There’s something about Tuesday …

I was in the midddle of explaining an activity in my phonics class yesterday when a five-year-old boy looked up, pointed to my head and asked, ‘Is that a wig?’

I was astonished.  Does he really think that I’d pay for a wig that looked like this?

If I buy a wig it’ll be long, straight and glossy, and will ripple seductively down my back as I shake my head – there’s nothing glamorous about looking as though you’ve just stepped out of a wind tunnel, in my opinion.

But as I was pondering the strange nature of his question, I realised that it was Tuesday, and strange things happen on Tuesdays …

Last Tuesday, I was followed by a stalker on my way home.

I contemplated hitting him with the baking tray I’d just bought –

but decided that I’d be safer dashing to the nearest security post, where security guards man the barriers for entry into private roads.  The guards gave me the number to call the police, and I rang them.

‘Are you Chinese?’ the police receptionist asked.

‘No!’  I said indignantly.  ‘I’m English!’

I don’t know whether my nationality had anything to do with it, but within five minutes three police cars, all with flashing blue lights, had arrived.

The stalker had disappeared, but I was given a lift home in a police car, still with its blue light flashing …

… so that’s something ticked off my bucket list.

Another strange Tuesday experience this month was a cake, baked by an Irish poet who has started a writing circle in my condo.

It looked relatively normal from the outside, but when she cut into it, there were strange green lumps and bits of stringy stuff inside, and it had a solid, yet squidgy consistency –

– if you imagine khaki playdough, you wouldn’t be far wrong.

‘What sort of cake is it?’ someone asked trepidatiously.

‘Okra and chilli relish,’ came the reply.

If you are ever offered cake by an Irish poet, I recommend that you decline politely.

Next Tuesday I’m thinking of staying in bed.

please follow and like us:)

I think I’ve found my ideal home

When I saw this place, I knew I had to move in immediately –

Anyone else care to join me?

Rant for today …

When you land in KL all you see around the airport are miles and miles of palm oil plantations

According to a report online, Malaysia and Indonesia produce 85% of the world’s palm oil.

There have been rumblings about palm oil for years in England, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that the EU is planning to ban it from 2021.  What did surprise me, however, was a report in the local newspaper this week expressing outrage at the ban, but making no mention whatsoever of environmental issues.

The writer fumes and rants (perhaps he’d like to join me in my new home) but makes no attempt to explain why the EU is banning palm oil.

There’s a tedious list of the committees who voted for the ban, but no reason as to why they might have done so.  It gives the impression that the EU was feeling a bit snippy one day, and decided to take it out on Malaysia …

‘I’ve got a good idea – let’s ban all biofuels beginning with the letter P this week!’

‘That’s an absolutely brilliant plan!  And then we can ban all green food beginning with the letter C next week.’

But luckily for Malaysia, the Prime Minister has waded in and threatened retaliation –

So, yah sucks boo to you, EU.

Meanwhile, last week the Goverment degazetted 4,515 hectares of permanent forest reserves in Terengganu, an area the size of 4,500 football fields apparently, and this land is going to be given to a government-linked palm oil company.   ‘Degazette’ means to remove the official status from something by publishing it in a gazette, according to my online dictionary.

I heard the Chairman of the Malaysia Nature Society being interviewed on the radio yesterday, and he asked how the government can just do that without discussions or consultations.  Plus, the UN has pledged to halt deforestation by 2020 – so Malaysia isn’t exactly making itself popular by doing this.

According to Chairman Wong, Malaysia is recognised as one of only 12 mega biodiversity countries supporting an unprecedented wealth of wildlife, and there are even tigers in that area – although not for much longer, obviously.

It’s not only fauna and flora, but Terengganu is a flood prone state, so that will only get worse once the forest is cut down.

How can Malaysia be so short-sighted and so out of tune with the rest of the world?  It’s perfectly possible to make money sustainably through ecotourism, medicines and sustainable timber, while protecting the tropical and equatorial rainforests for future generations.

Yes, Mr Journalist – destroying the forests affects the ecosystem; lessening carbon storage, air and water purification, and flood control, as well as endangering wildlife, including many already endangered species like the tigers and orang utans … and that’s why the EU is banning palm oil.  Perhaps you should have mentioned that in your article.

OK – rant over – I’ll go away and leave you in peace now.



please follow and like us:)

Malaysia … home of witchcraft and wizardry

According to a newspaper report, in Malacca alone last year there were 2,492 cases of spells, jinxes and other forms of witchcraft reported to the police.  They usually involve bomohs, who are a type of witch doctor/shaman.

