Thursday, December 27, 2007

Boxing Day in Shen Zhen

Boxing Day was a beautifully fine and clear day. We decided to go across the border, and left home before 8 am. Since we had plenty of time, we ambled around some byways - sort of looking for ox tongues, but not finding a suitable shop.

A trip to Wal-Mart scored some eatables, with Eddie getting riled when presented with 'dirty money' change. Chinese notes are usually tatty and grubby , particularly the lower denominations, and certainly the worst ones are not pleasant to handle. (The shop assistants look at crisp new notes suspiciously.) He made rather a fuss, but didn't really get his point across - I noticed everyone looking non-plussed rather than concerned or interested.

Leaving Wal-Mart, we walked on to Eastgate and visited Park'n'Shop (here we got coins for change which could not be complained about). We stocked up on provisions for lunch, and even got 12 eggs for Y 8.60.

Laden, we walked up to Litchi Park, passing the Uighurs with their special bread. We enjoyed a freshly heated flat one sprinkled with sesame seeds with between us.

Litchi Park can be bustling with groups dancing, singing and playing various instruments, both Western and Chinese. This time, however, there weren't many around - we came across a group of dancing students, and 2 girls batting a shuttlecock around and other walkers. A writer in water of poems had left faint traces of his calligraphy along the path. We stopped to watch a bride being photographed (the trend this year is to have the bride lie on the ground amid a flounce of lace and tulle and have the groom lean over her) and finally fetched up at the toilets by the cat's tail tree where the old men were playing chess and cards to an audience.
There we ate our lunch of bread and water, finishing with an ice-block from the nearby store.

We continued to walk around the park, and happened to start chatting to a man who, born in China, had spent many years in Singapore advising the government there. He had retired to Shen Zhen, where he continued to give advice and said he was responsible for much of the upgrade to the old city, including wider roads and footpaths.

Nearer the west gate we came across bridal parties having their photo sessions. Eddie was keen to add to his collection of 'bridal underwear' so we hung around while the subjects were arranged in fetching poses in various locations. The brides all seem to wear jeans and sneakers or other street clothes under their frothy white dresses, and the grooms wander around looking ill-at-ease in white suits of varying styles, carrying the brides' stuff. It seems that the tradition is to have the photos taken long before the actual wedding, and the process can take a very long time with changes of location and clothes involved.

My sciatica and sore muscles were causing me difficulty, so we decided to come home - in fact we didn't get into the house till 4.30 and queues at immigration were long, so it was a wise decision. We put on a DVD and promptly went to sleep after a strenuous day.

Christmas day

We had a quiet Christmas day doing nothing special. Eddie's sisters, Betty and Mary, called, which meant we had a taste of the day in NZ.

We went shopping about midday to get in some provisions, buying an ox tongue from the congee shop downstairs to do for lunch. Ox tongues are made of the same dough as the deep fried devils that are eaten with congee, and they are very tasty if freshly made.

We enjoyed ours as we walked on to Sheung Shui to check the supermarket for marked-down sponge-cakes (there weren't any) and to buy something to make soup with. We bought some beef bones and meat, and then Eddie got more vegetables from the Cheung Wah market while I went ahead and started cooking.

We had enough for two pots; one I made into bak kut teh using a spice packet that had been around a while, the other into carrot soup, both of which I enjoyed but Eddie found too meaty (though it 's good for him).

We had a rest and watched "White Christmas" on a DVD while the soups cooked, and enjoyed our dinner about 7 pm.

Weather was cool but not cold, and the day rather overcast.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It shouldn't rain at Christmas in Hong Kong

And luckily it didn't. There was rain overnight, and we feared it would last the day, but once the sun had risen, the clouds stayed but the rain stopped.

We set off after breakfast to deliver a present to Jacky Chan, a friend of long standing, who teaches at a school for the mentally disabled in Mongkok. It took us longer to get away than we expected, but we met him at about 10. After an exchange of presents (another scarf for me - this time a more tasteful one than other years), and a short chat, we went our separate ways.

