Tuesday, December 27, 2011

37 years

Married for 37 years ...

...and still adventuring together!

Yeah! Lots and LOTS of happy memories.

And plenty more to come. :D

Friday, December 16, 2011

We're Ba-a-ack!

When it comes to travel, boring can be very good! Who needs adventures at a time like that? No lost luggage, no missed planes, no spilt coffee, just a normal flight that goes to plan.

We had two flights booked out of Kuala Lumpur on Monday 12th. One was back to Kuala Terengganu - the one we took in the end - and the other was booked to Langkawi where we were to meet up with our colleagues from IPG who were going there by bus at that time. But the bus trip was postponed - maybe because of the weather forecast (?), so we ended up coming back to Kuala Terengganu as per our original plan.

A few more days of holiday

But we are not back at work yet. So we went down to the Noor Arfa arts and crafts place just south of Kuala Terengganu - I wanted to buy some nice batik material.

Back in the day (in the '70s) when I was at teachers' college, I did Batik printing as an option, so it was fascinating to see this Batik demonstration at Noor Arfa. We never painted our fabrics, only added wax and then dyed them. This young lady was doing a remarkable job despite the monsoon wind that was sneaking past her defenses and trying to rip the material away.

And then of course the little man figured he needed to show us the other crafts on display. This gentleman is making some pretty little glass things - doesn't seem very Malaysian, though.


We felt it was time to upgrade our lifestyle a little, with a bigger TV.

The men came and set it all up for us ... but we are still waiting for our Astro package to be activated so we can have some worthwhile stuff to watch on it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Let's go fly a kite

The beach at Kuala Terengganu - called Batu Burok - is a popular place. We sometimes go for a walk there in the evening, and join the madding throng.

Well, OK, it's not quite Bondi beach ...

In the weeks before the arrival of the monsoon, the wind blowing off the ocean was hot. You expect that with a wind off a desert, but when the wind over the sea is hot, well, it's a bit like ... dragon's breath ... or something. Moist and weird.

Occasionally, despite dire warnings from the locals (but no warning signs ...) and the obvious lack of lifeguards and the like, few mad young people go surfing in the waves on Batu Burok.

But generally, apart from staring at the ocean and taking photos of your loved ones, the only activity here is flying kites.

There are often kites for sale, and some of them are delightful and bird-like ...

Flying a kite Oz-ztyle

And then we went on holiday back in Waikiki, Western Australia - truly one of the windiest places on the face of the earth! Obviously a great place to fly kites ...

I hadn't realised until we were standing nearby and were startled by a loud "psshht!" noise, that these kites are strengthened with air-filled struts.

On a windy Waikiki day there are dozens of kite enthusiasts zooming back and forth on boards hauled by kites in this section of fairly shallow water.

I would say it's not as easy as it looks - but it really doesn't look easy.

Exhilarating, though, ay?

And fun to watch, as long as you keep an eye open for low-flying kites with horizontal ropes that could take your head off ... not that it's ever happened!

Would Malaysian youth like this kind of kite flying? They are generally intimidated by water too deep to stand in, and go swimming or snorkeling with life-vests on. But motor-bikes are popular, so I guess - given the right conditions - this would be popular.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Return to Oz

For brief stay ...

It's hard to believe that was the first year, done! - two more to go.

It's lovely to be back in Perth (been away from here for two years!) The first thing you notice is the blue blue sky, and the crisp clear air. It's cold - well, I'm feeling cold! In our Terengganu apartment the thermometer on the wall never budges off 28 degrees, night and day. But here the nights are cold and we need to sleep under a doona.

There is no time difference between here and Malaysia, however in Terengganu the sun is up around 6.30-7am, and here it is up before 5am. And so on our first morning we were down at the beach well before 6am, it just seemed like time to get up.

So then we wandered into the local town (Rockingham, just south of Perth) and found that the 'Dome' coffee shop was open and serving breakfasts.

Now that's a breakie you don't find in Kuala Terengganu! Poached eggs with hollandaise sauce on top of smoked salmon and rocket, on sourdough bread and a tall latte (coffee).

