Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's a sign 4, 5 and 6

Brunei, Borneo.

Not so much a 'funny sign', but more of an ODD sign. We found this sign not far from funny sign number 2 and went into the store, which was filled with many wonderful, amazing treats...but no Tim Tams or Pavlova in sight? To be honest I was hard pressed thinking of confectionery that is uniquely Australian (owned). Nice combo though, Malaysian, English and Chinese...very multi cultural.

Say no more. This funny sign in the centre of Hoi An, Vietnam. A beautiful, charming ancient city filled with wonderful memories for both me and Stray.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stray for Prime Minister

Click   Vote for Stray! 

Why didn't I think of this sooner?

The truth is out there!

A typical day at the office.

6.45 am, I wake up. I've been able to add an extra 15 minutes of slumber since quitting the coffin nails. Bundy and I go through our normal routine, although he often opts to go outside for his morning business instead of joining me in applying the lippy and mascara. Since the arrival of the Rotty, he prefers to exit the house via a more inconspicuous route. Up the internal staircase, through the spare bedroom, jumping up to and out of an upstairs window, onto a lower roof, then scaling down some lattice work like a hairy ginger spider cat.

I get dressed. Watch the news. Stray's sometimes still in bed. 7.50 am, I depart.

Looking towards the front of our yard including morning winter fog and possible chimney smoke.

My street as I leave in the morning...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why Snap doesn't phone Stray

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The To Do-ne list (the fence, the Rotty and the donga)

1. The manly fencing has been completed, so Conan the Rottweiler, our granddog, has moved in. This is fine and dandy, except for one, small, minor loophole...THERE’S NO GATE YET!
Part of the manly fence
One Rotty

Monday, July 19, 2010

To train or not to train? Part III

Hanoi 2010. We’ve caught up with old friends and made new ones. Now it's time to make our way to Hue. Adopting the ‘winging it’ method of travelling more and more in recent trips, we had not booked any flight. The price, by Vietnamese prices, was expensive and there weren’t any departing soon enough for our pencilled in itinerary. I had read about Livitrans before arriving and opted to give it a go. The VIP cabins, for two, were only available on runs to Sapa, so it was Tourist Class for us.

One of the hotel staff accompanied us to the station where we entered (a controlled and sanitised room) and waited in a separate area to the local travellers. We boarded. Our roomies were a couple from Holland. Pleasant and friendly. Our cabins were similarly pleasant and friendly, with complimentary water, snack and tooth brushes. Not a bad trip and would probably do it again, although next time, perhaps medicated.

It’s just that lack of sleep thing that gets me every time and the train driver had a habit of slamming on the breaks every hour or so. Arrive Hue.
A couple of days later we biked it from Hue to Hoi An, which is not far from Danang (about 6 hours with scenic stops) and is the end of the line for the Livitran service. Not sure if it’s a north/south remnant left over from the war. From Danang we were headed for Nha Trang, but the trains weren’t overnighters.

I spoke to the girls at the Mango Split cafe (photo) in Hoi An, who suggested stopping in one of two towns to break up the trip. Quy Nhon (will be going there again) here we come!

*Word of advice – check out the price directly from/at the train station, before buying your ticket. Ripped off severely by VN standards....

To train or not to train? Part II

Previous related post To train or not to train? Part I

Our stay in Chiang Mai (2009) was coming to an end and it was time to head back to Bangkok. There weren’t flights leaving soon enough so we weighed up the cost of a later departure & hotel versus an overnight train. Of course the train won. I made it quite clear that I was willingly doing this under protest...meaning the ball was in my court regarding our mode of transport. So, we went ahead and booked our tickets at the hotel we were staying at.

The first class sleepers, which are cabins, weren’t available on this run, so we opted for 2nd class. You can get the low down at seat61. When making our booking we both chose lower bunks for ease of access, for a little extra baht and paid accordingly. But, as usual, something must have got lost in the translation and we arrived to what would turn out to be an upper and lower. ไม่เป็นไร !...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Stray!

Friday, July 16, 2010

To train or not to train?

I haven’t been on a train in Australia since 1996, when I had to go to the big smoke and was too chicken to drive into the city of Brisbane. Something I used to do daily in my younger years, but living out in the ‘sticks’ kind of makes you city shy.

The next time I boarded a train was eleven years later, in Beijing. With a population of around 17 million and at the city’s central station during peak was quite an  harrowing ordeal adventure. Susan and Jim our appointed tour guides were wonderful. After a few days and nights of organised eating of Peking Duck, Chinese Acrobats and walking the Great Wall, they informed us of our pick up time which was more than hour before our over night train departed. I thought, 'are you kidding? Half an hour would be more than ample! Wouldn’t it?'

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A night in a day with Mr Bundy

Bundy, or Mr Bundy to most of his Asian internet friends, was named after Stray’s beloved Bundaberg Rum. Stray was sort of tricked into naming him (sorry Stray), because I‘d already chosen ‘Bundy’ before arriving home with him, but it was Stray’s turn to name our next pet. You see our cats have generally been named after drinks, Kahlua, Milk, Ouzo etc. (hmmm, our drinking might be more of a problem than I thought), so after I suggested a few lame names like, Mars, Apollo and Achilles, Stray thought of Bundy...all on his own.

