Thursday, June 13, 2013

Road Trip and Conference and Melaka

Every year we have to present a research paper or a workshop session at a conference, along with one or more of our colleagues from the IPG (Teacher Training Institute). This year the conference was in Johor Bahru, so we decided it was a good opportunity for a little road-trip, time to explore the southern part of the country.

It was a 7-hour drive, and the traffic was not nearly as bad as we expected being school holidays.

There was one little surprise when a policeman with  a red flag suddenly jumped out in front of us. (We have never seen the police in KT stop anyone!) Apparently we had crossed  a double white line. Peter resisted the urge to laugh out loud - you mean those lines mean something? Is there anyone in Malaysia who hasn't crossed them? Anyway, they said there would be a summons issued for RM 100 (about $30). How annoying! It's not the cost - these things are always so hard to pay, finding the office, or sending a letter and all that stuff ... Peter asked if he couldn't pay right now. Sure, the officer smiled, and in that case it is only RM 50 ...

The traffic and one-way roads in Johor Bahru were a little confusing. We saw our hotel from a distance, and actually found our way to the back gate - only to be refused entry and it took us an hour to 'just go around' as instructed and find our way back again to the front. After that we left our car in the parking lot for the whole three days and walked or used taxis!


The conference was run by the "Malaysian English Language Teachers Association", and it went for a full 3 days.

Here we are with are co-presenters - no one knows why we all decided to wear blue that day!

I was presenting, along with my two colleagues, about using rhythm for teaching language to little kids - so there were action songs and the like. It was a big room!

 Peter's workshop was in the same massive room, and it was about teaching 'Listening and Speaking' without making students read and write at the same time.

 Peter's workshop, with 'CK' as his co-presenter, was very interactive, with lollies as an added incentive for participants.

As well as our various workshops and talks, there was the Royal lecture by her Royal Highness, and a very special dinner to attend. Yeah, there were balloons in the Malaysian colours (red, white, yellow and blue) and a sumptuous feast.

After the conference, we hung around for another night because we were planning some more driving. In the morning we could not face another woeful breakfast in our hotel, so we wandered around town looking for somewhere to eat. Everywhere was still closed - most places open for breakfast about 10am - even KFC: There were 3 colonels outside this KFC - trying to scare the kids?

Eventually Subway opened (there is no Subway in KT, much to our regret!), so we had our breakfast and headed off up the West coast.


We decided to spend a couple of days looking around Melaka (or Melacca) as it seems to be a little different from other parts of Malaysia.

Well, everywhere is different from KT.

 From our room on the 21st floor we could see the hotel pool, and out over the sea - not clear and sparkling like on the east coast, but the swimming pool was refreshing.

There seems to be  ship in the street ... bit of a theme in these parts.

We went up in the Taming Sari tower.

 You get into that round thing and it rises and slowly turns.

 Here we are waiting for our turn to get in.
And then, some of the views from up there. That big white building is the hotel (Holiday Inn) where we were staying.

It's quite a touristy place - especially compared to Kuala Terengganu.
There is lots of water around, nice little winding river. So we took a little boat cruise.

It was beautiful, with delightful murals painted on almost every building that faced the river.


Tune Hotel

Then we drove on up to KL International Airport. As our flight to Vietnam the next day was early in the morning, we stayed overnight in the Tune Hotel - we had to be up and out at 4.30am.

In this hotel, the room is only marginally bigger than the bed - but the bed is very comfy! You pay extra for the air conditioning, and a 'comfort kit' (well, towel). But it is very convenient, easy walking distance from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).

We parked our car in the very last space in their little car park. That was very comforting, because otherwise we would have to drive around looking for a place to park for a week. They charge RM 25 per day, we were told, but it felt safer than the big airport car parks (we've heard stories of the car hire company coming and 'reclaiming' their cars from airport car parks, very annoying!)

Early next morning, we were up and off to Hanoi, Vietnam ...

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