Saturday, January 18, 2014

Aaaaand we're back! Kind of.

Back in Kuala Terengganu

We are back in our apartment in Kuala Terengganu - and the monsoon winds are howling through the window seals.

We came back in mid-December, as our apartment was still paid for and it's cheaper to live here than in Australia! But living in Kuala Terengganu without a car was quite difficult. There is no public transport (at all), so it's "shank's pony" if you don't have a car. With the lovely cool weather it wasn't unpleasant to walk all over the place - although walking around KT is never easy with rare footpaths and all sorts of obstacles and dangers along the way. But our main problem was, even though we walked to all of the supermarkets and markets around, we couldn't find anything other than rice and tinned Asian-style food. The fresh food market had very little fish with no one wanting to go fishing in the strong monsoons. And there were no mangoes, few bananas, and even the durian were extra expensive. A couple of times we hiked down to the taxi rank and hired a taxi to take us to the big supermarket (about 5 km), wait for an hour, and then bring us and our shopping home.

A New Job - and New Cars!

By the end of December the new Fellows Project was still not happening ... so they offered us jobs as teacher Mentors. Doing similar work to the fellows, only working with teachers in schools. We each have to mentor teachers in five schools - one school per day - so obviously we both need cars.

We live in this  amazing building

which has two parking floors.

There is one parking spot for each apartment ... and that is our spot, with my little white Saga parked in it!

Down the street aways there is Peter's black Hyundai.

And there he is, sitting in his car.

Because this morning when he went to drive his car - to move it to a free parking spot in a mud-patch further away - it wouldn't start. So he is waiting for the little man from the car rental company. (He doesn't want to leave the car in case he gets a ticket.)

And here he is! Two chaps turned up on a motorbike, with a new battery.

The car is almost fixed ... but what is that in the background?

Yep. Here comes the parking meter inspector. The parking meters are a wee bit complicated - at least for us.

They usually come in pairs, and they are pretty old and worn out looking. They are absolutely everywhere in the city - if you are lucky enough to find a spot without one (or with the stalk but no head), generally it is not a good idea to park there (as we discovered) because you will definitely get a ticket.

We have to concentrate hard to remember the names of the days (Saturday to Thursday, and Friday), and we really don't understand the business about the colours (columns of grey and yellow).

But then it's not expensive - a sen a minute, 60 sen (20c Aus) for an hour. However in our situation (and many others in our building who own two cars and need an all-day spot) it's impossible to come up with enough coins to keep the thing fed.

And the fines are not expensive. Only RM5 ($1.70) if you pay within three days. It's actually cheaper to risk a daily fine than to feed the meter.

We watched the inspector go down the line of cars outside of the building checking each one. No one had put money in the meters - but he did not write any tickets. One lady came rushing out of her shop and spoke to him, and her car didn't get a ticket either. Obviously, there is something else we don't know about.

Meeting up with old friends

While the Fellows' Project is delayed, so is the Mentors' job that we are employed on - we are all set to go, and waiting around for some important official things to take place first. That gave us a chance to attend an afternoon tea with our old friends from the IPG celebrating the retirement of the lady who was our Head of Department.

Soon we will have a visit from our youngest daughter and her friend, and brave the monsoon winds (which are gradually dying down) for a night on Kapas, first for the year.

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