We walked on down to TST, through the wet markets. I haven't been to a really good outside wet market for years, and this one was like those of the old days with stalls piled with fruit and vegetables of every kind, dried fish, dried mushrooms, biscuits and cakes, butcher's shops festooned with meat and entrails, poultry shops with hens in cages awaiting the chop, clothes and haberdashery. I didn't see any baskets of frogs or small birds as we used to see at Sham Shui Po years ago, but everything else was there.

After browsing our way through the stalls, we stopped off for a quick bite of dim sum at a restaurant we'd not visited before. We had spare ribs, shao mai, chicken's feet and prawn rice rolls - all tasty and well-cooked. Eddie found it more expensive than he expected at about $9 per dish, which is a reflection of the current state of inflation.

We continued our walk past the Jade market (not open) and down Canton Rd, through the Harbour City complex to the Star Ferry, where we crossed to Wan Chai to look at the computer centre. Lots to look at and reasonably crowded with more foreigners than at the Golden Computer Centre - I think I heard a Kiwi accent in passing. We checked out several floors then continued walking to Central.

We went through the Wan Chai market - this one has been tamed and is mostly in shops rather than stalls on the roadside, and seems to have shrunk from the days it covered several streets. We couldn't find anything that suited both of us for lunch so we carried on walking down Hennessey Rd till we reached 3 Pacific Place. I thought this was where we could see Christmas decoration, though the main buildings are 1 and 2 - but we went to the first floor just in case, and discovered a group of young handbell ringers performing carols. This was well worth the stop, and we enjoyed listening to them for 15 minutes.

Continuing on to 1 and 2, we found that the decorations weren't quite as mean as Eddie thought - the theme was "White Christmas" and featured several Christmas trees and an ornate Santa House in European style.

Having enjoyed the decorations, we went through Queensway, then on to Statue Square, where there is hardly any glitter and sparkle. The main tree is skeletal - a cone with some gold strings inside, surrounded by a few angels. It's not as tall as last year's tree which was across De Voeux Rd and seemed much more impressive, if only because that one looked like a proper Christmas tree.

While we were having a rest, we were asked by a visiting couple to take their photo. Eddie got talking and found out they were from Beijing, on a day trip to Hong Kong. He is a retired shipbuilding researcher, with very good English. We helped them get on the MTR for Lo Wu, and hope they got back to Shen Zhen in time to meet the friend who was taking them on to Guangzhou by bus.

We crossed the harbour again, and bought something for tea from Wellcome in Harbour City, sitting outside the Cultural Centre to eat. We had a long wait before the performance (6-7 pm) that we wanted to see, but it was worth it. The young a capella singers were clever and entertaining, well deserving their applause, and a larger audience. (Hayden singers on Youtube 2006?).

At the end of the concert, we walked back through the crowds to the train - unfortunately many of the subways and exits were blocked off and we had a longer walk than intended to get to the station. East TST was colourful, but not as busy as we expected. I think the hawkers who used to add liveliness selling their coloured lights and santa hats have been banned. There didn't seem to be as many impromptu carol singing groups as previously, unless the night was too early for them. We were tired, and keen to get to bed, so we didn't wait round, and took the next train home .

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Living at Eddie's in Hong Kong is still like camping even after 16 years.

Today is one of those timeless days - the grey overcast sky makes it difficult to tell what time it is, and at 20 past 2, we were both surprised it was still so early. It felt more like 4.30.

Since it was afternoon tea time, I made a batch of pikelets - from about a cup of self-raising flour (new in April), a dollop of condensed milk, an egg and water - I got to the "I wonder what I've left out" stage before remembering salt, and I had to cook a couple of batches to see what else was missing. It's a different taste without golden syrup, and I had to add more sugar.

Using up the packet of 'brown sugar' which turned out to be coffee crystals was a bit of a mistake. The first batch after was rather crunchy, but by the next, the crystals had dissolved.

