Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Not so Beautiful Boracay

Our unplanned destination, Boracay, is a monument to overdevelopment. Hotels, bars, tacky shops and restaurants line the beach without a break. 4km of buildings! We were there in the low season and still the place was heaving. There were people everywhere! The photographers must have been up at dawn to take a picture of an empty beach for the postcards - which must be photoshopped as the sand is not that white or idyllic.

I know this sounds like a rant, which I guess it is, but there are a couple of good things about Boracay. Bbq fish, mango shakes, a couple of chillout bars with live music - so us girlies still had a good time - but I won't be rushing back there.
The fact that the police patrolled the beach on foot and on buggies also didn't endear me to the place any more. You have to wonder why. However, Lynsey did enjoy her lift home on one!

Perfect Planning

For the half term break I headed off to the Philippines with the girlies. After a night in Manila our destination was the island of Paluwan. Having studied our lonely planet and the map our plan was to fly into Roxas, travel to Port Barton for some snorkelling, diving etc then down to Sabang to see the underground river, before flying out of Puerto Princessa. Simple.

However, when we landed in Roxas our requests for a Jeepney to Port Barton were met with puzzled looks. We took out our trusty Lonely Planet to show them where we wanted to go at which point they started rolling with laughter. Never good. Apparently there are 4 places called Roxas in the Philippines and we were not on Palawan at all, but on the island of Panay instead.

After studying our trusty guide book we realised that our only option was to change our flights (we weren't going to be getting to Puerto Princessa) and jump on a bus then a boat to Boracay. Oh the best laid plans.....

Tuesday, 21 October 2008


Top of the list of Kris's things to do on his visit was a day at the Sepang Circuit for the MotoGP. What a great day! Noise, speed, leathers! Awesome. The races were exciting and by the end of them I could just about tell the bikes and the riders apart as they zoomed past in a blur. Rossi won, and it was amazing to watch him get closer and closer to the guy in pole as each lap passed until he finally overtook him and left him for dust. I can just about hear again and my sunburn has nearly disappeared. Definitely up for watching that again.

Petronas Towers

After over a year in KL I've finally made it up to the viewing deck of the Petronas Towers! Although I have visited these iconic buildings regularly and use them instead of a compass around town I have never actually made it up them. Luckily for me Kris came to visit from Bangkok and it was on his itinerary of to dos, so up we got early and queued with the masses.

We did have to sit through what can only be described

as an 8 minute long advert for Petronas it was a lovely trip. Unfortunately it had rained, again, so the view wasn't that great, but there definitely a feeling of being somewhere special. Admittedly I was a tad concerned when the video told me the platform was suspended between the buildings and not really attached, and that when the wind blows it can sway up to 75 cm, but I soon got over that and started pointing out landmarks to Kris.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

And yet more luxury!

This year my birthday coincided with the Hari Raya celebrations celebrating the end of Ramadan, so it was clearly an excuse to go away for a few days. Having made the most of my contacts here in KL we headed to the Berjaya Resort and Spa in Redang on a special package with an upgrade thrown in. Looking forward to my sea view room I was a little concerned when the Manager said that they were very full until he asked if we would mind being upgraded again to a suite!! I'm telling you I really could get used to living the high life. It was a beautiful apartment and I miss the glorious bathroom when I'm attempting to wake up under the comparative trickle that is my shower in my pokey ensuite.
The weather was beautiful, the sea crystal clear and my sun lounger just close enough to the refreshments. I was also treated to a session in the spa on the birthday - fantastic! Some wine and a very naughty cheese platter finished the day off perfectly. No dancing til dawn though - does that mean I'm getting old? Hope not!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

A Bit of Luxury

As it was CK's birthday this week we drove down to Port Dickson for the night to stay in the luxurious Avillion resort. Picking one of the Water Chalets we were treated to a gorgeous room, complete with four poster bed and out door bathroom, over the water. A very romantic getaway indeed and one I hope to repeat again in the near future. I could get used to all this luxury!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Malaysia Taxis Worst in the World

We've suspected it for a long time, and now our suspicions have been confirmed as today the taxis in Malaysia have been voted the worst in the world. MSN news today reports about the "shabby service of unkempt and hostile drivers behind the wheels of decrepit vehicles who refuse to use the meter, overcharge and pick-and-choose which destinations they will travel to."

It's true! I'm regularly met by cries of "no meter" or "flat rate" as a sneaky driver tries to milk you for as much as he can. If it is raining you have no chance, and "bad traffic lah" is often cited as a reason not to take you to your destination. Truly! The traffic is always bad in KL. If you don't want to spend your day in jams don't become a taxi driver.

There is, however, an exception to the rule. Vincent. My friendly airport taxi driver who never over charges, is always on time and sends texts to see how you are enjoying your holiday while you are away. He really is a star. Maybe there is hope!

Sunday, 14 September 2008


So what is the best way to celebrate an engagement? Why Singstar at Hannah's of course! Friday night we toasted Tim and Karen with wine, Thai Girl and lots of tuneful singing. Saturday I had a sore head, but I'm thinking Hannah might have some irate neighbours. Fab night!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Back in the Big Kok

With two weeks left til term starts I certainly wasn't going to hang round KL kicking my heels so I packed my bags and shot over to Bangkok for a few days. I never fail to have a fabulous time when I visit there. So many people to see, spas to visit and shops to peruse.

I had a lovely couple of afternoons visiting the new additions. First it was cuddles with the lovely Leo, Si and Tessa's new bub, who made my day by happily snoozed in my arms for hours making occasional gurgling sounds. Very, very cute. Then it was over to Adam and Adele's to see the gorgeous Ihlara, not so much interested in the snuggles but enjoyed showing off her new trick of rolling over all on her own and giggling away - another absolutely cutie. (Can you hear it? If you concentrate really hard you might just make it out...... tick tock tick tock). Think it was a good thing CK wasn't there to witness the broodiness - he might just have legged it!

Needless to say I got stuck in endless Bangkok traffic jams so kept having to switch to motorbike taxis to actually get anywhere on time. For the first time ever I was actually given a helmet. The strap wasn't adjustable but I thought something would be better than nothing. Not so! As soon as we picked up a little bit of speed the wind caught in the gaps in the helmet which was far too big and flew about 5 inches above my head! I ended up having to release my vulcan death grip on the bike and hold onto the helmet instead, relying only on my dubious sense of balance to stay on. I think in some circumstances no helmet is better.

