We’d originally booked a bus to take us most of the way to Port Dickson but when, a couple of days ago, our cab driver Masri offered to drive us instead, we accepted his offer. At a much cheaper price than Grab would have charged. And easier for us too: door to door.
So we said farewell to Silverscape Tower B with its stinky lobby and its lifts that wouldn’t take us higher than our own floor, so no rooftop views for us.
Goodbye to the redcaps, the security personnel who act as concierge and who saluted us every time we went in or out.
But good riddence to the banks of switches on most of the walls in our apartment.
One of the arrays has switches for lights in the bedroom and for the bathroom suite, for the fan, for the aircon. And after four days, we still relied on trial and error.
On the 90-minute drive, Masri told us about places that we’d missed out on, but, as usual, we added them to a notional list for when we return.
We saw a turkey by the side of the road. Or, as they’re known here, a Dutch chicken. We passed by a Petronas processing plant and at least one army camp. For much of the way, we drove close to the coastline.
There were many large cargo ships out in the straits and even cruise ships come into Melaka from time to time.
More Malay to confuse Mick: hora means day. Jam means hour.
We were dropped off at Avillion Admiral Cove and we thought, what a posh place. Well, it was the wrong place. We had to Grab a cab to take us to our real desination, Avillion Port Dickson. As Liesel said, even when you try to take out the adventure by changing plans, you just find yourself in a different one.
Yes, we’re in a hotel for this special weekend. Our room is above the sea, although the tide was out when we arrived.
We went for a walk around the hotel complex: oh alright, the resort. Liesel suggested we might not have to leave it at all.
The petting zoo has rabbits, tortoises, doves, chickens, peacocks, peahens and of course, the birds at least can get out if they want to.
There’s a nice big pool for adults only where we spent a lot of time later in the day, swimming, reading and napping, swimming, reading and napping.
At 0700 and 1800 daily, we can go and see butterflies at the Butterfly Patch. But at 1800 today, I was resting my eyes, by the pool.
We found out why the birds don’t fly too far away: there was a Chinese lady feeding them bread. The peacocks were choosing white bread over the tasty-looking grain that was also available.
I went for a quick walk on the beach and found a million little crabs. They all ran for their holes and so instead of counting crabs, I counted the holes. And there were exactly one million.
The wooden decking that we walk on to reach our room is loose in places. Someone needs to come along with a bag of nails and secure the planks. But I hope they don’t do all that banging before we’ve left.
And of course the tide did come in later.
Let’s hope the white noise of the waves crashing on the stilts and the smell of the ozone gives us a good night’s sleep. Certianly the bed is comfotable enough – and big enough for about ten people. If they’re good friends.
In the evening, after watching a very quick sunset, we both had cocktails, gin fizzes before heading for our room.
Just a quick post today because tomorrow is a very special day.
I never would have predicted that Port Dickson, Malaysia, would be the location for my 26th birthday tomorrow. OK, I’ll admit it: it’s my 2⁶th birthday, that’s 64 in English. But I’m very glad to be here with Liesel.
We moved on to Melaka in the state of Malacca. The spelling varies, we’ve even seen Melaqa. Liesel started chanting Melaka-laka boom-boom but the nurse came by with her meds.
We paid one final visit to The Mossy Forest for breakfast: no freebies this time, and it was a fond farewell. We walked the rest of the way to the bus terminal, one of the local stray dogs showing us the way. I’m sure all the passers-by thought he was with us. There was a second dog, also wearing a collar, but he disappeared, perhaps to guide another group of visitors.
The rest of the day was spent sitting on a bus. Two buses, in fact, as we had to change back at Amanjaya Bus Terminal. Yes, it might be an ‘ekspres’ service but we had to travel twice the distance.
The second bus ride was nearly seven hours long. Seven hours! It was mainly a straight road though, so I was able to read and nod off and read and nod off. I was sitting by myself, Liesel and Jyoti having been allocated seats much nearer the front.
Motorcycles are very popular here, seemingly all over Malaysia. When the bus driver stopped for a quick break, I leapt off for biological reasons and bought some snacks. What I thought was mango slices turned out to be unidentifiable, almost tasteless slices of orange, sticky wood.
Our new residence was a 20 minute ride in a Grab cab from the bus station. A 44-storey monstrosity right on the waterfront. We’re on the 16th floor.
A quick meal and after such an exhausting day, we went to bed. The Chinese restaurant only had menus in Chinese so we had to rely on the pictures and trust that they understood the concept of “no meat”. Outside, a fire was burning in an open bin. The smoke came in, I closed the sliding door, sometimes sliding it too far, so the other end became exposed to the fresh outside air.
The next day was sad. Jyoti returned to Singapore to see some friends for a couple of days, before her 40-hour return to Alaska. That makes seven hours on a bus seem like heaven. So now, it’s just Liesel and me again. And what a busy day this was. Well, no, not really.
Melaka provides bananas in individual plastic bags. If only bananas grew with their own built-in protective layer. But at least, there’s a handy eating guide.
We went out for a short meander. The footpaths are hard to negotiate, steps, big cracks, broken tiles, steep kerbs, cut down trees, uncovered drainage ditches, water pipes, parked motorcycles and the odd restaurant making use of the pavement for their tables.
But every now and then, we come across a small shrine.
Some have incense burning which adds to the general smell of bonfires.
This is our current pad. Oh for the days of a cabin in the woods! Our apartment is on the other side, overlooking the sea. Sometimes, you can even make out the horizon, but there are so many bonfires and there is a lot of haze here.
Below us is a new shopping mall with a few shops, but most are empty lots and one floor hasn’t even been finished yet.
It’ll be great when it’s finished, I’m sure, but we were perplexed by the proximity of this shiny new place to the old town, where many of the shops are run down, empty, up for sale or rent.
On the 13th floor of our tower is a swimming pool which sounds very appealing in the heat. There’s also an area of astroturf which needs to be finished. And over in the residential part of town, at least one fire is going.
We’ve seen a few small fishing boats in the sea, too, plus a couple of faster vessels.
We visited two museums and an art gallery all in one day. First though, after a really long lie-in, during which I was accused of snoring, we went to the local Hard Rock Café for a late breakfast slash early lunch. Ceasar (sic) salad and chili fries for me. Cauliflower burger for Liesel.
And while we were in here admiring Tom Petty’s old jacket and Kiss’s old guitar and listening to Taylor Swift and Bob Marley, it rained. It was a torrential downpour and the purpose of the high kerbs became clear.
We ate slowly so as not to have to go back out into the rain, but we’ve never felt rushed anywhere in Malaysia or Singapore.
Sometimes here, it’s been like being in a self-help book. There are cute little slogans on many walls.
