Sunday, 30 December 2012

Baba and Nonya Heritage Museum

I now know Baba are men, the son born here in Maleka of someone from China. A nonya is the female equivalent. Excellent english speaking tour guide and quite a few chinese australians from Perth in the group. Fabulous old large house. Felt some contents were inauthentic, but well over all it was interesting. Babas learnt their english from missionaries, but continued their taoist and buddhist practices. Rather enterprising. Generally Babas became very rich and powerful compared to the chinese who didnt learn english. Now whose the smart one.

Tried for Portuguese food

Never found any. Did see photos of a couple of purportedly dutch dishes but one looked like a square of ham on a piece of bread, topped by a square of plastic cheese, topped by a fried egg. Nothing there that was interesting. I walked and walked and zilch in that dept. Did try two amazing nonya foods. One a tiny puff pastry wrapped around tasty brown sauced pork filling. The other was also small and tricornered. This was a sweet option which I didnt know when I bought it. Inside was soft light as a feather dessicated coconut probably presoaked in some sugar syrup. Later on I was able to buy a maleka signature street food, a pineapple tart. Again small, short crust, with a sticky cooked pineapple centre. Before leaving town, bought one more Cendol. The first one is still the stand out.

I think Ive walked my last Maleka walk.

Headed off this morning through back streets to the street touristically known as Harmony St. It has an Indian temple not open - with pictures of my favourite Ganesha everywhere. It has a muslim mosque which architecturally is unlike any other I have seen. Shows strong chinese influence. It has a massive chinese temple complex larger than I have ever seen. And busy as. Dozens of people coming and going all the time, and excessive incense burning. In continuing to walk saw a few other smaller chinese temples. Glad that today Sunday has had an effect on the opening of shops and cafes that is, not many have except in the tourist streetJonker St. This means there were less people in the back streets and also less traffic. So more often you could easily avoid the deep culverts. Walked virtually every road in this heritage district. Then plodded back to major thoroughfares looking for a texsi. When I finally climbed in the driver looked about 14 or 15. But he got me back to the hotel in one piece. Though he drove me through places unknown, we had an agreed price so I didnt care. It is still all new to me.

Last day in Maleka

Some rain out to sea, overcast, and wet air here where you dont need an umbrella but almost do. The two cities gave been dramatically different. I have loved the nonregularity of the architecture and the street design here. It is a smaller city and it is easy to feel Maleka is of a more human scale. I will miss the variety and the eccentricities and people all plodding along at my slow pace. I wont miss the narow roads edged by deep culverts leaving you no where to walk as the traffic bears down, or the break a leg holes in the occasional pavements. Its not look up to live, its look down. I wont miss all the families that have stayed in my Maleja hotels with loud uncontrolled little boys. I wont miss the uncomprehending looks about my travelling by myself. Virtually disapproving. Dont know how many times I have had to say I have 3 boys just to keep things moderately comfortable. Because english is limited, there us no way for personalised explanations. A woman's job is to raise kids and focus solely on the family. Very tiring. But Maleka utself is delightful and It has been well worth the visit. In fact I would say it gas geen the jewel of my holiday. Strongly recommend to anyone visiting this part if the world. Rebecca and friends should come here for 2-3 days.

Salivating taste buds

My taste buds werent salivating when I walked off into the night not hungry but eager to try yet another local specialty. Walked into town then out again without being inspired. Didnt want to return to the restauran on the corner where I had enjoyed rice balls. So walked and found a corner restauran with everyone eating crab. John, I dont think I have eaten crab since Mackay days. You would have thought I hadnt eaten for weeks. Voracious devouring. It was wonderful at every level, including the juices running down my arms. I ordered it sweet and sour but there was nothing in it of our sweet and sour sauce colour, texture nor taste. It was rich reddy brown and spicy but not hot with chilli, with strands of crab in it. On top was the pieces of a whole crab. A Singapore family on holiday took my photo before I hogged in. Another brilliant culinary find.

Saturday, 29 December 2012


I guess you can understand how my mind has begun to wander towards departure and the long 8hr stretch between Singapore and Melbourne. I googled a bit and found Singapore Airlines is one of the least likely to give upgrades even to its most frequent flyers. I guess I have to accept lightning wont strike twice. But I have my fingers crossed for that second upgrade to business class.

