Saturday, July 07, 2012

Changing Teams

I was thinking of changing football teams from ??? to North Melbourne.

The guy is Andrew Swallow and the absolutely filthy R immediately asked when I mentioned him,
'And does he?'. (you may have to think about that)
'Not a chance, he is married', I replied.
More mirth.

But now I am not so sure. Maybe Essendon might be a better choice. You should have seen Dyson Heppell tonight on the tv. He was wearing a slinky form fitting grey football top and as for his shorts, to misquote Patsy, 'buns so tight, they would bounce off the wall'.

I will ask the Essendon supporting Bone Doctor about the Essendon Football Club. She will answer with, 'Ok, who is he?'

Malaysia Day 1 & Day 2 Part 1

Our flight was at 9.30 and we left home in a cab at 6.30, which allowed plenty of time for contingencies. Even on a Sunday morning there a bank up of traffic at the airport. Check in took ages as did Immigration. Our airport really is crap. Are you hearing me Jule and Teddy? We ended up not having time for food or coffee and barely had time to get duty free spirits.

We had paid to select our seats and I am not sure what went wrong but our seats were awful and I can't imagine that we would have chosen non aisle window seats with a bulk head behind us and a panel intruding into the seat area of one. Although we had window seats, we did not have a window. Beside me, trapping us in, was a Malay girl who did not move from her seat for the whole trip. A couple of times we got up to stretch our legs etc. I think perhaps we looked at the wrong plane seating layout or they changed the plane to a different model.

It was the first time we had flown with Air Asia, and apart from our seat locations and the seats not being the most comfortable, the flight was fine and with some gained knowledge, I would certainly fly with them again.

Air Asia has a separate airport on the opposite side of the runways to the main Kuala Lumpur airport. It is known as LCCT, Low Cost Carrier Terminal. Malaysia is rather fond of acronyms. The main airport is known as KLIA, which I am sure you can work out.

The KLIA has a fast express train to KL Central Station but for us to use the train meant catching a bus from the LCCT to the KLIA and then catching the train.

Fortunately our local friend, who I will call Manny as that is close to what we call him, was there to meet us.

I better tell you a bit about him as he featured rather a lot during our visit. We came to know him via our ex NT politician/policeman. He is Chinese Malaysian and visits Melbourne a few times each year on business, pleasure and to see his 'special friend', a retired priest. He has his own business in KL that we suspect was funded by his late partner, a Dutch man who lived with his partner in KL. After meeting the Dutch guy, Manny moved in with both of them and helped care for his partner's partner who was slowly dying of diabetes related matters. Manny was young enough and strong enough to lift the guy from bed and get him into a chair, wheelchair or whatever. One year after the guy died, so did Manny's partner of a sudden heart attack in bed. Did Manny get an inheritance? Possibly. We don't know. Manny is very fond of older guys, like I mean 70 plus, hence the retired priest here in Melbourne. Some of his late Dutch partner's family live here in Queensland and he is well connected with them. By devious means, which I will mention later, we discovered Manny is 37. Never ask a woman or an Asian gay guy their age.

Manny was a wonderful and generous host in Malaysia. The only issue was, instead of us setting the pace, he did quite often.

Once we found each other at the airport, after another long haul to get our cases and clear immigration and customs,  Manny led us to his six month old Audi sports package car. How nice. We drove along the freeway to KL from the LCCT at quite a high speed. I noted the speed limit was 110 but we were going considerably faster. I suppose the trip took forty minutes from the airport to our hotel, the Dorset Regency.

Our check in was painless and we were happy with our 24th level room. Manny left us for a couple of hours and returned to pick us up. He took us around in his car to orient ourselves and at a monster shopping mall, we dined on local food at Madame Kwan's. Like a three year old, I was absorbing things left right and centre. I just read my note that dinner cost us $23 each, which included beer. Not especially cheap.

It was quite late when Manny dropped us back to our hotel. We slept well after a drink and an anaylisis chat about the day.


Manny had an appointment with a client in the morning but late afternoon he collected us. We filled in time by walking to the monorail station, catching the monorail to KL Sentral Station, which is not KL Station and buying train tickets for our return journey from Penang to KL.

This was the only time we saw anything like this in Malaysia but the water meters were very exposed in our hotel street Jalan (street) Imbi.

Wow, look, a monorail.What fun.

We fed money into a machine and we received a token to use the Mono Rail. The token was electronically read and opened barriers. At the end of our journey, the system swallowed our tokens. The fare was MR2.10 each, about 70 cents.

Cars and more cars. Malaysia is a car oriented country. Public transport is inadequate, even though millions seem to be being spent on it. However, the monorail is very well patronised. Unlike Sydney's, about to be pulled down, this one goes to useful places for local people. The end to end journey time would be about forty minutes. It seemed quite slow on our first trip but subsequent trips had it travelling at maybe forty km/h.

Our first sight of a temple.

