Lindsey and I (jm) had quite an adventure today. We went along with my boss from work to talk with 35 Malaysian students who are heading off to the States for college soon. They are all being sponsored by the National oil company, Petronas, and they get a four year free ride, all expenses paid, and a $1000/month stipend. All they have to do is work for the government for 10 years after they graduate.
We had no idea really where we were going, we thought it was out near the airport somewhere. But our driver kept going and going until we were convinced we must have missed the place. There were palm plantations as far as the eye could see, which actually did make for some fun wildlife watching from the car. First we saw a bunch of monkeys foraging by the road, then we had to swerve suddenly to avoid hitting a 4 foot long moniter lizard who was crossing the road very slowly. Luckily the car behind us saw it at the last minute too, and we were spared watching a sad accident out the back window. The lizard eventually made it across, but I fear at the rate he was going he wasn’t going to be able to outrun the pythons that live in the plantations (they feast on the rats, who feast on the palm nuts).
We finally go to where we were going after almost two hours, and it was a compound like place in the middle of nowhere. While driving around trying to figure out where we were supposed to be, we came across a pretty view and all of us did a double take. Turns out we had reached the ocean, which was weird, especially since it was fenced off and there was no access to the water even though it was about 10 feet away. We finally found the right spot, and there was no electrical outlet for our computer for the presentation because the New Zealand students and reps had the big auditorium. So we just stood outside and winged it for an hour and answered some questions. Most of the kids are going to the Colorado School of Mines, so Lindsey got to tell them all about that area which was very cool.
Before we left, I asked the coordinator lady exactly what this place was that we were at. She said it’s a camp where they do programs to "brainwash the kids about how good the Malaysian government is before they go abroad so they’ll all come back after graduating." I kid you not. This was quite a funny way to put it. So after sputtering to try and come up with a reply, we made a pretty quick getaway (except our driver was a little lost and had to come back to get us). The rest of the day was spent browsing at the fancy mall in the middle of town and eating yummy food. We leave for Lankawi tomorrow morning, so we’ll write more when we can.