Asam Pedas

My tourist info centre woman had recommended a restauran that she frequented for the Malaccan food, Asam Pedas. I found the place teeming with locals and immensely squeezy. The smorgasboard line up was packed with people. I added to my rice covered plate the things the man in front chose. This dish is spicy fish with tamarind paste somewhere in the mix. I added lots of extras that even on eating I couldnt identify. Anyway I have made the best notes I could, Just worried that the fish and other fishy things wont lead to any fast internal movements. In anticipation, this is one of the reasons I returned to the hotel early. Yesterday did a mad dash and dont want to be in a public toilet again for any such repeats. Did bring handwipes with me and this probably has helped keep internal machinations to a minimum. So this dish was a great success and I will be googling the recipe when I get home. Elsewhere saw more Cendol and didnt pass it by. Presented differently and I preferred the 1st one. Cendol is Nonya food-the fusion between chinese and malay. Called into the tourism office and now have new food locations to seek. Wont get to them all - now almost out of time. Took blue metered taxi back to my hotel and he drive through new back streets. But only a few cents above my taxi yesterday. So all is good. May go out again tonight. Hope all is well in the southern hemisphere. Was handed a plate of white rice over which I placed a piece or so of fish and then ladled some of the red liquid across the rice. Added some salad looking stuff not recognising much. Moved on to add some dark looking little things cooked in some way (copying the man in front of me), and they turned out to be oysters. Moved onto a white liquid (was it coconut) and green wilted leaves of some veg. Then a sort of shrimp paste/veg. Wonder what it was - but tasted great (Hmmm wonder if it was the belancon a paste made from shrimp that has been buried for a while and then dug up. Better not to think about that.) Only $2Aus. Really really really a great meal.

Making this a short day.

Left hotel late and walked into town. Meandered to my 1st hotel and went and checked out. When asked the reason for early checkout, I didnt consult my notes but simply said the internet was too slow. Poor them. They had only recently  had it updated and were frustrated by it all. Calmly I left, went to river cruise place and collected my latest  photo, then past the maritime museum on the big dutch ship, through a steamingly hot undercover market.

Lots seen Lots to see

Yesterday visited the remnants of Porto di Santiago and St Pauls church, walked through the airy replica (wooden Malay style) of a 14th century sultans palace, and flattened my feet even further through the many museum parts of the Stadhuys. Walked past St John's Fort but couldnt face the steep climb, and walked past endless other museums. Walked into town last night to see Jonker St evening market but think I was too early although endless stalls set up around Stadhuys and the Clock Tower. Lots to see here. And everything feels accessible and at a individual scale rather than at KL's mass scale.


Exhilarated. Joyous. Overwhelmed. When I got off the amazing river cruise (saw excessive murals which I otherwise would never have known about, and the huge Kampung Morton traditional Malay style houses) last night, decided to take a ride in a highly flowered trishaw. The rider said my hotel wasnt too far and we set off, but not before he put all his lights on including flashing colours and sparklies. He popped a CD in and the wonderful boom started. Cant tell you what it was, but it was music I knew well and so bopped with a silly grin on my face all the way.  This was despite going down dark back streets and his riding on bysy one way streets, and on a number he was going the wrong way straight at the traffic. One of the most fun things I have ever done. And no alcohol was involved!

Two wins

Did so much yesterday but will have to blog it after I return home. Two big wins in Melaka. First the discovery of the most delicious desert in the entire world. And you know I dont like deserts and sweet things. Cendol. The glorious Cendol is a unique Maleka desert. In a bowl comes brownish icy pile with what looks like slimy worms on top. The 'worms' are pale green coloured soft and slippery noodles about the size of thick Hokkien noodles but flat. They are bland to taste. At the bottom of the bowl unseen until you dig down, are cooked red beans that are the same colour as kidney beans  but straight - soft and velvety to eat. Above is a mound of shaved ice witha swim of liquid palmsugar, plus a dollop of coconut cream. It was magnificent. Perfect for mid afternoon when you feel you cannot go on.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Todays discoveries

My last Friday in Malaysia has been typically sweaty but uplifting. Realise clean non city tropical air is easier than fumed, dank, drain smelling, cooking smelling tropical air. Walked to and from the Portuguese settlement and can see no reason to book into the expensive looking Lisbon Hotel for 'genuine' portuguese cum malaysian fusion food. Will hunt out alternatives that tourist office yesterday recommended. Good walking at dawn (7.15 ish) and little traffic, people doing Tai Chi in groups, cats and more cats, seeing the Straits for  the first time, watching a local with his rod out fishing from the beach into brown well rubbushed water. Discovered Fish Ball Mee Soup. Now know mee is the malaysian word for wheat and these were mee noodles in the soup. Used 'saito' fish. Used something like our melon scooper to scoop out solid balls of fish that did not disintegrate during cooking. Included in the soup were 4 balls, a tiny piece of battered thin fish that looked like fried tofu - very sea tasty, mee noodles that looked like thin hokkien noodles, chopped parsley stalks, in a fish stock that was exceptionally tasty but clear. Very strong flavour but marvellous. Some oil but very little Saltiness from salt or the fish and/or the ocean?

On 21st floor overlooking Malacca Straits

Unfortunately I have to use the wifi in the lobby but at least it operates at normal speed. Room fine except for some toilet irregularities which will heed watching. So I will see how tonight goes before cancelling the other hotel. But marvelous to see the islands, the water and the big container ships motoring along. Down here in the lobby the music is wishing me a happy Christmas and a Happy New Year.  The partridges in the pear tree had just stopped singing. What a relief there is now no music. This has a good feel about it. This sits more comfortably with my vision of 3 star might be. Perhaps the other hotel adds a few stars for central and next to most star attractions.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

WiFi is here but sooooo slow

Maleka and this hotel have character and should be interesting. Certainly not bland. Bus arrived in M half hour early. Avoided the taxi touts and caught local bus (with squeeze and nowhere for luggage) to centre. Was close to my hotel when I got off but everyones directions made it a long and complicated foot journey with suitcase in the hot sun. So I saw some back streets early on and gradually realised most people are tourists. But city centre marvellous to look at.

