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Showing posts from August, 2009

Laksa and sea cucumbers

When we travel it is with the implicit assumption that the weather will be fine. This assumption is frequently proven wrong. We bought an umbrella on our honeymoon in Paris, another in Kyoto and in Hong Kong. I even bought one to keep me dry in Ghent on my last trip. Today we not only bought an umbrella, but a rain cover for the stroller as well. It was raining quite heavily when we awoke. The relaxing sound coincided with Alex’s happy morning chatter. We fed him, with me giving him a tiny taste of green and white, kuih talam then returned him to bed, remaining quiet ourselves, allowing me to type up some blog entries. When he woke up again we left the hotel and crossed over Marine Parade in search of breakfast. One serving of prawn noodles, one popiah, a couple servers of roti telur washed down with sugar cane juice and a honeydew melon milkshake and we were full again. The rain was still falling reasonably heavily. I had brought an umbrella, but it wasn’t enough to shelter the

Hungry ghosts and hungrier tourists

We woke to the sound of a laughing baby. Alex is usually cheerful in the morning, something he definitely didn’t inherit from his mother. After we fed him he didn’t seem to want to go straight back to bed, so it was time for us to eat! We packed Alex into the lightweight stroller and set out across the footbridge to the area opposite our hotel. Hawker centre alert! Oh, the choices for breakfast! We sat down on an empty table and had nasi lemak (coconut rice) and carrot cake (fried pieces of soft radish cake in a spicy sauce), washed down with Milo ais (iced Milo drink) and Kickapoo (a soft drink). Our table was right next to some small shrines with burning incense and food offerings. More were being added as we ate. Then we stopped for some kuih, local sweets. Once finished we wandered around the shops and stalls of cheap clothing and household items in the Marine Promenade, before walking across to the airconditioned coolness of the Parkway Parade shopping centre. Most of the sh

Baby flies the A380

We were running late. Keeping to time is very difficult with a baby and today was no different. Sacrifices have to be made and in this case it was our stomachs that were martyred to the sacred cause of travel. Woken up to Alex singing happily in his bed, we fed him and sent him back for his morning nap, while I raced up to the local shopping centre to drop off library books and have a haircut. When I returned there were still things to pack, another feed for Alex, other small tasks that still needed to be completed before departure from the house. Finally we packed Kita, his kennel and food, and our bags into the car, dropped our dog off with the dog-in-laws, and dropped me with the bags at the bus stop. B then returned to the house, changed Alex’s nappies and walked him back up to the bus stop in the stroller. Frightened by the vagaries of Sydney’s transport system I was continuously checking my watch. Less than 10 minutes later we dragged our baby, bags and stroller into the bus a

A festival for every religion

On my first ever visit to Malaysia I was there for Christmas. I don't think that there was any special festivity during my second trip , but when I was in Singapore and Malaysia en route to Europe in October 2005 it was the Hindu festival of Deepavali. In February of last year we watched fireworks and lion dances in Kuala Lumpur celebrating Chinese New Year. On this upcoming trip it is the Muslims' turn with Ramadan. Hope that doesn't mean I can't get Malay food during the day!

How to fall in love with Japan

A friend asked for advice on visiting Japan... It took me a little while to fall in love with Japan. The first time I visited there I found it grey and box, devoid of its famed spirituality. It wasn't until we returned a second time that I discovered what I was missing. The trick is not to look at the bland green rice paddies, the smoking factories, the endless rows of grey and brown houses and apartment blocks. Look closer! Suddenly you see the small patches of beauty that emerge until they fill your entire view. The pots outside the front of the house filled with colour flowers. The red paper lantern swinging in front of the izakaya. The tiny shrine wedged in between the building. The subtle pattern on the brown tea cup where complexity would only disturb the serenity of sipping the bitter tea within. Sometimes the beauty is on a larger scale. A train ride through bamboo and cedar forest, narrow gorges and up to a rustic mountain village where temples quietly contemplate the

Baby's off to the tropics!

I've been rather slow in posting this, but we are off to Singapore and Malaysia at the end of the month. B wants a holiday before she returns to work and was rather envious of the dishes I ate while in Singapore recently. Qantas has had some absolutely amazing airfares lately and so we decided to take advantage of them and fly the A380. Accor also had some great hotel deals. I really wanted to show her Belgium, but the costs and the logistics of taking a 9 month old baby across so many timezones were prohibitive. So we settled on Singapore, with the chance of taking a low cost carrier elsewhere in Asia. Hong Kong? I so wanted to stay in the Novotel Citygate again and walk the heritage trail. Taiwan? Never been there. China. Err, not with a baby, plus the need for visas. Plus the above locations are all typhoon targets this time of year (indeed China and Taiwan have had severe flooding in the past week). Thailand was tempting. Bangkok - been there and didn't face taking Alex