This is Hard Rock’s offering. Did you eat all the biscuits? No, I only ate one. Well, where are the rest? Meanwhile, in our own apartment, we have…
The wall in our place in Ipoh was full of these things: I wish I’d taken pictures, now. The best one, though, said “Do not conform”, and it was hung at a jaunty angle!
The Baba and Nyonya Museum, round the corner from Hard Rock, told the story of an immigrant Chinese family, the Chans. It’s a house, restored to how it would have looked about 100 years ago. No photos from inside, but what a fascinating insight to a totally alien culture which still managed to borrow from the west. There was a Victorian influenced teak wood sideboard. One of the ancestors was a real anglophile, playing the violin, setting up “gentlemen’s clubs” and playing lawn bowls and tennis.
Seven generations of Straits-born Chinese can be traced, much better documented than many western families.
It was hard to judge whether this was a typical family or a relatively wealthy one in the area.
The artwork was very well presented. The paintings tended to be narrow and tall, rather then the golden ratio portrait and landscape formats we’re more used to. I still find it interesting that, however different other cultures are, however separated from us by distance and by time, they very often produce arts and artifacts that are aesthetically pleasing to our western-oriented sensibilities.
There was a display of old banknotes here too: the original Malay dollar, the Japanese dollar known as “banana notes” because of the bananas on the $10 bill. The Malaysian ringgit has only been used since 1969.
Some of the costumes were stunningly gorgeous, a lot of work goes into these items.
Along the road, we found more pretty tiles to walk on.
One local hero was depicted in the street. I had to keep moving so that other passers-by wouldn’t mistake me for him.
Walking along, you’re usually looking down but when you do pause to look up, some of the old buildings are very attractive. I wouldn’t necessarily want to live here, but these are much easier on the eye than too much modern glass and steel.
We have no idea what a 5D Museum is. But if they’re messing with the spacetime continuum, I want nothing to do with it.
Next coffee stop and we came across more homespun philosophy.
These are all nice, positive, kind sentiments of course, but a bit twee when you see them all together and all over the place. Give me the old Wear Sunscreen song any day.
We met a celebrity: Simon the Traveler. Simon is a plush penguin from Ukraine travelling around the world with his friends. Today he was with Igor.
We had a quick chat with Igor since Simon wasn’t really talking. Unfortunately, while we were drinking our coffee over the road, Simon and Igor were removed from the doorway they’d been sitting in.
Other than a durian flavoured ice lolly the other day, I’ve not tried a durian. They are a bit stinky, you can always sniff out the stall where they’re being sold. But staying away from them might be the best course of action.
We were invited several times to take a ride on a trishaw. Like a rickshaw, only it’s a bicycle with a sort of sidecar. Highly decorated in a kawaii stylee, Hello Kitty for example, and playing very loud music in most cases. We declined all the offers.
Totally out of place in old Melaka is this Dutch style windmill.
It’s opposite a big so-called “Red House” which was also built by the Dutch.
The Maritime Archeology Museum was a little disappointing, to be honest. Very small and the best single exhibit was a couple of meteorites, and they were outside anyway.
The big pile of old Chinese pottery was quite funny, though, not much time spent arranging this in an orderly fashion.
The small Folks Art Gallery (Seni Rakyat) was very quiet, as they often are. Just one man at the desk, a few CCTV cameras, us and a couple of other viewers.
Sungai Melaka (the river). I’d like to credit the artist but it turns out Cat Minyak just means oil painting. We liked a lot of the pictures here but couldn’t really see any of them in our own home.
We had a giggle at the combined optician and ice cream shop, not a common pairing.
Back at our place, I felt the need for more exercise, so I went for a walk. Very disappointed to find I couldn’t get anywhere near the waterfront, so I headed into town. Where I had a massage. RM40 for an hour. That’s about £8. Wow. And the masseues was nearly twice Dawn’s age, so I make that about 10 times the value! (Only kidding, Dawn!) She was powerful though, she got the kink out of my back that had been there since ducking under a tree in the jungle a few days ago. And she found the usual knots in my shoulders. You can also ride a trishaw for an hour for RM40. Hmmm, I think I got the better deal.
When I got back, with some shopping, I went down for a quick swim in the pool. It was very pleasant, with just a few other people.
There was a full Moon and it’s the equinox. We’re just 2° north of the equator, so does that make it a Spring equinox for us here at Silverscape Tower B?
Silverscape Management: Hello, is that the Letter Company.
Letter Company: Yes it is. How can we help?
SM: We ordered a B from you but it’s too big.
LC: What do you mean, it’s too big?
SM: Well, it doesn’t fit on our pillar.
LC: Hmm. What size is it?
SM: We ordered an XXXXL size B but it looks more like an XXXXXL.
LC: I see. You know we don’t take returns: it’s in the Ts and Cs.
SM: But what can we do? We can’t just have a big B sitting in the lobby.
LC: It’s quite soft plastic. Have you tried bending it around the pillar?
SM: No. It’s not a round pillar, it’s a square one.
LC: In that case, it should stick on with no problem.
SM: But then some of the B will be poking out, blocking the path.
LC: Hmm. That’s tricky then. Let me think…
SM: Hello, are you still there?
LC: Yes, I’ve been speaking to my colleagues.
LC: And they’ve come up with the perfect solution.
SM: Which is?
LC: Stick the B on one face of your square pillar. Then saw off the overhanging part of the letter and stick that onto the neighbouring face, nicely lined up.
SM: That’s brilliant! Thank you very much.
LC: You’re welcome.
On our final full day in Melaka, we did some laundry then went for a walk to visit an old Sultanate Palace.
This bloke had a small bonfire going in his bin. He wasn’t the only one.
This bloke must have thought he was in Manchester, parking on the pavement like that.
This bird, which someone named a magpie crow, wasn’t going to budge from his perch for anybody.
This frog was huge, it made us jump, just sitting there trying to cross the road like the old ’80s video game.
This is a rare example of a pedestrian crossing, with a green man who gives you enough time to cross the road.
This is a rare example of catering for disabled people in wheelchairs and for buggies. How you’d get here in the first place along those horrendous footpaths and crossing the scary roads, well, that’s a different issue.
The Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum itself was very interesting. The history of the Sultanate of Melaka only goes back to about 1400. We saw costumes, weapons, ceramics but unfortunately, the captions were hard to read: print too small and it was quite dark inside.
We’ll be decorating the walls in our Manchester apartment like this.
A small section of the incredibly wide Palace, a wooden structure, all built with no nails.
Another bit of a walk to find some lunch, during which meal, it rained again. Not just rain, it was a thunderstorm. Outside I was using Grab to book a cab, when lightning struck the along the road, a few feet away. We got wet just climbing into the cab: the driver had forgotten to unlock the back doors. I missed the opportunity of taking a picture of the storm, and we spent the rest of the afternoon inside!