Friday was our big night out and met the old gang for a bit of a bar crawl along Sukhumvit. Needless to say there was a stop at Cheap Charlies and then for a bit of a boogie to the band in Titanium. I can't remember when I last went out dancing! It was great to see the old SIS lot and of course Ange Mad Dog Molony intent on teaching us some very important sign language!
Of course there was shopping and the Rachels, Soph and I hit MBK with a vengeance. Determined to stock up on warm clothing for my winter trip to the UK I managed several pairs of jeans and some trainers. A few bikinis and flip-flops were also thrown in for a good measure, as well as a new suitcase to get it all home in.

I don't think I have ever spent a weekend with Rach and Rach without some serious pampering and they didn't let me down. Post shopping we enjoyed a Pretty Face, Happy Feet package - a simultaneous foot massage and facial. Bliss! Then after a very large sunday dinner Rach P took me to her new fav spa, The Oasis, for the Lanna massage - three massages in one. First you have a thai massage to loosen all those knots, followed by a hot stone massage and finally topped off by an aromatherapy massage. Fantastic. Truly spoilt.

All in all a great trip. Great to see everyone. I'm sure I'll be back over very soon.

Monday, 18 August 2008


Some holiday snaps

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Kopi Luwak

Meet the Palm Civet - a cat like creature with a penchant for coffee berries. This picky animal only chooses the best berries for its dinner which it devours joyfully. As with all of us nature takes its course and the coffee beans come out the other end having passed through the civets digestive tract unharmed but enhanced by the enzymes it met on the way. Some lucky person then has the delightful job of collecting the poop and it is then turned into Kopi Luwak or 'monkey poo' coffee, the most expensive cup of coffee in the world. Mmmm.

Biking in Bali

What better way to see Bali than by bike. We were dropped off at a high point with a view of Lake Batur and started our descent through the back roads of the island. Although it was a 40km ride the majority of it was downhill so I mainly just exercised my hand muscles on the brake. We were met by shouts of 'hello' from everyone we passed and all the kids wanted to high five us - I had to let CK do the honours as I'm far too un-co for much one handed riding. We whizzed past village temples hosting local ceremonies, through brilliant green paddy fields and past people carrying everything under the sun on their heads. It was a fantastic way to spend our last day in Bali.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Escape from Gili Meno

Lazy days have been spent on the gorgeous Gili Meno. White sand, blue sea, scorching sun and cool beers. It really is beautiful island. You can walk around it in a about an hour and we took late afternoon strolls along the beach to watch the sun set on the other side of the island. Needless to say there are no cars or motorbikes and, apart from boats, the only form transport is an old fashioned horse and cart.

The snorkelling was fantastic and I was uber excited to swim with several turtles. The sea was crystal clear, the coral bright and the fish in abundance. But mainly we spent lazy days reading and chilling on the beach.

After a few days of this you would think nothing could faze us, however our journey to Bali undid all the good work. As we didn't particularly enjoy the ferry ride over to the island (rolling waves, nausea and 4 hours turning in to 6) we were delighted to be offered a faster trip home. Just 2 1/2 hours in a sparkly new speedboat - seats 28, galley, facilities, safe and reliable - we even saw a picture! As there was no jetty we weren't surprised to first get into one of the longboats that shuttled us from the ferry to the beach when we arrived. However, it soon became clear that this was our transport all the way to Bali. Admittedly my sea legs are non-existant but I tend not to freak out about things willy nilly and I can tell you now I was not happy with the journey. The boat pitched and reeled with each wave and each roll covered me with a new spray of water. I held on tight but left my seat on several occasions, first staring at sea and then at sky. I kept my eyes firmly on the outline of Gunung Agung and felt my spirits rise as it got closer and closer. Not a trip I would care to repeat and not too chuffed about being duped - how long have I been doing this now? You'd think I would know better. Hey ho - at least I'm in one piece.


Yogyakarta = temples galore.

Our first stop were the Buddhist temples of Borobodur. With over 2 million individual blocks of stone it is apparently the largest single temple in S.E. Asia (although it is pretty stunning it somehow doesn't quite rival Angkor Wat). With six levels leading up to a huge stupa at the top the temple represents the Buddhist idea of the cosmos leading up to Nirvana. The intricately carved stones show the story of Bhudda and took three generations to carve.

After the Buddhists left Java the temple was abandoned and was eventually covered with ash from nearby Mount Merapi. However, the Dutch found it again and it has been carefully restored - a couple of times- since someone tried to bomb it and earthquakes shook it's foundations.

From Borobodur we went to the Hindu temple Prambanan. This didn't fare so well after the 2006 earthquake but were still beautiful to see.

After a long day temple tramping it was time for an apple pie and camomile tea. Mmm.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

All Change

Friday saw Hannah flying back to KL and me boarding a train for the 9 hour journey to Yogyakarta. Trains are definitely the way to go. Leg room, 1 seat 1 person and a good breeze. I was on the 'bizniz' train though so maybe the economy train might not have been so pleasurable. Unfortunately without Hannah there to give me her 'we're not sleeping here' look I checked into a pretty basic room and after a night of no sleep got up and found a much better option just in time for Craig's arrival. So we're kicking round Yogyakarta for a couple of days before we head of to the beach. Today saw us visiting the Sultans palace and local markets as well as enjoying a cultural performance - although the soporific music and slow dancing did send Craig to sleep! Boys!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

A Lazyman's Guide to Climbing Volcanoes

With over a hundred active volcanoes to choose from in Indonesia there is quite a choice when deciding which one to visit. Have watched Anak Krakatoa erupt from the safety and sort of comfort of our boat it was now time to get to the top of a volcano and peer in. However, we weren't so keen on a 2am start to reach the top or on a ten hour trek so Tangkuban Prahu seemed to fit the bill. Only an hour away from Bandung it is possible to drive all the way to the top. Yes to the top! No arduous uphill struggle to reach the summit. Sounded perfect.

The problem with such an easily accessible volcano is that it was rammed with hawkers and guys offering rides on ponies with dyed pink manes. Also the view was not that impressive. It did smell of sulphur and have gas seeping out of the ground but as Hannah pointed out she would have been really annoyed if she had hiked for hours to get to the top only to be greeted by that view!

We did walk back down to the road though so weren't complete lazybones. A pretty steep downward trail led to a second crater with hot pools and rocks you could fry eggs on and after that it was a pretty easy walk back down to the road. I almost managed to convince Hannah that the monkey we saw was a panther but surprisingly she was having none of it.

I think we learned a valuable lesson here and realise that for gorgeous views and some excitement we might actually have to put a bit of effort in!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Fusion Food

Since the delicious spring roll pastie at Lake Toba we have been witness to and unfortunate tasters of some rather random food combinations.

