We started our journey from the 3rd day of August. Mom and son explored Amsterdam, New York City and finally reached our ultimate destination – Bloomington, Indianapolis! We did some sightseeing and went on food tours. We had fun.
It’s exciting to see dear son got settled down in his new living environment; his dorm, getting along well with his room-mate and making new friends from other countries. I guess getting the new bicycle helped a lot. I’m glad it all turned out well for him. Bloomington is a wonderful city where everyone is equal. Much thanks to Indiana University (IU) which exposes the city with multi-cultural influence. People are friendly and most helpful. I so love Bloomington! Nothing fancy but just nice and cosy. Love the houses architecture too!
IU students can be found everywhere. Many of the domestics work part-time at retail stores and restaurants. While we were at Edinburg Premium Outlet, about an hour away from Bloomington, we came to know a senior student manning the check-out counter. Both Sonner and the kind young lady exchanged contact details so that she could connect him with the others in her students-group. I observed, the wonderful IU culture extends to students as well, not just their administrators. They readily provide support to new students without hesitation. They openly expressed excitement for getting to know new friends. Amazing, isn’t it?!
As for me, I made some new friends too, from India, Taiwan and China. We met at the parents orientation activity. This particular Taiwanese mom was so kind and brave to drive us around. As for me, despite having almost 30 years of driving experience, I wouldn’t dare to drive on the other side of the road. It scares the daylight out of me.
What I like about Bloomington road safety is that, all modes of transport, e.g. car, motorbike and bicycle, have to stop at junctions to allow pedestrian cross the street. All must stop at STOP signs and yes, including bicycles. Bicycles aren’t allowed to overtake any vehicle while on road. Meaning, the cyclist has to cycle behind the car, if there is one in front. It can only move forward to the front of the traffic at traffic lights junction where there is a spot specifically for bicycle to stop at. However, where there is a cycling lane, bicycles can cycle freely on that lane. In a traffic jam, no cars are to cut queue. It is understood that everyone stays in the line. No drivers would tolerate misbehavior on the road. They won’t hesitate to walk up to you to tell you off.
At those restaurants and bistros pouring alcoholic beverages, the floor staffs will first ask to see your ID before admitting you into the premises or taking your order (for alcoholic beverages). Under-aged patrons are not allowed to sit at the bar at all. You can expect good service from the floor staff. Of course, don’t forget your tip. A Thai restaurant I went to even printed calculated tip raging from 15% to 25% to ease the payment.
One day, I was served an overdone and dry petite steak for lunch. When I informed the waitress about it, she apologized and immediately order for a freshly cooked steak. She left my plate be so that I can eat the sides while waiting for a replacement for my petite steak.
I noticed that waiting staff at all eateries make an effort to check on us in case we need any further order and if everything is alright. I think it is their culture, not entirely driven by the hope for a larger tip. Back home, I tipped as well but the service and friendliness can’t match that in Bloomington. I could see that they take pride and pleasure in their jobs. The enthusiasm to serve well makes the difference.
At the hotel, the evening before my check-out, the front desk staff helped me booked for my shuttle bus from the hotel to the airport. She even offered to print out my boarding pass and bus ticket, to be delivered to my room! How’s that for six star service?! Thanks to Biddel Hotel. I’d like to shout out to Mark, Sonja, Jeremy (he told me to inform dear son to look for him should he need any help…WOW!) and Mary, the most cheerful cashier at the foodcourt. Mary has a collection of more than 200 hats and she wears a different hat to work everyday. She is in her 60s. These people made a huge difference to my stay in Bloomington. It feels like the whole place is like a family town! There is no total stranger there. That kinda feeling. Sweet, isn’t it?
On my last morning at IMU, we bumped into a group of Malaysian students. 6 of them, one studies in IU while the rests were studying in other unis but are taking a tour around IU. One of them, a Hoosier, exchanged cellphone numbers and promised to add dear son into the Malaysian students group. We count our blessings that dear son gets to meet so many wonderful people offering to help and ready with advice. Thank God for that.
I’m now aboard a plane to NYC, for a duration of 2 hours. 4 hours transit for onward flight to Amsterdam. This is really a marathon …in total, 22 hours on air and 13 hours of transit. I’ve never done such long haul before. The most I clocked was 13 hours flight with 7 hours transit. I’ll write as I move from one airport to another. How fun is that?
The plane is descending approaching JFK. Then, my 4 hrs transit starts before I board the next flight to Amsterdam. I have to fiddle with the time again, to keep jet lag to the minimal.
The 4 hours passed real fast. I’m now boarding for Amsterdam, an 8-hour flight and expected to arrive on time at 11.35am local time. Gonna catch up on some movies and perhaps have a short nap too.
At Schiphol airport, after taking my lunch, i checked into the hotel for 5 hours. It’s better this way for long hours of transit as I get my privacy to freshen up, FaceTime with my kids (separately) and take a short nap. Lovely!
Finally, boarded for KL! My last leg of the journey, balance 12 hours. Can’t wait to be back! Enjoyed my champagne and spicy steak wrap. Movies and nap again. Finally I got to catch up on watching all the movies I didn’t have the chance to watch. Nice!
Touched down on Malaysian soil on 18th August afternoon. On time arrival but the baggage claim was slow. Dear hubby, ma fille chèrie and mom came to the airport to meet me. Glad to be back and that also stamps the long distance that separate us from dear son. I’m not too worried about that as I know he’ll blend in well. He is very much similar to me. We just adjust ourselves to new environment, and make the most of it. Moreover, we can always exchange WhatsApp messages and FaceTime for real time chats. Just need to watch the 12 hours difference in time.
Thankfully, I have sufficient time to freshen up and change before driving out to school for my PTA meeting. As it’s raining and the traffic was slow, I’ve advised my deputy to start the meeting on time. I know I’d be delayed.
Glad I accomplished all I set out to do. Though I was away, I keep tabs on activities in the school, especially the progress of our Rainbow Run 2.0 meetings via feeds from my wonderful fellow committee members. Thanks, guys!
As you read, you’ll realize that this post has been written in parts and along my journey home from the 14 days of my great adventure. I hope you enjoy reading it. That’s it folks! It’s a wrap!