We had no jam to eat them with, and eschewed marmalade (it didn't feel right), compromising on some very runny honey. They were OK but I'd like to make some proper ones before I go. There is something like a 1/4 cup of plain flour left, so we will have to buy provisions if I do.

Last night our dinner of fried noodles was made with spaghetti - it really is camping chez nous. Luckily I have a proper stove to cook on (but no oven). I'd like to make sourdough, but Eddie is already unimpressed with my sourdough crackers, so I think it would be a lost cause.

Back in Hong Kong

Nothing much of note has happened in the past few months (the life crises I've touched have all been other people's), but now I am back in Hong Kong till mid-January and there may be more days worth a diary entry.

I left Auckland in the early hours of Thursday 20 December, and arrived in a windy, grey Hong Kong morning. I was home by 8 a.m. - unfortunately I had to wait more than half an hour for a bus, or it would have been sooner, as I was off the plane and through formalities in less than 20 mins.

Thursday was spent posting Mary's and Eileen's Christmas cards, and arranging a China visa for me. We got the passport in just before close-off time of 12 noon, and then went to HK side to see about lunch. Slim pickings there, especially after we waited for a long time at a stall in dai pai dong with no service. We left after nothing seemed to happen to our order and we were running out of time for an appointment at Jardine Flemings.

After meeting our adviser we came directly home, where I heard of the death of a long-time friend, Andrea French. It was not unexpected news, but saddening nonetheless, as we will not be able to attend her service on Monday. I was pleased to have seen her several times this year.

On Friday we went to see an old school friend of Eddie's who is retired and living in a village near Fo Tan station (Lok Lo Ha village). Apart from the 'Everest steps' one has to climb to get to his house - 114? I lost count at 10 and was out of breath at 30 - it's a very pleasant spot, with a good outlook, a hill behind for good feng shui, and not too many people around.

We went to help him with his computer - I did what I could and he seemed happy enough with the results. I hadn't worked with Vista before, but it wasn't too difficult. Anyway, he had done most of the work installing his own copy of Office and once I removed the second copy he had installed in frustration, it worked well.

The day was fine and warm, but not too humid, and we continued on to TST East to collect my passport and visa, had scraps from the supermarket for lunch, then came home for early dinner and sleep.

Saturday was spent at home, tidying up, and sleeping. We were both wide awake and busy from 2 am to 4 because of the early night, so we went back to sleep for a while, before doing some washing that became a marathon as more and more items were found to wash. Unfortunately the humidity was high, and with little wind and no sun, nothing dried.

Eddie fished out his portable clothes drier, figured out how to assemble it, and we had everything dry by bedtime. It was so much easier than waiting for the sun to come back out. The washing would have been mouldy first, although the forecast is for finer and drier later next week.

Sunday has slso been a day at home - we listed Eddie's books and he has spent more time scanning stuff before junking it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A week in Penang

Diary Penang 2007

Friday 14 September

Left Auckland after 1 pm. Uneventful flight. Spent time watching Shrek 3, reading Anita Shreve novel (The last time they met) and listening to music on the entertainment system.

Arrived KL at 8 pm, transferred successfully to domestic and left for Penang at 10 pm. Arrived at 11, had a short wait for my bag (2nd one off), then met Eddie. He was feeling fragile after a fall in a ditch on the way to the airport to meet me. He had a sore left arm, 2 sore legs and some grazes. I fixed him with what medicines I had (vitamins and arnica-symphitum compound) once we got to our accommodation.

Took a taxi to Leisure Cove -- RM 47. A long drive in the dark and rain. Rain was heavy as we landed, and continued throughout the journey. The wind was strong most of the night, though we both slept well once we'd relaxed. Bed is comfortable, and it's great having a lot of room -- a bathroom each and room to spread out.

Saturday 15 September

The wind stopped howling sometime during the night, and we slept quite well till about 6. We had not much to do till it got light, but around 8 we went out to see what provisions we could find.