- Fruit Salad: well it was exactly what it says on the tin. Chopped up fruit, covered in thousand island dressing, on a bed of lettuce with half a boiled egg on top.

- Honey Pancake: After looking forward to my honey pancake I was surprised when it turned up to see that before the honey had been poured over the top the chef had sprinkled grated cheese all over it. Mmm.

- Croissants: Where can you go wrong with a croissant you may ask? Serve it with chilli sauce!

-Banana Surprise: Following the cheesy path this dessert was a combination of fried banana, cheese and chocolate.

- Toast: Our simple breakfast choice arrived with egg and chocolate sprinkles. Just what you need to get you going in the morning.


What the Lonely Planet doesn't tell you about Bandung is that it is a factory outlet mecca (it has to have something going for it really). Hannah and I have just spent pretty much the whole day trawling round all the shops in Jalan Dago and have come away with some great bargains! We're now weary and ready for a massage but I'm very excited about my new clothes. Luckily for me Hannah is flying home on friday and is willing to deliver my new purchases back to KL so I don't have to lug them round with me. We have barely touched on the available outlets so maybe we'll have to finish what we started tomorrow!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Partying Carita styleee

Following in a long tradition of sticking a stage in a field the people of Carita, a small fishing village, prepared for their long awaited concert. The musicians were great, the singers had fab voices even if they were dressed like 80's throwbacks and everyone was in a party mood. Games booths circled the field for our entertainment and we wandered over to have a quick game at darts to see what prizes we cold win. We were soon told that we could only play if we brought a packet of cigarettes. We looked puzzled. The rules were repeated again - you could only play a game if you brought a packet of cigarettes for which you recieved a ticket you could swap for a game. Yes EVERYONE around us was smoking and didn't understand why we would delay in purchasing a pack.

We soon heard a commotion around the stage and saw the MC was inviting people up. I narrowly got away without being hearded up there by the chief of police who was very keen I had a go. The contestants had to complete various tongue twisters and their prize was - you guessed it - a bag full of packets of fags!

Cigarette advertising may be banned at home but it is rife here. Billboards are everywhere and it really is encouraged wherever you are. We got away without buying a sackful of ciggies but the rest of Carita were probably not as fortunate.

Big Bang

The loudest ever recorded bang occured in 1883 when the volcano Krakatoa blew itself apart and sent a 40m tsunami crashing against the shores of Sumatra and Java. It threw up a column of ash 80km into the sky which rained down on land as far away as singapore. It is now a shadow of its former self and no longer active, however, Anak Krakatoa is slowly taking its place on the list of celebrity volcanoes and was the destination of our trip.

After an hour and a half crashing over waves in a speed boat we saw the shape of Krakatoa in the distance and next to it was the pretty unimpressive height of Anak Krakatoa. It may have been short in stature (it only appeared 80 years ago so is pretty young in the grand scheme of things) but it is fierce and shouldn't be underestimated!

Withing ten minutes of us spotting it this baby volcano it spewed out a cloud of smoke and ash a couple of km into the sky and as we got closer we saw the glowing rocks that it was regularly threw out. After each episode it calmed down and then as if by clockwork it started belching smoke and ash again. Truly amazing to watch.

We then pulled the boat up to the beach to have a wander on the slopes of the volcano (not too close to the top obviously). Everything was covered in a thick layer of ash and the landscape had an eerie feel to it. Amazingly some hardy plants are able to survive there! We were soon also covered in ash too. We were half expecting the ground to shake as the volcano geared up for its next eruption but the place was spookily still and quiet until the calm was broken by an almighty bang. Time to make an exit.

We washed ourselves in the clear blue waters next to the original Krakatoa and donned masks and snorkels to have a look at the underwater life. What a great day!

Don't stand so close to me!

I'm big on personal space and generally like to maintain a no fly zone around my being. Don't get me wrong I do like hugs and cuddles, but I only want to get close with people of my choice - even brushing up against a stranger in the street can send shivers through me. Unfortunately the concept of personal space does not exist in Indonesia and mine is being invaded. Of course some of it is by necessity - when you squeeze six people into a row of three on a bus you are going to get a little bit squashy - but some of it is a bit over the top.

The worst has to have been when we left Jakarta for Carita. Before our taxi had even pulled into the bus station touts were running alongside it trying to open the doors and get us on to their bus. We were then half dragged to a waiting bus and deposited on the back seat where approximately half the male population of jakarta came to have a stare, chat, or stroke.

A cacophony of voices simultaneously demanded:
"Where you from?"
"What your name?"
"you want water?"
"I love you"
"Where your husband?"
"Where you go?"
"What you do?"
And on and on.

When we weren't being shouted at we were being stared at. Eventually I stuck my i-pod on full and stared determinedly out of the window but this was not enough to deter one man who even kicked my legs to get my attention. I'm sure you can imagine this did not go down well.

However, after a less than enjoyable journey we were able to settle into our lovely room by the beach ready for adventure and a resolution to put up with less s*** on on our next bus. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Minibus Madness

Question: How many passengers can you fit into a 10 seater minibus?

Answer: 19 silly..... plus a dog!

The Warm Fuzzies

While seeing orangutans at the rehabilitation centre was great, I was particularly looking forward to jungle trekking in the hope that we might actually see them in the wild. Our wonderful guide, Erwin, said it was possible to see on but that we shouldn't count on it on only a one day trek. Although he pushed for a two or three day trek we passed up on the opportunity of sleeping in the jungle - I've clearly turned soft and Hannah squeals every time she see's a crawlie. I knew it would be a great trip anyway and I tried not to get my hopes up too much. So you can imagine Erwin's surprise when we saw not 1, not 2, but...... wait for it........12 orangutans. I know!

The first three we saw within about half an hour. One was playing in the tree tops with her baby (soooooo cute) and the other was busy making a nest which she soon curled up in and stared down at us staring up at her. I was still excited when not much further on we came across a big male hanging from the branches and looking very regal. He knew he was boss. Later when we retraced our steps he was crashing through the canopy, hot on the heels of a young lady. Luckily his ardour was dampened when he noticed the small audience - I really could do without watching orangutan jiggy jiggy.

We kept walking further and further into the jungle, listening to the sounds of cicadas, hornbills and gibbons, and kept stumbling across more hairy beasts. I don't know who was more excited me or Erwin, who kept high fiving me and jumping up and down gleefully. He really couldn't believe we had seen so many and kept reminding us how lucky we were. Although after a while he started to look worried and mentioned that he hoped we didn't bump into Meena - a particularly nasty tempered orangutan who has allegedly taken chunks out of 80 people! I was glad when we didn't see her.

