photos!

am slowly uploading photos onto picasa. will have more added when i get back to the uk, but have posted a select few so far at:

http://picasaweb.google.com/MLCain/Malaysia2007

warning: there are snake photos for those who arent into snakes…

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more sights: war museum, aquarium, snake temple…

this afternoon Fun Khoon took me sightseeing again. it was v hot & humid so we decided against the tropical fruit farm.

war museum

this was an outdoor museum so  got eaten alive again by mozzys. i need DEET! none of this pansy citronella! the museum was interesting as it was all old buildings from ww2. like ammo stores, anti aircraft guns in concrete recesses, soldiers’ quarters, kitchens, sickbay etc. there was a bit of info and i learnt that Penang was surrendered by the British to the Japanese 10 days after the first Japanese arrived, and not a single Japanese soldier was killed.there was some info on the Japanese occupation, showing how brutal they were towards the POWS. there were signs with military jargon/slang, and one that i didnt know befre was that blimey comes from gorblimey which comes from God blind me!

Aquarium

Fairly standard small aquarium, with lots of medium sized tanks. then at the end, you go into a room like a cinema, and the screen is a giant tank, floor to ceiling, wall to wall! some of the fish inside (i think they were called jewfish) were humungous – at leat 1m long and their heads larger than a human head – or at least similar!!!

then at the end they had turtles in (rather small) tanks outside. the adults looked cramped, but the babies were sooooo cute – the size of terrapins. beautiful! when they came up for air u could see their nostrils flaring, i love them so much!!!!

snake temple

at the snake temple there is a tree which has venomous snakes in it, so u could go up and get yourself hurt if you were silly enough. some were v small though, and hard to see as they were green and camo’d with the leaves.

there was also a kind of snake equivalent of an aquarium. saw a royal ball python who looked just like scar (for those who know/knew him!). saw some teeny tiny snakys, and some massive ones. they were beautiful. the cobra was a bit scary!

just nearby the snake temple there’s another buddhist temple where there’s a shrine to Uncle Yoke. we went to say a prayer for him and to light incense for him there. the temple complex is actually vegetarian, so no meat is allowed to be offered. any meat offerings for him have to be given elsewhere so that he doesn’t go without meat!

the hitch hikers guide is starting on tv now so i’m going……………………………..x

catch up

so a quick recap.

first few days, did shopping, sitting around etc. Met Limmy on Monday inPrangin Mall.

then went to Sungai Petani on Tue for 2 nights to stay with Uncle Meng’s family. did some more shopping in SP, i went swimming while mum and Aunty Mary went to gym on the second day, at a rather swish sports centre that was more like a holiday report but in the middle of a residential area. i think swimming was the first time up until this point that i really saw the sun, except out the window.On Wed eve we went to the Park Royal hotel to see live music…it was unlike anything I’ve seen before! There was a Malaysian group and n Indonesian group and they played Malay and Chinese songs plus some American, and British songs which were mainly “oldies” but a few more recent ones. The best one was a take on 4 Non-Blondes’ “What’s going on” – the singer really loved singingit.

Fri – went to market and then in eve went to Sushi King for dinner, just mum and me. It was about RM40 (or was it 50?) for both of us – well under a tenner as it’s RM6.5=GBP1. It was fun as it had a conveyor belt!

Sat – the aforementioned Cheng Beng.

Sunday 25th went with Uncle Ping and his family to lunch, and then he took us sightseeing for a bit. We went to the reclining buddha temple and to Khoo Kongsi, a clan house that was very ornate & somehow mum and I had never been before. The point of a clan house was to provide support to members of that family and to give them a temple where they can prey for their ancestors – important as they were new settlers from China so their ancestors were not nearby. Everything was beautifully decorated and I have lots ofphotos that tell the story better but they arent online yet :(

Mon 26th – I am 27. Mum, Fun Khoon and i go to Pulau Jerejek, a tiny island that used to be where they sent lepers to and then a prison island. it only has 1 resort, which we stayed the night at. we went for a walk along the coast where we saw old colonoal admin buildings and the old jetty – all built 1911. most interesting was seeing a little snake, monkeys, butterflies, dragonflies and fish.

jerejak is partly an adventure holiday place as the beach is not great. Fun Khoon and i went on the climbing wall – our arms nearly dropped off half way up because we werent using our legs enough! a schoolboy error, i believe. if they told us to use our legs at the start we would have made it to the top i think, but we both got about 3/4 of the way up. my conclusionis that despite what many metos have told me, climbing is not 4 me. apparently, one of the staff could do the wall in 6 seconds!

after that i couldnt face a jungle trek i was so tired, so i went for a swim to cool down and stretch out my arms. i did lots of lengths of granny breaststroke cos i forgot my goggles!!!!

also did a bit of reading/sunbathing. it was funny cos u can hear the traffic from Penang and also see it whizzing along the road opposite.

each meal at the resport was buffet – a disaster because we dont have self control. good job i’m vegetarian and could only eat a few things! the ais kacang was pretty good as they had the proper machine where they shave it off from a giant ice cube.

that evening mum wasn’t feeling so good with a sore throat/cough. there wasnt much to do anyway, so she didnt miss out on anything by getting an early night. the next morning we went for a walk along the bike trail (couldnt find the hill trail) and i got eaten alive thanks to my all natural insect repellent. we got the 10.30 ferry back and Fun Khoon met us (he didnt stay overnight) and we went to the tropical spice garden. that was really good – like a botanical garden. we saw a bigger snake (cobra??), big butterflies, big iguanas, little cute frogs, etc etc. plus lots of cool plants of course. we had a drink at the cafe there, overlooking batu ferringhi which has a lovely clear view of the empty blue sea.

then went to Uncle Tin’s for a while. His place has so much stuff in it! We had a pandan drink that was yummy – i think it was cordial. after that we went to have fruit ais (like ais kacang with fruit apparently from the tropical fruit farm – altho we saw a van from thailand arrive…). There was a batik ‘factory’ and store there too.

