Monday, September 17, 2012

Capture the Seasons

"[Malaysia] is a springless summerless autumnless winterless land. One day might be a drop wetter or a mite drier than the last, but almost all are hot, damp, bright, bursting with lazy tropical life, conducive to endless tea breaks and mad, jostling, honking rushes through town to get home before the afternoon downpour."

from Evening is the Whole Day be Preeta Samarasan

Living in Central Texas, I was always envious of people who got to truly experience the seasons. The winter there is so mild. But moving to Malaysia has been an exercise in forgetting seasons altogether. We arrived last year in July, when wearing shorts, tees and flip flops seemed quite normal since that's what we'd been wearing when we'd left our Texas home. But then the months slid into December, and we were still wearing the same outfits day in and day out.  I was hoping that the short-sleeved velveteen dress I had brought wouldn't be too warm when my daughter wore it to the school Christmas concert. Now, I don't even check the weather reports because it never changes. Even the days are almost the same length. There's only a 38 minute difference between the longest and shortest days for the year. I miss the change of seasons — even the Texas version of it.

This is my entry in‘s “Capture the Season.”  German expat living in Texas, Country Skipper, invited me to join her in the contest. I hope you enjoy my East versus West take on it.


I realize is is Autumn when...

Hayfield Maze at Sweet Berry Farm, Marble Falls, Texas — October
Hayfield mazes start cropping up in Texas. Every fall, we'd make the trip out to Sweet Berry Farm to pick pumpkins, stuff scarecrows and navigate through the Hayfield Maze. Notice that we're still wearing shorts. Tip for Parents: If you are chasing two mobile kids through a maze, carry your baby instead of pushing a stroller. Otherwise, you have no hope of keeping up with the mobile ones and end up yelling, "Freeze! Where are you?"

Deepavali decorations at the Penang Sports Club, Malaysia — October

Deepavali decorations start showing up around Penang. This city has a large Indian population, and Deepavali/Diwali/Devali is part of the fabric of the community. Beautiful rangoli designs made out of colored rice decorate public areas and are a sacred welcoming areas for Hindu deities. Sometimes, the artwork is very large and elaborate.


I realize it is Winter when...

An unexpected snowfall is always a treat in Austin, Texas — February

Snow falls on the ground in Austin, and the city screeches to a halt. It happens every couple of years. Our Valentine's Day gift from Mother Nature was a smattering of snow on the ground. Ever try to make snow angels in 2 inches of snow? You end up with a very muddy coat. Here, we've scraped up enough to make a 12-inch snowman with a baby's hat on top.

Just a small part of the massive Kek Lok Si temple complex, Penang — January

Thousands of lanterns and lights adorn Kek Lok Si, the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia.  Starting sometime in January, Chinese New Year decorations hang everywhere in Penang, and you can see the temple on the hill from miles away lit up in celebration. There are fireworks all around town almost every night for 15 days. The last census showed the Chinese population just edging out Malays as the most populous ethnic group in town. It seems that Malaysians mark the seasons more by holidays than by changes in the weather.


I realize it is Spring when...

It's a field of bluebonnets! I must plunk my child down in it and take a picture.
Austin, Texas — April

Fields of bluebonnets stretch as far as the eye can see in Central Texas. Taking a picture of your family surrounded by bluebonnets is a rite of passage for anyone in Central Texas. After all, it is the state flower. Wildflower forecasts show up online, and people start posting where the best fields are.

Thai New Year Songkran Water Festival, Wat Chayamankalaram, Penang — April

It's time for the Thai and Myanmar New Year celebration. Another New Year celebration? Indeed! April is the hottest time of the year in neighboring Thailand, and the respectable tradition of washing a Buddha to mark the New Year has evolved into an all out water fight. If you attend, prepare to get drenched. Most revelers are armed with water guns, and buckets of ice cold water lie around ready for them to reload. If all else fails, just pour water from your bottle.


I realize it is Summer when...

Kemah Boardwalk near Houston, Texas — July
We hit the Kemah Boardwalk for some amusement park fun. When my mother-in-law went down to her parents' weekend home on Galveston Bay as a child, it was a quiet, rural area, and they had to bring their own water to drink. Now, the Kemah Boardwalk is located just a few miles up the road, and the Johnson Space Center is fifteen minutes away. We visit every summer to reconnect with our extended family. Between the blazing Texas sun and the humidity wafting in from the bay, it feels like we've never left Penang.

View from school cafeteria, Penang — August

Penang quiets down as many expats go on Home Visits while the international schools are on summer break. We first arrived in Penang a few weeks before the new school year started. (An unofficial New Year, perhaps?) Of course, we were excited to get a look at the campus. I couldn't believe the view from the school cafeteria. That's when I definitely knew we could get used to this place.


Next up is...The following bloggers always have such great photos and stories. I'm hoping they'll join me and show us how they #CaptureTheSeasons.

Brave, or Just Crazy?: Long-time Canadian living in Singapore
Katie not in Prague: American serial expat now living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The World is a Book: Filipino-American like me sharing her tales of world travel with kids
More Kids than Suitcases: Hilarious tales of family trips
Average Traveller: Hits the sweet spot between luxe and budget travel

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travellers Sandbox. Check it out for beautiful pictures that will have you longing for Myanmar and other around-the-world travel inspiration.


  1. I love your take on it!!! And I'm still missing that picture of myself in the bluebonnets... The one year we went to the Hill Country in spring it had been to dry... I can't believe how many New Years you get to celebrate. That must be so much fun! Love all the lights and decorations!

  2. Beautiful pictures, Michele, especially that paradise view from the school cafeteria. Wow! What a great way to incorporate your two homes in the post. I really need to make a trip to Texas in the Spring and see all the bluebonnets all of you Texans are talking about. Thanks for the tag!

  3. Seasons, huh? So much pressure! Thanks for the kind words. I'll give it a shot!

  4. Hi Michelle! I absolutely love your take on this and am excited to join you in the exercise. It might take me a few days to locate the photos I have in mind but I'll get them up by the weekend!

    It's funny, the other day I was thinking that at home, the leaves would be changing soon and the weather would be cooling down. Here China Town is covered in lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Festival and moon cakes are being sold on nearly every corner. It's amazing how my perspective on the seasons is changing.

  5. What a great comparison and beautiful photos! Being Canadian, I complain constantly about winter but I do think that I would really miss the changing seasons!

  6. What a great series of contrasting images and how they do show the seasons. Nice job of capturing them. . .

  7. I love the comparisons between the seasons in your different countries. It's amazing how easily you adapt to the new. I'd miss that view from the school canteen..fabulous!

  8. Great idea, to contrast the seasons in Texas and in Malaysia.

  9. What a wonderful way to highlight the differences between countries. Your snowman is especially cute and short lived I would think too. They didn't have corn mazes when I was growing up but that's something I think would be a ton of do.

  10. I could definitely relate to your Texas seasons. I love the Texas snowman, and when I saw the bluebonnets, I was just the teeniest bit homesick. Thanks for the memory of home.


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