Monday, August 27, 2012

A storm in a tea cup!

After six months of travel and eating all sorts of different food I can honestly say that neither of us has been really ill or bed bound. I had to see a doctor for a spider bite and Warren had cut his leg on coral and it became infected. Other than that we are the picture of good health, until a week ago!


After the Royal luncheon, I could not keep my food down. My throat and oesophagus felt as though the lining had been scraped off. I had to go on a milk and yoghurt diet as everything that I swallowed, burnt. I googled my condition and this is common in Malaysia after Hari Raya as the spices used to prepare the dishes are strong and dangerous! So for a week I felt rather miserable and uncomfortable. This, I confess, was a wonderful way to shed a few kilos and kick start my healthy eating regime!


As Nick works in a medical centre he offered for us to go for full check ups as it costs a fraction here of what it would cost back home. Warren was keen but I was not interested until this setback. In particular I wanted to have my headaches checked out as I was worried I might be suffering from Blood pressure and I was nervous about our impending flight home. So I requested just a BP reading. This lovely doctor we visited insisted on doing an ECG as well....a first for me.


Lying on the bed with all the pads connected to my body I was not really worried as I had never had reason to believe I had anything wrong with my heart. The nurse takes the first reading through to the Doc, comes back, repeats the process and then tells me to dress as the Doc wants to talk to me. This Doctor has the most beautiful face and as he takes my hand and gazes into my eyes he says "I think you may have had a heart attack!" WHAT? what did you say? He then tells me I need to see a cardiologist immediately and has arranged for a driver to take my hubby and I across the city to see the right person. If I hadn't had an attack I was about to! It is Saturday morning, we fly in three days time ...what to do?


So off we go in a state of shock, my mind reeling and wondering exactly when this attack could have happened? Several strange scenarios take place in my mind I can assure you! Some funny and some not so funny. But it was not the time to get the giggles....we arrived at the most exquisite hospital ever. Evidently it is known as the Hotel hospital and is outlandishly expensive. We go off to the specialist and after fifteen minutes see this youngish fellow. He looks at the ECG results we have brought along with us, shakes his head and says the results indicate that I have suffered an attack, could be a week ago, a year ago, twenty years ago! The next thing to do is an Echo cardiogram. I slow him down and ask how much all this will cost as we have have just run out of our medical cover which was only valid for 200 days and we are just over that time period. With the consultation this investigation would cost six hundred ringgits which is about one thousand five hundred Rand which we thought is probably a fraction of the costs back home. So it Is agreed that we have no option but to proceed!


Once again my top is exposed and prepped for the Echo cardiogram when the nurse comes running through and says to hold off on that test and to just do another ECG. After reaching 65 and never having had an ECG, I am now having my third!! To cut a long story short, this specialist had worked out by looking at the original readings and then the new readings that the nurse in the previous rooms, had attached one of the pads upside down thus the strange results which led to the doctors thinking I had had a heart attack. In fact my heart seems fine. Much relief and without any further fuss we went home to lick our wounds and celebrate our good health! it really was a case of human error and at least I know what an ECG is now!


The above images are not mine but borrowed off the Internet!




A little escape.

To fully enjoy these holidays we booked into the local Hyatt which is situated on the Beach. I have never been up to this part of the world and as always I love nothing more than finding and experiencing new places.

The hotel was great and Joshua loved spending hours in the pool with his Ten Ringit fishing rod. He is swimming like a little fish himself so while we keep an eye on him he is reasonably safe.


During the day was lovely. Malaysians love flying kites. At times the sky was full of beautiful kites which are so lovely to watch as they fly around in the sky. While watching them on one occasion was amused to see a real live Kite in bird flying attacking these kites as she was obviously concerned about these foreign objects entering her territory! She would bomb them and bomb them trying to defend her territory! One of the ladies near me reeled her expensive kite in as she was not prepared to have it damaged! Who would have thought?


Both the big boys and the little ones had fun with the kite.

At night the troubles started. The fireworks and crackers never seemed to stop exploding into the night sky. Asians love their fireworks and don't stop until The early hours of the morning! I guess it's fine if you are outside and part of it but if you are trying to sleep it can be most irritating! The worry is the animals and the sleeping children. That is another difference. Asian children seem able to stay up all hours of the night, certainly longer than I can!


While I was not particularly well, I really loved being at the seaside and having this little quality family holiday., just before we leave Malysia. Thanks Nick and Moira. Thanks for the fun Johua!


A Royal Affair!

There was such a grand build up to Hari Raya or as it is known in the rest of the world as Eid-El- fitr. The shops were jam packed with shoppers buying table linen, crockery and cutlery. It is traditional for everyone to have a new outfit and the pantry to be stocked up. As Hari Raya, which translates into "days of celebration", fell on a Saturday and Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were public holidays as well. The city folk took good advantage of this situation and lost no time of heading off to family homes for this special time!

