Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Malaysia: Holiday in Penang

It was Schrobbenmaster's first visit to Penang, our heritage island up north, but he had absent-mindedly left his camera back in KL. How disappointing! So we didn't take many photos except in extra special places, like Kek Lok Si temple.

Btw, I just want to mention here how ridiculously expensive the taxis are in Penang. They all have a pact with each other to rip out their meters and just charge their own rates, which I think have been agreed upon with each other. Which makes it more freaking expensive than taxis in KL. My dad says it's because Penang is so small that they don't make any money dropping someone 10 minutes away, compared to taxis in KL. Still, for this reason, we ended up walking a lot more and visiting little shops and cemeteries along the way.

We did have the assistance of my spritely old grandmother who whizzed in and out of traffic in her 25-year old car to bring us places like Kek Lok Si and hawker food. And when Mumsy Bumsy and Yelleh Belleh arrived a few days later, we had the car, but we still hardly went out because Mumsy Bumsy was looking for a relaxing waterside weekend.

Here are the photos, then, from Kek Lok Si (Temple of Supreme Bliss). It consists of a series of monasteries, prayer halls, temples and landscaped gardens. I only took exterior shots though.

It was a really, really hot day and I was SO glad I wore a sundress that day.

Looking out at the view over Penang island.

My grandmother and I.

This woman is almost 80 years old, can you believe it??!!

There is an inclined lift to bring us up from the lower temple floors to the towering 6-storey (my estimation) statue of the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin.

View from the temple.

We spent ages staring at the giant and multiple koi in the pond. It was really calming and very cool to notice the ghost koi swimming by as well.

Any visitor to Malaysia should definitely visit Penang and this temple. It's really more impressive than I thought.

End Penang post :D

Monday, January 24, 2011

Christmas decorations for 2010 (a little late...)

I finally dug out the cable for my camera because I went touristing today, after so long, and I really need these photos.

Back in KL, I picked up a local design magazine called Cut Out, and when I saw that they have a section where they display photos from abroad, I contacted the editor offering to take photos from NL. She was enthusiastic about it and promptly told me to go ahead, adding that I wouldn't be paid for it.

No problem, it's nice taking photos and contributing to a magazine.

Hence the need to extract some photos from my camera. And the point is now hitting home that I have quite a shitty camera :( That's not gonna be so nice for my advent into the contributing-to-magazines world!

Anyway, to clear out some of the previously taken photos, ta-da!

Pim is now banned from sleeping in this bed (and even a new bed that we bought for him) because he keeps bloody peeing in them!

I bought a nativity set from De Bijenkorf for Christmas last year. I've always liked wooden ornaments and toys, and these are so cute!

And to complete the festive look, I bought starry lights and Schrobbenmaster (because he's tall) draped them on our lamp.

Signing off for now, because I need to make some dinner, but coming soon are photos from my trip to the Maritiem Museum with CaroBrasilia (yes, she's from Brazil).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A useful tip in life

It's really important not to daydream when you're in the middle of doing something.

How many times have I been doing something and then drifted off, and later wondered if I'd done that thing I was in the middle of doing? Or how many times have I suddenly panicked, thinking I'd forgotten to do something, just because I was daydreaming while doing it? Like shampooing my hair twice or walking a great distance back to my car to check if it's locked.

One quite important tip I would like to offer (thankfully never happened to me) is never to daydream when you head to the public toilet. Everyone, at least once in their life, I'm sure, has opened the door on someone peeing or pooing. I did it just recently, on the plane back to Amsterdam.

I walked to the toilets and the door right in front of me was green, so I pushed it open... to find a big white man standing and peeing. Oh, thank goodness I didn't catch sight of his thingamajig with pee flowing out. Might have made it even harder for me to sleep on the plane (thankfully I managed to sleep relatively comfortably). All I could do was just quickly step back and let the door close. And I saw the door go red exactly when it closed. I think the guy sitting right next to the toilets saw what happened as well, because he was giving me a really dodgy and serious kinda face when I glanced at him. Geez, like it was my fault.

Another time I remember stumbling upon someone else was in a public toilet, and the cubicle door was green so obviously I pushed it open... to find a white girl squatting over the toilet.

This brings me to another point...

Of all my years of going to public toilets in Malaysia - and by this point, I mean to say that I've been to the same toilets with a majority of Asians - I've only ever stumbled on whites not locking their cubicle doors. Honestly, why is that?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The man on the ground is still good

So, my first trip home to KL has been a blast. I've done almost everything I wanted to do (not had roti yet, nor 70 sen nasi lemak though...) and it's definitely felt like a proper 5-week holiday. Almost getting back into the groove of living here even.

I've had good and bad experiences in these 5 weeks.

Bad experiences
Driving. Need I say more?

Except to add that I was shown the middle finger twice - once by a taxi driver and another time by a woman. Both times it was their reckless and dangerous driving that caused me to piss them off by honking at them very loudly indeed.