It was a truly amazing day and I've still got the warm fuzzies thinking about it. Erwin was a fab guide (he is able to speak orangutan, hornbill and gibbon and he quickly picked up Hannah speak copying her squeals perfectly!) so if you're heading to Bukit Lawang look him up. Indonesia is going to have to work really hard to trump this day. My grin is huge.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Aping Around

The draw of Bukit Lawang? Orangutans. We headed for the morning feeding at the rehabilitation centre this morning and were treated with sight of seven of them. All gorgeous and furry you could just take them home!

No Smoking? Not in Indonesia!

Well the smoking bans that are taking hold across the world will certainly not get far in Indonesia. Everyone smokes. All the time. Everywhere! People don't even bother with the pleasantries of hello and how are you, but instead get straight to the point and ask 'do you want a cigarette?'.

After already having travelled by boat and minibus (yes with our knees by our chins again) we boarded a bus heading to Bukit Lawang. Within seconds nearly the whole bus had lit up. Although we had our window open the interior was fogged in no time. I think I must have lost 10 years of my life in a 3 hour bus journey.

To be honest the bus was more of a dodgy nightclub on wheels. Not only was it smokefilled but it music was blared out at high decibels. First we were treated to the strangulated Indonesian power ballads by Ms. Cat. A. Wauling, followed by the happy hardcore versions of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Achey Breakey Heart to name but a few choice titles. Of course no nightclub experience is complete without some rampant flirting in this case between the girls who didn't want to pay and the bus boys. I have never seen so much pouting and eyelid batting in my life. Looking forward to the trip back on Wednesday!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Old Dogs

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks but today this old dog is proud of herself. Normally content with sightseeing from the back of a professionally driven moto-taxi or the lovely Ange (about the only person I trust on a motorbike) I had to finally face my fear and rent out a bike all of my own. It was a bit of wobbly start and it took me a while to reach speeds above 20km/hr but eventually I was whizzing round Samosir island wind in my hair - Lake Toba to one side and the steep sides of the volcanic crater to the other. A hairy moment when two fighting dogs rolled into the road infront of me was soon forgotten and I was soon weaving round chickens, dogs, waterbuffalo and children.

We stopped off in Ambarita to see the traditional batak houses and the stone chair where the king used to try criminals. If found guilty they were cut with a knife to let out the evil spirits, then lemon and chilli was rubbed in their wounds before they were beheaded. The King would then eat their heart to receive their strength. Mmmmm.

A similar fate awaited the early Christian missionaries who arrived in the sixteenth century only to be killed and devoured by the cannabalistic Bataks. It wasn't until much later that christianity was finally embraced and church spires can be seen among the padi fields.

Hannah has papped away with her new swanky camera so there will be lots of photos of the beautiful scenery of Danau Toba to come.

Friday, 18 July 2008

A random day in Indonesia

The first day of the holidays saw Hannah and I up before the call to prayer- ugly o'clock indeed- ready for our flight to Medan. The day really couldn't have run any smoother. From the airport we were straight into a taxi who dropped us at the bus whose engines were running and ready to go, then we were dropped at the boat which backed away from the dock within minutes and promptly deposited us at Tuk Tuk on Lake Toba. No waiting, no Indonesia time, no delays - wonderful. Admittedly sitting with my knees up to my chin for four hours in the minibus wasn't ideal but we are there.

However, it was a slightly random day. First we were serenaded by the happiest guy in Indonesia who kept announcing how happy he was and then bursting into song. Mainly Celine Dion and other cheesy movie tracks. His smile was infectious and it was a great start to our time in the country. While we were waiting in the minibus we tried our hardest to ignore the hawkers banging on the window to sell their fare - finally the guy managed to shout through the small gap in the window that the rambutans he was holding were a gift for us. Yes we felt a bit guilty....until Hannah realised that they were crawling with ants and now they were crawling all over her in a confined space.

The rain followed us the whole trip and although we thought we had outrun it on the boat it soon caught up with us in Tuk Tuk. We attempted to stretch our legs after our long journey in the gentle rain - but soon it was torrential and we hid in a bar, beer in hand. Unfortunately, the storm led to a power cut which caused some very bad pool playing in the dark. There was nothing else to do but eat, so off to dinner we went. It was delicious, but could only be described as a cross between a spring roll and a cornish pastie. Yum!

Today has been wonderfully relaxing. We've had a gentle wander, a massage, a nap and gazed out over the lake. We're well rested and ready for a bit more adventure tomorrow.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Half a Term in Ten Minutes

Well I guess my blogging report this term would read 'Must try harder'! I admit I have been totally slack and anonymous I'm sorry I have let you down. My excuse? Hmmm.... well firstly I felt sick (still ...yes boring boring) and didn't have the energy to write and didn't have that much to write about. THEN I felt better (hoorah hoorah - trumpets, cheers, fireworks etc) so wasn't sitting around the flat feeling sorry for myself and have been out and about making friends again. So busy busy I have been so here is a little round up of the last six weeks - I'll try and get it in order but will probably fail.

- First Rachel M came to stay and we pampered, shopped and gossiped and she finally met the new boy.

- Jules was hot on her heels and popped over from Hong Kong for the weekend. We went on the Malaysia Eye - which freaked me out totally, nearly giving me a coronary every time it stopped and we were left swinging - I clearly am getting more and more afraid of heights - how did I ever jump out of a plane? We wandered through a food festival and I watched enviously as she ate. And we had our tarot read in a funky little backstreet bar - we'll have to see how right she was!

- The government raised the price of petrol by 40% overnight. Literally. It was announced at 7pm that it would be going up at midnight. Carnage! I now wish that I didn't drive a gas-guzzling beast.

- As I now no longer spend a large chunk of my time in bars I have become a cinemaholic and have recently seen: Kung Fu Panda, Iron Man, Prince Caspian, Definitely Maybe, Indiana Jones and many more....

-I was promoted! Yey!

- I drank wine for the first time in 3 months to celebrate new job. I had two glasses and was a giggling, rosy, very cheap date! And more importantly didn't suffer any horrible after effects.

- I saw the Malaysian Philharmonic orchestra playing Prokofievs Cinderella.

- Boldened by my increasing good health I have started eating a more excited range of foods (including chocolate!mmm) and occasionally having a glass or two. Two and I'm merry. Three and I'm a giggling wreck - hey ho! At least I'm well and long may it stay this way. Although I would love to go and sign up for the next champagne brunch I am still taking it easy and am not going to undo all the good work I have done over the last months. It has only taken 8 months but I am now feeling myself again.