In Kuala Terengganu we have these lovely views of the South China Sea from our bedroom window:

Here in Rockingham we have views of the Indian Ocean:

So we feel right at home. It's a different colour, and it's too cold to swim in at the moment - and there have been rather too many shark sightings and shark attacks in these parts lately. At night the wind blows and blows - like the monsoon in Terengganu.

The Real Reason

Of course we didn't come here to gawk at the sea!

Our little grandson, Thomas, is only a few days old, and very enjoyable!

And his big brother, Taj, needs a lot of attention with a baby brother now stealing the limelight.

And there are 3 more grandchildren who we will see in the next few days.

So it has its good side (grand kids, grand views, clean air, no open drains etc) but there is a downside. The cold air / pollen in the air / dryness of the air has given me a cold or hayfever or something unpleasant so that I don't get too overjoyed.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Back Side

We have often wondered about the 'back' side of Pulau Kapas, our favourite weekender island. So this time we arranged a little boat ride right around.

This interesting character, a friend of Zah - the resort chap - was very happy to earn himself a few ringgit by driving us around the island. We were a little disappointed with the boat which, while it delivered a reasonably comfortable ride (as long as we sat still), had no covering for very necessary shade for us pale-skins!

So what is around the back?

Well, it's very beautiful, and very rugged.

Quite inhospitable really.

So then we landed on the other little island - Gem Island.

Quite an exclusive little resort.

Very pretty, flowers and all the picturesque stuff.

And a little 'Infinity' pool, flowing over into a smaller pool where they have baby turtles. (The sign says "Do not touch turtle.")

The turtles, however, seem to have forsaken their instincts and associate the presence of large shadowy creatures (people) with the possibility of food, and all come crowding over begging to be loved.

The actual beach area is very tiny, and nice and secluded.

I had not eaten sufficient breakie before leaving home - forgetting that we would be going out on the boat and not supping on Zah's coconut pancakes when we first got there - and I had a diabetic moment.

Couldn't have a plain ole glass of orange juice though ...

So, we wobbled our way back across the pontoon (no jetty at this island) and into our little boat with our character.

Back home to our island weekend home.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dried Squid???

It was two weeks since our last visit to Pulau Kapas - definitely time for another relaxing weekend!

The beach had an unusual fishy aroma - then we noticed that there was something on the wooden steps (which are sometimes used for climbing in and out of boats) ...

Ah there was the source - Zah had caught some squid and was drying them in the sun. Occasionally a slight breeze would waft across them and into the 'restaurant' area.

I asked him what he planned to do with them after drying them...

And he was eager to share them with me after frying them!

Actually, they DID taste good, but they were really really tough!!

The wet season is very close. The days remind us of the"Doldrums" from our Murray Island days - hot and still, ocean like a millpond. But lately the weather has settled into a pattern of afternoon and/or evening thunderstorms.

As we sat on our little verandah reading our books and watching the ocean, we heard the thunder getting going over the mainland.

A really spectacular storm front came across - but it didn't rain on us, just rumbled away. Then, later at night it just pounded the island with heavy rain - great to sleep through!

When we first arrived we slipped straight into our bathers and ran down for a swim - there was almost no one around so I felt I could wear just bathers and not all the usual clobber. The sand was shiny with rows of little blobs sparkling along each waveline as the tide had receded - jellies??

The water was sparkling and welcoming us, but it was like swimming in porridge. The tiny blobs were everywhere, although there was no stinging. It was just so unnerving! We swam around a bit, but soon came back out. Later in the day I tried again, and there were very few of the tiny jelly blobs.

In the morning, observing little shiny blobs all along the beach, we went for a bit of a walk. We found these amazing-looking flowers on the beach under a tree.

They gave off an overpowering sweet aroma. The tree where they came from had these funny big square fruits/nuts.

So ... we headed back to the resort restaurant for some breakie, and Zah cooked up my favourite "local pancakes" which have coconut in them. :)

Oh, and Peter found a few more unhappy and distressed rocks which needed rescuing!

Back on the boat, and home again by lunch.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hospital Spelling

It was actually just a visit to a hospital clinic.