Good experiences
When we first came back to KL, Bruno (my old car) was having aging troubles. In the end, he overheated on Christmas Eve, when we were on our way to lunch. We had to stop by the nearest petrol station to check out what was wrong.

After checking it out for 10 minutes and calling people who could help, up pulls a taxi and out comes the driver who's heading to the station's toilet. He passes us and asks what's wrong. When we tell him that our car has overheated, he nodded his understanding and then said, "Saya buang air dulu, ya?".

He finally came out from the toilet (whose duration was more like a buang air besar than just a buang air, but who's counting?) and then checked the car thoroughly. He finally surmised that it was the fan that was broken, or the switch connecting to the fan that was broken. He started calling his friend who sells taxis their spare parts to ask if he had any for my car, but he didn't. Even his wife came down from the taxi to check it over and give her opinion as well.

They were so helpful and friendly, even when it wasn't their problem!

In the end, I got my dad's driver to call his workshop to pick up the car because Bruno just couldn't be driven safely anymore. And the problem turned out to be aged and rusted pipes that weren't sending the coolant to cool down the engine.

My next good experience was just last week, when Mumsy Bumsy, Yelleh Belleh and I went up to Fraser's Hill for the night. Halfway up the hill, there is a point called The Gap. This point is where the two-way road ends, and a narrow one-way road begins. The rule is that cars going into Fraser's Hill can use the road during odd hours and cars coming down can use it during even hours.

We had arrived 20 minutes before the gate opened, so Yelleh Belleh and I decided to look for a public toilet. We walked 10 metres down and found a burger stall with people sitting around. We stopped to see if the toilets were behind, when a customer called out to us and asked what we were looking for. I told him, and he pointed a few steps down the road. Then I asked him if we needed to pay to go in, and he said that it was 30 sen.

My face must have fallen noticeably, because when I mentioned that we would have to walk back to the car to get our purses, he beckoned us nearer, dug in his pockets and gave us coins for both of us to use the toilet. Even when I told him it was okay, he insisted on giving us the coins. So nice of him!


I'm so glad to have had these experiences, reminding me that even though the state of the country and its seemingly growing racist character seems to be going downhill, the common citizen still feels a sense of community and helpfulness toward their fellow man. Cue warm, fuzzy feeling.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

My purse cries tears of snakeskin and metal

Sigh sigh sigh, I've taken a few pictures for the blog, but someone needs to invent a more convenient way to transfer photos from cameras or phones to the computer! Maybe something like Bluetooth in a camera. Just access it through 2 clicks on a computer, without having to either attach cables or remove the memory card and stick it in the computer.

Anyway, I'll write about past interesting events when I have photos to accompany the stories. For now, all I can say is that the house is really quiet because Schrobbenmaster is off to Bangkok on his own. Why didn't I follow him? Because I don't really fancy Bangkok. Don't ask me why I don't, I don't have a particular reason, it just didn't pull me in like other places have done. Well, except for the awesome Green Curry Chicken with Indian Pancake at Wave Place. That is the most awesome green curry ever.

Yesterday, Schrobbenmaster and I were at Bangsar to pick up my stupendously expensive new spectacles. My previous ones are about 5 years old, so I thought perhaps it would be nice to have a new pair. Think again, JY! I'm gonna use these for the next 10 years!

The lesson I learnt is: Just because you haven't heard of the brand, doesn't mean it's not known.

This particular brand is called Lindberg and is from Denmark. They are amazingly light and minimalistic and cool and... and... all that... well, I just really have to make myself feel better by telling myself how much use I'll get out of them over the next 10 years.

(If you visit their website, you could be forgiven for thinking that they're just some nerdy, glasses manufacturer, but let me just point you in the direction that these glasses are way more expensive than the Prada ones I tried on as well)

Since we were in Bangsar, we just strolled around BV I and II and stumbled into a store called thirtyfour. Oh, woe betide my purse, for I fell in love with their snakeskin cuffs!

And after pondering for the entire dinner at Chatterbox, I finally bought one.

In case you're wondering why I have a picture of my cuff so quickly when I don't have any of New Year's, it's because I took the easy way out and took a photo with my iMac.

Thirtyfour is a bunch of Malaysian designers and smithers who are trained in industrial, metalsmithing and all sorts of other design fields. It's really interesting, so go visit their website.

The founder, I believe, is the one who went to Parsons in New York where she studied metalsmithing, after which she opened thirtyfour there and consequently in Berlin and Singapore. After a few years, she decided Malaysians were finally ready for such sophistication and opened a store in Bangsar Village II in November. This is the story I got from the two shop assistants.

I'm really glad I found it! I love the sophisticated yet tough look of the accessories (not lovin' the sharp chunkiness of the bags as much though, but to each his own).

So go visit if you're in the mood to support Malaysian stuff that is not boringly traditional or berkualiti.