- Rachel P came to stay and we shopped til we dropped. Then we ventured up to the Sky Bar and enjoyed a coctail with a view of the iconic towers before us.

- I ate chocolate cake at a 2year olds birthday party and felt the biological time bomb go into warp speed.

- I played Singstar at Hannah's shamefully winning with a Barry White song. My voice isn't that low is it?

- I was treated to high tea at the Carcosa and rolled home full of tea, sandwiches, cakes and scones.

- And finally this weekend I enjoyed participating in a pub quiz at the British High Commision (oo-er) with the crew of the HMS Kent!!!!!!

Writing it all down it doesn't seem that much but throw in more than a few hot dates and time kinda flies! But looking back at how awful I felt 6 weeks ago and how great I feel now I feel I have come a long way. I have a huge smile on my face, the beginnings of a new wardrobe (thanks Rach for pointing out that my clothes really were too big and that I should buy some more) and an exciting holiday looming.

Yep it's just three days til the end of term and I will be off to Indonesia. Two weeks with Hannah and then two weeks with Craig. My rucksack is ready and so am I. Bring it on!

Monday, 26 May 2008

The Silver Lining

For the first time since I have been in asia a sales assistant actually apologised to me! However, she wasn't apologising for not having XXL size for the big fat farang but was actually saying sorry for not having a size small enough!!!!!!!!! I know!!!! I may have food envy during every mealtime and have definitely had more watermelon juices than anyone should ever have to drink - but at least I'm no longer a total fatty!

A week in Bali

Had a fantastic time in Bali. Here are some pics....stories to follow......

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Only Langkawi

May 1st brought another long weekend and the staffroom discussions at the beginning of the week revolved around where everyone was heading. Popular destinations were: Singapore, Cambodia, Taman Negara and Sarawak. When asked where I was going the words "Oh only Langkawi" slipped out! When did going to Langkawi for the weekend deserve an only? I really am spoilt aren't I!
We had a fabulous time watching the sun set from our deck chairs at the Frangipani, getting dunked by the unusually big waves and enjoying a cheeky beer!

We also caught up with the lovely Julia who had popped over from Hong Kong! What jetsetters we are!

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

All for Charity Daaahling!

I'm currently exhausted by the organised chaos that is charity day. All in a good cause we were raising money to send children at an orphanage to school and to help kids to have a cleft operation that would otherwise be out of their reach.
It was left up to the kids to organise so there was a lot of water, gunge and hairspray Dee and I sized up to each other on the balance beam and had probably the shortest pillow fight in history - I really have no sense of balance. I had my nails polished by a seven year old and I particularly enjoyed the game where I got to throw water bombs at the kids in my class and couldn't believe it when I actually got prizes for hitting them!
Amazingly, I managed to stay out of the stocks and remained dry and gungeless. The kids had a great time and nana came home for a nap afterwards.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Cover those Curves!

Iran's top prosecutor has today tried to ban the import of Barbies into Iran claiming they have negative social consequences. In a country where women are expected to cover up Barbie's skimpy outfits are somewhat out of place. However, instead of Sara and Dara (the local version of Barbie and Ken which never took off) perhaps Iranians should try and import Burqa Barbie and Hijab Barbie as found on shelves here in Malaysia. They are quite the hit!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Rainy Days and Traffic

Forget Mondays. Rainy days and traffic get me down! I'm at breaking point and seriously close a hideous bout of rain rage. It is grey and dull more than bright and sunny - I'm telling you I didn't sign up for this! I'm spending far to many evenings cowering from the lightening during yet another almighty thunder storm and my body is so used to jumping out of my skin that I'm now doing it involuntarily throughout the day. I have to admit though that it is quite fun watching the sky light up with each strike of lightening and it is awesome watching it hit the skyscrapers that dominate the skyline.

But apart from dampening both me and my spirits each downpour has the additional side effect of snarling up the traffic. I edged forward at such a pathetic pace on saturday night that it took nearly 2 hours to do a 20 minute journey, and the traffic cops on Tuesay only exacerbated the problem with their misguided attempts to regulate the traffic - they really should leave it up to those of superior intelligence - the traffic lights! I'm starting to develop muscles in my clutch leg that I never new existed and I'm regretting not getting an automatic just for the city traffic. However, I am glad I've got the jeep so at least I know that I can sail home through the flooded roads without the car leaking!

Anyway, rant over.....for now.

Friday, 18 April 2008


I'm a Nana! For my recent trip I decided that I couldn't take all my pills and potions that currently keep me functioning or I wouldn't be able to pick up my bag, so I succombed and bought a pill organiser! Not what you would find in a normal 31 year old woman's overnight bag, but unfortunately it was a necessity - only just fit them all in! However, it may be resigned to the cupboard til my 80's soon as I am no longer popping quite as many pills - hoorah - I no longer rattle!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Bad Girl

I'm turning into a bad driver! I recieved my first ever speeding ticket and have had to present myself at the police station to pay my rather hefty fine. I'm shocked at myself. I always pay special attention to speed limits (hmmm speed cameras) and couldn't believe I was doing 106 in a 60! Whoops. In my defence it was roadworks with a riduculously low limit and I was keeping up with the other traffic.

I may now be a bad driver but it's not my fault, I really have no choice.

When I leave the SMART tunnel and join the fast lane of the motorway (who thought of that design I wonder) I have less than 100m to cross 5 lanes of speeding traffic to get off at my exit. Hesitation is for the weak. The only thing to do is stick on that indicator and veer purposefully to the left - my fellow road users soon get the idea, although my heart does race!

It also seems that the best way to deal with the hideous jams is to create a new lane. Three lanes of crawling traffic clearly is not enough. So why not fit in two more lanes to perfect that carpark effect on major roads. I am now amazingly adept at switching between these faux lanes as I try to inch my way forward before anyone else can push infront of me.

Can't find a car parking space? Forget double parking - try triple parking. After all you won't be that long in the bank surely. That horn honking could be at anyone. Best not get paranoid!

What about the carpark in Megamall? I've taken to stalking. I menacingly trail people who are ambling back to their cars. Failing that I abadon it where ever I can - it really seems to be the the thing to do. If it fits - leave it there.

I don't think my car approves though and keeps playing up! It's just back from the garage though and apparently has a clean bill of health so we will be tearing up the roadways again soon. Watch out!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Memory Lane

How quickly a year goes by! I realised that the last photographs I printed to put into an album were of my Philippines trip last easter. So instead of letting all my photos languish on my laptop I spent a very entertaining couple of hours going through a years worth of memories deciding which ones to print. It is amazing how much you actually do in one year! If you don't print your photos regularly I highly recommend sifting through them.