One advantage of the rain was it cleared the air. Moving around outside through the bonfire smoke and the incense and then the smell of cleaning chemicals and perfume counters in the shopping malls, all that wasn’t doing Liesel’s lungs any favours. I suggested buying a surgical mask, but then it rained anyway.
At least, we found out how Melaka came to be so named.
At lunchtime, Liesel had had a smoothie. The flavour reminded her of something from her youth: Orange Julius. I’d never heard of this before but I was delighted to discover that the company was founded by one of my long lost relations in America.
Just when you get used to one place, it’s time to move on. If this is what it’s like being on the run from the justice system, we won’t be committing an offence any time soon. Oh alright then. I apologise for any offence caused if, when I mention our next destination, Cameron Highlands, an image of probably our worst ever prime minister comes to mind. (There May be some competition, to be fair.)
For some reason, we had to be at Amanjaya Bus Terminal half an hour before the scheduled departure time. Jyoti had booked online, and she tried hard, but nobody wanted to give us actual physical tickets.
It was a long cab ride and the driver told us that there was a bus terminal much closer in Ipoh, but when you’re booking online, well in advance, from overseas, why would it even occur to you to check that you were travelling from the closest bus terminal to your destination?
Amanjaya is a very busy teminal and we had plenty of time to pass. I entertained myself by wandering around, intrigued by the not-yet-open retail opportunities on the upper floor.
The ladies in the various ticket booths were on the fine borderline between amusement and annoyance with their tuneless ululations, sometimes solo but more often in discord and disharmony. Sirens, attracting unwary ticket-buyers, only tuneless. Unfortunately, the official announcements were incomprehensible too, too much echo-cho-cho in the vast cavern of a bus terminal.
I forked out RM3 for a chair massage. It felt like a small man was hiding amongst the upholstery running a rolling pin up and down my spine and around the shoulder blades. Not unpleasant but a good reminder that there will always be some things a human can do much better than a robot.
The bus ride from Ipoh to Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands followed a long and winding road up and up into the hills. It was hard to read for too long, so many sudden turns as well as bumps in the road. It was however easy to nod off for literally seconds at a time. We climbed up very high, my ears could tell, and they passed on the information to me by frequently popping. Ipoh is about 22 metres above sea level, Tanah Rata 1440.
During the ride, the phone signal was intermittent but as we passed through one small town, I received a plethora of messages. One from my sister in Christchurch said “Don’t worry, we’re ok”. Oh no, I thought, not another earthquake. No, worse. A gunman had murdered worshippers in two different mosques and car bombs had been found and defused. New Zealand is the last place you’d expect to see this sort of terrorist attack, so disappointing and upsetting. The evil that is so-called “white supremacy” just continues to spread, aided and abetted by our own governments and the extreme right-wing press.
We’ve been living in a multi-cultural environment for the last few weeks, and it’s been great: everyone gets along and the only problem I’ve had is being able to find vegetarian food.
On arrival at Tanah Rata, we hailed a teksi which took us an embarrassingly short distance to our new home, a hostel called Father’s Guesthouse.
We were in a different universe here, where time runs backwards. It was much cooler than at nearly sea level so we anticipated a few good nights’ sleep. Little did we know!
Jyoti and I walked down the road to look for a coffee bar while Liesel had a rest.
A poinsettia is not just for Christmas. Left to its own devices outdoors, it will grow into a tree.
We found a nice place, The Mossy Forest Café, had scones and coffee, and took a slice of cake back for Liesel.
The hostel seems to be mainly occupied by a strange breed of creature: young people. There are signs telling us to smoke outside and that the place for parties is in the town centre.
Jyoti knows the Cameron Highlands from over 40 years ago and is a bit saddened, if not surprised, by the amount of development during that time. There’s a lot of litter around, mainly water bottles, which is always a sad thing to see. We walked up a steep hill to Gurdwara Sahib.
Jyoti spoke to a Sikh gentleman there in Klingon, I couldn’t understand a word; actually it was probably Hindi, come to think of it. We went in, a first for me, inside a Sikh place of worship and education. We took our shoes off and if there had been water in the footbath, we would have washed our feet too. I kept my hat on and Jyoti borrowed a scarf to cover her head.
The shrine was colourful but the place as a whole wasn’t as ostentaciously decorated as other religious sites we’ve visited.
Jyoti was very pleased with this poster that nicely summarises Sikh Heritage.
Unicorns live in the jungle around here, and even if we don’t see a real, live one, I was delighted to see this chap on somebody’s roof.
Tanah Rata is a busy little town and so far we’ve found a grand total of one pedestrian crossing. It’s always a challenge crossing the roads here, so we’re grateful for the one-way streets where we should need to look in one direction only before running across.
We found a place for our evening meal, having convinced ourselves that the turtles in the tank weren’t on the menu. The restaurant was decorated with clogs and a lot of memorabilia relating to the Dutch national football team, so lots of orange.
It was a delightfully short walk back to our hostel and a good night’s sleep. Well, poor old Liesel still has a cough, it finally caught up with her again after we thought we’d left it behind in Fiji. The coughing woke up the local cockerel who then decided to wake up everyone else. No problem, we had to be up early to join the tour we’d booked.
The bus picked us up and then collected 15 passengers from other hotels on the way to our first stop: The Butterfly Garden. Rajesh, the driver, was also our guide today, and he told us a little about each of the places we visited.
We have seen the odd butterfly flitting from tree to tree but this was a good place to see some close up. Other bugs were available too.
Rajah Brooke’s birdwing is the national butterfly of Malaysia. There were many here in the garden, sitting still, posing, unlike their cousins outside in the wild. They and other butterflies were even resting on the path that we walked on although, surprisingly, we only saw one squished under someone’s foot.
We were delighted to find an amorous pair of rhinoceros beetles. It reminds me of the picture on the back of Paul McCartney’s Ram album cover.
Of course, they might just be good friends. The golden beetle looks artificial, but it was real, I’m sure. Either that, or fantastically detailed and finely tuned animatronics.
Talking about things being artificial, it’s hard to believe these plants are genuine too, so bright, so vivid.
Some creatures blend into their natural background really well, but when they’re out in the open, you’d think they come from another planet or time, they’re so alien.
There are plenty of other creatures here, scorpions, frogs, tree snakes, more butterflies and all are native to Malaysia, so it’ll be interesting to see how many we spot in real life, out in the wild.
We chose not to buy a collection of dead bugs, pretty as they are. I hope they all died a natural death, after a short and happy life, but who knows?