We had been invited together with our Malaysian Family to attend a luncheon or "Open House" at a real "palace" to celebrate this esteemed holiday. I confess I was extremely excited and just a little nervous! Do you bow, curtsy, kiss the hand? Do you dare to chat? What do you chat about? And of course the age old question, what to wear?

There is no way anyone like me can compete with the wonderful outfits worn by the Malaysian women and one wonders what the Royals will wear. I have a beautiful mustard yellow top given to me by my friend Cynthia when we visited the family in Bangalore. I had kept this for a special occasion and was dying to wear it. Just ours before setting off I show Moira my outfit and she laughs nervously. Evidently only members of the Royal family are permitted to wear yellow!! Back to the drawing board and out comes my good old faithful red top which was fine!

Even little Joshua was in traditional clothes and looked so cute!

We had to drive a way to get to the function and wherever we looked,the buildings and flags were decorated with the National flag. It all looked so festive. In Malaysia it is traditional to have an Open House to which friends, family and neighbors are invited. When a member of government holds an Open House it literally means it is Open to everyone.. There is no pomp and ceremony. You arrive, eat and leave. Some people bring gifts of flowers and biscuits but there are no expectations.

The tables were set with lovely fresh white linen and there were many dishes to feed the masses. We were ushered into the inner chambers and into a lovely banquet room, furnished beautifully. The room was carpeted with a magnificent blue carpet and had huge blue chandeliers. The entire Family had arrived from all corners of the world and the wife was such a gracious hostess. She chatted easily and described some of the newer dishes she had included on the menu. She loves cooking and has written several cook books!

Malaysian food is HOT! I was very cautious taking just a little of this and a little of that. One of the safer dishes is satay which also has a little chili in the peanut sauce. The array of deserts was amazing including lovely fruit cake minus the alcohol....(whispered to me by the Hostess.) my photos are few and not that detailed but we decided not to appear rude by snapping away during this esteemed time. It really was fun and the memories of this day will be with me for many reasons!!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Back in Kuala Lumpur.

Fortunately Cathay Pacific is such a great airline with spacious seating, good food and excellent service as we had a very long haul from the States to Hong Kong. We had a five hour delaying H.K. and then caught our connection for the last leg, which was a three and a half hour journey arriving in Malaysia at five thirty in the morning on Monday morning? What happened to Sunday?

Poppie Warren is trying to watch the Olympics and read fairy tales to Joshua.

It is always lovely being back in K.L. and as Nick is in London at the Olympics, we were invited to stay in Glen Marie with Moira and Joshua.( and Tom Tom, the cat)
Joshua has no school until next month, so we have the privilege of having him full time. Joshie is "Thomas the tank engine" crazy and has at least four train tracks set up all over the house.

Joshua can name all and has many of the 63 " Thomas " family.
He wears "Thomas" pants, tee shirts, pyjamas, carries his trains in a Thomas bag and back pack. He eats off a "Thomas train" plate and watches Thomas on the iPad. I wonder what Rev Awdry would say if he was a fly on the wall? His son, Christopher, born in 1940, for whom the original stories were created, must be reaping the huge financial benefits of this phenomena! It is interesting to read that Christopher also wrote Thomas books and added a considerable number of books to the series.

It is that special time in the year for all Muslims and it is fun being in Malaysian to see the preparations for Hari Raya.

It is Ramadam for Malaysians, a time of fasting, and during the day the restaurants are empty but the shops are packed as people stock up with new household goods and lovely new outfits in preparation for Hari Raya next week. By 6:45 p.m. It is difficult to find a seat in any eating establishment, as families wait for the end of their day of fasting and can start eating again by 7:00. How to cope without even water passing your lips all day, in this never ending heat, is unimaginable!

Hari Raya, the day of celebration, marks the end of Ramadam and is known as Eid-ul- fitr in other parts of Asia. Last year, back home, I referred to Hari Raya, and my Muslim friend, Shawana, was puzzled by this reference, as unbeknown to me, the term "Hari Raya" is limited to Malaysia and Singapore.

The shops have generous sales on the go as it is traditional for everyone to end this period of abstinence, wearing new outfits and looking your best. For the family feasts that follow during Hari Raya, new linen, cutlery and crockery is purchased by those who can afford it. I love wondering through the shops at this time to see the amazing selection which is far fancier than I could ever imagine. This time is comparible in some ways to Christmas time for Christians!

The Malaysian women wear beautiful clothes including tudongs( head scarves) kept together with gorgeous brooches. The variety available is amazing and are several steps up from our "doeke".

Batik and beadwork features prominently in much of the clothing.

Pantries are filled with delightful treats to welcome guests at the Open House parties which will follow this time of fasting.