Bukit Fraser

I'm just back from a lovely relaxing weekend at Frasers Hill, of Little England as it is dubbed locally. Just a couple of hours out of Kuala Lumpur you can experience a cooler climate mixed with some colonial charm. We stayed at The Smokehouse complete with wooden beams, open fires, old english artwork, cream teas and four poster beds. We wandered some of the trails around the town, managing to only get leached once (me) and enjoyed the birdsong and monkey calls we were treated to this morning. A lovely way to end the Easter holidays. Do I really have to go back to school tomorrow?

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


The Easter break saw me headed off to the Perhentians for a week on a tropical island paradise. Ready for a relaxing few days reading and chilling on the beach I excitedly checked into my accomodation, Moonlight chalets. Back to my budget roots I had chosen long beach to stretch my cash as far as it would go. The room was basic but I couldn't really expect more for 40RM (a fiver) a night. As I settled down for an early night I was slightly peturbed by the scratching sounds below me, but as the long house was on stilts I reasoned that it was some creature scrabbling around underneath. However, when I entered the bathroom to clean my teeth I disturbed a nimble rat who looked very much at home. Thinking I had scared it away I continued to clean my teeth when it's friend decided to come and join it. It took one look at me and decided to peg it home - which turned out to be UNDER THE BED! Now I can cope with most things but I am not willing to share a room with rats. I insisted that I was moved (which was not received well by the grumpy owner) and ended up in a room that smelt of sewage. Although I didn't sleep well I was up bright and early and checked into Matahari, a much improved budget option.

Feeling a bit happier with my choice of destination I headed down to the beach to unwind with my book. However, not long after, I was disturbed by sounds associate more with building sites than beaches. Looking up in the direction of the sound I saw a rather large jcb heading down the beach. Not impressed.

I didn't last a week on the Perhentians - I wasn't overly enamoured with Long Beach and unfortunately I spent the days I was there feeling quesy and ralphing (again). I will give it another chance - but definitely on another beach.


The other weekend saw us at a local Brazilian Churrascaria for some grub. In other words all you can eat MEAT. Although we did help ourselves to the salads and sides on offer we were really there for all the varieties of meat, barbecued and served on a sword. We were each given a laminated card to place next to our plates. The green side let the waiters know that yes we would like to served with the next delicious portion of succulent beef, and the red side informed them that we were full. Unfortunately I was there with all boys, so the meal immediately turned into a competition. Who would fold first? I hate to admit it but it was me!

But I suppose I do have an excuse. Having been very over excited about feeling better I have to admit it I overdid it slightly what with the ball, meat, a bottle of wine, a curry and an evening of strawberry daquiries in just over a week. I am now suffering and will believe the doc when he says in moderation or not at all. Silly Ali.

Friday, 21 March 2008

I wanna be like you!

So why have I been so busy (read tired)? Well it has been our school production. So the last two weeks have been a singing, dancing, acting extravaganza. We took on the Jungle Book and it really has been a huge production. Speaking parts for 110 kids, 5 class scenes, a song and dance for each class - and of course a curriculum link. We re-wrote the play to include all this and the audience would not be able to walk away without realising the importance of our rainforests or our need to protect them.

Although we did keep in the old jungle book classics we did add in a couple of other songs - with alternative lyrics. Here is the We are the World rewritten by Ed and Myself. Hope you enjoy!

We are the World

There comes a time

When we need to make a stand.
There are forests dying,
And it's time to lend a hand
to life.

The greatest gift of all.

We can't go on,
Pretending day by day.
That someone,
will soon make a change.
We are all a part of This jungle family.
And the truth, you know love is all we need.

We are the world.
This is our jungle.
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's keep growing.
There's a choice we're making,
We're saving our own lives.
It's true we'll make a better day,
Our jungle way.

We must protect,
Bio – di – vers – ity
Extinction, should be allowed no more.
It is all our
Res – pon – si – bi – li – ty.
And the truth, action is all we need.


We all must act
To save our habitat.
Our forests, are the lungs of the earth.
We are all a part of This jungle family.
And the truth, you know love is all we need.


copyright Edward Parkin and Alex Sharman

Dirty Towers!

Keith and Sara also came to visit from Bangkok last weekend and I was able to show them all around KL. It's so silly that it takes having guests to stay to actually make me do the tourist things that I keep meaning to do. So up the KL Tower we went. First stop was the viewing platform for a 360 view of the city. I was even able to pick out my condo through the binoculars! They really do need a paint job!
We also decided have high tea in the rotating restaurant. Not what we expected at all (ie no tea and scones) but a full buffet of asian and western food as well as a cake section! I enjoyed watching a storm come in while munching my way though some mississippi mud pie. MMMMmmmm.

Cinderella went to the ball!

After nearly 3 months of being stuck in the kitchen peeling potatoes and scrubbing floors I am now eating solids again. No more vegetable mush and as I have a new cleaner no more floors - hoorah! So Cinderella went to the ball - otherwise known as the Great Wine Experiment.

Against doctors orders I decided to eat and drink what I wanted - afterall it was freeflow all night! I had a great time. Food was fabulous. Wine was delicious. I danced for hours and Criag finally met me properly! (It's alright he's decided to hang around - phew).
I have decided I am a medical miracle! Against all odds I was fine the next day. Hoorah.

Busy Little Bee

Wow! I haven't posted in ages. I have been busy busy busy - not all of it exciting unfortunately - lots of work but a bit of play too. We've broken up for the holidays now - so I'll try to catch up with the news before I head off to sun myself on the beach.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Possibly the best fridge in the world?

And the gold medal for the best stocked fridge goes to..............Kevin and Rachel!


I popped over to Bangkok at the weekend for a flying visit to catch up with the gang. As if no time at all had passed I was soon gassing with the guys at Cheap Charlies and boogying away at the Bulls Head disco. Glad to see nothing has changed and that there will still be a drunk Sharman propping up the bar in my absence.

Saturday went by in a whirlwind of events - breakfast date, coffee date, lunch date and shopping date. But so good to catch up with everyone. Managed to fit in a quick MBK shop for the essentials: jeans, sunglasses and shoes!