The Boh Tea Plantation is one of the biggest and still owned by a Scottish family. We were now over 1600 m above sea level. No ear popping today, though.
On the way in, we passed a mosque, a Hindu temple and a Christian chapel all located very close to each other, to cater for plantation workers from all faiths. That’s how it should be done.
Boh doesn’t stand for “Best of Highlands” as some believe. It’s named after a mountain in China, Bohea, and Boh means “precious”. Which led me to wonder: Bic Runga has a sister named Boh. She also has a song called Precious Things. I wonder if the song was named after her sister?
Taken through a dirty bus window, we saw this couple taking a selfie on the edge of a very narrow road. A Darwin Award in the making, perhaps.
In the old days, tea was plucked by hand. Nowadays, they use machines to speed up the process. Workers are paid 26 sen (cents) per kilo: that’s about 5p per kilo.
After the short factory tour, I joined the queue for a quick cuppa.
The colour was gorgeous and the flavour wonderful. Unfortunately, we were pressed for time, the tea was hot, so I had to slurp. If anyone had asked, I would have lied that I was a professional tea-taster.
The view of the Sungai Palas Tea Centre was what I’d expected the whole Cameron Highlands to look like.
And this is certainly what Jyoti remembers from her time here in the 1970s. Development, progress…
It was nice and warm, we were all in shirtsleeves. But this young lady was dressed up for the Winter equinoctial celebrations.
Tea leaves go through a number of processes before they’re ready to be turned into a nice cup of tea at home. So it was a surprise to find, during our quick excursion into one of the fields just by the road, that there was that familiar aroma of a fresh brew.
It was Saturday and as had been predicted, the traffic became more and more dense as the day wore on.
We never did find out what the Time Tunnel Museum was all about. Maybe we’ll find a time tunnel somewhere and pay a visit last year.
The bus driver was brilliant, very competent, taking the bus along narrow, winding tracks, letting cars and even buses pass by on the other side when there wasn’t really any room.
Rose Valley must be the kitsch capital of Cameron Highlands. Apparently it is known as the Rose Garden of Malaysia.
It’s always a joy to see Mickey and Minnie of course, but this must be one of the worst copyright infringements ever.
The main attraction here is of course the roses and other flowers. There were signs telling us now to pluck them. I’m going to use that from now on. Stop plucking your nose, Martha!
Some of the statuettes had lost their heads although somehow, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs all retained theirs.
Cultural appropriation is a big talking point these days, and done well, it can enhance everyone’s experience. Sometimes though, you think, whoever had that idea, somebody else should have quashed it.
Outside the rose garden there was a fruit market. 101 kinds of fruit but no apples. We bought oranges instead. No strawberries though because the next stop on our tour was the Royal Berry Strawberry Park. There, Jyoti and I took a small basket and went to pluck our own strawberries. We were not supposed allowed to eat free samples.
Here, they’re grown hydroponically, each plant has its own water supply. You cut the stems which are at waist height, no stooping and grovelling at ground level. We enjoyed a strawberry milkshake too plus chocolate-dipped strawberries. The fact that we’d not had time for breakfast was now forgotten.
A big bee greeted us at Ee Feng Gu Apiary.
We sampled three kinds of honey: one made by stinging bees (sweet), one made by smaller, non-stinging bees (slightly smokey) and one made by bees from further down the hills (less sweet).
Liesel didn’t join me but I enjoyed my walk through the beehives.
There were a few bees around but it wasn’t as buzzy as I’d anticipated. To accommodate this disappointment, they’ve installed some impostors.
One thing I didn’t expect to see at the bottom of the hill was a small shrine housing Buddha.
We stopped briefly at Sam Poh Temple, where, unusually, we were allowed to use our cameras inside.
One day, I hope to translate the script on this structure.
All these years of meditating and chanting have been for nought. The words I was presented with on the first day turn out to be slightly wrong. No wonder I’m such a mess.
On returning to our present home town of Tanah Rata, we walked down to what has become our default café for a couple of days: The Mossy Forest. We’d driven close to the actual Mossy Forest earlier on but the coffee bar that bears its name is as close as we’ll get this time.
Our friends Una, Phil and Kiran are currently on holiday in Hawaii. Jyoti and Liesel chose to speak to Una from the café. Luckily, I was the only other customer at that point so all the embarrassment fell on me.
Liesel was very disappointed with her brownie: they’d warmed it up without even asking, and it was rock hard, like a biscuit. On the way out, Liesel passed on a friendly comment.
The cockerel/rooster announced the dawning of a new day. Only it wasn’t dawn. It was three o’flippin’ clock in the morning. It cock-a-doodle-dooed for the next four hours more or less continuously. A couple of pauses lulled us into a false sense of security. The call to prayer is usually a welcome, soothing sound, but at 5.30, we just needed some sleep!
We walked down the road looking for a shop that might sell rooster extermination kits but alas, there were none. So we had breakfast instead to boost our energy levels for the day’s exertions.
The staff in The Mossy Forest remembered us from yesterday and by way of apology and recompense, they didn’t charge us for the coffee we had with our breakfast. It was a mistake to heat the brownie for so long, thanks for letting them know. At one point, we had four staff members serving us. Now I know how the Queen feels much of the time.
Rajen met us outside our hostel as agreed at 9.00. His driver took us to the start of our walk in a 4×4 heavy with the smell of petrol. The plan was for Rajen to take us on a hike through the jungle and for a moment there, I was sure at least one of us would acquire a fuel-sniffing-induced headache.
He was a very good guide with some fascinating stories. He told us about the British army being here in the 1960s, fighting the communists. 700 soldiers were stationed in this very spot. I wondered if (my late first wife) Sarah’s father had been here: I know he was in Malaya at some point.
The population of Tanah Rata has increased from 2000 to 45,000 in the last fifty years: Jyoti was right about the amount of development here.
There are several Walks in the area, some tougher and longer than others. Our main track today would be Walk No 3.
We could expect to see deers, monkeys, birds, snakes, insects, monkeys, unicorns. Well, that didn’t happen and in the case of the snakes, maybe just as well.
The path was narrow, hard to avoid brushing against the plants but there was nothing to worry about unduly. Walking along on the flat was quite technical, lots of tree roots to trip over. But the climbs up and down really were a challenge. The “steps” are just tree roots holding some loose earth in place. Some of the steps were very high. We also had to clamber over some fallen trees and, when descending, we had to hold on to trees, lianas, vines, always checking it wasn’t a snake hanging there. Rajen did provide us each with a stick to help and I found mine most useful for gauging the depth of a step down: I’ve always been useless at climbing down.
On one occasion today, I was so busy concentrating on carefully stepping through the roots that I bashed my head on a branch across the path. Fortunately, the moss growing on this branch was nature’s very own crash pad.
