holiday update #2 …

My old laptop – fried in the heat that has also claimed my lower legs and chest … that’ll teach me to fall asleep under the midday sun at Langkawi Coral – a floating pontoon set above a bed of amazing coral and pretty fishes, off Pulau Payar. The good news is my ruse to blend in with the locals seems to be working as I was offered the local package price (foreigners pay more – can you believe that?!) for the Pulau Payar trip!

Back in Penang again after a whistle stop tour of Genting Highlands – a resort that started off as the gambling capital of Malaysia but now houses several indoor and outdoor theme parks to cater for the indigenous folks whose religion forbids them to enter these dens of inequity. Anyway, if you haven’t yet visited the recent addition – the First World indoor theme park – then do so and marvel at the miniature Statue of Liberty annd Eiffel Tower. However, I’d spent most of our short visit on the new Novotouch roulette table and was lucky enough to come away relatively unscathed 😉

On the way back, we turned off the highway at Ipoh to sample the famous Ipoh Hor Fun, Hong Kong Chee Cheong Fun (its softness is said to be due to the local water) and Rojak at the coffee shop opposite Kamdar on Jln Raja Musa Aziz. Tonight, we will be dining at a seafood restaurant in Tambun, Butterworth where we hope to try the local delicacy – the char-grilled roe of a Horseshoe crab (see pic, added later).

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holiday update #1 …

Since my last posting, I’ve travelled to SE Asia and am happily rooted in my sister’s 22nd floor duplex apartment in Penang, Malaysia. During this time, I’ve attended a classy wedding of a good friend in KL, met a tsunami survivor, rode on my first elevated monorail, been accosted by a pimp, a transvestite and lots of people who want to play with my feet for a fee (dodgy kerb-side reflexology apparently), visited my first internet café, drank lots of Starbucks frappucino and finished two Dan Brown books (other than The da Vinci Code) – in short, I feel like a total tourist in my own country, with the final straw being mistaken for a Korean (not that I have anything against Koreans, who make very dinky mobile phones btw). Tomorrow, to blend in, I shall go out in the midday sun and acquire a darker tan, buy some cheap footware and continue to practise that distinctive and possibly unique form of local walking style – the Malaysian shuffle – which when perfected, produces the onomatopoeic sound that has given the ‘flip-flop’ its name. To be fair to the locals, shuffling is about the fastest pace for perambulation in this desperate heat which exceeded 32deg C today. And the day after? Well, I’m planning to revert to being a tourist and go diving in a marine park off Pulau Langkawi! It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it 😉

happy new year …

As the world emerges from the funk of the Aceh disaster, Londoners heralded the new year with one of the most amazing fireworks displays I’ve ever seen … albeit via a widescreen telly, some 100 miles away! We had a quiet New Year’s eve at the flat – more lack of planning than choice, but somehow under the circumstances, a more restrained mood seemed appropriate, especially when the news channels continue to provide coverage of flash floods in Sri Lanka, making the logistics of aid deployment even more challenging in this country.

And sometime during the evening, I came across this photo … which triggered an unexpected reaction that was as selfish as it was surprising: there is absolutely nothing dignified about death (whether peacefully in bed or washed up on a beach), and it is life that we should all celebrate. And with this thought, I wish you all a happy, lively and most of all, a death-free new year.