Saturday evening was a little harder to organise due to the election on Sunday. In their wisdom the Thai government has ruled that no alcohol is to be served the evening before or the day of any election. Lord forbid that the voter's judgement be clouded - you never know you might vote Monster Raving Loony part by accident! And of course no one has alcohol at home!
Anyway, obviously having the special skill of being able to sniff out a drink I found one of the few bars willing to risk the wrath of the law and we headed down there. Not long after I ordered my first beer than the signal went up from the landlord. The cops were here. Quick as a flash my beer was hidden under my chair between my legs and I was sipping angelically from my bottle of water. We seemed to get away with it and the copper left quickly although I am sure a little richer!
Finally, I headed to Adele's baby shower on Sunday. I am all confused now as I'm not sure if I am broody or sworn off babies for life. Far too many horrifying stories flying around. These things really shouldn't be shared until you are already pregnant and there is nothing you can do about it!
What a lovely weekend! Can't wait to do it again......

Monday, 25 February 2008

The Latest Craze

So what will you find in any cool, self-respecting 8-year olds back pack in KL? A packet of fags? Crystal meth? No! Only ownership of a puffer can keep you in with the incrowd nowadays. Have to admit they are quite cute - and I've got quite a collection of confiscated puffers of varying sizes and colours. Not as cool as a space hopper though! Ah -those were the days.......

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Year of the Rat

Throughout the Chinese New Year celebrations horoscopes for the upcoming year of the Rat can be found in every publication. While retaining my cynicism I do enjoy reading about my destiny. Interestingly though there have been several common themes through all the horoscopes I have read.

Firstly, it seems that I will be plagued by gastro-intestinal problems. Hmmm. While this could be a given considering that we are living in Asia it seems strange that every one I've read says this same thing. So I wondered, if this first prediction is true what else has appeared in all of the readings? Only two suggestions are repeated thoughout:

1) 2008 would be a good year to change career (travel writing here I come?)
2) Wedding bells will be heard (ha ha - will assume this means for my recently engaged friends and not for me).

Whatever happens I have a good feeling about 2008. Think it is going to be a good one!

Monday, 18 February 2008

Ali the Hutt R.I.P?????

It was back to Gleneagles on Thursday for a follow up appointment with the doctor. Feeling a bit more positive now that I finally felt that I had been correctly diagnosed and had the right medication I asked the doctor how long my boring food regime would have to last. Without sugar coating it in the slightest he answered "forever"!!!

Waterworks would be an understatement much to the astonishment of Dr Ryan who asked why I was crying.

"I just love food," was my sniffly reply.

I don't mind cutting out a limited selection but not all the good stuff. And to be honest the words Tee-total and Ali don't really go together. So we have come to a compromise. When I feel better I'll start reintroducing things one at a time to see what hurts and what doesn't. Fingers crossed a nice cold glass of wine is ok!

Don't worry this blog isn't going to become a forum for me to whinge about my ailments, and I'm glad to say that I am actually starting to feel a little more like myself. I haven't had any cramps today at all and haven't had to place my head within 10cm of a toilet seat for a week! Hoorah!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Gong Xi Fa Chai

A slightly belated happy Chinese New Year and a happy birthday to you all. It is the seventh night of the celebrations which means it is the day we all turn a year older (not again!). But for me Chinese New Year has meant FIREWORKS. I have always loved the view from my apartment and it has been further improved each evening for the last 10 days with beautiful displays. I've just been sitting on the balcony watching bursts of colour punctuate the night sky, while whizzes and bangs compete with the mosque below. They just seem to get better and better. I'm not sure how the lantern festival on the 15th day will compete with what I've already seen. Happy Year of the Rat!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


After Christmas I started a bit of a health kick under the false assumption that it would help me feel better. When I explained to the doc that I had switched alcohol for freshjuice and had been eating salads and fruit he actually told me that I had made my stomach worse and that I would have been better off eating a MacDonalds for dinner every night!! Straight from the horses mouth - I kid you not.

So although I am starting to feel better I am on strict instructions from the doc about my eating habits. I am not allowed:
  • citrus fruits
  • tomatoes
  • alchohol
  • coffee !!!
  • cheese
  • chocolate

Basically, anything I really love is out. I'm really missing the coffee (as are my students on my behalf) and I can't wait to tuck into the English Dairy Milk in my fridge. Keep your fingers crossed that my stomach will soon be cleansed and I can make my way to food heaven.

Who Needs Horror Movies?

Last week I experienced the best that medical insurance can buy in KL. After over 2 months of feeling like I had a perpetual hangover I was finally referred to a gastroenterologist at Gleneagles. Don't worry, some delightful tests have shown that there is nothing really nasty going on, but I am suffering the after effects of some hardcore bacteria which has ravaged my stomach. Ah, the joys of living in Asia - I may love the street stalls but clearly they don't love me!

Getting discharged was harder than breaking out of Alcatraz (they wouldn't remove my canula or give me my medication until the insurance company had paid up!) but when I did I was presented with a goody bag. In addition to all the little pills to make me feel better I found ultrasound pictures of all my organs and ......a dvd. Yes they kindly gave me a dvd of my endoscopy and colonoscopy! It has been sitting on my table for a week now and today curiosity got the better of me........ Don't worry I won't go in to details, but I will admit I really didn't need to see that. Whoever thought that providing patients with footage of their insides should really have their head seen to!

Friday, 1 February 2008


As if the prospect of having to bump start my car isn't enough to deter most people from coming on road trips with me I think I will have less takers after the most recent incident.

Pulling into my parking space I reached down to put the handbrake and noticed a couple of tiny spiders. Commenting on the fact that somehow spiders had somehow got in I looked over at my travelling companion only to realise that he was covered loads of the little buggers. Yep, somehow a wily spider laid some eggs in my car and they had chosen that moment to hatch. Delightful!

The car now smells of Raid and I am trying to come to terms with the massacre.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Joy Juice

All for trying 'local' produce, and with a little encouragement from Briony and Scott, I have finally risked tasting Kickapoo Joy Juice. Needless to say I wasn't overly enamoured with the idea of drinking something named joy juice but I had to succumb to the peer pressure. Amazingly it is not actually that bad. A bit sweet and not something I would drink again, but not as gross as you might imagine. Next up fried cockroach?

