Thursday 10 January 2013

The traveller returned

My plane from KL to Singapore was delayed. Heavy rains in Singapore meant it left late to get to us. So by the time it landed back in Singapore my flight to Melbourne had been boarding for 15 minutes. Thankfully the plane landed in the same terminal but at one end and it took me almost 20 minutes power walking to get to the other departure gate. The consequence of the delay of the first flight was that baggage handlers didnt get my case onto the Australian flight and it flew on the new trip to Australia. So when I arrived and was waiting at the carousel in Melbourne with no case in sight, I was not unsurprised to hear a call for Dr Helen Tyzack to come to baggage services. Their promise was to deliver it to my door in Hobart later that Tuesday. So off I went to Virgin, and with the help of a marvellous staff member and with no extra cost, I was able to get my late Tuesday flight to Hobart changed to a midday one. Not leaving anything to chance I made a series of phone calls as the day progressed and by 9pm my case arrived in a white chauffeured limousine. And so the washing commenced. The holiday was slipping away. I was lucky as usual. On the 8 hr leg I had three seats to lie down and sleep across. Slept through breakfast and felt the better for it - and landed in Melbourne close to 8am (which was 5am from whence I had travelled). Glad to have tried Singapore Airlines. Found everything to be good except some customer service in Singapore. The thousands of people at Tullamarine on New Years Day confirmed in me a strong disinclination to travel around new year. Please may I not forget that. And people travel with so much. Attendants walk past and say you can only take 1 piece into the cabin, and people dont hear/choose not to hear/ cant hear and walk on with 6 packed bags.

Breakfast no 1 at the Emperor

Nasi lemak is a delicately flavoured rice boiled in coconut water and pandan leaves. Looks for all the world like steamed rice. Fried beehorn (see comments on other posting), bread and butter pudding which was soft and half cooked and actually very nice, sambal tumis, small peanuts, chopped cucumber, 1/2 boiled egg, tiny sausages, watermelon.

Fried Beehorn - breakfast on day 2 at the Emperor

Fried beehorn was a sort of fine noodle mixed with vegetables including corn, green leafs and stalks of some vegetable, something red as well. Lots of unknowns. PLus fried rice, small sausages, sracmbled eggs, mashed potato which I didnt try, Sambal Tumis, and watermelon. Founda cucumber lettuce and tomato next to the watermelon. Tiny little brown flies walking all over the half red tomatoes, Watched chef come along and check. He stirred the bowl with the tomatoes and I watched the flies lift and fall back as he walked away. Watched a Japanese tourist take a photo. As much as I like spicy food, think my digestive track needs a rest. Ulcer in mouth seems to be settling down. Face so puffy. Under eyes a disaster. All the fluids in the air and the fluids being drunk are all attracted to me.

Pineapple tarts

A speciality niche cake in Maleka. Not much bigger in diameter than our 50 cent coin. A base of short pastry that didnt crumble in your fingers but crumbled in your mouth (masterchef would have made this a winner) and was so light and airy and fabulous. In the centre on the top was a dollop about the size of our 10 cent pieces of the sticky pineapple whatever. And it wasnt that sweet. A mouthful and melted away in moments. Normally sold in bulk; in plastic containers with a dozen or more at once, I happened by a street shop where they were baking and selling as they went. And there was a tray just out of the oven waiting to be packaged. I asked and against their wishes was able to buy just one. They were so good I would have swallowed them all if I had bought a pack. But to get one so fresh is the way. I can only imagine after sitting in a pack for a while that crispness and freshness not to mention the afterglow of the oven, would all be gone. How lucky was I?

Nasi Goreng Kampung

Components of this Sunday night dinner at the hotel cafe 1 A mound of fried rice containing carrot, squid circles, and green maybe runner beans, and dried crispy fish about 1 1/2 inches long; plus chilli and spices. 2 A chicken wing roasted. Couldn't fault it. Maybe floured before roasting. Simple and straight forward. 3 Salad of carrots, red onion, chilli ++++, tomato, cucumber and lettuce All immensely edible.

Fried Kuay Teow and Kampung Fried Rice

Is it some sort of flat noodles that when cooked looks like floppy cabbage pieces. Taste of soy (and the noodle was stained with that colour) and sesame; plus bean shoots, shaved carrot, hint of chilli. I wonder what else? This was one of the dishes on offer for breakfast at the Emperor. Also Kampung Fried Rice was on offer. Rice of course, plus celery, small crisp dry fish, green something maybe chives, green beans and many other unidentified ingredients. Plus scrambled eggs and baked beans. The roti canai was tough as the sole of my shoe and I remembered watching roti makers keep squeezing the roti together on the hot plate in order for it to retain its elasticity and lightness. These roti were being kept warm in a deep heated and lidded bowl. Served with a pale brown yellow dahl - pretty lack lustre this pair.

I dont feel comfortable here

I wonder it if it only about the temperature and the humidity or whether there is something more fundamental making me uncomfortable. I find it interesting that normally I am very face focused (to an extent I hadnt previously recognised) but here for 50% of the female population I am fixated on seeing/looking at endlessly different colours and decorated examples of muslim headwear so that I seldom focus on the face. It is the detail of what is around the face that I am seeing. I feel there are holes in that connection experience and the shape of that hole is the oval of the face. That a little more english was spoken here than in Russia in some ways made it more difficult because I was never sure whether to start a conversation. But I realised shallow superficial conversations are so unfulfilling, so tedious and so distracting. Of course, most foreign tourists regardless of their nationality had some english. But seldom was the level adequate for even complex directions to another tourist site. At least in Russia I had no expectations very quickly. I feel there is little intellectual subtance to be gained here. Nothing uplifts me visually or spiritually. A couple of food moments are not enough. I feel a need to go somewhere whre I have cultural connections or a huge familiarity through education and understand in advance there will be potential to be excited. I feel deadened by this experience. Yes I have learnt about different cultures/peoples but nothing I have learnt has given me some sort of leap into a new way of seeing or understanding the world. It has helped me to understand my need for physical comfort, space, intellectual arousal, the world of ideas. But often I have thought a week in the garden would have made me happier. What I do with my life (married/not married; kids/no kids) is not of interest to me (but has been the topic of interest about me here in Malaysia) rather it is notions, beliefs, words, meanings that enthrall me.