Saturday, November 26, 2011

Two Decisions Made...

Number 1. 
I have paid for and started an online TESOL course to learn how to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages. I enjoy learning and wanted to be stronger at teaching (and understanding) grammar. The skills will be useful regardless of where we end up. My sister (who is a total grammar Nazi) has already started testing me and giving me pointers of what to expect. There's so much I take for granted being a native speaker!! 

Number 2. 
Regardless of whether or not Rene is successful in his Sydney job, we know that Anima requires some work on the hardstand. She is due for another anti foul and in desperate need of a makeover for her topsides. There are a few spots of minor rust on deck that we want to get on top of and we want her to look pretty too. The big question is, should we keep the green? We could just go white all over or have a stripe in a different colour... 

The Usual.
So. With two decisions made, suddenly our lives whirred into action! Jobs that we kept putting off got ticked off the lists and longer lists were written. Rene changed the engine oil (Anima's engine has done over 300 hours since last change in Townsville). We finally bought more diesel (the seller visits the marina twice weekly at around 3pm we were always too early or too late before) and filled up our tank and jerry cans.
We spent ages online trying to find the most affordable method of buying Jotun anti foul paint and enamel topside paint. Rene had the joy of trying to communicate by phone to various sellers who didn't really speak English at all. I got lucky and only ever spoke to people who could communicate quite well! It has taken many phone calls and emails but I think we've ended up with the best deal. I tried to pressure wash all of our sheets (ropes) which are going green in the humidity here but the borrowed machine just refused to work for me. I continued to chuck out more stuff and wrote endless lists.

Interestingly, once we'd made the decision to leave Danga Bay I started to enjoy it more! The town of Johor Bahru seemed more exciting and the marina seemed less dead. We've spoken a little about the possibility of putting Anima on the market if we need to move off her in order to work for a long period. This prospect has also influenced me in a similar manner: I'm finding it more exciting and less of a drag. Paradoxically, I seem to get stuck in the now (funny when I'm also stuck in the future too), thinking that it will always be like this and not satisfied with that prospect. So my blog post from a couple of weeks ago about living life as an adventure is really the attitude that creates the most enjoyment for me. Now, if only I could remember to always have this philosophy!!

The Sultan of Johore had his birthday and on the public holiday a huge free party was held for him at a nearby sports ground. We went along (spur of the moment) and had a different experience. It wasn't exactly amazing. It was crowded, confusing, hot and the thousands of locals were all there just for the free food! Watching women stuff piles of free cake, fried chicken, satay and roti's into their bags was a bit much. Rene gallantly fought through massive crowds, having to fend off gangs of people pressing into him, just to get a cup of red liquid that might have had some water in amongst the sugar. 
Local family. The little girl wanted my earrings.
Local newspaper journalists who interviewed me.
I was interviewed by a local journalist by Gidi and her friend and spoke my mind about the event (will I be thrown out of the country?). We saw a few dances, watched on by armed guards with binoculars and guns. Some of the locals were also watching and I met a nice family because their four year old daughter kept trying to touch my earrings. Mostly, the locals were there for the free food. It was like a pig feeding trough - I guess it's the same in most countries.
The Sultan and his wife. Their photograph is in nearly every building here.
The new Sultan of Johor
Sultan's birthday celebrations. Can you see the armed guards on the clock tower?

In amongst the organisation of getting ready to leave Danga Bay to haul out of the water, we worked at applying for more jobs. Rene put in many hours to making the best application possible for his dream job in Sydney. I put in minimal hours to apply for a couple of positions in Singapore that I doubt I'll get because I'm not a Singaporean. The jobs were pretty cool though: one was an internship at MTV-Asia in the film production area and another was as a curriculum writer/developer for the Health Promotion Board.

I also put on my brave face and visited a local dentist here in JB. I went to UDental in Jalan Indah because it was on the list of suggested businesses the marina gave us.
For the record - my teeth!
We continued to be harassed by mosquitoes much to our frustration. We've tried almost everything and they still manage to get in!! One day I came home to Rene locked inside Anima with FOUR mosquito coils burning, inside! The place looked like it was on fire. Our latest tactic is to string up a mosquito net at our companionway and lock all other windows and hatches (luckily we've got aircon). Somehow they are still making their way inside - the bastards! 
Swathed in mosquito protection.
Malaysian Moments captured on film
The signs that surround the Museum and Sultan's palace are worth noting for the seriousness of the message they portray. Coming from a peaceful country, I'm still not used to seeing armed guards at normal places like shopping centres or public events.
Don't enter or you will be shot in the back of the head!!!
I've already mentioned a few times how sugar seems to be added to almost everything here, especially drinks. Last night at a local Arab restaurant, Rene's drink (Rose flavoured) was so sugary that I had to capture it. 
SUGAR hit anyone?
Locals fishing off a pier were made all the more interesting for the woman's attire. She wore heels a short skirt and handbag. Not exactly the typical fishing gear!
Locals fishing in Johor Bahru.
(please note: slightly negative rant follows)
Johor Bahru (JB) is a strange, busy place. It is very car centred. Last year there was a high incidence of bag-snatching (often resulting in injury to the snatchee) and so almost everyone here drives around with their car doors (automatically) locked. Motorbike riders wear their jackets and bags over their front and barely anyone walks or rides bicycles.
There are usually no footpaths and if walking, the pedestrian is forced to walk along the busy road, jumping up onto the edge of deep, mostly uncovered drains to dodge large vehicles. I never really feel totally safe in JB. When walking to various shops/markets/bus stops etc. I feel vulnerable - an obvious easy target. Due to my ravishing Australian/Irish/English looks, I tend to stand out in Asia!!

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