Oops I did it again. Or rather didn’t…

I’ve been absent for a while (sorry) but here’s what I’ve been up to over this time:IMG_1709

Writing letters to my friends, and pen pals. Including the delightful Laura!

Scarf for PPT in Melb.

Scarf for PPT in Melb.

Knitting a scarf with the new lovely yarn I bought. I hope my giftee likes it!

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Driving around a lot and getting stuck in traffic. I like to use this time to take photos of lovely architecture. Like these stain glass windows that you actually can’t see!

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Or these Juliet balconies. Aren’t they gorgeous in a falling down kind of way? (I was actually standing when I took this and therefore not driving.)

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Trying not to hurl when we accidentally ordered chicken feet. I didn’t eat them but I did eat some of the bits of pork around them.

See you soon.

Times they are a changin’… Oh and it’s Chinese New Year.

I was looking back through my blog at older posts and I have realised that I don’t do half so many posts as I used to. I also realised that I don’t post about a lot of the same stuff that I used to. I’m sorry about that. But if you guys want more variety in my posts please let me know. If you’re happy to have updates about my life in Kuantan let me know. If you want a mix of old and new let me know.

So on Friday this happened:

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I also had a great night out with some new friends. Then on Saturday I had another great evening with some other new friends. Gosh I’m being vague. Let’s just say that it made up for the fact that I missed out on Australia Day celebrations due to gastrointestinal upset.

Also:

Middle of my Pau as requested.

Middle of my Pau as requested.

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For the Love of Pau

There are so many ways to spell Pau using the Roman alphabet. Bao, Pao, Pau, Bau… it’s pronounced somewhere between pow and bow (as in bow wow not bow tie) and I love it. I love it’s pillowy softness and the silky “crust”. I love the different types and the close resemblance they have to my face, all round and white. I love the hot bready first bite before you get to the delicious middle filling. I love nibbling at just the filling before I eat the bun and filling together. I love to savour the deliciousness and stuff my cheeks full of the squishy goodness, like a squirrel preparing for winter. I love that it costs RM1.20 for one of these round puffs of delight. And I love that, if I had to, I could eat them all day everyday!

A tray full of pau at Chan Poh.

A tray full of pau at Chan Poh.

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The Rains ‘Re ‘Ere!

I was a bit worried that Kuantan wouldn’t let me leave. The weather is well into monsoon season. Friday night the storm was so loud it woke me at 4am practically shaking the building. A storm like that would’ve grounded me for sure if it happened when we were to take off.

I do love the rain, it brings a coolness to the air and very large puddles. I love driving through deep puddles and having the water crash up against my window. I’ve been thinking about this ad from years ago every time it rains.

The rains are definitely in Kuantan, thankfully I’m not. For three weeks anyway!

Markets and Merriment.

This weekend I have been very social. The closer my trip home for Christmas draws the keener the desire to shop becomes. Actually, in all honesty, it’s the pre-Christmas panic that’s driving the shopping but it does allow me to spend time with some friends.

Friday night was the International Ladies of Kuantan’s Christmas dinner. The Scot and her husband, The Engineer, invited me to join them and I met a lot of nice and interesting people. Probably my favourite new person was honorary Aussie, Muriel*, she really made me laugh. We had good food and The Scot even showed the crowd a few steps of her national dance. They’re so kind to include me. I also got to meet a new lady in town, Ze Russian, I kept bumping into her around the city, including Sushi King and the supermarket, so when I saw her at the party I waved to her as if we were old friends. It was almost destined that we would meet. I feel very blessed to have made friends with a few people here.

Saturday night, The Mathematician, our friend, Rae, and I went to the night market at Telok Cempedak near my place. I needed to scope out the place to start making some very important purchases. Christmas presents. There’s only 2 weeks left until I arrive back on Australia’s fair shores and I want to be laden with presents for people! We also ate at the night food stalls and had a delightful evening gas-bagging and giggling. It’s so delightful to be shopping and chatting with new friends, as though I’ve known them all my life. Four short months ago, perhaps even four short weeks ago, I wouldn’t have thought it possible or probable.

*So named because we bonded over her love of Muriel’s Wedding and getting Toni Colette mixed up with Minnie Driver.

Small Adventures

When I was younger I was a little bit more adventurous. I enjoyed festivals and rallies and protests, as any young student socialist/activist/hippy/liberal/journalist would. Despite this I’ve never been a huge dare devil. I like quiet and peaceful activities like knitting and reading, occasionally listening to a podcast. As I’ve gotten older this love of the indoors and quiet has grown. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete introvert, but neither am I a full extrovert. I sit happily in the middle of the spectrum, enjoying quiet solitude and the occasional party. Which is why I was able to travel around Europe mostly on my own. It is also why I was able (only just) to put myself on a plane and move to Malaysia.

Unfortunately it is also why I’m a little bit scared about dining out or exploring on my own.

