About Me

My photo
Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Slip Away from SE Asia: Saying Goodbyes to Sydney

My friend Sydney was finally leaving KL and I just had to see her and say goodbye. We met in Northern Sumatra (Pulau Weh an island off of Banda Ache) five years ago and have been friends ever since. She hails from North Carolina, but probably feels more at home living simply in her ashram in India. We went to KL last year to see her, but her mother was dying and she had to return to the States so we stayed alone in her fantastic apartment (Setia Sky Residence), which was a bit dour and contemplative without her (See Back to Borneo).

 The other time before that, when we visited her, she was beginning to help in the creation of a gigantic silver chariot used for the festival of Thaipusam and the infamous Hindu procession to the Batu Caves with local Hindu artisans from Sri Ganesh Jewelry. My daughter and I were walking around their workshop admiring the little intricate pieces they would eventually meld together in a 6 meter tall chariot. Sydney was honored to be the first woman to ever work on such a holy relic.

She is an incredible woman. Sydney is an artisan, jewelry maker, using jewels, and precious metals (gold mostly), specializing in enameling. Her finest pieces cost about 8,000-10,000 USD. She started a NGO in Cambodia teaching former sex trafficking victims how to make jewelry and provide for themselves (The Alchemy Project). Just her personal drama of being an older woman in a conservative, patriarchal Muslim society and establishment of Raffles College is quite the story. The hardships she endured for her the love of teaching her art, has made her a heroine of mine (and her students).

We have gone to KL several times, mostly in transit to other parts of Malaysia and I think we saw most of the popular tourist destinations: the Bird Park, Little India, China Town, Petronas Towers, Batu Caves.

This time we returned to Little India for our maandi (henna tattoo), relaxed by the pool, ate more delicious Middle Eastern and Indian Food (at different restaurants) and had some white wine at Marini's' rooftop bar, with it's towering view overlooking the Petrona's sky bridge as well as the whole city. Using an Uber like app called Grab was the only way to get around. Much cheaper than taxis -or Uber. (If only Taiwan had Grab I'd never drive again.)

View from Marini's
Sydney was busy packing and finishing last minute details, so we didn't want to be in the way too long. We left her place, with a DVD player, a picture frame, a bag of peanuts, a book, little gifts for Z, and a table clothe to add to our backpacks. As the elevator door of her apartment closed, my daughter asked me, "Will we ever see her again?" I hope so! She's just one of those kindred spirits, ageless, a profound person with an enormous, generous heart.

So on the 4th of July we slipped away on a bus to Singapore.


Sydney Scherr said...

So happy to have you in my life and so pleased to see you before leaving for the States. Love to you both...you, too, are my hero and embody all that real success means. And it means so much more then financial wealth! You have gifted the world to your daughter and she is one amazing young lady!

Marisol James said...

Greetings! Very Nice post! It is the little changes which will make the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing! Hotel in Frankfurt Oder