Internet access

Love the fact that everywhere I go there is free WiFi. And to think the Poly cant even organise it except for Apple products. Currently waiting at TBS for the bus south. Have just written copius notes before I thought to check the technology. But in short had the most marvellous roti canai with dahl sauces. The bus terminal is large modern and marvellous. Passes pawpaw, sugar cane, coconut palms and others getting here. Looking forward to country views even though dont have window seat.

KLSummary 3

There is more to see and experience here than I had time for. I would like to have eaten good traditional malay food, visited the textile museum, found the textile and batik workshops, had fish nibble the dry old skin from my feet, spent time at the main historical museum, gone to various art galleries, enjoyed the bird park, simply sat in any number of the green parks and mused with nature and much much more. There is the old Port Klang to visit on the coast at the end of a commuter train line. And I would have liked to find the confluence of the Klang and Gormak rivers - the kuala.

KL Summary 2

Once in India, I loved the way all the religions co-existed. And here this is certainly the case as well. But what is also much clearer is people are friends and mingle and meld across the religions so there does not seem to be too great a social divide. So that when we think of Oz as a multicultural country where people are together, KL people seem to be the same. Of course there are residential enclaves but certainly shopping seems to break that down. And now the first call to prayer is being sung.

KL summary 1

This morning I am off bussing to Maleka. First to KLCC then to KL Sentral, then change lines for another commuter train to the station where all southern bound buses leave from. Imagine that experience will be as good as rest of KL. Been thinking about how I feel from my KL experience. I have not felt a frisson of excitement like I did every day in Russia and even England. I think it has been appropriate to stay in a hotel that is international in look feel and contemporary service rather than a traditional more home grown accommadation because KL is a place that is replacing its historical culture with a glitzy worldview of 'culture'. The buzz is not speed although people have talked to me about that aspect of this 'progressive' city, rather it is about consuming and shopping. Everywhere people plod along at my rate because of the climate. The airconditioned traffic try to be fast but the volume of vehicles slows what happens on the streets down.

Petronas towers visit

Popped upstairs for a quick wine, then down in time for a quick buggy ride back to the towers. Lots of Australians in my group. After holographic instructions, into lifts and up we wizzed to the floor with the bridge conecting both towers. 10 mins to look. Then back into lifts up to the top floor, with telescopes. A very good experience. Then decided to treat myself in one of the parkside cafes, to a cappucino before returning to pack up. Cost was an outrageous 14.85 RM (remember my $2 lunch feast). But there are a lot of rich people here alongside those that live under bridges. But the coffee was excellent and was a simple but good way to finish off my time in KL.

Losing the plot

I felt like I could hardly go on so plodded to the train and returned to KLCC. Unfortunately too many people waiting for buggy so I shuffled back to hotel. The weather report here indicated 32 degrees with a feel of 40. Helps to explain why I couldnt walk another km. My feet have been much worse here than in Russia. Showered and slept. Began to feel like I could get back the plot.

Out into the noonday sun

I set out to find my way to the Pasar Seni area with Centre Market and Chinatown. Difficult to fathom on foot but I kept in that direction until I had no choice but to go through dark tunnels something like those at the Brooker Fountain in Hobart. Not good but all is well. Eventually discovered a large bus mall. Plodding in the heat and excess humidity I was soon in the back streets of Chinatown. Selected another white fluffy steamed bun. Yum. Soon was in the main squeezy alleys of Petaling St. Found an open cafe and filled my plate with things known and things unknown for only 6RM - about $2. Super meal and meant I didnt need dinner this evening.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Islamic arts museum

Up the road from the mosque I entered the light bright spacious airy Arts museum. It included artefacts from a range of cultures over time as long as there was an Islamic connection. I was particularly seeking a textile collection, and while it was instructive I didnt have wow moments like I did in Russia. Nevertheless I have taken photos. And it was worth the visit.

Blue folded roof as star

I entered the grounds and came to the shoe removal point. Continued up the stairs (the world is full of stairs) to the place for robing. I had made a point if wearing a 3/4 sleeve shirt which the women felt was acceptable so I didnt need the full ground length purple outfit (you may recall it was a bkack affair in Abu Dhabi). But I was given the pull over headwear - and they chose it to match the colours of my shirt. We all smiled happily.  I really like these big mosques for their space and openness, the austerity of the decoration even when plush. Separate from the prayer room a marbled walk away past water pools lined with rich blue tiles was a light and airy mausoleum. Took video with this tablet but dont think it captures the essence. Really lovely.