The fruit and vege market I remembered across the road has disappeared, but the adjacent shopping centre doesn't look any more thriving. The bank has moved, although there was a pile of shattered glass outside it. We weren't sure if it was from an attempted robbery.

A walk further down the road revealed no more provisions shops so we went back to the first place and bought 2 frozen pies for breakfast from a place selling frozen and tinned goods. Once thawed, they were very tasty.

We had breakfast of pie, mandarins and chocolate, with my used tea leaves in the cup I take on the plane re-watered for the third time. They were getting rather pale.

We finally set off for the cemetery around 9. Found the entrance relatively easily, and were found by the sexton relatively easily -- the same one who had refurbished the headstone 7 years ago. We showed him a couple of photos of the place we were looking for, and he recognized himself in one, so we gave it, and another, to him. His brothers were working in the area, so they quickly slashed away the overlying grass and rubbish, then scrubbed down the cross, which has lasted quite well through the years.

Eddie gave them quite a lot of money for their trouble, then we wandered off, as we were being bitten by something and the rain was returning.

Back at the
Midlands shopping centre, we found nothing to buy, nor anything to eat, so we walked on, getting hot, tired and hungry. We found a stall selling won tun mee and had a bowl of that before continuing on down the road towards Georgetown.

It was really too far to walk, so we caught a bus to the terminal at Weld Quay, and walked to the Tourist Information Centre, which was shut. We think it might have moved actually, but were not sure.

I was really tired by that time, and probably quite dehydrated, so we took a bus back to Tanjong Bungah, bought some more provisions (bread, baked beans, biscuits, tuna and chicken sausages), some of which we ate as soon as we'd washed our hands.

Then I had a shower, got into bed and stayed there for the rest of the night, too tired to do anything else. The wind howled through the sliding door, which is missing most of its rubber sealing, and the rain came over in heavy showers.

Sunday 16 September

Slept late for us, and we enjoyed watching the day arrive, with windows open, although we had to rush to shut them when the occasional squall blew over.

The roosters started crowing about 6, but other birds aren't heard. It was a pleasure to see them flying from tree to tree at the shore.

We had chicken sausages and baked beans for breakfast, followed by a mandarin. We are missing our cup of tea. After I cleaned up, we left for the supermarket at the Island Shopping Centre -- it's a Cold Storage, but I found it rather limited with its supplies. However, we got provisions to last quite a few days, including bread, eggs, tea and water. We included a chocolate cake for a treat.

We caught a Chinese Hin bus down to the centre -- we think they are cheaper than the air-conditioned Rapid Transit ones. It cost RM 1 as a flat fare.

We returned with the groceries and had an early lunch, then a sleep, so we weren't ready to get going again till about 2.

It was really pleasant lying with the doors and windows open, feeling the breeze come and go. Though it's been rainy, the temperature and humidity have been quite comfortable. We haven't needed to do as much washing each day as I expected.

We planned to check out a route for the airport, so took a Chinese bus to Weld Quay terminus, then caught another Rapid to Bayan Lepas (airport area). The driver helpfully showed us where to go, and we walked in the rain up the approach road, sloshing through the puddles in the car park till we found the terminal building.

Eddie wanted to find the ditch he fell in on Friday, but had to settle for a close approximation for a photo.

We spent a short time at the terminal, then walked back a different way to Bayan Lepas village, where we bought some delicious bananas at a stall. They were so tasty and we were so hungry we ate them all, and Eddie went back for some more.

We had difficulty getting a bus back - we waited on the wrong side of the road at first, and couldn't understand why people told us to cross over. Eventually we got sorted, with the help of a local shopkeeper, who passed the time talking to Eddie in Cantonese.

The bus took a very long time to arrive - we waited for well over 30 minutes, but otherwise the trip back was long but uneventful.

We were home about 9, had toast, tea, sausage and cake, did some washing, had a shower and went to bed.

