Sunday, January 5, 2014

A wonderful trip to "wring" out the old...

I think this picture sums up everything I feel about our return trip to Malaysia!  We stayed at a hotel a block away from our old place on Jalan Madge.  It was great, so familiar and easy!  Hard to believe that we lived here for only 4 years!  Wah!  I want to come back!

Some things never change...Malaysian Flagmen!

Downtown KL was a mess but the kids didn't mind as it was quite incredible shopping.  N dropped all his money the first day so the remaining days were a bit flat for him.  M is a bit more conservative with his cash and actually came home with some.  After KL we got the car and headed up to the Cameron Highlands. (It was lovely to have a vehicle but she had obviously transported durian in it and it always took about 10 minutes for the air con to clear the smell or is that for my senses to deaden to it!) It was good to be back there and the lovely cool air was a welcome respite from KL's heat.  G got in some golf and I walked around a bit.  A few footrubs were taken as well!
Went for steamboat in Brinchang...slightly dangerous but tasty!
This picture makes it look all nice and festive but under the centre of the table is the charred formica and the table cloth has a perfectly round centre where it has been burned in previous meals.  Plus that tower is a little wobbly!

To the manor born.
Another place we had to hit up was The Old Smokehouse in Tanah Rata.  It's a rather decrepit old hotel built like a tudor mansion.  One of the few places in Asia where you sit by a fire to await being summoned for your meal.  Of course, being "veddy proper"  we ate roast beef, yorkshire pudding, and horseradish.  It was a delightful meal and brought back lots of memories.

Oops!  So excited by the sight of beef, I forgot to photograph it before eating.
Some of the rowhouses on our street/jalan.

After a long drive out of the Cameron Highlands ( never take the "fast way"), we arrived in Penang and it's not without a certain amount of pride that I say I guided us directly to our hotel sans map!  That Geography degree really paid off!  We stayed in a different part of town than usual and I'm glad we did.  This area was full of old rowhouses.  The styles really ranged from elaborate to Art Deco.  Their state of repair ranged as well.  I put myself to sleep every night dreaming of renovating one.  Of course, the reality is more of a nightmare!  The people who renovated the hotel were incredible clever and all the rooms had funky found artwork like this.  (Uncle Michael please take note!)

Now to do all the sightseeing necessary, a gal's gotta have her coffee.
A bowl of noodles helps too.
Can't believe G made me work for this holiday..sheesh!

As if Penang weren't interesting enough, they have created an ArtWalk. In the part of town by the docks, they have painted all these gorgeous vignettes/ghosts/whathaveyou and you can explore the area by following the art.  It's very cool and kind of like a treasure hunt.  They have also commissioned an ironworker artist to recreate some "Lat*" cartoons with a dash of history and bunch of humour.  I didn't include all of them but I did see them all.
Getting a leg up...
Being chatted up.

Not to be outdone, my own artistic contribution!
Speaking of artistic contributions, I finished my book for "The Sketchbook Project".  Submissions have to be in by the 15th of January to be included in a tour.  I'm sending mine on a tour of the Pacific Northwest (includes a jaunt into Vancouver).  It was fun to do and it did not in anyway turn out the way I had thought.  My initial idea turned out to be so constricting and what I thought others would be like that I abandoned it completely.  I realized that this was for me so I went and ahead and did what I felt that day.  Some stuff good, some stuff okay.  However it was cool to participate and be able to say "I'm published and you can find my work in the Brooklyn Public Library."

So here's the cover...quite clever if I do say so myself!

So we're back home in Colombo and looking forward to things.  The boys have their "Week without walls"  trip coming up.  They get to go to various sites around the country and get to know Sri lanka and their classmates better.  Of course I am very hopeful that this will help things improve for N but I'm also a realist...sigh! M will be able to use his newly learned diving skills at his site which is very exciting.  G and I are going to hit the road and explore a few more places in Sri Lanka. Needless to say, the boys probably won't be too jealous that we get to see the Buddha's tooth and they don't!  Then my sister arrives just at the end of Chinese New Year.  Busy, busy, busy!

So here's hoping that your holidays were all that you wanted!  Happy 2014!

*Lat is a well-loved Malaysian cartoonist who created "Kampung Boy" and a cast of Malaysian characters. 

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