Here are three reasons why it’s difficult for me to venture out:

  1. Until one month ago I was solely reliant on the generousity of others or cabs to get about. A trip to the supermarket was a large hoo-ha.
  2. Unless I have a specific purpose in mind the idea of strolling about in this heat and humidity is awful.
  3. It’s bloody scary out there! I’m the odd one, no matter what I wear or how I walk I’m still obviously not from around here.

This week I said “Enough! I am brave and strong and true!”

  • *I marched myself out of the house and down to the satay house, Satay Zul and I ordered in English a takeaway! Huzzah! Not so scary after all are you counter man!?
  • *I waltzed into the furniture shop and wandered happily until I got to the lighting section where I met Uncle U.

Uncle U: What are you looking for?

Me: A lamp.

Uncle U: This is the right place.

Insert minor chit chat about Australia and weather and my length of stay etc.

Me: I like this lamp.

Uncle U: Well I can give it to you cheaper than the price.

Me: Really? (I still don’t know how to haggle)

Uncle U: Yes. 200 Ringgitt.

Me: That’s great. That’s 40 Ringgitt off.

Uncle U: Do you want a yellow or white globe? They’re 10.

Me: Yellow. I think you know my friend, T.

Uncle U: Hmm? With the goatee? Yes! I know him. The light globe is free!

Me: Are you sure?

Uncle U: That’s how we work in Malaysia. We give friends and friends of friends discounts!

That’s right, I accidentally haggled. Plus I got a lamp!

  • I  ordered Chinese take away, alone at the local Chinese restaurant.
  • I drove passed my “city limits” into unknown territory, finding both the state mosque and the bus station. I even managed to drive myself home without the GPS.
  • And tonight, I went on a date, with myself. I took myself to a western restaurant, alone and ordered steak! I sat alone, I ate alone, I paid alone. It was wonderful.

These things that I took for granted in my home town were alien and scary in a new place. I’m glad that my quest for adventure can be quelled, at the moment, by a trip to a restaurant on my own. I don’t know what I’ll do if I start needing a bigger hit. I don’t see bungee jumping in my future.

Lunch out.

Mondays The Mathematician and I go and get lunch from a variety of different places. One of the first places she took me was to Lot 66. Here we had what is now know as the best Chicken Rice in Kuantan. And while the food court is open air and has no air conditioning I am happy to suffer under a fan for this very tasty food. After all I never really remember how hot I was, just that I had good food and good company.

And now for something completely different.

Here in Malaysia Milo is the number 1 drink. Iced milo is popular at most restaurants and cafés, you can even buy it at McDonalds! It comes in so many different forms I’ve been overwhelmed by Australia’s famous beverage. Not that anyone here would believe that Milo is an Australian drink, no matter where it’s manufactured.

Here are just a few of the Milo products available.

Iced Milo.

Chocolate coated Milo.

Milo in a box

Milo in a can!

I’ll keep you abreast of any new products I come across.

Julia Gillard = Superhero

So long Avengers. Good bye X-Men. Take a break Justice League, there’s a new hero in town and she’s wearing a sensible pants suit.

Imagine my delight as I read the local newspaper, here in Kuantan, to find an article extolling the virtues of my country’s PM! Julia Gillard calling Tony Abbott on his own hypocrisy has got to be one of my favourite moments in modern Australian politics. Well done Julia! I hope that this will bolster women in the workplace who have to put up with some of the crap that Julia has during her time as PM. And thank you for reminding me that female superheroes aren’t all tiny waisted, large breasted, overly sexualised “wonder women” and can in fact be the person that was elected to stand up for my interests (despite the fact that I’m an Aussie abroad).

Good Food in Kuantan

I’ve been on a food lover’s binge this week. Many people would be jealous of the amazing delicacies I’ve eaten and watched other people eat. Oh alright that’s blatant exaggeration! But actually I’ve had a few good lunches this week with some good people!

First up The Mathematician and I went for lunch on Monday to a great café near Lot 66. She’d heard about it from her sister because it was owned by her sister’s brother-in-law’s cousin or something. Anyway we ate Nasi Lemak (which translates as Fat Rice!) and I drank a new favourite beverage of mine, the Iced Milo. Nasi Lemak comes with chicken and/or a boiled egg! It’s very, very tasty!

On Wednesday, after driving around to get my parcels from the post office and set up cable in my apartment The Scholar and I took a turn past an alluring Japanese restaurant called Hana Mizuki. I begged for him to take me there and we decided that we would go on Friday. We went and had the best meal. I ordered the sushi set and The Scholar ordered tempura, udon noodles and beef that you cook at the table. The sushi set came with sushi, sashimi, miso, salad and chawanmushi. I’m so glad we went.

And today I finally got my fill of Indian curry. There were four dishes and some rice served on a banana leaf and we ordered some prawn and chicken curries as well. The food was delicious but eventually the spice got a little too much for my poor mouth. I can eat any amount of wasabi with no worries but the long lasting sensation that comes with curry really affects me.  I went with The Scot. We had a great time eating and chatting. She’s a lovely lady and she’s been all around the world.

All up a very good week I would say!