We walked across a couple of streams too, none of us slipped in off the stepping stones.
There are no tigers in this area any more. All gone mainly for Chinese aphrodisiac reasons. Rajen didn’t have much positive to say about the Chinese at all. They don’t care about nature or the environment, they just want to over-develop to make lots of money. The previous, corrupt Malaysian government did nothing to prevent over-development in some places.
The pitcher plant didn’t eat much today: we saw very few insects. No mosquitoes was good. Lack of butterflies was disappointing. Although Jyoti did spot this caterpillar lurking in the bushes.
When deciding which walk to do, we’d opted for “medium” difficulty: not too steep for too long.
I think we got it right. Rajen and Jyoti were able to keep a dialogue going as they walked, I couldn’t. I frequently stopped to catch my breath under the guise of taking a photo.
Everything was green apart from the leaf litter so it was always good to see a splash of colour.
There are 120 species of fern in this jungle, some edible, most not, some have to be cooked, some have to eaten before they unfurl. We didn’t sample any on this occasion.
Aha, a rustle in the bushes, what’s that? A rare member of Homo sapiens out for a solo walk in the jungle, which we all thought was very brave. I’m sure “brave” was the word we agreed upon.
She changed her mind about her chosen route, turned round and overtook us a few minutes later. We also came upon a party of three as we rested at a picnic table, rest area, a totally unexpected sight.
We all had something to eat and were careful to not even leave behind a slither of orange peel. Later, we reached a slight clearing from where we could look down on a cabbage farm.
I knew we were high but being totally surrounded by dense bush, I hadn’t fully appreciated just how far we’d climbed.
We descended into Mardi, a small village just along the road from Tanah Rata but it did feel a bit rude to be walking through someone’s farm on the way.
Although this hike can be described as just a long series of trip hazards, it was very enjoyable. We were out for about five hours altogether and afterwards we all agreed that we felt nicely tired from the exertion, not just exhausted due to the heat and humidity.
But what an anticlimax now to be walking along the road. With traffic. I bid farewell to my faithful old stick: maybe someone will pick it up and use it again one day.
After a siesta, of course, we re-visited our favourite café and they presented us with a fresh, warmed, brownie, which was perfect. Still very apologetic! Yes, we did order and pay for other things, but what a nice gesture.
Liesel and I returned to our room while Jyoti briefly visited the local market. She wasn’t there long, though, because the smell of fresh fish was so overpowering.
There are some nights when you just can’t get to sleep. Or when you do, you’re woken by something very quickly. All you want to do the next day is sleep. But on a day when you’re moving on, that’s not really an option.
Liesel and Jyoti went out for breakfast while I took an extra snooze and they brought me some breakfast back. The bread was like a bagel, only without the hole. But it did come with cream cheese. Unusually, we didn’t have to check out of this place until noon: normally it’s 10.00am, so packing was a little more leisurely and I had time to catch up with my writing.
The plan was to catch a train from Butterworth to Ipoh. Even though we checked out later than usual, we still had plenty of time to kill at Butterworth railway station, after a long taxi ride there, including over the Penang Bridge. Our train didn’t depart at 14:30 as we thought, but at 4:30.
J&L chose to stay in the waiting room while I went for a quick walk. Arbitrarily, I headed for Wellesley Residences: maybe there was something historical there, relating to the Duke of Wellington. But no: it really is just a block of flats.
Getting there involved crossing a couple of busy roads. I found a pedestrian crossing, pressed the button, waited for the green man to appear, then waited for two cars and a motorobike to ignore their stop light before I was able to cross the road.
Whereas on a western shopping street you might see clothes shop after clothes shop, or a number of coffee bars close together, here, it seems every third one was a motosikal repair shop. Piles of tyres and engine components spilling out onto the pavement. Well, I say pavement, in the sense of footpath, but this area of real estate is used as a motosikal parking area too.
Outside one restaurant, they’d even set up the kitchen on the sidewalk, so to walk by, you either walked through the premises or along the road.
These cages of stones are the local bollards and to be honest, I think they look much more attractive than big lumps of concrete.
But even motor bikes can’t park everywhere on the pavements. I reported this hole to the authorities. They said they’d send someone to look into it.
Off the main road, I came across a very cute little shrine. Very red, very pretty.
I bought a large bottle of water for RM2.20, that’s about 44p in English money. I also found some cough sweets for Liesel and a snack box of mini poppadoms. My knowledge of the Malay language is slowly improving. Or so I thought. The Malay word for ‘water’ is ‘air’. I think. Either that, or there’s a big conspiracy to confuse this monoglot English person.
Back at the railway station, we continued waiting, walking around, watching the other people. So what an anticlimax the train ride itself was. Comfortable and cool enough, the scenery that we passed was OK, nothing special. I read for a while. Napped.
We took a cab from the station to our hotel in Ipoh. Yes, an actual hotel, even though booked through Airbnb.
We were on the 9th floor this time. The view over the city towards the hills was enhanced by a thunderstorm. Indeed, it rained for a while although we were inside at the time.
In an outrageous turn of events, the Infinity Pool down on the 7th floor is closed for repairs. We might not have used it anyway, but who knows?
We went for a walk and found a nice restaurant for our evening meal then walked back the long way.
While in the bathroom preparing for bed, I was entertained both by a rubbish singer in the karaoke bar just over the road and by the muezzin’s call to prayer from the nearby mosque. The sounds complemented each other beautifully and, oh, alright, humorously.
In the morning, we took a cab to a place for breakfast only to realise on arrival that we could have walked it. But cabs are so cheap, and when you book one using the Grab app, the driver often turns up before you’re quite ready.
The second cab ride of the day took us to the caves. Welcome to Gua Tempurung Geosite Showcave Tours.
Regular readers may recall the photos from the previous post. All SRN of course. Here are a few more interesting and better pictures. There was much more to our cave experience than posing for pictures.
In the vegetation outside, we spotted some of the ‘tomatoes’ we’d seen from the Tree Top Walk. Unfortunately, they were still too high to get a close look.
Although there are many signs telling us not to, some people had climbed over the rail to make their marks on the cave wall.
It would have been far more interesting to see some genuine pre-historic cave art, but carbon-dating confirms this effort to be just two years old.
There was some slightly older artwork available, made by the communist insurgents in the 1950s and ’60s, while they hid in this cave system. Big cars seems to be the main theme.
Today wasn’t the right day, but once or twice a year, the Sun shines in through this gap at exactly the right angle and it appears as a really solid beam of sunlight.
The path is concrete, designed and built by an Aussie. All the noise and vibrations of the building work caused no damage to the cave itself, according to our guide.