I picked Bundy, formally known as Kat, or should I say, he picked me at an animal shelter. He was petite and ladylike, and now at 2 ½, still is. We adorned him with a belled collar almost immediately, not wanting the blood of any wildlife on our hands. The cat who preceded him and who disappeared mysteriously at a sprightly 16 years old was like a deadly Ninja, but with fur. My home made elasticised collar works well, except for the fact that SNAKES ARE DEAF!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Children's Day

The first time I heard of Children's Day (not to be confused with International Children's Day) was from a Chinese colleague, Bei, who was working and studying accounting in Australia. I laughed and said "What the? Every bloody day is Children's day, what the hell are you on about?" and stirred her up about the fact that kids don't really deserve it, what with Christmas, Easter, Birthdays and for most children, the spoils of every day life.

About a year later I visited Bei in Shanghai, I should have reflected back on that day and realised for some kids in this world, perhaps Children's Day was the only day of the year that they received special treatment and were able to live their little lives as they should, as a child...but I did not. Seeing young tots dumped on  ramp ways, that lead in and out of chaotic Beijing shopping complexes, by their parents, to beg for money all day should have been a Children's Day light bulb moment. But, it was not. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Winding down the blackboard art.

I love my other work...not the office work (it's OK, it keeps the old brain ticking and I am a bit of a computer and Excel geek), but my blackboard sign business which I run from home.

I only have a couple of more jobs to do and at the end of the month...well, perhaps no more for well over a year.
Ironically, the last job I have scheduled is for a Thai first ever (authentic) Thai cuisine blackboard. I'll post pics when it's done. If only there was a way I could do this while I was in Thailand...but, from what I've read, as a student I AM NOT PERMITTED to work. Besides, there seems to be all those other rules about working in Thailand...but, from what I can gather, if it's a job a Thai person can't do, I might be in with a chance???  Perhaps someone can enlighten me?

In the mean time, this is what I've been up to lately.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Who and what are a Stray and Snap? FAQ's

Who and what are a Stray and Snap? FAQ's

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Another step closer, Kuala Lumpur to Chiang Mai

Well, I resigned from my office job a couple of days ago, so I finish up at the end of the month. I haven't scheduled any more blackboards in either. In August the real fun will start for me, fixing, organising and packing.

I booked our tickets and changed our route to Chiang Mai, deciding to go to Bangkok for a couple of nights before hand, instead of overnighting it in Kuala Lumpur. Stray found this today swimming monkeys article, so we might go and have a squiz.

We can catch up with a friend as well, and let's face it, it's more entertaining in BKK than at the  'pay as you use' Tune Airport Hotel in KL, which serves its purpose and is very cheap, but is a bit like a stack of sardine cans (it's amazing what can be achieved with camera angles/lenses).You could travel into the city area  and stay, but if you have a flight out at 4.00 am in the morning, why would you? But it  IS worth taking a 10 ringgit bus trip (about 50 minutes) to the transit station and then a quick taxi ride into the heart of the city for dinner and a look around, before settling down for the night.

In case you're thinking of visiting! Flying with Air Asia to KL (for us) and then onwards is the cheapest way to get out of the country, unless you're lucky enough to score some sort of super deal with another airline. I'm not fussed on Air Asia, it's also 'pay as you use' and you only get what you pay for. The down side of living in Oz, if there possibly is one, is that it takes so long to fly out of the bloody place!

The Air Asia seats are quite narrow and when the bloke next to you is on the very, large side, and his left leg spends most of the 8 hours in your space, leaning on you, it can be quite invasive, annoying and just plain yukky. The seats do not recline, they sort of slide forward then tilt back a little...apparently.

Air Asia lands at a budget airport, aptly named the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT), so you may have to high tail it over to the other international terminal (KLIA) , which is just around the corner, for any further flights.

A few of our friends and family have said they'll be over to visit, and are asking about places to go and things to do. I'll be making a page of suggestions, but my experiences are limited, so if you have any personally tried ideas/pics or links, please give me a cooee by EMAIL.


Taxi Shrines 2

Number two of 'Taxi Shrines'. This one very neat and well maintained, because the flowers (I was told) are artificial. 'Garlands ("DOOK MALAI" - ดอกมาลัย - flower garlands) are also offered to Buddha statues. Their white color symbolises the beauty of Lord Buddha teachings. When they get old, they symbolize the life impermanence' - Wikipedia. They are bought for plain old good luck and just for decoration as well.

I've also seen them called roi malai (roi = making) and phuang malai.
A friend (the lovely P Chur) in Bangkok sent me the links below to illustrate just how intricate some of them can be. Although I've never personally seen such elaborate garlands sold by street vendors and am guessing these are more apt for weddings and celebrations. Used in much the same way as we would use a flower arrangement...except these are hanging. Apparently one should not sniff them before offering them to the recipient (not sure if that's only while they're looking ) which is a shame, because the real ones smell divine...usually of Jasmine. , and

My progress in learning Thai has been non existent over the last month or so, work has left me no time to study. So I apologise in advance if I have directed you to any unsavoury websites in the links above. For a lot more info and some more pics visit Way of Design blog.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Not quite a taxi shrine

Ok...this was taken while in a taxi on the way from the Golden Triangle to Chiang Rai (Thailand) so it's not officially a Taxi shrine. It's one hell of a load on the back of a ute (small truck) though.

And from the front.
Remember, there's no trailer in this picture! Or is there? I can't quite figure it out now.