Leaving homeOctober 12, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C
We’re off. 😊
We’re off. 😊
It was great spending the evening with Jessica, Chris, Toby and Lorna last night. Thanks and apologies to Toby and Lorna for the early start.
At least it’s dry and still. The underground is surprisingly busy for 7:15 on a Sunday morning. We were expecting a carriage to ourselves but there were very few seats free and it filled as we travelled closer to Earls Court. We guess they were travelling to a half marathon as someone had a number on their shirt saying that. Lots of trainers! Bun tells me I mustn’t take a picture down the carriage 😞Read more
It’s 19:44 on Sunday evening UK time, 2.44 am Malaysian time, so just over halfway through the flight. On my left Bun is watching “The Greatest Showman”. On my right a rather large passenger has his blanket pulled over his head in a poor attempt to be a ghost. At least it muffles his snoring, especially if I push the blanket into his open mouth.
Two people sent me an amusing card depicting my seat on the plane - a photo is attached. Amusing at the time, reality is far worse, not one small crying child but a party from a kindergarten surround me. Then there’s the snoring, the incessant talking etc. The worst person is Mr Sneezy behind and to my left - YES YOU (- I’m sure he can read this through the gap in the seats.). He started by discovering he had a squeaky seat so spent a good time jumping up and down on it like a small child with ADHD. Then I think he waitedy for when I stopped watching a film and fell asleep, he then developed flu. A 6 gun salute of un-stifled sneezes followed with a light shower of mist landing on my head. Shuddering at that experience, he then followed up with many Walt Disney Jungle book like Colonel Hathi trumpets as he blew his nose. This woke the kindergarten who then started crying, but failed to wake the several people snoring. Within 30 minutes I could feel my sinuses blocking and my nose running. Feeling a sneeze coming on, I jumped over the ghoul next to me and locked myself in the toilet so as not to disturb anyone. Had the toilet been engaged I would have only been left with the option of going to the rear of the plane and throwing myself out rather than disturbing anyone ... well that’s just good manners along with compulsory catheterisation for anyone who isn’t sat in an aisle seat.
We loaded in time for an 11 am departure, only to be told that air traffic control had told the pilot there would be a delay of an hour. Never mind, the hostesses broke out the emergency 3 gram packs containing 8 half peanuts. I can only think that this was to keep the hostesses entertained while 4 passengers went into anaphylactic shock and required Adrenalin. 45 minutes later we were informed that the plane had now developed a technical fault and an engineer was on the way to sort it. We weren’t told that it was resolved, maybe the pilot grew tired of waiting for the AA, but we were pushed back shortly after 12:15. One problem with Heathrow being so close to the M25 is that pilots can take the wrong turning and accidentally join the M25 near the junction with the M4 and gett caught in the motorway traffic. We then experienced the longest taxi ever, at least twice around the M25. At one point I thought we might be departing from Gatwick.
Well we are on our way. One meal and a pack of sandwiches into the flight I must admit I’m a bit peckish. I won’t ask for a decaf coffee again as it took 45 minutes to arrive, by which time I was asleep, so I was woken and made to drink it because of the effort the hostess had gone to get it for me.Read more
Arrived at G’ma Jan’s (Bun’s stepmother) on the outskirts of KL. Hot and humid. A day for staying awake and eating the local food. We went to a local shopping mall for lunch and supplies from a supermarket. We all ate Nasi Lemak for lunch plus a bowl of fruit rojack, (rojack means “mix”, Jan told us that it is also used to refer to mixed marriages or mixed race). The fruit rojack contained pineapple, turnip, mango and cucumber all covered with a strong, sweet tasting sauce containing shrimp paste along with a deep-fried poppadom-looking crispy thing. Strange bedfellows, but it works. Bun drank a hot lime with assam (salted plumb) which probably contained a bag of sugar to counteract the lime and salt.
We went home for a brief nap during which time there was a 90 minute electric storm that took the electric out 4 times. Thunder rumbled throughout the storm. I love electrical storms but Bun isn’t too keen on them.
Dinner was at an old outdoor medan selera (food court). Unfortunately, what should have taken 30 mins to drive, took about 90 mins and someone the stalls had already closed by the time we arrived. However, plenty of selection remained. We are fortunate in that Bun spent the first 12 years of her life in Malaysia and we have always had Bun’s father and stepmother as a guides when buying street food. While the visible hygiene has improved over the years, the environment probably puts off a lot of visitors who either stick to hotel food or international chains and miss out on what we consider to be the tastiest, most freshly cooked and value for money food that we come across anywhere. It was interesting to see the “medan selera” concept being created at a number of locations in London. Off to bed, it’s been a long day since 6:15am Sunday morning. Next door are having an e tension built and the workmen will be starting at 8:00. Goodnight.Read more
Although the day was quite overcast, the temperature was over 30c in the morning. It felt very humid, but the weather app says it’s only about 70%. The beauty of gardening here is that everything grows really well. Last time we were here we helped with re-potting a plant. The process was simply to tip it out of the pot, hack most of the roots off with a large cleaver and then re-pot with fresh soil. The climate does the rest and everything grows almost despite what is done to it.
During the morning the Olive-Backed Sun Bird appeared on the ornamental ginger plant. Only about 4 inches (12cm ) long, looking a bit like a large humming bird with its long beak for getting nectar from flowers. While it can hover to collect food, this one just sat to drink from the ginger flowers.