I found out today why you are not to put cloths in the microwave longer than 2 minutes to sterilise them. Eddie's flannel got burned when he left it too long (and it was possibly too dry). It's a poor sad rag now. Lucky it was a 'foundling' from the New good View Hotel in Xintang!

Monday 17 September

We decided to take a trip to Butterworth to book Eddie a trip to KL on the train rather than by bus.

The day was hot and fine, and we took a ferry across to look around. We thought we had lucked in when we were told that the trip was free. So it was, but we had to pay RM 1.20 each to get back. It was a calm crossing, which took about 15 minutes once we took off. Ferries are very frequent, with every other one being a combined passenger and vehicular ferry. The vehicles and drivers load onto the lower deck – there are usually many more scooters than cars. It was interesting to look from our boat down into the neighbouring one at the drivers congregating together.

We thought we knew where to find the train station, but turned the wrong way and had to ask for help. The station is old and not very busy, but well-maintained with 2 museum engines outside. We read that the train went every day at 10, and decided that would be most suitable, till we enquired about tickets, and discovered the train left daily at 10 pm. So Eddie will go back by bus. The bus is actually a bit cheaper as it cost RM 30 by train. Eddie had difficulty understanding the girl behind the glass when she quoted the price, and she gave him an exasperated look. That was all very well but people seemed to hear us say ‘four’ whenever we actually said ‘five’ – so it went both ways.

There wasn't much else we found interesting at Butterworth, so we caught the next ferry back to Georgetown.

We decided to test the bus route to Nibong and took a U303 to the terminal. Once there we bought a ticket for Eddie on Friday on the 10 a.m. Plusliner, then looked for a lunch place, most of which were shut because if Ramadan.

There wasn't much else nearby, but we eventually found a stall across the highway selling 'economy rice', which we settled for. We were given a plate of rice and could choose from a range of toppings, to be charged accordingly. It was ok, but exposed to flies and not hot, so Eddie didn't enjoy it.

After eating, we waited a long time for a 401 bus back to the quay, where we decided to take a Chinese bus back to the hotel. This was a mistake, as we waited a long time before leaving the terminus, and even longer at Komtar while the driver tried to drum up passengers.

We didn't get in till nearly 4.30, by which time we were hot, tired and hungry. After tea and refreshment, we went for a walk on the local beach. It's rather grubby fishing beach, with mangy dogs - although fortunately they didn't bother us much.

We watched fishermen mending their nets, trudged along the sand and rubbish piles to the mouth of a small river, then went back for dinner, which consisted of eggs, potatoes and beans.

Tuesday 18 September

We had a reasonable sleep, and didn't get out of bed till 7. The washing hadn't dried very well in spite of the fan I’d left on it overnight, so I resorted to the hair drier for some of the damper things. In the end, I wore my trousers, which smelled slightly of damp washing, and hung the rest in the bathroom.

After breakfast of toast, tuna and tea, we left at about 9 for Batu Ferringhi. The bus took us through a winding road, with picturesque coastal views, and many cleared sections being prepared for high rise complexes.

Once arrived, we took a leisurely walk past some of the hotels we remembered from our first trip. We couldn't see the Casuarina resort and assumed it had been taken over or redeveloped.

We came across a handwritten sign: Waterfall 300m, and decided to have a look. A traipse through what looked like a deserted quarry brought us to a bridge over a small river, with an approach to the falls guarded by a dog that didn't sound too pleased to see us. Luckily, it was chained up.

At this point, I lost my desire to carry on, but eventually decided to keep Eddie company. We climbed some concrete and brick steps, clambered over some rocks, and enjoyed the small, pretty falls.

Retracing our path, we continued on up the main road till it ran out of footpath, when we returned to our starting point, discovering on the way that the Casuarina was being refurbished, hiding behind a length of metal fence. This explained why we didn't see it when we walked past.

Eddie decided to take a walk on the beach, so we spent a while on the sand, admiring the view, before carrying on. The beach was almost deserted, as was the whole area. It felt very empty for a tourist area. The few restaurants open were keen for business.

