the mall today so Barb could get her hair cut and so we could pick up some groceries. WHen we first came, the mall was covered in christmas decorations and the muzack piped in was very tinney christmas carols. Now they have taken all of those down and replaced them with chinese new year decorations. Everywhere you go stores are selling big baskets fulls of red envelopes and candies. Christmas here is just a commercial holiday, but you can tell that they are REALLY excited for CNY.