We climbed up and up and, unlike the glowworm cave in New Zealand, this one is illuminated all the way through.
During its nearly 2 million year history, the floor has collapsed a few times, revealing different levels and strata on the walls. The stream that flows through the caves was quiet today, but after a couple of days heavy rain, it can become torrential, even bringing in snakes, which don’t otherwise live in the caves.
Stalagmites and stalactites are the main feature here, although our guide, Roslan, did point out some others.
The Golden Flowstone must be an amazing sight when it’s been raining and water flows down into the stream. Even then, the cave never closes to the public, except for Chinese and Malay New Years.
We reached the end of our Dry Tour and looked down on those who had chosen a Wet Tour, walking in the water. But against all the rules, we were strongly encouraged to touch the roof just because we could reach. And I think to provide another photo opportunity. Our grins were pretty rigid by now.
On the way back, we spent a few minutes enjoying the breeze through the ‘Wind Tunnel’. It wasn’t that hot in the cave, but neither was it refreshingly cool.
Back in the real world, we tried to book a cab using the Grab app. Can’t find a driver, it said. Computer says ‘no’.
Fortunately, the lady in the shop had a number which Chris (who we’d met on the tour) called, and a cab arrived for us after about 40 minutes. While waiting, we were entertained by a cat having a snooze on one of the café seats. Suddenly, it woke up, leapt across the path and picked up a lizard with which it played for a while. Sometimes, nature’s not so cool.
On our return to Ipoh, we walked around looking for coffee and refreshments and ended up in Concubine Lane.
In the evening, Jyoti and I went out for another quick walk and came across the Heritage Trail.
We didn’t follow it as we didn’t want to end up too far from our hotel. Plus, we came across the evening market: the stalls were being set up including one where an elderly gent was using an elderly Singer sewing machine, presumably some ad hoc tailoring and mending.
Other places we didn’t visit include the Body Alignment Warehouse Gym (we forgot our kits) and the Playboy Club (we forgot our bunny ears).
We visited the Roof Garden of our hotel on the 21st floor. I beg your pardon? I never promised you a roof garden. No, there were a couple of plants, but it was a mini concrete jungle. If you leaned over the edge, though, you could just see the sunset.
Apparently, the largest ethnic group in Ipoh now is Chinese, although we didn’t particularly notice while we were here. During one of our cab rides, we did hear the driver say it’s hard enough to use one phone, he wasn’t going to use two at the same time. Well, thanks for that!
We visted Gua Tempurung, the largest cave system in peninsular Malaysia. There are several tours available: we chose Dry Tour No 2. Wet tours entail wading in water and going through really narrow passages, something that none of us are passionate about. Quite the opposite.
We thought we’d have a nice pleasant walk in the cool caves, away from the heat outside, see a few interesting geological features and get some fabulous photos.
Roslan was our guide. His proper job is ‘Cave Ranger’ and today he was supposed to be conducting some maintenance. This entails, amongst other things, emptying the bins and checking the lights are all working. Instead, he offered to guide us through. He also showed us a few secret places where the Rangers go to hide, away from the managers. He asked for my name: Mick.
We were later joined by another couple, from London. Roslan asked for the man’s name: Chris.
Roslan was very keen to take photos for us. In fact, to take photos of us. He’s used to Asian visitors who like to take many photos of themselves and didn’t quite get that we westerners weren’t that bothered.
If only there was a word for selfies that are taken by other people. To help out, Chris and I were alternately asked to hold up Roslan’s light. And, as he preferred my phone to Jyoti’s or to Chris’s, at the end of the tour, I had to send Chris the pictures of him and his woman, whose name we never did find out.
So, in a world exclusive, here is a collection that cannot be entitled ‘Selfie of the Day’, because they’re not selfies. And, believe it or not, some even more unflattering ones have been omitted.
Somebody who shall remain nameless had booked a really early flight from Singapore. Much as we love Changi Airport, we wouldn’t normally choose to rise at 5am, well before the Sun, and well before the birds. In a daze, we took a taxi, checked in, flew for 90 minutes or so and arrived in Penang. Welcome to Malaysia.
Another taxi took us to our new Airbnb on floor 13A. There is no floor 14. There are 14 stripes on the national flag, but I’m not aware of any other significance to this number.
The plan was to walk around George Town to see the sights but we took a wrong turn more or less straightaway, so we just busked it from then on!
St George’s is the oldest Anglican church in southeast Asia, now 201 years old and with two restorations under its ecclesiastical belt.
George Town, what a busy, bustling place, lots of colours, smells, cultures, people.
The Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Penang, now 186 years old.
The Kapitan Keling Mosque is the oldest in George Town, now 218 years old.
We stumbled upon another Little India and if we thought George Town wasn’t busy enough already, this neighbourhood certainly turned everything up to 11. Indian music came from many shops, there was virtually no distinction between where pedestrians and cars went, yet there was no honking from the drivers.
Little India? Well, it had to be a delicious thali for lunch.
We browsed several shops, looking at the jewellery and other little trinkets. I think Martha might be getting something nice for her birthday, wink, wink.
The clothes, batik or otherwise, are gorgeous.
And if the colourful clothing doesn’t do it for you, just look at the tiles on the floor. So ornate, it’s almost criminal to walk on them.
Lots of shops, lots of items and yes, in the end, we did buy some more stuff! An artist was selling her wares in a small shop, and even selling things made by her 83-year old mother. Each item is accompanied by this note:
Penang Science Cluster was fascinating, with little wooden models made by the students. There’s even an aeroplane in the room, next to a flight simulator. We had a quick snack here, while pondering this little machine.
Has it been programmed to solve a Rubik’s Cube? It was in a glass cabinet, so we don’t really know, but I hope so.
We continued walking where we could, but found that many pavements just stopped in the middle of nowhere, and road crossings are few and far between. Learning a lesson from Suva, we just latch on to a local, and cross where we can. Taking the fine art of jay-walking to a whole new level.
Pavements just stop in the middle of nowhere? Not only that, there are ditches by the side, easy to slip into if you’re not careful. And where the kerb’s too high, just put an extra step there!
In the evening, J&L had a meaty meal at a Korean barbecue restaurant while I went walkabout and found a nice veggie-friendly place. Deep fried lychees are strange but I’ll try anything once.
There were quite a few loose, feral dogs, running between the people and the traffic, not bothering anybody, just doing what they do.
Liesel was feeling a bit under the weather, a bit of a cold, a cough, headache, just bleurgh really, so she missed a fun day up on Penang Hill with Jyoti and me.