We went to the shopping centre, hoping to find a supermarket, but hardly anything was open, which was disappointing and disconcerting. We decided to have morning tea anyway, and ate banana pancake with honey and ice cream from an Indian stall - it was delicious.

We went back to the hotel after a long wait for a bus, had lunch, and set off again for Komtar to do some grocery shopping. After another long wait for the bus, we finally arrived and spent some time looking around the complex which again seemed tired and deserted.

I bought a sarong length from a shop there, then we went over to the second building which houses the Giant supermarket, where we got a few provisions. We ate some of our bananas in front of the people setting up the Ramadan night market, then bought some cakes from the first stall – 3 for RM 1.

After our refreshment, we decided to walk through Chinatown and visit the Khoo Kongsi. It took a bit of finding, but in the process we walked the length of Rope Walk (Pintal Tali). I had a vague memory of historical remains of the original rope walk, but if so, it wasn’t in evidence, despite the fact that we walked the length of the street. We met up with some friendly people in Lebuh Armenian, who gave us directions then invited us to have a cup of something with them, as they were sitting enjoying the evening.

They bought us some barley water, and chatted to us for a while in English and Cantonese. They picked Eddie for a Hong Konger, as people seem to do here. One of the men owned the shop, which was ostensibly a bicycle repair shop, but was stuffed with knick knacks and bric-a-brac – clocks, dolls, china were stuffed all around the walls, the fruits of 25 years of collecting, apparently.

We drank and chatted and exchanged addresses, till at 4.35 they said we had better go if we wanted to see the Khoo Kongsi as it closed at 5. We found it easily enough around the corner and tagged onto a tour party to listen to the guide's patter, which was interesting and amusing.

Once the place was shut, we walked on to the Weld Quay terminal and got a bus home. We had to wait a long time before the bus left, then we had a very long trip through the evening traffic. The bus driver did a U-turn across 3 lanes of traffic to get fuel on the way, to the amazement and derision of the loud Ferringhi passengers - they sounded most uncouth.

We had a short chat to an Iranian student who is at USM studying a PhD in environmental science and who was with her mother.

It was a relief to get in by 7.30 and get some dinner - chicken sausages, potatoes and cakes. After doing dishes, washing and having a shower, we were ready for bed. Eddie has turned brown, and I am sunburned, but it was a good day.

Wednesday 19 September

Were awake early but didn't get up till 7-ish. Had breakfast of an egg, sausages and baked beans, cleaned up and left just before 9. Had to wait a while for the bus, but reached Jln Utama by 10. We walked quite a way looking for the place where the man was feeding the monkeys on our last visit, but only saw a few animals around an Indian temple. We carried on up the road for a while but saw nothing likely, so we walked back to explore a road by the temple. Here we discovered a delightful park with fountains at every turn. It was peaceful, cool and pleasant, so we took our time, and many photos.

We continued on down the road to the intersection with Jln Gottlieb, where we hoped to find something to eat, but pickings were slim. We settled for an ice cream each from a cake shop and shared a tuna bun - the muffin I chose was disappointingly dry and crumbly and wasn't much better after it had been microwaved for afternoon tea.

Then on to the cemetery, where the sexton produced a pot of paint just as we arrived, and proceeded to paint he letters on the headstone while we waited. We wondered if he would have done it at all if we hadn’t gone back, though he commented several times about the recent wet weather. It was very hot by this time, and I got even more burnt.

We looked around the graves for a time, and Eddie took pictures of the marble dog, then we left before we could be persuaded to give the sexton a grave-keeping fee on an annual basis.

We found a bus-stop across the road and thought we could save time by using the U102 route, but no bus turned up, even after nearly an hour. We finally gave up and walked back to Midlands, where we got a bus immediately.

We stopped off at Komtar and bought presents, but I didn't enjoy the process as we were both hot, tired, hungry and cross, possibly exacerbated because our sugar intake has been higher recently than the beginning of the week.