We are making the most of the two weeks we have left before we return to South Africa. I am dreading packing and trying to fit all my acquired goodies into my suitcase. Anyone have any requests before I leave? I am thinking of hiring a trailer to attach to the back of the plane!! So no problem.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Farewells, fun and more family fun!

It is time to bid our lovely family, farewell. We tend to keep these goodbyes low key and to rather focus on the good times we have enjoyed and the good times ahead. Time flashes by when fun is being had and the month in the states is just one example of that. Christopher and Diana are enjoying living in the states and are seeing as much of the country as possible! We thank them for being so good to us and allowing us to share some special times while we were there. Their three lovely children are a tribute to them and also to the quality time they put into their parenting. We are so proud of you!

Diana uses her gardening skills to grow tomatoes and other herbs in their small back garden. The children have been watching the progress of the tomato laden bushes just itching to pick them. Ben in particular could not wait to pull them off the bush. At last a few turned red and without any more waiting, were harvested for us to enjoy with our meal.

In the kitchen, the children often help with baking. I made a special apron and hat for Molly's last birthday and there is always a rush to see who can don the hat first and then the apron. I will add that I have made all the children African aprons but this pink set is the favorite. Maybe it is time to make Ben his own set then Ben need not be "Molly".

Benjamin Nelson turning three has given us lots and lots of laughs! He is a small packet of dynamite and does everything to keep up with his two sisters. Poor guy even tries to dress like them!

He and Dad have lots of fun together.

Hannah is the "Fashionista" of the family and spends much time choosing her outfit every day, brushing her hair and donning her tiara or her band. I referred to her hair band as an "Alice" band which is the term we used to use and she was curious why I would call it an Alice band. I too have learnt new words such as "rashies" (long sleeved swimming tops), "floaties" (swimming tubes) and sunnies. I guess we are never too old to learn!

Molly is the sweetest and kindest little girl ever and loves to play with her friends. She never sits still for long and loves to swing on the jungle gym, jump on the trampoline and do turns in the air!

She has a sweet tooth and just loves a treat or two.

They all have inherited good entrepreneurial skills like their father. He used to borrow capital to buy sweets and other necessities to sell at boarding school but somehow all the profits were eaten! The "beds" they are selling are actually beads!

Diana and I had loads of fun finding new quilting shops and buying just a little of this and that!

Times have changed and bring up children has taken on another dimension with all the techno things available. Ben, not yet three, has worked an I pad for some time and now and has his own. Molly and Hannh each have their own too which is necessary for the sake of peace in the home. They watch movies, do puzzles and games and other interesting things. Like it or not, this is the way the world is gong and instead of fighting it we go with the flow. The children have lots of books read to them and hopefully will be readers some day even if it is using a Kindle. They play lots, love their friends and go off with their parents on many wonderful excursions. What more can you wish for.

Thank you to our great family and also to their kind neighbors who made us so welcome. We loved our time with you and take away wonderful memories.xxxx

Friday, August 3, 2012

Russian River.

We woke up to a beautiful day and it was a golden opportunity to go on a day trip and enjoy a little more of California. It did not take long to pack up the car and set off for the Russian River. What a strange name for a river situated in California. With the GPS set, our tour leader Christopher armed with his Lonely Planet guidebook and our driver Diana, all geared up,we loaded the car and off we set!

Our destination was to drop in at Burke's Canoe Trips. It was great going through a few small American towns and farmlands and to see how the country folk live.

The magnificent vineyards, groves of Redwood trees and pine covered hills were most impressive. After a brief stop and run around we piled back into the car and went looking for....?

Wineries! There are several along the way and it was decided that we stop in at Korbel Champagne Cellars.

The ivy covered walls and beautiful gardens make it such a pleasant stop.


Of course the wine/champagne tasting was most welcome in the heat of the day. Mitch our assistant was a charming young man and served us delicious wines. I was thrilled to have a glass of Blanc de noir!!!! My favorite.

Mitch also told us about the best spot to stop off for our swim. Hilton "beach" here we come. The children were more than ready to head off.

Our clever navigating team found a lovely spot where we could park and make our way to the Russian River to swim and play. This is so strange for us as back in South Africa, we are always worried about crocodiles, bilharzia or malaria in our rivers and we don't often just park off and enjoy swimming.

The water was clean and shallow so it was possible for the children to swim and have fun.

Molly has a wonderful imagination and she created all sorts of wonderful activities, which kept her busy for hours.


The big children also had loads of fun too. As it would take us an hour and a half to get back to Piedmont, we had to set off for home while the sun was still high in the sky,so imagine the reluctance of three little people!! My conclusion after this excursion is that California is a beautiful state and there is still so much to see and do!!! Maybe we will come back one day!!!