emspace thoughts

What's floating around in Em's brain today?

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Penang Paradise

Ah the joys of KL - shopping heaven, cheap internet and TVB series on the hotel TV.... what more could I ask for? Oh and a super cheap hawker centre "Dai Pai Dong' across the road from the hotel that sells Chicken Rice for the price of a can of coke back home. I could stay here forever, but I don't think my bank manager would be too happy if I did. Shame....

Anyway, here's the next instalment in my holiday diary of the few days we spent in the island paradise of Penang. Again the local hospitality shown by my friend Mei Wah and her husband Au was second to none as they insisted on showing us around and paying for all the food whilst we were out. Big big thank yous to you both!!

Day 5 - After wandering around what is the shopping mall posing as an airport that is Changi, the departure hall for domestic flights at KL International Airport (KLIA) was pretty poor in comparison. Hopefully the international departure hall will be much better, but will find out on Friday evening when we head home. Finally arrived at the hotel in Penang at around ten o'clock pm and we were absolutely gobsmacked. For less than the price of a room in a travelodge back home, we had a suite that comprised of a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom with a huge bed in it, TWO balconies looking out onto the sea and a hotel that has a beach as a back garden. We quickly got settled in and had a meal in the hotel restaurant that was SO CHEAP but still very very nice. A late night stroll on the beach ended the day and our first taste of Malaysia left us very excited.

Day 6 - In true Brit style, we went sunbathing. In even truer Brit style, we got sunburn..... living in a cold country for so long has left our skin rather vulnerable to the strong Malaysian sunshine, so instead of going brown, we went a rather lobster shade of pink. (The pain has paid off though as we have now turned a nice shade of golden brown that would make any tanorexic back home rather proud!) Met up with MW in the evening and visited the night markets in Batu Ferrenghi, home of the fake LV bag, bootleg cds and lots of lovely knick-knacks and souvenirs. Didn't buy much, but it was a nice walk and good to finally meet MW after writing to each other for over ten years!

Day 7 - Took a cab for a round island tour, checking out the snake temple, kek lok si temple and a few other touristy sites. The heat was getting to us though, so we just took things easy. Met up with MW again in the evening for some more sites and then an introduction to Malaysian shoporama before a 'real' hawker meal in Penang's Gurney Drive. Quite an experience, but as MW says, you haven't been to Penang without experiencing the hawker food in Gurney.

Day 8 - Started with a Dim Sum meal in a proper Cantonese restaurant. The Cantonese influence here isn't that great so it hasn't been easy to find somewhere that does it the authentic way.... or maybe we weren't looking hard enough. Anyway, it was very nice and at a third of UK prices, we enjoyed it that little bit more. Then we went shopping, but we were kinda saving ourselves for KL so we did more window shopping than anything else. Watched a HK movie (ONE POUND FIFTY!!!) before meeting with MW again in the evening and taking the ferry over to Butterworth to see the mainland after of course more hawker food, but this time with a seafood theme.

Day 9 - Said goodbye to Penang as we started our last leg of the trip and headed out for KL. Our farewell lasted a little longer than expected as our plane was stuck at the airport for an extra hour with a technical fault and we were all made to stew in the Penang heat as we waited on the plane with no aircon.... not very nice. Finally arrived at KL in the evening, to be welcomed by a tropical downpour, but the sight of the shadow of the twin towers amid the mist of the rain gave me a very positive feeling about this city. After catching up on some rest at the hotel which again is in a great location and very comfortable, we went out to meet Jo, who again has shown us the warm SE Asian welcome and took us on a drive around the city and the suburbs at night.

Day 10 (already!) - Shopping....... shopping...... eating..... shopping..... shopping.....eating....... shopping..... yes I like KL!

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Thursday, March 25, 2004

Snippets of Singapore

I have a little time here at Changi Airport as I wait for the plane to Kuala Lumpur and Penang, so after a wander around the many Duty Free shops here, I thought I'd just update my blog with what I have been up to, just in case amnesia strikes in the next few days.

Firstly I have to give a big shout out and THANK YOU to lepra for being a great ambassador to her country and very kindly showing us the sites over the last few days! We really appreciate it and I don't think the trip would have been as enjoyable without you! If you ever decide to visit the UK, despite all our horror stories, then we will definitely return the favour!

As for what we have been up to:

Day 1 - Straight off the plane and after a short nap at the hotel, we carried out jet-lagged bodies out for a long walk along the riverbank and down to Chinatown where we visited the Chinatown Heritage Centre and an Indian Temple. I ended up looking like a lobster in the sun and socks would have been a good idea. Managed to soak in some great sights and sounds and smells of Singapore life. In the evening after another short nap, we discovered the MRT and went for a walk in an underground shopping passage that links City Hall to the Suntec Centre - a great way to escape the early evening showers and stay in the aircon until our bodies get more accustomed to the heat. Woken up at 3am by our stomach alarms that were stuck in UK time and had to root around for something to eat.

Day 2 - Talk about jam-packed! Decided to tackle the Jurong Bird Park, Haw Par Villa, Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari all in one day.... it was gruelling, it was hot and sweaty but it was great fun! Saw loads of weird and wonderful animals and birds in the open environment that Singapore likes to present them. Also savoured the best of Singapore's fast food as we ate mainly McDonalds and KFC all day, but that's all we got at the tourist attractions! Can't be that bad as even the peacock outside the zoo decided to join us for our KFC meal as it stalked up to lepra and decided that it wanted a share of her leftovers! Fed the mosquitos with my legs whilst watching the baboons at the zoo and also during the night safari, but they aren't too bad - thank goodness for dettol cream!