We bought a few items from Giant, but again pickings were slim, and we settled for ice cream and water, which we consumed amongst the traffic at the entrance to the complex.

We continued on to find the grave of Captain Light in the old Protestant cemetery, finding a shop selling meat and rice on the way. We enjoyed that with a cup of strong sweet coffee for me and Milo for Eddie.

With a bit of map reading and a detour through a Kuan Yin temple, we finally found the cemetery, where we spent some time looking at the graves, which look like caskets above the ground. The cemetery operated from 1789 to 1892, so it was interesting to note the names associated with Penang's history, as well as how young many of the dead were. One family lost 4 children, another woman died in childbirth, after losing 3 others very young, and was buried with the infant.

Once the mosquitoes started biting, we went on to find the HSBC bank to enquire about opening an account. It was strange to be treated as honoured guests after fending for ourselves for so long, but the coffee and water provided were welcome. We need to go back to complete the process which we will do tomorrow.

Our bus back left about 4.50, meaning we had a faster trip than last night. After a cup of tea and something to eat, we went out to find something for tea. Again we couldn't find much, so we settled for some fruit - bananas, mango and a pineapple. We also walked to the Floating mosque which we can see fm our room.

Once back, we had fruit and tea and did our washing. Eddie took hours over his, but managed to get the stains from his fall out of his trousers.

Thursday 20 September

We had a reasonable sleep, although I had difficulty dropping off, and woke at 1 a.m. feeling as if I had slept a whole night. We got off to a slow start, but got a bus into Georgetown about 9.30. It was a fine warm morning with a pleasant breeze blowing and Eddie remarked how cheerful the Protestant Cemetery looked with the sun on it, as we rode past.

It didn't take us long to find the bank, where we spent the next 2 hours setting up our new account and getting all the paperwork completed. It took longer than we expected, but at east we know all the cards and security devices work.

After finishing at the bank, we walked to the Giant supermarket to get something for lunch. We chose our staples of bananas, cake and ice cream.

We spent a bit more time looking at the Parkson Grand store, then went outside to eat lunch, afterwards crossing the busy intersection to explore the Gama department store.

After checking out their goods and using the toilet to wash our hands, we returned to Komtar where we found a shop that would make a DVD copy of Eddie’s photos. We had a pleasant chat with the woman while we waited for the process to complete.

Next we caught a 103 bus to Plaza Gurney, a shopping complex at the end of Gurney Drive, where we had stayed previously. We walked the length of the Drive, noting how few of the original houses remained. Most sections are now taken up with high-rises and hotels. I found the walk interesting but tiring, and was ready to go back once we reached No. 1, our first timeshare accommodation.

Finally, we checked out Cold Storage back at the Plaza, but nothing appealed, so we left empty-handed.

We got a Chinese bus from the other side of the major intersection with Gurney Drive, expecting a fairly fast trip back. There was some slow traffic around the evening food stalls near the Tanjong Bungah Hotel, and the bus had to change lanes through it. Once clear, and near the Caltex service station, the driver started to move left again, swiping a car coming rapidly on the left, and forcing it into a power pole. Bits of the car were spread along the road, and we couldn't see if the driver was injured. We expected the driver to stop, but to our astonishment, he just kept going as if nothing had happened.

We got off about 3 stops later, and Eddie alighted from the front to see what the damage was - he said there were some scratches, but as the bus was so battered anyway, they hardly showed.

It was a relief to get back to our nest, have some afternoon tea and debrief. We couldn't have done anything, but we felt quite shocked that the driver didn't stop.

Once calmed down, we decided to have a look at the pool on the roof, since we didn't get a chance last time. We had a very quick dip (Eddie found it too cold to do more than get wet), sat in the sun for a while, the came back to our room for a shower.

Dinner consisted of leftovers.

Friday 21 September

We had a rushed and very early start to catch the bus at 7. We expected the rooms to be checked before we got our bond back, but the receptionist just asked if everything was in order before handing over the money when we assured her it was.