Now, I’m no medical expert but …

… I’m pretty sure there’s a medical term for this which doesn’t involve the word ‘witchcraft’.

And it’s not just men seeking to blame witchcraft for their problems –

My suggestion here would be that if holding hands makes you feel naughty, then keep your hands firmly by your sides at all times.

And it’s nice to know that witchcraft is keeping up with the times and embracing technology –

And I love this case of the Siamese medium and his henchmen –

A Siamese medium …

… it must be the eyes.

And what about his henchmen?

I’d definitely pay up if they turned up on my doorstep.

But I was a little disappointed in the anonymous medium who accused other bomohs of using ghouls to harm people –

As any Harry Potter expert knows, ghouls are harmless creatures, who are only viewed as a nuisance because of the noise they make.  I’m thinking of writing to the paper to suggest as essential reading for all future bomohs.

please follow and like us:)

The School of Hard Knocks

In Malaysia, the School of Hard Knocks is not a precursor of the University of Life and an essential component of any I-dragged-meself-up-by-me-bootstraps success story.  It’s actually a workshop where you can go and learn how to make things out of pewter.

I already knew that Kuala Lumpur’s fortune was founded on tin.  KL was just a small unimportant town, playing second fiddle to Malacca and Penang (or maybe that should be third fiddle?), until the late 19th Century, when Chinese prospectors found tin in the river.  Despite the fact that 69 of the 87 original prospectors died of horrible diseases in the swampy jungle, they pressed on and established tin mines and the town began to grow.

Today I learnt that tin is used to make pewter –

hence the very famous Royal Selangor Pewter factory and its workshop.

The factory museum shows the earliest Malaysian currency – tin money in the shape of animals –

– cute, but not very practical for a trip to the supermarket:

“That’ll be a crocodile, an elephant and four tortoises, please.”

“I’ve only got two crocodiles – do you have change?”

“Hang on a minute – I’ll just go to the other tills and see if anyone can change one crocodile for ten elephants.”

So they switched to the money tree, on the right in the picture.  As it’s made of tin, they could just twist off as many little Polo mints as they needed.

Then it was time for the fun –

learning to make our own funky designs out of molten pewter.

Anthony made a lovely bracelet … for me –

While Sam made himself a hipster man-band –

And despite being blessed with the manual dexterity of an earthworm, I even managed to make a few things myself –

But we didn’t have time to create replica Petronas Towers –

made of 7,062 pewter tankards

or the largest tankard in the world

which holds 4,920 pints of beer and the Guinness World Record … and is yet another example of the identity crisis which seems to be a permanent, rather than temporary, stage of development in this Islamic country.

please follow and like us:)

Still doing their own thing in Myanmar

On my travels around Myanmar, I was struck by the fact that traditions are still woven into the fabric of everyday life and not just resurrected for the tourists every night at 8 pm, with a matinee on Saturdays.

We were lucky enough to see a novitiation ceremony in a small town that we were driving through en route to Mandalay.  We had stopped for a break and spotted some very fancily dressed children –

I thought this was a girl, but it’s actually a boy – dressed as a prince for the procession through the town before he goes to the temple to become a novice monk.

Everyone in the town had turned out either to watch

or to process

The novices all process using whatever means of transport their family can afford to provide for them.

So they might be on horseback

in a horse-drawn cart

or a bullock cart

or even on an elephant

Our tour leader was chatting to a local, who told her that the father of the boy on the elephant was a street vendor selling betel nut, who had probably saved up for his whole life to hire this elephant for his son’s big day.

The sisters of novices are allowed to dress as princesses, and they parade too –

but no horses for them … just Shanks’s pony.

And bullock carts aren’t reserved for parades – it’s quite common to see them out on the roads –

And there are so many other traditional skills still being practised every day

making umbrellas by hand –

A two-hundred year old lacquerwork studio –

producing beautiful pieces –

Cheroots – made by the local women –

and smoked by the local crones –

On Inlay Lake there’s a third-generation silversmith at work in a studio on stilts in the water

making jewellery out of pure Myanmar silver –

The lake dwellers have developed the most bizarre method of rowing, where they twist their leg around the oar –

and the lake fishermen balance precariously while they drop their nets into the water –

although I have to say that I wasn’t overly impressed by the size of their catch –

But I ate his big brother for lunch, and he was absolutely delicious …


please follow and like us:)