Everyday I daydream about diving. It’s an obsession with me. I spend countless hours reading online blogs on diving (good thing I don’t have a job anymore!), searching for the best (cheapest) places to get certified – if the place has amazing beaches that doesn’t hurt either.
As you may remember I flew into Malaysia on the 18th of January 2013, which means I have been in the country for about a month now. I booked my one-way ticket to Bali for the 2nd of March, by which time I will have been in Malaysia for 6 weeks, and I still have loads more to see, considering that about 4 ½ weeks out of the 6 have been spent in Melaka! Obviously the things you do when you are in a place for a bit longer differ to the things you do when you are travelling all the time.
A typical day now begins with waking up around 10am and having breakfast. Depending on the weather, Ying’s work schedule and our moods, Ying and I sometimes have breakfast together, sometimes going next door, or sometimes venturing further afield for that perfect breakfast of chicken rice balls (for me) and egg and rice (for Ying, the vegetarian).
The next morning (why!!!), after a delicious breakfast of a fresh bun stuffed with lotus seed paste (yes, we used Google translate for that one), it was time to drive around visiting family, which meant visiting the small village about 20 minutes out of town that Ying’s family originally came from. Ying explained that the poorer people lived in this area, and that a lot of foreign workers, hailing from poor countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma) lived there.
As it was a public holiday, we saw loads of people out and about, from Bangladeshis playing a game of cricket, to Indonesian men strolling around holding hands (in Islamic countries same-sex handholding and hugging is a sign of platonic affection. Any public displays of romantic affection are strictly forbidden, and of course homosexuality is illegal, with a stint in jail if you’re lucky, the death penalty if you’re not).
As we did the rounds from one uncle’s house to the next, we were force-fed more treats and tea, got a visit from the ‘Prosperity Man’ – kinda like Santa, except he gives you fake ancient coins (that are shaped like an emperors hat) that are supposed to bring you prosperity in the new year.
After arriving in Muar, we ate a massive dinner of leftovers from the large CNY Eve Lunch we had missed out on, and after that spent a few hours blasting firecrackers and lighting sparklers, and watching as people all around us let off loads of illegal fireworks, smuggled in from China. One of my favourites was a fire cracker that sounded like an automatic machine-gun, it just gave such a gangland atmosphere to the area. We were force-fed lots of special CNY treats and chrysanthemum tea, and were told that the later we stayed up, the longer and more prosperous life our parents would have (so Mum and Dad are going to live to about 150 years old and be billionaires – the things I do for you people).
Dear Loyal Readers
Welcome to another epic, and this time I have good news – I’m not going to rant about anyone in this email (even the kids that stole my Yukult from the fridge – it makes me feel like I’m back home). Instead I’m going to make some of you very jealous, and make my mum shake her head as she realises that all her lessons in being a guest go out the window when visiting a Chinese family. I mean, get this – they give YOU presents! But more on that later – let’s go back and start at the beginning.
Yes, I know I fell off the grid for a while, which I apologise for. I feel like lots of things have happened to me since the last email I wrote. I was delayed in sending the last one because I wanted to make a little photo film, with music and everything. It worked, but ended up being over 7MB, which I know a few of you wouldn’t have appreciated (despite the awesome MGMT soundtrack). Also I was just really procrastinating (although I did manage to suspend my domestic health insurance, so that was good). So are you ready for a super long email about the Cameron Highlands and everything I did there? If so, I may have to disappoint you. Basically all I did there was hiking (I know right – who would have thought), drink a lot of Chang (Thai beer) and cheap Gin and then eat my weight in Roti Canai (more my style). I met a bunch of awesome people, and some who were not so awesome.