Did the Islamic thing this morning

First trained to KL Sentral, then onto another line one stop to Kuala Lumpur station. Until comparatively recently this was the main interchange station. The signs of good ol' England are there in the steel structure overlaid by a sense of Indian pomp and ceremony architecture. Slight cooling breeze through the big spaces but must have been appalling with millions of people passing through daily. Headed off in direction of main city mosque via complicated traffic lanes and street directions. Sometimes I can feel the attraction of coach tours, but second thoughts I know I am doing it the best way for me. Already the day was warming. First day with sun since Sunday.

Wake up call

John is it the curlew that is the tropical rain bird? From 12 floors up through the sound of airconditioning I could hear a couple calling out around 5.30am. Sometime later the first call to prayer came. I am still waiting for my first tropical downpour. Will it be today.

Happy hour discovery

I knew my hotel had a bar on the 34th floor, and then at 6.30pm discovered it was free drinks and food from 5 to 7pm nightly. The view of the twin towers was phenomenal. The Chilean merlot was great. And the tempura veg, the spicy samosas etc were all I needed as a dinner snack. Talked happily with others who would not travel to Australia because we are too expensive. I smiled smugly thinking how much cheaper the dollar situation makes my holidays out of Oz. But for the first time I really understood the difficulties for our tourism sector.

KL and shopping

KL promotes itself as a shopping mecca. Apart from home grown craft related goods, there are many seriously large shopping centres with much high end goods geing sold. Only in KL could you name a shopping centre, Ampung Park and there is no park and not a tree to be seen. And so the tens of thousands of people I see all the time are all shopping feverishly. Obviously lots of wealthy people here. For eg the silk I previously referred to was $80 a metre - Oz price for similar.

The craft shops

At this craft site the shops were large, complex affairs with fabulous well made and interesting crafts of every sort that Malaysia produces. Some traditional. Some contemporary. I liked lots of things. But bringing a small suitcase keeps that consumer urge at bay. Then I walked into acres of colourful silks. Batiked silks. Oh the lustre. Oh the creamy weights. Oh the pure deliciousness of these fabrics in every hue from subtle to garish. I wanted to pull them all out and roll in them. After many ages, I extracted myself and walked back to the hotel with heavy memories. Wonderful.

Silk does it for me anytime

At the craft complex there were a number of batik on  chinese (malaysian silk too expensive) silk workers. For a tiny fee, tourists could colour in prewaxed pictures with vibrant German produced synthetic dyes on frames of stretched silk. The lustre of silk and those glowing colours are so seductive. But on I walked. But not before one artisan pointed out to me that my holiday was very much one revolving around European history. Kelantan in the north east of Malaysia is where lots of traditional crafts and natural normal Malay history can he found. Plus lots of beautiful walks.

Kompleks Kraf

A 15 minute walk from my hotel is a promotional craft precinct. It has elements of our Design Centre in Launceston where the best of our contemporary wood design etc is shown and then a shop sells wares. This KL version was much larger and spread across considerable land. Dotted around were steeply gabled one room buildings. Each one was the studio for an artisan. The studios for painters didnt do anything for me and showed completed images and some in progress that were what I think of as amateur smatterings for a tourist market. Potters similarly didnt interest me. But the wood carvers had one interesting artisan who I talked with for long while - but his subject matter was out there. Carved wooden noses in hard makaysian timber, of ever size and shape. Bizarre. Awful.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Terrific lunch

In the Batu grounds were places to eat. I ordered what I saw others eating. Banana leaf as plate. Large dollop of white rice on one side of centre and dollops of four different concoctions on other side. Could have had spoon or fork, but used my right hand like everyone else. Cylinders with sauces on tables like at Brickfields. Ladled these across rice. Yummy my sort of food. Finger nails now stained yellow. Earlier I had drunk room temp but refreshing coconut water after the head of  the coconut had been hatcheted off. Sat with a straw in the coconut like others. Too much for me to drink it all.

Back from Batu

Everything is easily accessible. Have done the Hindu thing today and joined the throngs at the Batu Caves. Rudy and his family of indian heritage from Sth Africa talked about the three -Siva, Brahna, and who is that other guy? And about spirituality not religion. Batu is about one of Siva's sons M.... brother to Ganesha. Extraordinary place for zillions of reasons. The rapacious monkeys. The caves dripping ceilings so you get wet from that and the humidity. The hundreds of steep steps up, then you enter the first cave and go  down. On the other side you go up more steps this time with high rises. Temples within. Lots of sparkling saris. Their non venomous trapdoor spider. A film crew working with camers on runners. At bottom other temples and gaily painted archways with lots of deities. Garlands of real flowers.

Getting home last night

The bus was too slow and  no normal train station nearby, but I could see on my map a monorail. I and all the world were there waiting for the one carriage. Too many people for the first arrival and so like sardines we waited on the platform (dont forget its a slippery 30 degrees always). The second arrived and I with the masses were pushed on into an already packed carriage. Airconditioned but too many bodies. So lasted the unpleasant trip to KL Sentral - only benefit was seeing buildings etc as we flew over the suburbs. Eventually passed some key buildings that M had shown me. 3km walk from monorail to train. I and a long stream of people. Back at KLCC I chose wrong walkway and walked more than I had hoped. Advantage is I was closer to hotel, but disadvantage is that I had to then walk distance in dark with almost noone around. Wont wreck your Christmas with local harrowing stories.Gingerbread Christmas tree waiting for me in my room.

