Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Coming Out Of Retirement – Take 3

Retirement. Sometimes it’s a permanent thing and other times it’s, well, temporary. For me, as a retired State Department employee, it’s an on again, off again thing.  When I retired in 2014, I signed on to be called for temporary duty assignments worldwide.  In 2015, I spent a week in Singapore, in 2016 I was in Brunei for 4½ months, and now I’m in Kuala Lumpur, commonly called KL, for 1½ months.  I do enjoy the travel, meeting new people, using my skills again and earning a bit of cash. 

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia as well as the country’s largest city. The weather here is that of a tropical rain forest climate from March to October. It rains nearly every day so you always have your umbrella with you. Temperatures year round are pretty constant, 75-90 degrees.  The city is very lush with plenty of green space and modern architecture. 

Last weekend I went to the Central Market. I’ve been to many market places around the world and this one was as fun as any other I’ve visited.  It was quite calm compared to Istanbul or Muscat, where you hear a constant chatter from vendors and the smells of food, incense and who knows what fill the air. This market had wonderful shops and at times, I felt I was back in Muscat!
Pashminas, paper mache camels and ornaments and rugs were everywhere.  And then there was a shop that had the beautiful painted ceramics from Turkey. I left Istanbul with a suitcase filled with them! I also came across a shop that sold the coconut bowls from Vietnam, I think…polished on the outside and painted on the inside and decorated with mother of pearl or crushed egg shell. I’m going home with plenty of these!  I’ll definitely make another run at this market before I depart KL.

Last night I had dinner with a co-worker at an open air restaurant, Fuego, with a spectacular view of the city skyline. It was cloudy so we missed a great sunset but the surrounding buildings provided a beautiful blend of colorful lights that more than made up for the lack of a golden sunset. The Petronas Twin Towers were lit up like diamonds, as was the space needle-like building. It had jewel tone colors changing every few seconds. Unfortunately, we could only see one of the Petronas Towers because there’s another very tall building under construction, blocking its twin.  The food was delicious, the company perfect and the views spectacular.  It was the first time I’ve had a margarita with no ice, a grilled lemon slice as garnish and served in a martini glass. But it was tasty.

Unlike Brunei last year where I lived in a very large house, while in KL, I’m living in a hotel room with a kitchenette.  It’s quite comfortable and I am able to do some cooking on the 2 burner cook top and the microwave. Fortunately, there is a restaurant and the food is pretty good…and quite cheap.  I can get a great teriyaki chicken breast, roasted potatoes and a salad for about $9.00US. Not bad at all.  Last week, at about 9:00 pm, the fire alarm went off in the hotel. It was an alarm like none I’ve ever heard…sounded like a very loud motor with the noise rising and falling. It turns out there was no fire. Someone was frying something in their kitchenette and didn’t turn on the overhead fan and the smoke set off the alarm.  The last time something like that happened, I was in Karachi. Someone in the apartment building started frying bacon and then decided to take a shower.  The bacon burned, smoked like crazy and set off the fire alarm.  The entire building was evacuated into the very hot sun outside. Marines were in full gear and no one knew what was happening…just that we had to get out of the building fast.  Not a fun experience, especially in Pakistan!  I doubt that person will every leave the frying pan while cooking bacon again.

As much as I enjoy these infrequent working trips and travel opportunities, I do think I’ll make retirement permanent when I get home. I love the travel, the money and the opportunity to see things I wouldn’t otherwise see, but I love being retired even more. I love that every day is Saturday.  I love doing whatever I want, whenever I want.  I have enough airline miles to travel to Europe if I want or make several trips to Oregon to spend time with my 3 grandsons.  Life is too short and at my age, I need to be enjoying it every day.  I’ve earned it.