Previously, we had seen a doctor or two in the Specialist Hospital, but this was the State Hospital, and I was unprepared for the total lack of English. (Everywhere else there is a scattering of English and/or 'Manglish' signs.)

This sign was the first hint of a problem.

(Can you read it? I'm guessing it's the way to the Psychiatry Ward ...)

So inside we go and we find a roomful of people milling, and one of those number announcing machines (all in Bahasa Melayu, of course - time to remember my BM numbers) and a loudspeaker telling people with certain numbers to go to certain numbered counters.

Times like this, it's good to stick out like a sore thumb! There was no number-ticket machine, because a man at one of the counters was guarding it, and he caught sight of me, motioning me over to get a number. Then I joined the crowd, practising saying my number in BM and watching the numbers on the screen.

Finally my number came up and I went to a counter. The chappie wanted me to pay a little money ($20), gave me another number chit and told me my clinic was up on the first floor ...

So we went up the stairs - and that's when the full force of the language problem hit me. So many signs, all in BM in capital letters, and all such big words. Psychiatry wasn't so hard to fathom, so what word would they have on the "eye" clinic. I looked at my number chit and it said "OFTAL" - no help there.

Standing there with our mouths open we looked like sore thumbs again, and a lady came up and offered to help. She led us to the OFTALMOLOGI clinic - DUH!

Everyone looked after me really well after that, they either spoke a word or two of English or gave reasonable hand signs. Until after I had seen the doctor lady and she sent me for an eye photo (to compare with later). A little nurse led me to a room and pointed with her thumb (the way they do here) to a chair in the corner. The lights were off in the room, but I didn't mind as my eyes were all dilated with drops, and I presumed I would wait there for a technician. But after a while I began to feel that I had been deposited in a store room - there was a lot of equipment that didn't seem to be in use. I started trying to work out just how long I should wait before I go looking for someone.

Suddenly the young nurse came back in. She looked at me, and she didn't say anything but I noticed just a slight downward motion with one hand - and then she walked back out. The door quickly slammed behind her but I leapt up and followed her. Back out in the corridor I caught sight of her already some distance away. Again her thumb pointed to a chair along the wall and she glanced back at me. At least I was back in the world of people!

I sat watching a couple of young chaps in white lab coats playing with a computer, and I recognised a troublesome error screen. Occasionally they glanced at me with worried looks. Sooo ... the machine was out of order. The young nurse was called for again and she led me back to the doctor's office where it was explained that I would have to come back another day.

Well, okay, it was kinda fun. My language skills are improving 'sikit-sikit' (a little).

[Thanks, Chew, for correcting my BM!]

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Our New (Other) Website

All in the line of duty, we have created a website to make our work materials available to our Malaysian colleagues.

It's called "A Collection of TESL Resources".

It is just for educators in Malaysia, so most of the pages are password protected.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hey! We Found Nemo!

Another relaxing weekend on Pulau Kapas, or "Cotton Island"

Align CenterThis little resort - 'Pak Ya Seaview and Restaurant" has become our weekend getaway. There are 3 A-frame shacks on the left of the resaturant (sandy floor, plastic chairs ...) and four on the right. This time we were staying in number 3, closest to the restaurant.

Of course our fish had missed us, and were very excited to have some bread.

After breakfast, and a bit of a snorkel around our favourite spot, it was time to catch up on some reading on our tiny verandah.

There seemed to be a bit more activity on the island than there has been lately - boats and people, and even a large contingent of mothers and toddlers splashing in the shallows enjoying a "Family Day".

So we went for a bit of a walk along the beach.

We stopped to admire the work of a few very artistic crabs!

And we avoided the gate with the warning sign that made it clear someone would shoot us if we tried to enter!

And then, with the mothers and babies all splashing near our favourite spot, we went further afield to look for another swimming and snorkelling spot.

And we found Nemo! And a whole lot of other weird stuff that wasn't at our other spot.

And then it was time to scramble aboard the boat back to the mainland.

Only a few more weeks left before the monsoon when the islands will be closed.

Only a few more weeks before our next holiday back in Australia!