Eating at the end Tuesday

Dinner was Malay cuisine in an open sided street edge restauran. I am not sure what parts of the sheep had been stewed and I was so in doubt I left some of the rubbery bits. Vegetable was green and could have been something like a cucumber or squash. Not much flavour but mixed with some crumbly white cheese and perhaps stewed in coconut milk. Plus an edible biryani rice. And quite inexplicably, a bowl with red mildly spicy sauce with two chicken gizzards floating in it. Better than it looked. Meanwhile around me buzzed thousands of people and traffic.

Lemon tea

At dinner last night again I ordered lemon tea. This time it was almost clear and had two tiny limes with their heads cut off floating in it. Since all comes sweetened (havent yet checked my phrase book for the words for unsweetened) it doesnt much matter if unripened limes were bitter. Lemon tea at yesterdays lunch was a brown cloudy affair with a little froth at the upper edges. Have had no bad side effects. I suppose that if I insist on buying food and drink at the bottom end of the market then I must hope the water was really boiled and the sugar kills germs. With M on Sunday, the lemon tea was exceptional obvious lemons quality even though bought in similar circumstances/location. Local knowledge is always the key.


I am thinking of Barbra Streisand singing 'people who need people are the luckiest people in the world'. If you want to be in KL or any other such populated place then you need to like people. Last night I bussed to Bikat Bitung for dinner and the experience. In advance I was aware this Bitung Walk (a whole long street) was going to be alive as one of the main entertainment and upmarket shopping locations. I was over it before the bus even stopped. We all know words like teeming and streaming and bustling. Lots of Santa elf hats being sold and groups of young people offering free christmas hugs. Decided I was sick if seeing so many people and went down a side street with motorcycles oarked across the footpath and endless traffic jams. People and property tightly packed. All swarming.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas

You probably wont read this for days, but when you do I hope you can look back with pleasure on tomorrow - on Christmas Day. Have a happy one.

Trains are so easy

Went back to KLSentral and walked little India again. Took photos but no sun today so not so pretty. Spotted a hop on hop off bus and hopped on. Terribly tedious with the announcer using endless alliterations trying to make things more colourful - eg frenetic flights, as we passed the bird park. Havent seen the half of it. Will use ticket again tonight to get to a new suburb. But advantage is that I can now work out where I want to go for the next 2 days-my last 2 days in KL. Disadvantage is that the immense traffic brings the bus to a standstill so often. Too slow.

Chinese back streets brunch

Interesting area around this miles out of the city surburban train station, if run down and daggy and desperate are your thing. Very Chinese and therefore rice, veg and tofu simple and good. Plus the most wonderful white as snow and soft as cottonwool hot steamed bun. Had meaty sauce inside. Dont know what but very yummy.

Selangor pewter

Yes we have all heard of Selangor pewter. I remember in the 1970s when everyone had a tankard. Guided tour was interesting and I even practised hammering. Didnt make the sort of dents that sell. Right now I still remember it comes from a mixture of tin, copper and antimony. By tomorrow I will have forgotten this and most other related facts. Well worth the journey and easy to do as an independent traveller rather than disgorging from the big fat coaches at a hefty price. 2RM for the train. 5RM for the taxi and free entry. Coach tours 200RM. After waiting for taxi spotted a sort of bus and asked if it could take me back to the train - which it did. But the Singapore based Brisbane couple 'owned' it as their hotel shuttle bus. But they were happy to give me a lift.

Christmas Eve

Today is the 24th. Time to shower and foray out. May go the Selangor pewter factory . KL is in the state of Selangor.

Nasi kinyat with green chicken curry

Nasi is rice. A cupful of yellowed nasi in centre of plate. One slice cucumber and two slices tomato. Three fat deep fried in shells prawns. A bowl of green gingered curry sauce with one piece of chicken and strands of green runner beans. There was more on the plate but my memory cannot see it. Very tasty. Very edible.


Te tarik or stretched tea with milk and sugar in Little India. So good, Lemon tea with sugar in tall glass mug for dinner last night. Sweetened lime juice diluted at Buddhist temple where after houses in sweaty humidity and hot sun my feet were needing a break. Cameron Highlands tea bags in hotel room. Found supermarket and bought UHT New Zealand milk - milk not provided in room. Remembering Russia with no tea making facilities in room.