Our transport of choice here on Penang is cabs, bookable via an app. They’re quite cheap, and much faster than the buses would be. We took two cabs to the bottom end of the Penang Hill Funicular Railway. No, not one each: we stopped at a place called Let’s Meat for breakfast. I had a nice, meat-free, meal, my first ‘western’ breakfast for a few days.
The funicular train was packed so we had to stand. The sign advised us to sit on a seat if possible. But we weren’t allowed to smoke, vape, eat, drink, carry pets, push, spit or carry durians. So restrictive.
The resort of Penang Hill reaches 833 metres above sea level and it’s much cooler way up there. Just as humid though.
Looking down at George Town and Jelutong, where we’re staying, I think the haze surprised us both. If it’s water vapour, humidity, that’s not so bad, but if it’s pollution, that’s a different story.
There’s a lot to see and do on Penang Hill. The first thing you need to do is fight off all the people who want to take your picture with a nice view in the background. It’s a very pleasant walk, with lots of signs telling us about all the animals we were unlikely to encounter: snakes, yes, snakes again, lizards, frogs, dusky leaf monkeys, flying squirrels, sunda colugo, spring hill turtle, lesser mousedeer, common tree shrew. We saw a few butterflies and other insects, some birds, but I think there were just too many people walking on the paths and talking loudly: any interesting animal with a bit of common sense would have stayed well clear.
We followed a sign off the main path to see some orchids. Well, it wasn’t a big display today, but the one we saw was very pretty.
There were lots of other pretty flowers too, and at times like this, I wish I’d paid more attention in my botany classes. Very small flowers and very big leaves. This seems to be quite common here in the jungle.
Yes, it did feel like a proper jungle, up here in the tropical rain forest. Disregard the artificial, manmade paths, close your eyes, listen to the birds, insects and other remote animals, enjoy the humidity, appreciate the lack of leeches, imagine you’re wearing a safari hat rather than a sun hat, fantastic, and then, the soothing voice of Sir David Attenborough will slowly materialise in your head.
One of the main attractions is the Tree Top Walk, but there is also a Canopy Walk.
The Tree Top Walk itself proved quite elusive. We followed the signs, but the main entrance was blocked off. Go back to the Police Station, the sign said. A nice police officer pointed us in the direction of a makeshift ticket stall. We bought tickets and rode the free shuttle up the narrow path, saving us a long walk.
Both walks are high up in the trees, so it should be easier to spot the tree-dwelling animals. Well, if you’re a long way behind a quartet of loud and lairy Aussies, you just know they’ll have scared anything interesting away.
We saw branches and some leaves move near the top of a tree and we did catch a glimpse of a couple of squirrels. I’ve scrutinised my hasty photos with an industrial strength magnifying glass but no good, unfortunately. There is something on one of my videos but blink and you miss it!
It seems a tomato vine had gone totally berserk and grown up one of the taller trees. If not tomatoes, we don’t know what this fruit is, it was certainly out of place! And the fact that some had been nibbled proved our first notion, that these were left-over Christmas baubles, to be utter nonsense.
We needed some liquid refreshment, rehydration, before returning to the furnace nearer sea level.
It’s common here to see that, in an emergency, you have to gather in groups of four to sing Bohemian Rhapsody.
The ride back down was exciting: we sat on the back of a pickup truck, no seatbelts, with a family consisting of a miserable Dad, two excited children and their lovely, infinitely patient nanny.
On the train back down, Jyoti and I managed to sit right at the front, in the driver’s seat, so you can now ride down the Funicular with us.
In the evening, we all three went to what should be called Little Armenia. The cab sped through quite fast so there wasn’t an opportunity to take pictures of the fabulous street art. There are some wonderful murals in this area. The floor tiles here were very pretty too.
Down the road from our little family-run (but not Armenian) restaurant is of course a Chinese temple. I suspect it’s the oldest in <pick a suitably narrowed-down area> but I could find no supporting evidence.
Liesel was feeling well enough to go out, following her rest day, and, from the cab, being totally totally on the ball, she spotted a Marks and Spencer and a huge Tesco on our first ride of the day. A couple of Starbucks too. Yes, I was shaking my head in dismay as I wrote that.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned the humidity here. But on disembarkation after a forty-minute ride in the air-conditioned cab, my spectacles misted up instantly. Horses sweat, gentlemen perspire and ladies glow. Not here: everyone just drips.
I accompanied the two spice girls on a pleasant walk around the Tropical Spice Garden. The aromatics were drowned out a bit because we were encouraged to apply citronella, to deter the mosquitoes. Well, we never even saw any of those pesky things. I suspect it also deterred butterflies from settling on our hot and sweaty bodies, which is a shame, so many photo opps lost.
The dragonflies here are bright red, they almost glow.
The patterns on the path were pretty and very well done. Jyoti and I had a go at walking on the reflexology path in bare feet.
Four paces was all I could take, those stones are hard, man. I can stand for a while but I can’t put all my weight on one foot, which makes walking incredibly uncomfortable. No, painful.
The Garden had a lot of shade, which helped keep us cool, and at the top of the hill, we had a nice cup of tea from the urn.
It was indeed a refreshing brew but I was unable to translate the explanatory note. From the taste, though, I think the ingredients include pandanus, stevia, citrates and graminaceae.
So after finishing the tea, smacking my lips, rinsing the cup under flowing fresh water, I turned round to see this sign:
Oh well, we gulped, as we walked up the steps to see what poisons were available. Skin irritants, digestive system destroyers, coma-inducers, they were all here. We trod carefully so as not to even brush against something that, to be honest, looks just like a weed that might grow in your garden.
My lunch was very nice, at the Tree Monkey restaurant, while J&L ate at a smaller, meaty place over the road, before joining me for dessert.
From where I sat, I could watch the sea, and see the beach, and I was impressed by the dreadlock tree.
I’m sure it has a proper name, but I missed out on my arborology classes too.
We booked a cab to take us to a batik shop but when we arrived, it turned out to be an unoccupied building up for sale. Proof that Google doesn’t know everything.
So we took a bus to George Town in order to visit an alternative batik shop. Luckily, none of us had bought any durian fruit, as you’re not allowed to take them on buses! The bus journey passed quickly for me as I was engaged in conversation with a man from British Columbia who’s been here for four months, away from his wife, and he asked for an update on the news. Which, of course, I have scant knowledge of as I try to avoid it as much as possible.
From the bus, it was just a five minute walk to the batik shop but when we arrived, it turned out to be a furniture shop. Proof that Google still doesn’t know everything.
We gave up on batik shops. In fact, we gave up on shops altogether, went over the road to a hotel for which we were suitably underdressed, and took refreshments.
The cab ride back home was exciting. The roads are full of mopeds and motor bikes and dogs and pedestrians. Most bike riders wear helmets, which is good, but some don’t. For example, with Dad on the front and Mum on the back holding a child, the child won’t usually have a helmet.