The monorail intersects a light rail line but only very recently was an interchange built. We reached the monorail terminus at KL Sentral, the newish main KL rail station, except the monorail stopped ten minutes walk short of the station. Much work was still happening at the station and I expect the monorail will eventually be extended into the station. It make me wonder about what was going on here? I correctly guessed. Private companies with no obligation to the public to connect things up. The monorail went broke in 2007 and I think the government has taken it over. A lot of work is happening with monorail stations being extended to take longer and possibly new cars. After trudging through the streets of the new Little India, through the noise and dust of the works at the station, up an escalator, we were finally in the cool of the station. As you can see, there is quite a number of shops. What amused me about the directory was for left luggage, I assumed lost or stored, you go to Madam's Keeper. Getting our first class train tickets to travel from Butterworth to KL was quite easy and they cost RM47, about $15, which is not bad for a six hour train trip.

We returned to the Bukit Bintang station and felt the need for a bite to eat and a drink. It was very pleasant sitting at Bon Ton while watching the world pass.

We walked back to the hotel to freshen up and await the arrival of Manny to take us out. I guess 'lintas' means walk.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Malaysia non start

I saw her at my step father's funeral a couple of years ago. Her clothes were stunning. Her hair was expensively cut and coloured. I wondered who she was. Was she the neighbour? We took Mother home after the funeral and I her saw again out of Mother's lounge room window, walking her dog. Ok, she is mother's neighbour. I really did not know her at all.

When Mother moved to her house where she has lived for the last 35 years, her immediate neighbours were Des and Joan. Both were kind to Mother and helped often enough to get my siblings to to school or for medical appointments. Then Step Father came along and all got along well until Des and Joan separated. Des got stayed on and got himself a Filipina mail order bride. He chose well. They had a successful marriage and produced a high achieving daughter and all was good until he died.

As time went on after Step Father died, the widow next door and the newly widowed Mother became closer. After the break in, they became ever closer, checking on each other, looking for anything unusual but not being really friends. Why not friends? My mother is very old Australian. She was brought up with the words dago, Eyetalian and foreigner. Hang on, no that was me. But you get the gist. But whatever the racial differences, they were both widowed woman living next door to each other and supported each other.

Once home from our holiday I called Sister. Bone Doctor answered. After a brief chat, she said can I get your sister to call you back at a more convenient time? Ok, yes, 6.30 is a bad time to call, but I don't know their organisation and that dinner prep is underway. Bone Doctor only knows learned empathy. It is not natural to her.

Little Jo called back and then handed the phone over to Sister. R was on the receiving end and I noted something serious had happened.

R told me and then I spoke to Sister, but of course I had to call Mother and it was one hour conversation. Normally when talking to Mother the phone batteries go flat after twenty minutes, or the door bell rings, or someone calls on the other phone (I have a gesticulation to R to call me to make an audible phone ring). This time she and I needed to talk.

Mother's neighbour suicided in the bath.

She is Philippines born, a mail order bride, has a great daughter and son in law, still connected with her old Aussie style late husband's family, a working person at the very big south eastern hospital, not poor, has rich local Filipino friends and family back in the Philippines. She left a note. We don't know the contents. I met her a couple of times and I had one nice chat with her. But I knew her better because Mother often talked about her. I took her bins out for collections a couple of times because Mother suggested it

Essentially she was a successful person who took her life at the age of 63 and we don't know why. We are feeling a bit devastated about someone who we did not know well, but was such an integral associated part of our family history.

Later edit: I don't know if she was a mail order bride or she and her late husband met through some other avenue.

From the funeral, Mother learnt that she had a masters in teaching, was a chorister and theatre actor and later a fine karaoke performer.  She loved her dog, who Mother is giving love to. She kept her house well. There were two hundred people at her funeral. Mother and ABI brother attended and became teary. She was not really religious but it was a Catholic funeral.

Her daughter spoke a eulogy and remained composed until the very end. Her son in law was a mess.

If you are a seemingly well and functioning person, topping yourself is one of the cruellest things you can do to your family and friends.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

I have returned

This morning I have woken with condensation on the inside of my bedroom window instead of condensation on the outside of our hotel room windows. I am not sure how that works. Cold and dry inside in our hotel. Hot and steamy outside. Home is warm and dryish inside and cold and dry outside. Curious. (Exaggeration number one, there is no condensation on my window this morning, but sometimes there is, and I wrote this before going to bed)

Will you join me for my slide night of Malaysia? The best thing about my posts of Malaysia and the many photos is that they will get briefer as the days go on, if it follows the norm of my recounting of our holidays. I'll be over it before you will be.

Malaysia was not as we expected. I am not un-learned about foreign countries, but its sophistication  surprised me. I will probably focus on more of the negative and whingeing, and isn't that human nature? The positives I noted abounded and that is what surprised me.

But, I am very happy to be home. You will never hear me bragging about Australia and I won't stop complaining about things in Australia, however, at the end of the day, in the fullness of time, when the manure hits the fan or you are floating in a sewerage pond without a paddling implement, it is not such a bad place.

In Malaysia things work differently, but by and large, they work.

Btw, missed youse all. (Exaggeration number two. I still read what you wrote)