Evening and we go to dinner with Uncle Meng & Aunty Mary at Equatorial Hotel with the view of Penang from the reataurant window. We saw Jerejak! They brought their own wine and wine glasses as the restaurant ones arent up to scratch! Starter and dessert was buffet, you just order your main course. The chef is French so it was European food. Salads / antipasti type stuff v good. Mum had lobster!

The big surprise for me (& mum!) came just after I got my plate of desserts…the waiters came out with a cake and sang happy bday in French! Ayor!The chocolate cake looked v yum. I had actually also had a yummy ice cream cake on Sat with the whole fam, so I have been spoilt =)

Today – Wed 28th
Fun Khoon and I went sightseeing this pm. Saw the marina (tiny), Penang Museum (interesting, lots of info and antiques/artefacts), State Art Gallery (1 room of Malaysian artists, some amateurish, some interesting, some very detailed – my faves were the birds and beetles), and lastly Penang Peranakan Mansion. This was a restored Chinese mansion. The only problem was not having a guide or any written info so I dont have much to say except that it was gorgeously done – although i have lots of photos which will go on picasa eventually.

Right, I think that is enough! I’ve caught up!

malaysia part 1: cheng beng

so i’m about a week and a half into my holiday in malaysia so i have some catching up to do. so, the first installment is about the reason why i’m here in the first place.

cheng beng sat24 march 2007

Cheng Beng is the Chinese all souls’ day and is the reason mum and i are here at this time of year. it can be celebrated a few weeks either side of the actual day (i think it is either 1 or 5 april) and we chose to do it early. all the family who could attend attended. we got up early to leave at just after 7am to avoid the heat, and drove in convoy to the cemetary where Por Por is buried. There were lots of us, although Kung Kung stayed at home.

The tombstone was very nice, as it was like a large bed (so raised from ground level) with writing at the front and kid of like an altar to put joss sticks and offerings. Firstly, the food was laid out – fruit, roast meat, cakes, wine (although this got knocked over and the bottle smshed by accident). There was also some fake bank notes laid out on the grave.

Uncle Tin then handed out 6 (i think – should have written this earlier) joss sticks each, and we filed along to the altar area in turn to prey or talk to Por Por and place our joss sticks in the pot. After this, we did the same with the paper items we were going to burn for her. I had a pair of paper shoes for her, and there were shirts and cosmetics also – all made of card.

These were added to the pile of gold and silver (coloured rolled paper), and then travellers cheques and hell bank notes (“why Hell Bank?” Uncle Tin queried, “as she won’t be able to spend them…”) were also added and then set fire to in order to send them to Por Por. She is certainly rich, it was a big pile!

Although it was a sad occasion it was also happy in a way as there were so many people there for her, everyone putting on a brave face. I am happy that I was there, evebn though it was not all that easy.

We then took the food away (otherwise the monkeys would take it) and went across the road to where Uncle Yoke’s ashes are. The same process took place for him, although instead of a gravestone, his urn is in a kind of cabinet (along with a packet of cigarettes and a lighter) alongside rows and rows of others. Many people prey and give offerings to their relatives’ neighbours so that they have good company.

We burnt Uncle’s paper offerings outside. He had lots more mod cons than Por Por – air con, dvd player, plasma tv, wok & pots and pans, gas cannister for cooking – and less money. Sing Sing was there and I think he bought a lot of these things for his dad.

We then went to see great aunties and uncles; these visits were a lot easier and a bit of a gradual wind-down from the first two.

At one cemetary, we saw monkeys stealing buns form various graves. One even took one in its mouth, and another in its hand!

After, we went back to the house and various people spoke to Kung Kung about it, including Uncle Meng and Nana. He told me that I should write it all down in a diary – which I am doing here (mainly cos I forgot my actual notebook/diary).

We also ate the food that was on offer and just sat aoround and talked. I talked to my little cousin Tissue who is 3 and she is very good a counting in English, and very cute but I think rather naughty.

Later in the afternoon, Uncle Meng and I went to a wine tasting with some of his friends. They arranged it with the shop as they know each other well. We had 3 Aussie wines (Kallesky, Wolf Blass Black Label and Platinum Label) and a Californian (Chateau St Jean? – a Bordeaux blend). I wasn’t that impressed to be honest, the Kallesky was to alcoholy (14 % i think) for my liking although as the cheapest most people preferred it as value for money). The Cally wine was fine but a bit boring. I liked the black label a lot, but it needed a few years on it as i think it was a 2002 or a 2004. The platinum label was wasted on us as we had too much to drink by that point!

An interestng experience though, as Uncle Meng and his friends knew what they were talking about so we s pent almost the whole 3 hours discussing the wines and not much else. Later on Uncle Meng was sick because he had too much!! Understandable, considering the difficult morning he had.

Mum and Fun Khoon and his girlfrind arrived at about 5.30pm (I think) and joined us for a glass. Then we went for dinner with the whole family, which was very nice except I was on the kids table!

Better go now, have been online for ages. xxx