Join me and my young, South African family as we accompany my husband to Kuala Lumpur for a 3 year contract.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Things I'm missing about South Africa

Almost 6 months here and I'm starting to miss home. I can't say that I'm homesick and feeling miserable, but there are many things that I'm wishing I could pack into an imaginary bag and teleport here immediately. I've not put them into order of importance, just things that I've thought of over the last few weeks:

1. Our family dog:
This was the biggest decision we had to make before coming to Malaysia. She is 13 years old and has a bad heart. We decided, after discussing with vets, friends and family, that she would go and live with my parents and their dog while we are in Malaysia. She's loving the retirement home back in SA and she loves Granny's dog to bits, so it has worked out for the best for her. Sometimes I say hello to her when we Skype home.

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2. Our Family and Friends back home:
Now this is an obvious one. Our family and friends are really missed. And more so because you can't phone them up and invite them over for pizza at a moment's notice. We have made some lovely friends here, many from all over the world, and we are all in the same boat and so we all understand what it's like to be 'alone'. In a way they have become our temporary family, and we all help each other out when needed. I know that it is difficult for our friends and family back home but thanks to Skype and Facebook we can stay connected more often.

3. Buttermilk rusks:
Strangely enough I missed rusks more than biltong at first. Now I've tried a recipe to make my own. Wasn't very successful but I'll keep trying.

4. Biltong:
Aah, yes! We brought our biltong maker with us and have made a few bits, but just wish I could quickly pop to the local Pick 'n Pay to grab some,  and not have to wait 4 days for our home made batch to dry out.

5. Driving in South Africa:
Everyone back home moans about how badly people drive there. It is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, compared to the driving chaos here in KL. I would gladly swap a Jo'burg taxi driver for one of the guys here. You need eyes all around your head plus an ability to keep a 1cm gap between you and the car in front otherwise someone will cut in front of you. And don't let me get started on the word "merge" - it simply does not apply here. But I have learnt the art of patience whilst driving here and I sometimes have to drive like they do otherwise I'd cause an accident if I obeyed the basic road rules. Certainly not for the faint hearted.

6. Friendly shop assistants and cashiers:
I like to say hello, thank you and goodbye when I visit a store. Perhaps it's just a South African 'thing' that we do. Over here you are lucky if you get a 'hello' or a 'goodbye' from a cashier. Many store employees will say 'welcome' to you when you first enter the store but generally the cashiers don't really talk to you. Over the last few months, some of the cashiers at the grocery store have started to recognize me so they say hello but we're working on it. I think perhaps it's a cultural thing here and maybe they feel shy.

7. Boerewors:
Aaargh! The heartache! Just like biltong, you can only find boerewors if you know who to ask. I'm off to the Blue Cow butchery here in a few days time to get me some. Need a boerie roll now!
I am trying very hard to convince our butcher in the non-halal section of our grocery store that he needs to start making this. I've even written down the name and the ingredients for him.

8. Letting the kids play outside:
Of course our girls go outside and play, but certainly not like they did back home. High temperatures and mosquitoes are very annoying and Poppit has already had heat exhaustion once before so we tend to only go out for short spurts at a time.

9. Open doors and windows:
I miss leaving the doors wide open and letting the girls come in and out of the garden as they please. With the ever pesky super quiet demon mozzies out and about, if I left the doors open for even a minute then I'd have hours of mozzie swatting after that. And if I open the window while I'm cooking then the flies descend. Oh yes and it's so hot outside that the aircon's are on inside all the time so wouldn't want the cooler air wasted now do we?

10. Drinking tap water:
Although we have a contraption that filters all the incoming water to our home, I don't really trust it. So, we don't drink the tap water at all. Which means a run to the 7-eleven if we run out of bought water. And it happens more often than not as we all drink a lot more water here due to the heat. Plus, every year there are a few dozen cases of Typhoid so best to be safe.

11. Not having to worry about mosquito's:
Here we have super quiet mozzies that creep up on you all day and all night and all year long. They are demons and I hate them more than anything. When we first arrived Bubs was being bitten about 3 times a day. They seem to love her blood. Now we have learnt and we have a stock pile of mozzie repellent all over the place, plus extra mozzie zappers in the house. Dengue fever is a big worry and when the rainy season comes we are even more cautious, and Bubs wears long pants for school to cover the legs.

12. The Bushveld:
My heart definitely belongs in Africa. The sounds, the smells and the sheer bliss of being in the bush makes me happy. I know that will be the first place I go when we go back home for a holiday.

13. Clean(ish) public toilets:
Yes I know, public toilets are generally terrible places all over the world, but oh my word I have seen some interesting stuff here. I'll spare you the details but note to self: Carry tissues with you at all times as there is often no supply of this. Use the most powerful anti-bacterial wipes you can find and clean toilet before use (this also applies to shoe prints on toilet seats which is very common). And wear the biggest pair of platform shoes you can find - due to the water puddles on the floor from the water sprayers that many people use. Generally public toilets in the bigger shopping malls are better and drier, but you'll need a strong stomach for many others.

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