Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hurray for Island Time!

Yes so the weather is perfect, and the weekend is here - time for one of our island weekends!

As we arrived at the island, we wondered if autumn was here. The monsoon is past and the leaves on the beautiful, huge tropical almond trees have all turned red and are falling all around.

Beautiful, but a bit of a headache for Zai as he tries to keep the place neat and tidy.

Last week (when we went out to the island for a day trip) Peter found an amazing shell on the beach ...

... remarkable because shells of this kind are rarely found intact. Unfortunately this one still had something dead/dying inside. So Zai kindly buried it for a week to let nature take its course.

So this week Zai produced the beautiful shell, and then said he was visiting the mainland for a few hours and would bring us back something special that had local significance.

When he returned he presented us with ...

... a sea horse, a beautifully preserved specimen.

To explain the significance of the sea-horse, he pointed out that there was already one guarding the doorway to the kitchen - a tiny thing that we had never noticed above the kitchen door.

Well, we had a delightful weekend, and above all the swimming was ... just perfect.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Overseas ... a little bit

Yay! The islands are open again!

From our apartment looking out towards the South China Sea we have been hearing the thrum of engines in the mornings as the big ferries head out to Redang and Perhentian Islands a little bit north of here. So we figured Kapas would soon be open too.

It was too late to go for the weekend, but we decided to go out for the day.

At Marang we found the tide was the lowest we had ever seen it ...

Nevertheless, we boarded our usual boat, and set off with just the two of us on board ... a few minutes earlier than the scheduled time. A couple of minutes into our journey, shouts were heard and we had to turn back for six others who had been taken by surprise by the boat's sudden departure (!).

We had picked up some fruits at Marang market before boarding, and enjoyed a good chinwag with Zai who we had not seen for several months.

We had only been there a few minutes when the storm clouds came across from behind the island ...

... so we sat at the newly painted 'tables' (they are really cable reels on their sides) in the sandy-floored restaurant, listening to the wonderful sound of rain-on-the-roof, shifting ourselves occasionally to avoid the leaky bits. (Zai tells us they are planning to replace the roof sometime.)

We went swimming in the warm water with the rain-drops poking our skin with cool fingers. Then we had one of Zai's restaurant offerings (I had fried rice wrapped in an omelet).

We caught the 4pm boat back to the mainland - it was only a few hours, but it felt like most of a weekend out on our favourite island. They sent the big boat out this time, but there were only a handful of people (including us) who climbed aboard. Once again there was a shout when we were a few metres away and we noticed a crowd of people on the beach (normally you can catch the boat directly from the beach, but the tide was too low for the big boat) So the boat had to return for another dozen or so passengers. (The boat people weren't having a good day of it, but they will improve as the season gets underway!)

Next weekend ... guess where we're going!

Friday, February 3, 2012


This morning we were returning from a leisurely trip to the Saturday market and the shops (and with all our frozen goods and stuff in the boot), we noticed the traffic was very heavy as we approached our street - in fact the police were turning people around and there were big red vehicles and lots of flashing lights ...

... (that's our little grey Proton Saga just past the fire truck - we wanted to go into the driveway where all the people are.)

This is the front of the building - our apartment is around the back, facing the ocean.

It looked a bit smokey up the street that way - we thought maybe the grotty-looking building next door was on fire.

But there it is on the fifth floor of our building, just above the 'belly-band'. At this stage it is just very smoky, but an hour later while the alarm bell still jangled and the crowds had started to wander off, we could see that the window frame was all twisted and glass-less, and the surrounding outside wall of the building blackened.

Time for Teh!

We heard an announcement over a loudspeaker - thought it was the mosque at first but it was less sing-song - the police were telling people to get out of the building as some had started to wander back in (after all, only a very small section was affected, and it was not like the whole thing would explode.)

Seeing others wander off down the street we decided to go and sit in a nearby restaurant. We ordered drinks:

Peter has 'teh tarik' - or pulled tea. That's how they get it all frothy, pouring it from one jug to another over a distance. It's yummy, but very sweet ... So I asked for 'kopi' (coffee) which is really another way of saying 'surprise me'. So this looks like thick, black coffee ... the white bit on the bottom? - "sweetened creamer", or condensed milk! Also very very sweet, so best not to stir it too much!

And of course with that - 'roti canai'. Sort of pancakey things (not sweet) with a curry-ish sauce to dip bits in - quite delish.

After our snack we wandered back out to the street. The alarm bell was still ringing, and people were sitting around in tired-looking groups. We waited near the entrance to our building, and saw some people nipping in and coming out with iPads and other small items. Then we saw some sooty firemen come tramping out. The bell was still ringing but people started driving their cars in, so we did too.

We grabbed our shopping bags and - feeling relieved that we hadn't done a big shop - started tramping up the stairs, being careful not to slip with the water trickling down. We pushed our way past another fireman on his way down.

The building has a slightly funny smell, but back in our apartment we couldn't smell it. And soon after we came back in, the alarm finally stopped ringing.

Talking of restaurants

When we were down at the shops we noticed this little establishment. Hmmm.