After I left the train station before waiting for M, I passed a street stall with various fried patties. I chose two but it was quickly indicated that I needed to choose 3. One had some sort of meat and tasty nonchilli spices. The others were chick pea combinations with ginger and chilli and who knows what else. So I was no longer hungry. But about an hour later M asked me if I would like a traditional malay indian breakfast in a very basic open cafe. Yes of course. She had and shared with me her fresh cooked dolsey (we refer to them as dosa in Oz) and I shared my hot steaming roti chanya (cania). The dolsey made from rice flour and the roti from wheat flour. On the table were four deep canisters each with some sauce. Two types of spicy sauce, One delicious coconut, And we never tried the fourth. A small amount was ladled onto our greads and with hands ( M wasnt scrupulous about using only the right hand and told me to relax - we had washed hands before eating. So filling. So tasty. So wonderful. All ordered in Malay in a way I could never duplicate. This and the cafe next door are M's favourite gaunts. And shepaid for ne.  All that food and tea for her wad a littke over $1 Aust.

Catalogue of delights 6

Large glass jars with coloured contents in liquid, and sometimes drab grey contents even though all were foods. Brilliant papaya and grey mango. Must check what Amra is. Apparently a fruit. Saw peeled and looked somewhat like a greyed kiwi fruit. Endless jars and containers of mixed savoury and often spicy nibbles, the sort we can now buy easily in packets and in bulk in Hobart and elsewhere. Had a sense from M that this was a traditional development from Malaya that had spread internationally.

Catalogue of delights 5

I was shown a cashew nut tree growing comfortably on the footpath. Apparently a pleasure is to break off the fresh shoots at the end of branches and eat raw. Leaves can be used in salads. Handsome looking tree. I was surprised to learn avocados dont grow in Malaysia. We talked about whether the high rainfall depleted the ground of necessary nutrients. Doesnt make sense to me. Saw special mangoes for sale that were a type designed for green grating. Long papaya for sale -M was fascinated that mostly we call them pawpaw. We both puzzled on the derivation of both names and came up with nothing. Both yellow and red rambutans.

Catalogue of delights 4

Food. Maharani and I wended our way through push and squeeze pathways in tiny lanes packed with wet market produce. Scrawny live chickens in cages waiting to join their brothers and sisters on the chopping block and then be seen resting with plucked skin in rows. Looking plumper than in real life. Fish of every size. Shiny with splashed water. Trestle tables weighted with these beasts from the sea. Lumps of fresh meat hooked in the air, or layered on tables. Still pink and the flies hadnt yet arrived. On the edges of this market were vendors with all manner of dried fish, some already dyed for purposes unknown. And then there was the tropical fruit stall where I could identify all bar one, It was a mangosteen. The seller squeezed one into two for me. What a wonder of taste. Oh John why didnt we grow one of these at Mackay? Simply wonderful and given freely as a taster.

Office workers

It was 6.30 and already some people were at work in the offices in the building opposite my hotel room. Now they are back at work better keep some clothes on.

Catalogue of delights 3

Maharani talked me through so much symbolism everywhere. For example, various white flowering trees (which she always called jasmine but couldnt all be) signify an Indian family live there. These are non fragrant flowers. Each morning the mother picks off the white flowers, and these get ritually thrown away as a means of ridding the day of bad spirits and giving something nice to the gods. Variations on attitudes to Malaysian flag. Seemed a bit like Australia in that some are patriotic and some arent. None of the USA flag fervour here but still some hang over doorways. Something the older generation are more likely to do. And we talked about the worldwide similarities with Gen X and Y

Catalogue of delights 2

Saw many schools inc special Sri Lankan dance school, school for blind, another for deaf mutes, Streets and pavements have rough surface strip so blind can feel the difference and so can walk for miles. Watched one person with his cane getting along at a fast pace. Saw historical railway ground level apartments - rare to see anything one or two storey. In fact my hotel city view amounts to a tall high rise office block. But to the left is part of the KLCC park. In the distance to left and right are hills. No daylight saving here and seemingly darkish after 7am although it maybe that the height of buildings and closeness makes it difficult for the light to penetrate. I thought of the Wall St like end of downtown Sydney and how little light gets down to street level. The average height of the KL buildings is probably double those. Big, Big, and lots of them.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Catalogue of delights 1

Open markets. Wet markets. Chinese temple that was once backed by a hill and near water for good feng shui but now has superscrapers for company. Sri Lankan hindu temple after recent restoration. Little India with colourful sculptures traditional and contemporary, and with gaudy sari filled shops, and with heavy and elaborate gold jewellery shops. Hanuman temple. Ganesha temple. Other temples devoted to other hindu gods. Mini icon incense chinese boxes on corner of street. Huge Buddhist temple complex.     One small old house with 2 guard dogs. One 'typical' malay house owned by city mogul (whose son became a monk) and only used once a year for his mothers birthday. Just some of the things seen today with Maharani.

Last call for the day

Just back from hunting for dinner locally. Wont do that again. Lean pickings nearby only of upmarket or mass produced options. I need to back in little India or in Chinatown. But back in my hotel in time to hear the last call to prayer. At dinner, the single woman sitting next to me struck up a conversation. She was from Ipoh to the north and filling in time until her train home; of chinese heritage. Concentrating hard to understand what she, and earlier, what Maharani was saying is exhausting. Common English words pronounced so unusually that I have been straining to get their meaning. So I have smiled a lot today but missed a bit on the conversations. I have to say that both had an excellent command of English. My problem was in making sense of a sentence when the accent on words is different than expected.But through both women it has been most informative and immensely enjoyable.

