Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Life, Viewed As An Adventure

Backstreets of Johor Bahru
Our third week here in JB began with an excursion out of town thanks to Chee Heng. Before setting out along the highways, he took us to eat breakfast at an old Chinese cafe, Hua Mui, where the food is transported upstairs via a tray on a rope and pulley system. This place was pretty popular - we waited for over an hour for our food! We learnt that the letter 'C' written after beverages on a menu means 'with milk'. Rene tried drinking 'Cham' which is a surprisingly tasty blend of coffee and tea. The best part about eating out in Malaysia is the affordability of it all - with our exchange rate we simply divide the listed price by three to get Australian dollars.
Check out the prices!! So cheap!
Full of oily goodness, we drove out to Kota Tinggi waterfall for a swim with hundreds of other locals. The waterfall itself was quite nice and the water seemed clean enough so we had a splash around under the waterfalls and relaxed in fast-flowing rock pools. The rocks were quite slippery though and poor Chee Heng fell over twice! Interestingly, the local waterside fashion seems to be that women wear normal day clothes - not revealing their stomach or cleavage but some leg seems OK. Men wear normal shorts and only some go topless. Rene and I were the only patrons wearing swimming costumes. There were plenty of cute kids for me to get all clucky over as they swam around looking all cute and innocent! 
Sailbirds chillin' by the waterfalls in Johor, Malaysia.
Swimming at Kota Tinggi waterfalls with Chee Heng.
Our favourite fruit this week is Langsat. Similar to the Duku but larger. Inside the firm skin is fleshy segments reminiscent of a Lychee. Our favourite food this week was... CHEESE! We opted in to a buying group in the marina (organised by the lovely Liz) and ended up with 2 Camemberts and Blue Cheeses! After most of the year without such delicacies, we binged out on dairy bliss.
Yummy local Langsat fruit
Nick and Jan from Yawarra 2 left for Langkawi but before they set off we had some fun times with them:
- A meal at a local restaurant (the not-so-serene walk to and from is alongside a noisy, scary highway) where we all ate delicious banana splits for dessert.
- Watching a marina resident sing old songs with his wife at the Italian restaurant. I had a go at dancing the twist and Rene ended up side stage playing the bongo drums. We only knew a couple of the songs but everyone else was singing along (another instance of being about 20++ years younger than 90% of the cruising community).
- Drinking more Rum and lime cocktails / red wine at sunset.
- Delicious lamb curry farewell dinner ended with a few games of Rummicub and an amazing tart( that I need the recipe for Jan).
- Jan helped me get rid of a big pile of books, some of which I'll give to the library here. Nick helped Rene plan a shower area for us - it's all still in the planning stage but it's very exciting to think we might be able to shower soon!!
We already miss their company. Having family close was special and we look forward to seeing them again soon.
Tosai for breakfast with Nick and Jan.
Rene joined the job searching and is looking into an exciting opportunity in Sydney. I'm still trying to find something suitable in Singapore but keep hitting this wall: 'We invite Singaporeans, Singapore Permanent Residents and Malaysians to apply'. 
I found a perfect job but was too late! I'm still looking and haven't given up yet though we're starting to discuss working further afield and leaving Anima here (if we can't find anything in the next 2 months).

