|Decked out in a Traditional Costume for the Holidays - Dec 2013 [Photo from Patrick]|
The three weeks that I spent in Ranau included both Christmas and New Years.
I was a little nervous to be spending the holidays away from home. I was going to be missing out on my favorite season and I knew I was going to miss my family and friends even more during this time. I found that the best way to get over missing my family was to find a replacement family that could love me as my parents do. My new family in Ranau took me in and made sure that I was taken care of.
I enjoyed spending time at my friend’s family’s shop that was located next to the church that I was staying at. A lot of the time we would just socialize throughout the day as friends would stop by and say hey. I taught them almost every card game that I know and showed them a few card tricks as well. Some of them still think I am literally a wizard (lol).
Before Christmas we did a bit of caroling, but Malaysian caroling is quite different than American caroling. The language was not the only thing that was different, various members of the church sign up to have the carolers come to their house on different nights. So each night we would go to about 3 houses to sing. First we would show up and greet the family and get organized - making sure that everyone was there. Then we sing the carols while someone played the guitar. Most of the songs had the same tune as English carols, so I was able to sing along and eventually memorize some of them. After singing the house would have some sort of feast or snacks prepared. Needless to say, it was awesome and got me in the Christmas spirit!
Christmas day was fun as well, we went to church a few times and went to a few open houses for a few feasts. During the Christmas season different church members would hold open houses for everyone to come, eat, and play for the evening. At one open house I was entered into a durian eating contest. For those uneducated on durian, it is known as the “king fruit”, has a texture like custard, and smells like a mixture of feet and sugar but it has a taste like magnificence... It’s hard to explain but it’s delicious. Anyways, I took second place in the contest and won a packet of dry ramen noodles.
Another highlight was going to a cattle farm and drinking some amazing chocolate milk (for free because someone’s sister works there). I also went on a youth group retreat for three days at a homestay that was right next to a river. It was very peaceful and I enjoyed cooling off in the river and jumping off a few cliffs.