Maharani is a woman

I walked across the park from the hotel this morning and located the train station, braved the ticket vending machine and caught a train to Masjid Jamek the station near Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square - from the British) where I was to meet my heritage walking guide, Maharani. When a black-head- scarfed petite woman perhaps in her 40s approached me, I was pleasantly surprised. I had booked 2.5hrs with her. After 6.5 hrs together we parted. I was taken to the Brickfields area and I have seen and experienced so much. So interesting. But without notes I will never remember it all. A wonderful start to KL. Back here in my hotel room I am listening to the call to prayer being sung somewhere in the distance. Maharani missed an earlier prayer time but assured me that her service to me was a reasonable substitute. What a generous person she has been.

Petronas Twin towers

Driving north from the airport and from a long way south you could see the tallest towers in the Asian region. Like fairy castles in the air. Quite beautiful lit up in the dark. Eventually arrived at the hotel and on checkin was told they were trying to find me a room. Exhausted I kept saying its 1am where I come from and they kept saying but its only 10pm here. By the time I got into my 12th floor room in this 24 floor hotel I was feeling myself becoming irrational. So it was 3am Hobart time when I got to bed. So June when you ask what my first reactions to KL are like, I was very much like a non functioning zombie. I was trying to grasp the fact that I am here. All I could think is this is a big city. 1.5 m in KL and total of 6m for the spread out version with all the surrounding satellite cities. It felt incredibly modern in a way that has expunged(where did that word come from) all Malay traditional culture and history.

My personal chaufferred trip to KL

Booked this car for direct transport to my hotel before leaving Hobart, and it was all so easy and cheap. I came out into the K L arrival hall and saw the placard with my name on it immediately. I was whisked outside into the 30 degrees and 90% humidity and knew I had arrived. My driver and airconditioned car collected me and off we went on the 45 min trip to the city. Very interesting driver who was usefully informative on many things. Sadly my sleep deprived state at that time means I cant remember much but we covered lots of subjects from politics to religion to education and the financial health of the country. But the most exciting thing to pass were the acres of special palms for the palm oil - yes it was late at night but the well lit highway showed a lot. A dangerous job for the Bangladeshis and Laotians and Vietnamese. The fields are full of snakes whose job it is to eat the mice and rats. Parallels our old sugar cane cutter days. Also saw rubber trees.

Less than 24 hrs here and ...

... so much has happened and been experienced. I landed late into KL.  Singapore had been so wet the grass edging the runway was flooded so we circled for ages before landing and then was much tarmac sitting before we could leave. When we flew to KL through a severe electrical storm I did think how lucky my life has been and that I was at peace with myself if we should be struck by lightning. It was a little hairy for a while. The plane was nearly empty so service was good even if my seat and space was back to economy size. Eventually I was coming out of baggage and customs at KL well after 9pm (midnight + Oz time). Glad to be here finally.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Changi free computers

Here at Changi airport in Singapore the computers with internet access are free so while I can use all fingers to type a post I will.  What an adventure so far.  To find that my first flight from Melbourne to Adelaide was a domestic that left me only a  little over an hour to checkin and do all those passport and security formalities  once in Adelaide was nervewracking.  ThenAdelaide airport is quite large and there was a fair walk to find a suitable helper for me.  I did get checked in and then went to the gate to wait.  On the plane flying here I have handwritten pages and pages of notes because I didn't want to forget one of my memorable experiences ever flying.  I will type it up and add it to the blog when I get back home - much too much to tackle one fingered on the tablet.  In summary - I was upgraded to Business Class on the Singapore Airlines flight and it was brilliant!

The night that was

I wont remark on the way the bedding roasted me because it allowed me much exercise during the night. Oh that's right, I was meant to be sleeping. And I wont complain about the screaming baby in the next room. Without those thoughtful intrusions I would not have witnessed the brilliant lit panoramic views at 1.30, 2.15, 3.48, 4.19 and 4.31am. And I would have missed the spectacular beautifully coloured sky changes as morning broke and the sun rose. Now looking forward to peaceful slumber on route to KL.

The night that was

I wont remark on the way the bedding roasted me because it allowed me much exercise during the night. Oh that's right, I was meant to be sleeping. And I wont complain about the screaming baby in the next room. Without those thoughtful intrusions I would not have witnessed the brilliant lit panoramic views at 1.30, 2.15, 3.48, 4.19 and 4.31am. And I would have missed the spectacular beautifully coloured sky changes as morning broke and the sun rose. Now looking forward to peaceful slumber on route to KL.

Friday, 21 December 2012

But there have more kindnesses today

I cant be sure where the kindnesses began. There were all the phone calls and supportive well wishes from John, Liz, Ruth and June not to mention from interested and interesting work colleagues, and the friendly wave and calls from Sandy and Ian. And I am immensely grateful that shorn Ros and tennis tanned Ian collected seemingly rat bitten ended hair me (neither Ros or I are impressed with our hair) and deposited me at the airport. Thanks to you I am on my way. And then I remember all the well wishes from wisherers during the past week. Thanks. The holiday is starting well.