On Anima I continued cleaning the waterline which was a disgusting smear of stubborn dark green slime. Rene re-marked and end-for-ended our anchor chain. We're experimenting with using rip stop instead of cable ties (the old ones had almost all broken off) to mark each 5 metre length. I culled more of our books, stationary and clothes - we still have more than we need!
Sweaty work scrubbing the waterline.
Marking the chain on deck.
After a week of trying to call Sim Lim Square company, ComLab, to repair Rene's laptop, we decided to take a more proactive approach by visiting them in person. Our Belgian friends accompanied us for the trip across to Singapore (another 3 hours of waiting in queues, buses and trains). This time I boycotted waiting around SimLim getting bored and annoyed and instead went exploring on my own. I got off the MRT at City Square and walked up into the splendour of Raffles City. This elegant mall is full of all the big names like Rolex, Guess, Gucci etc. I wandered through the pristine centre lined with purple flowering orchids admiring the extravagant window displays until I came to a small art gallery. Ode To Art showcases a small but quality range of contemporary Asian and famous international artists. I enjoyed the whimsical paintings by French artist Christain Pendelio but what gave me goosebumps was seeing Dali's 'Space Elephant' sculpture! My first real Dali!! I wasn't allowed to take photos but I managed to sneak one picture at the entrance.
Dali's scultpure is just under the black board covered in white writing.
In an effort to drink real coffee (so much coffee here is powdered) I stopped in at Starbucks - another first. I've always boycotted this global chain in an effort to support smaller, local businesses. The cafes patrons were almost all white (many Americans) and I realised why when I forked over S$6 (which is more than I paid for a massive lunch). As I sat in a comfy couch, listening to classical music and watching people come and go, I tried not to feel too guilty for finally succumbing to Starbucks (the coffee was good but had too much froth).
MRT station or a metaphor for life?
Zinging with caffeine, I zipped across to Bugis on the MRT and explored the Fu Lu Shou complex. At its entrance, a room full of golden statues of Buddha and related icons beckons with so much gold!! People were praying and making offerings and I was respectfully trying to photograph the splendour.
This Buddha has a lollipop!
Singaporean man praying amongst so much gold!
Upstairs I found a hairdresser at 'Jasper' who assured me she could cut short, curly hair and for $15, I agreed to try. I'm really happy with the result! Better than my $10 haircut in Bali!!
Stylin' it with Lily, the hairdresser.
Ren and I met for a cheap, delicious lunch before heading out to Bugis Street Market to buy him a backpack. This place is packed full of small stalls selling cheap jewellery, clothes, bags and watches. It was pouring rain so we decided to catch a movie (our first in over 4  months). TinTin was screening. We had both avidly read the comics as youngsters so it was with some trepidation that we sat down (would they ruin it?). We needn't have worried as Steven Spielberg has done a fantastic job of converting the comic to the 3D movie. For some bizarre reason, the air conditioning in Singapore is set freakishly low. Watching the film became an act of endurance and survival. I lost feeling in some of my fingers, my teeth started chattering uncontrollably and my whole body was racked with shivers! (I'm not exaggerating here either!!). It was a relief when the film ended and we could emerge into the balmy evening to thaw out. I got to laugh with the other (Singaporean) patrons who were all also shivering and rubbing their arms as we exited in a hurry.
Trying to capture the bustle of Bugis Street Market.
Miraculously Rene's laptop was fixed by the evening (amazing what a bit of face-to-face communication can achieve) and while he collected it, I immersed myself into the crowds of Bugis once again. It's a little strange that the fashion boutiques don't allow their clothes to be tried on or refunded. But, it's all so cheap I guess that if you don't fit what you've bought, it's no great loss. I bought a cotton long sleeve shirt to wear in Malaysia (to cover my bare arms in an attempt to stop getting stared at) but of course, it doesn't quite fit me!

Crowded buses are normal here in Malaysia. Rene is trying to ask the price which seems to change daily. Notice all the staring??
So rather than feeling sorry for myself that our plans of easily finding highly paid employment in Singapore haven't worked out (yet), I've been concentrating on living my life with the spirit of adventure. Standing in overcrowded buses, not understanding what people say to me / not being able to communicate, or find simple groceries and eating foods I didn't expect or enjoy are all part of the adventure and joy of living in another country.

The grass so green, the sun so bright, life seems a dream, no worries in sight. Random shop window in Singapore.


  1. COOL photos Cerae! Especially the escalator one and the last one....!! Fingers crossed with whatever directions you guys will take and keep on enjoying your days over there!! Can't wait to join you guys!!!!!

  2. Reading this made me remember so many experiences from living in China and travelling through asia. Glad you're enjoying it and remember, they're staring 'cause you're different and interesting. Not 'cause they hate you!