Most riders wear flip-flops too, and a good number put a shirt on backwards, presumably to keep the worst of the wind off their bodies.
The chickens in crates on the back must enjoy their final ever journey, on such busy roads. From the cab driver’s point of view, road markings are merely suggestions and if you want to join a line of traffic, just go for it. The concept of “health and safety” doesn’t exist here in quite the same way. Need to dig a hole in the middle of the road? Just go for it. Put a couple of bollards there, have one man waving the traffic by while the work is carried out by a couple of others wearing their faded hi-vis vests.
Once back in our 13Ath storey apartment, we all rested, took a siesta, and none of us ventured out again for the rest of the day.
The next day was full of the usual holiday activities, up, out for breakfast, showers, trip to the National Library (Mick and Liesel), job interview (Jyoti), comments on the heat and humidity outside (all of us), comments on the coldth inside buildings (Jyoti and Liesel), coffee, food, food and more food.
If all this Indian food doesn’t cause total heart failure, unexpectedly walking past a building with a name like this might finish the job.
I don’t think it’s related to or owned by the dipshit-in-chief but you can’t help but make the connection.
The National Library is big, spacious and cool, not cold, inside. I wanted to write but wasn’t relaxed and comfortable in the café while many people were moving furniture around and preparing for a theatre performance or something. The coffee was nice though.
When Jyoti joined us, we walked to St Josephs Institution, the venue for an art gallery, but it was closed.
“The Explorer” was created in 1999 by Ng Eng Teng to commemorate the new millenium.
Over the Clouds
Beyond the Planets
Travels and Explores
We like the amount of greenery here in Singapore, lots of trees everywhere, and there are plants growing up walls of buildings and even on the roofs. Rooves? On the lids of buildings.
We visited the Gardens by the Bay but before we got there, we spent some time in what must be one of the biggest shopping centres anywhere, with shoppes (sic) for the more affluent people amongst us. There was nothing of interest to me here, but J&L enjoy walking around such places, so I tagged along: none of us had plans to buy anything though.
Marina Bay Sands is very shiny, very expensive looking, very clean and surprisingly quiet. Except for some loud music which we now realise must have been for the launch of the new Netflix offering, Triple Frontier, starring Ben Affleck.
Well, Ben missed out on his chance to meet us, but I did my bit to wear out the red carpet.
We walked to the Gardens and even the walk along the enormous concourse was entertaining: the walls are comprised of pictures of plants alternating with mirrors, so the effect is very colourful and spacious.
I bought some apples and grapes and I was delighted to be given a plastic bag. I haven’t had one of those for a while, it made me yearn for the good old days. In Japan, they thrust plastic bags on you, even if you haven’t bought anything yet, but I didn’t expect that sort of thing here in Singapore.
We probably won’t have time to go up on this trip, but Sands Sky Park Observation Deck looks amazing from down here on planet Earth. It looks like a ship has moored on top of the skyscrapers and there’s now a garden on board.
To save walking so far, we took a shuttle to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. This structure is a remarkable feat of design and engineering, and we could have spent a long time wandering around. Unfortunately, so could everyone else and it was very crowded.
One thing I really wanted to see was Venus fly-traps made from Lego bricks. That’ll never happen, you’re thinking. Well…
The Cloud Walk was lovely. We took the lift up to level 6, walked up to level 7 then all the way down, alternately looking at the plants and the view of the Supertrees which light up as the Sun sets.
Had enough of plants? There are some geological items too, best of all, this amethyst geode.
I know that during our mass decluttering project last year, I swore I would never again collect anything. Well, we had to leave and reenter this venue, so I decided to start collecting stamps once more.
Spoiler alert: unlike one stamp a few months ago that persisted for a couple of weeks, these had all successfully been washed off within 12 hours.
I was ridiculously tired, not at all hungry, so I just loitered with intent while J&L had a very late meal. Back at our luxuriously delicious and immensely spacious studio apartment, I had a quick rinse in the shower, read my book for two minutes, and drifted away very quickly.
It might be spaciously luxurious but none of us would want to spend more time than necessary in the the studio apartment. There’s only one window and it looks out onto the front yard and pavement. We went to Lau Pa Sat food court for breakfast although by the time we arrived, it was our midday meal.
Hot spicy and hot temperature-wise was my soup, full of delicious vegetables. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to having hot Indian or Thai food like like this for breakfast. A bowl of cereal or toast and Marmite sounds really good right now!
Looking up without falling over backwards is a necessary skill in a modern city. Coping with an element of cognitive dissonance is vital too. When I’m enjoying the countryside or beach, I am glad to be away from the hustle and bustle of a city. Yet here I am in a big city, enjoying the buzz, admiring the beauty of the cityscape while at the same time, feeling a bit sorry for those folks who spend forty hours a week stuck inside one of those edifices. I bet most of them would rather be spending time out of doors. They’re building upwards here of course, but also reclaiming a lot of land from the sea. Next time we visit Singapore, it might be much more than a little red dot.
We took a train to the nice cool Library where I did some writing while enjoying some coffee. Jyoti and Liesel both had slightly disappointing drinks although, to be fair, the colour of Jyoti’s concoction did match the top she was wearing
The spire of St Andrew’s Cathedral stands out against the new, highrise buildings.
As I walked towards the National Gallery to meet up with J&L again, I was delighted to see a game of cricket taking place. Jyoti’s Dad used to spend time at the Singapore Cricket Club all those years ago.
In the Gallery itself, we enjoyed artworks from the wider southeast Asia region, not just Singapore.
I always like geometric shapes so these interlocking tetrahedrons are right up my street.
I think they’d look jolly nice on our mantlepiece. If we had a mantelpiece.
We walked back to the shoppes at the Sands hotel conference and exhibition centre and onto the food court. On the way, we saw the Merlion, a lion’s head on a fish. The real one is much bigger and currently being restored.
Our plan to eat in the food court earlier in the evening, in order to avoid crowds, totally backfired. The place was heaving. Not only that, it was thrumming. So instead, we went up to a wood-fired pizza place. The pizza was nice and best of all, they gave us a knife and fork to eat with.
We paid a return visit to the Gardens on the Bay. This time, we concentrated on the Supertrees, the light show, the fountains and the dragonflies. It would have been fun to do the sky walk, high up amongst the Supertrees, but the crowds here were not only heaving and thrumming, they were jostling as well.
The sculpture of a baby boy was astonishing in itself, but when you realise he’s almost floating in the air, balanced on the back of his right hand alone, you can’t help but think, babies really are remarkable, aren’t they? They grow up, some become artistic and come up with things like this. Marvellous.