Monday, 28 January 2008


It was off to Melaka this weekend to enjoy beautiful blue skies, chinese lanterns and random walks around the streets of this lovely town.We spent ages wandering round Chinatown, admiring the architecture, and browsing through the craft shops and art galleries. As well as managing to stop for a fruit shake or two we visited some chinese temples and saw the oldest Dutch building in Asia.
It was back to Chinatown in the evening and after browsing through the nightmarket a swift cold one was necessary at The Geographer. The place was heaving and the band were fantastic. Of course the only way to travel home in style is in one of these cheesy rickshaws complete with sound system belting out love ballads!
On Sunday, after a leisurely brunch, we stopped at Villa Sentosa, the living museum. The villa is a traditional Kampung house in Kampung Morten and is crammed full of antiques and collectibles. We were shown around the house by the 70-odd-year old son of the founder of Kampung Morten who still lives in the house. It was lovely to be guided by someone who was so proud of his family's history, his culture and his country. He was one of 12 children and uncle to no fewer than 85! Among the things he showed us were the seats that the King and Queen of Malaysia sat on when they visited the house, which we were encouraged to sit on emulating the photo of their Royal Highnesses, a wishing gong that you hit 3 times for good luck and various photos of the changes to Melaka over the years. He was a mine of information, some of it a bit random but all of it entertaining. He was particularly keen to show Malay hospitality and blessed us several times as well as plenty of hand shaking. Definintely worth a visit if you are in town.

All in all a fantastic weekend apart from having to abandon the beast after something bounced of the road making a hole in the radiator causing quite an impressive leak. Needless to say within minutes of popping the hood we were offered the services of two friendly mechanics who just happened to be passing (really is everyone a mechanic in this country?). Unfortunately after 5 hours of failed attempts to fix it we had to leave it in the service station and take a taxi back. However, Burn has managed to rectify the problem and all seems fine and dandy now. Hopefully we will be able to manage some more road trips in the future without the car giving up the ghost completely.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Bank Holiday Bonanza

As if 14 public holidays weren't enough our genourous Prime Minisiter decided on Monday that we deserved another one. With just two days notice today has been a very unexpected, yet welcome day off. I really think that 4 day weeks are the way forward. A day off here or there at the whim of our leaders is fantastic and should be replicated the world over. Right off to the pool.....

Friday, 18 January 2008

Big Brother

A reminder that censorship is alive and well here in Asia the papers today reported the 3 month live broadcast ban imposed on 8TV and specifically on Faizal Tahir. His crime? Taking off his shirt during a live televised concert to reveal the superman logo painted on his chest! Apparently this is offensive to Malaysians. I wonder what they would make of some British TV?

Meanwhile the radio stations are single-handly trying to educate the general public as to how to improve their moral conduct. Despite the assumption that their audience are moronic I actually quite enjoy these public service announcements - it has to better than listen to the inane chatter of the DJ's.

Some of these include:

Don't leave your baby unattended when you are shopping, this is an invitation for childsnatchers.

Don't walk through graveyards or dark areas at night. If you think you are being followed trust your instincts and take a taxi.

A simple please and thank you go a long way!

But the Winner is:

If you see a blind person trying to cross the road, slow down! Chances are they won't have seen you!

Too good to be true!!!!

Every Cloud.....

Despite the fact that I have started dreaming about cool, crisp glasses of white wine I have to admit that there is an upside to this body is a temple thing. I now have an excuse not to try illuminous cakes and deserts which taste, unsurprisingly, like the e-numbers they contain. Now I can just smile, shake my head and tap my slowly shrinking stomach. Yey!

Friday, 11 January 2008


Having managed to get over my crisis at turning 30, and the mini-freakout that happened at 31, I am feeling age sensitive again. In the space of 3 weeks 3 friends have announced their engagement and news of 3 pregnancies reached me (all good things come in threes eh!). While I am so incredibly and pleased and happy for all of my friends I have to admit a little bit of me feels that it just highlights my singleton status and while the alarm bells of impending old age ring I am left wondering why we all have to grow up? Can't I continue in my world where I never mature?

If the tick-tock of the old biological clock isn't enough to contend with nearly every taxi driver encounter goes through the usual questions and is shocked that no I am not in KL to support my husbands career, no I don't have a husband and children, or boyfriend, and yes I am over 30. At which point they generally look at me with utter pity, shake their head and announce that it is probably too late for me. What was I thinking!

To top this off my beautician has found new faults to criticise me about. Obviously I've been used to the big, fat, hairy, freckly farang comments for a couple of years now, but I was taken aback when she announced that my wrinkles were getting worse and maybe I should try this new laser treatment to reduce them. She was silenced with a death stare, but now all I see is wrinkles.

But the icing on the cake happened while Helen and Kate were staying. We were shopping in Central Market and embarking on some serious haggling when the shopkeeper turned and asked if Helen was my daughter. While tears pricked my eyes Hels announced that she was infact my sister. I would like to say that we stormed out the shop but Kate really wanted the picture. I really must be looking haggard!

So I'm now on a mission. No booze (at least for January), lots more exercise, and I've even got my gas reconnected so I can cook lovely healthy food. From now my body is a temple and I intend to look 5 years younger by the end of the month...... without the aid of laser treatment. Wish me luck.

Friday, 4 January 2008


The headlines today warn consumers that they will only be able to buy 5 litres of cooking oil per shop for the next couple of weeks. After rumours of a price hike the general public have been stockpiling and now there is a national shortage of cooking oil. The government have ordered increased production and hope the rationing will slow the problem!

Really, how much cooking oil does one need? I know I barely cook but surely 5 litres should keep the average family going for quite some time. But I'm sure the government have it all under control and that crisis will be averted.

Hanging out in the Highlands

Despite having to push The Beast off the highway and leave it abandoned on some wasteland just days earlier, we headed off to the Cameron Highlands for a change of scenery. We stayed at Bala's guesthouse, a mock tudor old boarding school, which served tea and scones in the afternoon and delicious curries in the evening. It is slightly surreal visiting what can only be described as little england smack bang in the middle of malaysia. Stopping in for yet more tea at The Smokehouse you would think you were in the English countryside.

Of course we visited the Boh Tea Plantation and enjoyed pots of tea. We (very laziliy) drove to the top of Gunung Brinchang and marvelled at the undulating patterns of perfectly clipped tea plants that stretched as far as the eye could see. We wrapped up warm in front of the fire in the evening and Kate and I followed one of the trails around Tana Rata and enjoyed a spot of bird watching and jungle scrambling.

We also payed a visit to the butterfly farm which can only be described as the farm of death. Littered all over the floor were the carcasses of dead butterflies. In a small glass case a 3-horned rhinoceros beetle lay rigid on its back. A neglected fish floated on top of the pond while all its friends swam idly by. Finally, in an overcrowded case 4 baby jungle geckos lay massacred by their parents. Not a place to brind the kids!
Not far out of KL I think the Cameron Highlands will become a bit of retreat.

Happy New Year!

OK so it is a little belated but hey I was busy with morning after movies and

McDelivery. Not a good way to start the new year I know but from now on my body will be a temple!