The dessert after lunch was a selection of fruit - Pineapple, Guava, Water Melon and Papaya. The small dishes contain salt and assam powder. Assam is a Malay word for dried sour plumbs. 5 a day - easy.
The afternoon storm was not as spectacular as yesterday’s but I love sitting outside watching it.
1-Utama is a large shopping mall containing many eating places. 5 floors and 1,000m long it’s a good place to get in some paces. The mall prides itself on being Malaysia’s “first green mall” collecting 2.35 million gallons of rain water to use in all of the toilets (weather permitting). They also boast to conserving 287,833kWh of energy per month through the building’s automation systems. They’d save a lot more energy if they turned the a/c up to above freezing.
One can never have enough desserts so we had them with our evening meal (another Chendol and a peanut cream). I was expecting the peanut cream to be cold but it came out hot and runny rather like peanut butter mixed with a small amount of boiling water and warmed up to take the roof of your mouth off. It was a new experience. Like so much of the food, it was laden with extra sugar. The desserts we took home were kueh (kway) flavoured with green pandan leaves. The green and white is Kuih Talam Pandan, a 2-layer Nyonya kuih dessert, the meaning of “talam” is tray. The top white layer is made with coconut milk, it is soft and slightly salty. The bottom green layer is made with pandan juice and has some alkaline water added, it is sweet and has a chewy texture. The green dome was a very squidgy kway with a coconut and cane sugar filling. Yes you can spell,ugh many different ways.
The video of the woman with the bowl shows how they clean jade. It’s placed in the bowl on top of something (I’ll have to do more research) she then runs a piece of wood around the edge of the bowl that then vibrates and hums, finished off by striking the bowl three times. As I said, more research needed.
Gate painting tomorrow so up early.Read more
I don’t want anyone to think that a week in KL is “a holiday”. Bun is working hard to devour everything she remembers from her childhood and there are chores to be completed.
When there is plenty of time, painting a gate should be quite therapeutic. When it’s hot and humid and the paint dries very fast, it becomes less of a mindfulness session and more a race against time. It’s made less of a chore when I little gecko visits - thankfully not running across the fresh paint, and the sun bird kept popping past.
Rewards are usually food orientated. Another food hall, another selection. I had a sizzling plate, Bun had a fish ball noodle soup, a sharing plate of popia - rice pancake with vegetables, turnip, beansprouts and chilli 🌶. All very tasty. Drinks were iced kopi (coffee), assam boi and an iced tea. Dessert will be somewhere else. We went and had a tau foo far, a soya bean curd with cane sugar and ginger syrup.
Each stall rents a space from the owner of the food hall who runs the drinks counter, no other stall sells drinks. Someone is employed to collect all of the bowls and wash them.so that all bowls are returned to the correct stall, each one has their own colour, hence the differently coloured plates on our table.Read more
One of Bun’s dad’s favourite snacks was a deep fried dough that he called bones, or sticky dicks. Resembling a foot long doughnut, he would eat them while having a coffee. The shop where we had our tau foo far also sold a range of pastries which Bun and Jan ateRead more
Many years ago, Bill (Bun’s dad) described durian as the tastiest custard you’ll ever eat but smells like the worst ever public toilets. That was actually quite accurate. Having travelled in India it out-competes some pretty rank toilets.
It’s related to cacao but went on to develop a sulphurous odour to (apparently) attract orangutans and other primates.
“Durian fruit is generally slightly oval, about a foot wide and covered in formidable looking spikes. The fruit can weigh between two to seven pounds, and this is heavy enough that in holding it in your hands by the body of the fruit, instead of the stem, it could potentially pierce the skin. However, its otherworldly appearance is dwarfed by another one of its attributes – the smell. Durians have a strong, rank smell that permeates the outer shell and lingers long after the fruit has been removed. Due to its overpowering smell, durian has been banned on many types of public transport across Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong. In Singapore, the fruit is banned across all types of public transportation and even taxis have signs to let you know they refuse to carry passengers transporting the smelly fruit.”
Anyhow, Jan has kept us some as the season has just finished ... beautiful, but still very smelly. What on earth tempted someone to fight through the smell to taste it? Maybe they had a cold at the time?
La-la is the Malays for clams ... another of Bun’ favourites. Jan’s task this evening was to find Bun some la-la which she did very well. I hope that you are paying attention to all of these meals because there will be a test later. The highlight for me was another fresh coconut. They are full of juice and tender white flesh, the only drink I can find that hasn’t been adulterated with added sugar or sweetener.Read more
We were up early to paint the second gate before the weather became too hot. All went according to plan except that there’s a black metal fence between Jan’s house and her neighbours house, this could also do with a coat of paint. The neighbour has a black metal fence between them and their other neighbour, if we do the fence adjoining Jan’s house, should we do the neighbour’s other fence to create balance? And so on ...
Today is a festival day for one of the Buddhist Gods at the temple Jan attends. Bill, Bun’s dad, is also at the temple, in spirit if not in body, so today we visited him.
The spirits are housed in a room that is overseen by the god of health and well-being. Along the walls are “tokens” with the name of the deceased people. Some tokens are prepared in advance before anyone has died but the spot in the room is reserved. Others are prepared as couples (or more) and a red tape is placed over the names of those who have not yet died. These tokens frequently include photos of the deceased. Food is left for the spirits, it must be vegetarian - Bill was not a vegetarian!Read more