A surprise visit

At Hobart airport, suddenly another familiar face appeared. There was my good friend Ieky with one of her grandchildren, Chloe, coming towards me. She had missed saying goodbye so drove out to the airport especially. How good is that. It makes me remember that today is the first anniversary of my brain surgery in Sydney. Right now my op had been over a while and June had been into ICU to visit me. from that time on, people were and have been very kind to me. There were the TN strangers who visited me on Christmad Eve and Day. I will never forget that thoughtfulness. And now today Ieky has done something from the heart that is special. A great start to my new adventure.

In Melbourne for the night

I am so eager to be en route to KL, but this spacious room at the Park Royal and its large bathroom with its own shower and separate bath offers way too many options for the few hours that I am here. I will not dwell on the delayed flight, or the technical hitch with this tablet which led to a lost blog. Rather, I am thankful Gary could offer advice to resolve the problem, and I am thankful for friends. I always knew Jeanette and drop dead gorgeous 17 yr old daughter Madeleine were on the same flight, so it was quite marvellous to have company while waiting. Talk, talk, talk we did and so the week of work left our minds, and the world of Hobart slipped away. Yes the holiday is beginning.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Cultural heritage mix

I have now booked to bus to and from Maleka located to the south of KL: I understand this city has a variety of heritage (city is categorised as a world heritage site) affecting its architecture, food and way of life. The influences include those of the Portuguese, Dutch, English, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, and Indian overlaying the original Malay culture. How interesting will this be!  I have booked to stay in Maleka for 4 nights to soak up some of that history and atmosphere.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Rubber and palm oil plantations

I remember rubber was very important to Malaysia’s economy when I was at primary school, but these days the plantations often have been replaced with palm plantations for their oil content. Unfortunately, there is not a day trip or any other kind of tour I can find that will take me near or into a rubber plantation. Alas. Again, I am hopeful I might pass one while on a bus.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Tea plantations

I soon gave up on the idea of travelling to the hill country (Cameron Highlands) north of Kuala Lumpur when I realised the enduring extent and pervasiveness of British rule.  Have a look at the hotel architecture in the main Highlands city of Tanah Rata - Google it ( I tried to add photos here unsuccessfully)  Who could love this mock Tudor?  Most hotels and resorts have it somewhere etc.  No, I decided, I wasn’t visiting an Asian country to get a dose of England – wrong place, wrong time.  Nevertheless, I hope that out of buses as I travel into the country, I might pass tea plantations.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Kuala Lumpur was the chosen one

After endless Googling, I realised that it didn’t matter where I went. All that mattered was that the trip did not involve too lengthy a flight and was somewhere I had never travelled.
KL and anything I see around that part of Malaysia will be new. So flights were booked for my departure after work on Friday 21 December, and for the return flights on New Year’s Day – just so I can go back to work the next day!  I will stay in KL for 5 nights.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

My ten days of Christmas

After Russia and before I had won the new job, already I was thinking about where my next holiday would be.  The decision was never whether to take a holiday only when and how long it would be.  Once I was in the new job with the reduced annual holidays, quickly it was clear that the next break was Christmas. And so I embarked on preparing for my ten day break over Christmas.

On the 1st day of planning I truly said to me, where do I goest, and I set out to find a country.

On the 2nd day of planning I truly said to me, will it be an island, where do I goest, and I set out to find a country.

On the 3rd day of planning I truly said to me, do I seek exotica, will it be an island, where do I goest, and I set out to find a country.

On the 4th day of planning I truly said to me, are tea plantations open, do I seek exotica, will it be an island, where do I goest, and I set out to find a country.

On the 5th day of planning I truly said to me, any rubber tapping, are tea plantations open, do I seek exotica, will it be an island, where do I goest, and I set out to find a country.

On the 6th day of planning I truly said to me, what about the palm oil, any rubber tapping, are tea plantations open, do I seek exotica, will it be an island, where do I goest, and I set out to find a country.

On the 7th day of planning I truly said to me, do I want big cities, what about the palm oil, any rubber tapping, are tea plantations open, do I seek exotica, will it be an island, where do I goest, and I set out to find a country.

On the 8th day of planning I truly said to me, how about some history, do I want big cities, what about the palm oil, any rubber tapping, are tea plantations open, do I seek exotica, will it be an island, where do I goest, and I set out to find a country.

On the 9th day of planning I truly said to me, give me some yummy food, how about some history, do I want big cities, what about the palm oil, any rubber tapping, are tea plantations open, do I seek exotica, will it be an island, where do I goest, and I set out to find a country.

On the 10th day of planning I truly said to me, air condition my nights, give me some yummy food, how about some history, do I want big cities, what about the palm oil, any rubber tapping, are tea plantations open, do I seek exotica, will it be an island, where do I goest, and I set out to find a country.