Tuesday, March 01, 2005

home :-)

I’m back! …and I’m brown…well, bits of me are, some bits are very brown, most bits are still very white!

Thanks are owing to the holiday gods, who smiled most beautifully on me, instead of 6 hours a day of business sessions, he ended up having a single 2 hour session on the Thursday! The socializing was not at all taxing, so it really did turn around, we had a lot of time alone together, exploring, shopping, talking, as well as the Singha beer and Singapore Sling drinking and catching up with friends and associates.

Suffice is to say, that Clapotis was tossed aside ( will pick her up again soon!) and only half a sock was knitted, during my ½ hour knitting and reading time on the promenade deck while Flash showered, very interesting social experiment…knitting on the boat, the young women, and quite a few men were fascinated with the 4 needle knitting, but there were lots of negative comments and looks from women over 40, which surprised me, they spoke as though it was something to be hidden, that the mere sight of me knitting in public somehow spoilt their morning walk…ah well, they didn’t have to put up with much of it!

We left Singapore on Sunday night, with much fanfare, and sailed overnight to Port Klang in K.L., went on a tour into K.L. saw the Two Towers, which were impressive, and spent a couple of hours in a shopping mall, sailed out that night bound for Patong beach Phuket, dinners on the boat were not great, the limitations of having to cater for 1800 passengers, but the other meals were good, the entertainment was fun, the staff were friendly. At Phuket we moored in the bay and went ashore by tender, fun in itself, we were greeted at the beach by children accepting the bags of clothes, toiletries and toys that we had brought with us for the “Carry for kids” charity, we took a photo of our wee girl, and many of the damage caused by the Tsunami, we hadn’t told out girls that we were going to an affected area, as we did not want them to fret, but we did tell them when we had returned safely, and showed them our photos of the destruction, and also the reclamation, and the efforts of the people to return to life as normal, I must say that it made us a lot less aggressive in the bargaining process! A friend and I had a great time tag-team shopping for a couple of hours, then we were joined by our husbands and spent the rest of the afternoon walking, then resting with a beer, walk, rest, walk, rest…and ended up in a beachfront restaurant, being entertained by a night festival held on the promenade, for the American navy, and our boatload, the people everywhere just kept saying “tell everyone it is safe here, we need the tourists back”. The second day in Phuket, Flash and I finished our shopping, and then lay on beach chairs soaking up the sun, there was no need to move, every five minutes someone would come down the beach selling ice creams, drinks, fruit, food, or we would motion to the beach chair owner, and he would bring us 2 Singhas for 100 Baht, 1/2 the price it was onboard, occasionally we would rouse ourselves and float around ( no heads under!) in the bath-warm water before retiring to our chairs and umbrellas again…bliss.
That evening we set sail again, this time for Penang…a colonial state, with the feeling that it is falling victim to the unstoppable jungle, we went on another tour, this one so much better than the K.L. tour, first the museum, then lunch, the Snake Temple ( me with the Pit Vipers, they were GORGEOUS! So muscly and warm…I wanted to pay them to let me play with them, but the bus wouldn’t wait) then ½ hour drive along hair-raisingly narrow, gorge bordering roads until we arrived at a small village, no flush toilets…but everyone had satellite TV.! Onwards to a fruit stand on the side of another narrow road, if the NZ’ers can imagine a fruit shop perched on the side of the upper reaches of Konini Road that was it! Selling masses of exotic fruit, cocoa pods, spices…I bought a couple of bottles of warm smelling nutmeg oil to help the itchiness of my eczema, clove oil for backache and sprains, nutmeg balm for insect bites, and tiger balm for the heck of it, gazed in wonder while a nearly toothless man cut open a fresh nutmeg fruit to reveal the blood red mace inside, and commiserated with him over the fact that I could not bring spices home with me…imagine dried, or roasted nutmegs by the kilo, cloves, star anise, mace, fragrantly aromatic, I could have remained for hours, so spellbound was I…jeepers if someone had handed me a couple of snakes I could have set up camp there…but it was time to move on, to the batik factory, where I learnt the meaning of the term “sweatshop” beautiful Muslim girls in full veils and long clothes, laboring under a tin roof, in 34 degree heat plus the heat from the wax stoves, creating beautiful fabrics…Flash couldn’t resist a cerise tablecloth with butterflies and hibiscus flowers, I agree it looks good here, and the girls understand the work that went into its creation, sadly we returned once again to the bus, the boat and a fond farewell to Penning, 2 days in Singapore, ( yippee a king size bed! We had twin singles on the boat, the Love Boat it was not)
Avoided expensive Singapore by trolling the Chinatown market stalls for trinkets for the children, a beer in the Long bar at Raffles for old times sake, and dinner with friends at Clarke Quay. All in all a lovely trip, exotic surprises and much needed couple time. We have already started saving to take the kids to Phuket, or Bali, after returning home to NZ for a week of course!

I did not suffer from travelers tummy whilst away, despite the best efforts of the German chef, and the seemingly boatloads of prawns and satay I devoured (gained 3 kg though…) however, went out for pizza with my parents last night, and felt icky all day today…which also happened to be my first in my new job…luckily I managed to make it to 5 pm without letting on, and have collapsed into bed, no tummy symptoms yet…fingers crossed. The job looks good, the people are lovely, and I am sure I will settle in in no time. I am still slightly surprised to have been handed a management position with little experience in this area, but the boss is positive that I have what it takes, I’ll just accept her faith, and look forward to learning heaps.