There was a very long wait for a bus at the terminus. I let one 401 go as I was waiting for a 303 to go right to the platform at the Nibong bus station, but in the end, as time was going by, settled for the next 401. Eddie was very anxious about arriving on time, but we made it with time to spare in spite of slow passengers and traffic. Then the express bus took a while to turn up, and actually didn’t leave till about 10.30. I passed the time talking to a woman who was farewelling her godmother, and she was kind enough to offer me a lift to the airport.

Once there, I had a very long time to fill in, waiting for my flight at 5 p.m. I bought a pair of earrings with my saved taxi fare, and had an expensive (RM 7.90) cappuccino which was really a flat white at the Coffee Bean restaurant. The rest of the time I spent wandering around in and out of the building. I ate bread and boiled egg in the terminus and out in the carpark just for something to do. I read an abandoned paper, where I found out about the Nai Yin Xue case, and changed clothes ready for the long haul. I watched a group of performers in various kinds of Malaysian dress get ready to greet some dignitary, and followed them for part of their procession. I was disappointed I couldn’t see the results of the preparation, as they disappeared into a closed off area.

I checked in at 3 - it was a relief to get rid of my bag – and waited around some more for the short flight to KL. There was only an hour or so to wait till we boarded the plane at Subang Jaya for an uneventful trip home.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wet again

It's been a while since the last post, but there's nothing much to report except wet weather. For a morning to so there was a hint of spring in the air, but again the fronts have come over bringing heavy rain and overcast skies. We need to export the excess to Australia! About the only things making the most of the wet are the weeds.

Have been busy sorting out other people's computer troubles and helping with assignments. That makes the week go fast.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Boosting Winter Immunity

Cold, Dark, Rain, Flu … these are aspects of the winter that we don’t look forward to. But there are many easy, cost-effective ways to keep your disposition cheerful and your system in optimum health during the bleakest of weather.

1. Chicken soup
Remember the heart-warming benefits of homemade chicken soup – an elixir in itself. A soup made with chicken has been proven to boost the immune system and aid in recovery from a cold. Use the whole bird including its skin and giblets, or carcasses if you have saved them, vegetables, water and a dash of vinegar and love in a slow cooker or crock pot, if you have one, to save time and energy. Otherwise simmer slowly in a pot.

2. Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil capsules provide your system with much needed Vitamins A and D in a form your body can easily use. For children over 12 years and adults take a maintenance dose that provides about 10,000 IU vitamin A daily and 1000 IU vitamin D for adults. You will need to check that the vitamins are naturally occurring, rather than having synthetic vitamins added in after manufacture.

3. Vitamin C
Increased doses of Vitamin C are also useful at this time of year. Beside helping your body recover from infection, it is used in tissue growth and repair, strengthening of capillary walls, lactation and adrenal gland function. It promotes healing of wounds and is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E keeps Vitamin C in balance so make sure to keep your diet varied and fresh.

4. Echinacea
Echinacea has been proven to reduce the severity of flu and upper respiratory infections, but is not proven for prevention, so don’t worry about buying the special yogurt (or anything else with the ‘spirit’ of the herb in it). Take the correct dose at the first sign of a cold.

5. Lemon and honey drinks
Again, if your throat is feeling scratchy, lemon and honey drinks (made from fresh lemons and real honey rather than from a powder) are soothing. They also help keep your fluid intake up if you are sneezing and your nose is running.

6. Hand washing
Frequent and thorough hand washing is one of the easiest and best ways of keeping infections at bay. Wash your hands if you’ve been out before you do much else, and remember to wash frequently if you have been using public facilities. If you use a computer, keep your keyboard and mouse clean. Shared telephones should also be cleaned regularly.

7. Rest
We generally don’t get enough rest and sleep these days, so you have permission if you are unwell to stay home, rest and recuperate. You owe it to yourself, your family and co-workers to recover fully before you get back into your daily round. If you aren’t sick, sufficient rest and sleep will help keep you in peak condition.

Don’t worry – it’s nearly spring!