Day 3 - Toned down the pace a little and headed out to Orchard Road today for some shopping. Saving ourselves for spending in KL really though, so just had a laugh at some of the designer prices and wandered around some CD shops. Met up with an old uni friend and his lovely wife in the evening and went for a lovely seafood meal of Chilli Crab, Cereal Prawns and 'Elephant Trunk Conch'. So good to catch up with WL again after so many years. Uni life seems like such a distant memory...

Day 4 - Checked out and decided to explore the shopping centre that is Changi airport before we wave goodbye to Singapore.... and find a PC where I can actually read my emails! Hahaha - just can't keep me away from my online addiction!

More soon!

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Saturday, March 20, 2004

Excited excited excited..............

Wrapped up all my work and put on my "Out of Office Assistant" on my emails at work...
Said goodbye to my colleagues and office for two weeks... (They are really jealous! Hehehehee!)
Packed my case today with all my summery clothes and dug out my sandals, swimming costume and flip flops....
Got our passports, plane tickets, money and documents all ready....

Just have to tidy the house and leave it in a presentable state before we fly out.
Thirty four hours and counting.... Forty seven if you count the flight...

Solar Airways - eat your heart out!


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Four days to go and starting to get excited now... I SO need a holiday right now!
Rang up Singapore Airlines Manchester office to try and get my hubby some extra legroom, the call was pretty fruitless and I was rather surprised at the attitude of the agents on their phonelines - not very customer focussed at all. Maybe working in a contact centre I am more sensitive to these things, but when people are spending hundreds and thousands of pounds on your products, the least I would expect is a little more courtesy. I was made to feel like I was doing something wrong by calling them up with a request. Hopefully it's just the people in the UK offices who are like this and the airline and airport staff are a little friendlier...

Been on a bit of a "Lady Fan" marathon these past few days. Okay, it's not really on a par with the classic "General Father, General Son" stuff, but the bonding between the characters makes it quite pleasant to watch and strangely compelling. Of course I have to show some support to Mimi, who considers me a friend and replies to my emails! I was glad to hear she had fun making the series and there was cheesecake a-plenty on the set! Mmmm.... cheesecake!
*Em does Homer impression*

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Monday, March 08, 2004

Oh well, looks like the frog job's frazzled into thin air again.... why do they put jobs out for you to apply, only to be told two weeks later that they aren't actually recruiting for the position after all. Oh well, with a departmental reshuffle on the horizon, then maybe there is hope for me still. Keep on plodding along and see what comes out in the wash.

Anyway, I don't care 'cos I am counting the days until I go on my hols. My order for some foreign currency from the bank arrived today so it's making it all seem so real. Thing is about other countries' money, it always seems like monopoly money. Wouldn't know if it was real or not...

Well it looks a bit like these pics so here's hopin'! Hee hee hee...

What can I buy with one of these?

Been watching Net Deception these past couple of days - getting into it. Story about hackers n stuff, nice twist for TVB storylines and Wong He is quite a charismatic actor, despite his spots.

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Saturday, March 06, 2004

Don't ask me why, but for some reason I always tune into watch Spongebob Squarepants on a Saturday morning when I am at home before I start doing anything constructive.

Went on a works do yesterday with some colleagues to Mumtaz - it claims to be the biggest and best Indian restaurant in the UK and pretty impressive it was. I'm not really one for hot food, but it was a nice night and I really enjoyed the food, coriander et al. Shame we had to wait two hours for the food, but I think most of that was down to my colleagues not arriving on time. As the restaurant prohibits alcohol, it goes to prove that you can have a good time in the UK without the presence of beer and wine.... no-one threw up, no-one was rowdy, no-one ended up embarrassing themselves in public. How refreshing!

On the way home, (the restaurant is about 30 miles away - long trek just for food) we met with a really thick fog over the Pennines and it was really spooky. Trust my hubby and my friend to start talking avidly about horror movies as we drove home... not funny.

Ah well, Spongebob's finished... better go and do my chores and try out our new vacuum cleaner!

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Monday, March 01, 2004

Em's Jolly Jaunt 'daarn sarf'

Just come back from a rather tiring, but extremely enjoyable weekend to visit my sister-in-law down south and utilise the generous offer of a free first class train ticket that Virgin Trains very kindly sent me. The generosity continued as my brother-in-law took us to London to go and watch "Mamma Mia" in the West End - a musical based around the songs of ABBA. I love going to the theatre and this show was great fun, lots of jokes and some great cheesy song and dance!

When I met up with a friend in London for lunch, she arrived carrying what looked like a pizza box in a Harrods carrier bag. On closer inspection, she had bought us a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts (as recommended by Hayley) because she found them irresistable and suggested I tried them. So we spent the day carrying them around and everywhere we went, from the American woman in the Trocadero who asked us where we got them from to the attendant in the theatre were all drooling over our box of famous doughnuts. When we got them back to the house, they were a little bashed, but we were all eager to try them out. We're not really lovers of sweet stuff, but there was something quite nice about these doughnuts!

The weather was gorgeous on the train journey home so I took a little time away from eating my cute little first class snack box and looked out of the window to admire the great British countryside. Hey, they weren't far wrong when they wrote 'this green and pleasant land...."!