The Settling In Continues

It has been a few interesting, and busy, days since my last blog post.

When I left you last, we had taken delivery of our washing machine.  The installer put it in and hooked it up, it looked fine and we couldn’t wait to use it.  In went the first load, with great ceremony, and the machine was started.  When checked several hours later it had halted in the spin cycle and remained full of water. Hmmm… Back to the instructions we went (those usually undecipherable writings to be referenced when all else fails). Started over, same result. Called shop, installer would be by to check, shop called, installer would not be by, we would deal with next day.

Meanwhile, we were seeking some furniture for the apartment (here it’s called an apartment, back home it would be called a condo). Cynthia had a severe lack of storage space in her room so we were looking for a wardrobe cabinet for her.  After visiting several furniture shops we were very disappointed, in both the quality of material and the empathy of the sales staffs. Then, as with the electrical shop, we received a recommendation for a furniture guy. Off we went to visit Andrew. Success plus! We got not one, but two different wardrobe cabinets for Cynthia, one for hanging clothes and one with many shelves. Then we spotted a china cabinet for the dining room. Bonus. Extra bonus, all for only RM1100 (Cdn$385), free delivery same day as ordering.

Now back to the washing machine saga. In the morning off we went to the electrical shop, arriving just after 9am. Not open yet, what should we do.

Ahh, as any good Malaysian would do we looked around for food, seeing a small Malay coffee shop, looking less than pristine. We will try there. Seeing as how it was morning the menu was fairly limited. Kim had mee-rebus and I had mee-rojak.  Both were absolutely delicious and the people there very friendly. We have learned not to judge any place by it’s appearance, and this was proven once again.

While eating we determined that the electrical shop didn’t open until 11am so we decided that we would travel down the road to the Lui-chew Cemetery and visit Kim’s grandmother and grandfather. Kim’s first visit there in over twenty years. We spent quite a while there, driving up to the very top of the cemetary (four-wheel drive comes in handy) and looking out over the city. It was an emotional time for both of us, however very peaceful as well.

Back to the electrical shop, had a nice visit with the boss there.  We do really like the staff and have no complaints with them.  While there they arranged for a maintenance person to look at the washing machine and we picked up a countertop induction hob for the apartment. (Hob – Collins English Dictionary definition – (British) the flat top part of a cooking stove, or a separate flat surface, containing hotplates or burners). More on these items later.

Next stop was Tesco.  This multinational retailer, headquartered in England, is kind of like a cross between Walmart and CostCo.  It is a huge place with pretty much everything one might want. Good prices, extra benefits for members, and good quality products. Their big competitor is Aeon Jusco. Aeon is a Japanese company that operates shopping centres across Asia, with their retailer Jusco as the primary anchor. Jusco has similar member benefits and so on to Tesco.

Upon returning home, the maintenance guy arrives to look at the washing machine.  Simple fix, it seems that the machine does not have a pump to remove the water, but rather drains by gravity, hence re-positioning the hose solves the problem. This is common with all top-loading machines. Unfortunately the installer appears not to have been aware of this wee detail. anythewho, we were happy and maintenance guy had an easy task.

Then came learning how to use the induction hob. Easy to use, takes up little counter space and is extremely efficient, we really like it. Again, happiness.

Enough for now, long lost cousins in the next post.  Until then, enjoy.

Arrived and Getting Settled

After a long, albeit pleasant, flight from Vancouver, we arrived in Hong Kong.  It was early in the morning, just after sunrise, about 23C and quite misty, so not much to be seen.

Upon landing, we had a wee walk, a train ride, and another wee walk to get to our departure gate.  Then a few moments to relax before boarding our flight to Kuala Lumpur, the final air leg of our trip.  Good wifi allowed me to upload my latest blog post and to catch up on Facebook with those following our journey.

The flight to Kuala Lumpur via Cathay Pacific was, once again, pleasant and quiet, with most passengers either watching television or looking out the window.  Breakfast was eggs with bacon or chicken with rice.  As usual we had one of each, both were very good.  We touch down in Malaysia with a soft bump and prepare to de-plane.

Now is time for a walk, then a train ride, with one stop before Immigration.  Kim and Richard have to visit one of the duty-free shops to pick up a couple of “beverages” for presents.  From there to Immigration, passports checked, index fingers scanned, all is good, and we go to collect our baggage.  Another successful flight, ALL six bags are present, accounted for, and undamaged. Win!

Then comes our first hiccup.  We proceed to the departure hall, to find a payphone and alert our ride of our arrival.  Kim and Richard were able to locate two payphones, however neither one worked.  Plan B was now put into play.  We will purchase our Malaysia SIM cards now for our cell phones.  Meanwhile, one of the transportation booths was kind enough to allow Kim to use their phone.  Driver contracted, but oops, he thought we were arriving at 4:00 not 1:00 as we did, so he was still in Melaka.  Never fear, he had an associate who was available, and it turned out we only had to wait about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile we all got our new SIM cards.  I got one with lots of data so as to be able to do all my social media things.  In addition to my phone service I got 3GB of data (plus receiving a promo of 1.5GB free) for RM100 for the month.  If you are comparing data charges, that is Cdn$35.

Now our driver, Mr Soh, arrives and we have the challenge of putting the luggage into his Toyota SUV.  After no small amount of effort, we managed to place six checked bags, three carry-on bags, two computer bags, one purse and four people in the vehicle, and off we went.  A most personable chap, Mr Soh soon determined that a meal enroute would not be unacceptable, indicating that he knew of an excellent chicken rice place on the way.
He was correct.  The chickens were raised on a soybean diet, the meat being very smooth and very little fat.  The chicken rice, combined with fresh fish-ball soup, made a delicious meal.  It was also a great time to relax for the rest of the drive to Melaka.

First stop in Melaka was at sister Hong’s house to drop off Richard.  One of the first things I did was to go inside and give niece Ah Kim a big hug and a kiss on the forehead.  It is so nice to see her, she was stricken with polio as a very young child and has been basically bound to her modified lawn chair for almost fifty years, yet she is always so cheerful and bubbly.  She spends a great deal of time on Facebook and has many friends.

Next on the agenda, is our Melaka home, it is also where daughter Cynthia lives.  Great hugs all round, so nice to be home.  Baggage is taken inside and soon the living room here looks the same as did our living room in Edmonton, only this time things were coming out of the suitcases, not going in.  Well that is not really true, actually things were being relocated for future delivery to daughter Jaclyn and grandchildren in Johor Bahru.

To finish the day we were off to enjoy an nice meal then home and bed about 11:00.

Next morning, up before 7:00, relaxing with a Malaysian coffee and enjoying the morning from our small (quite small) balcony.  Temperature was 23C and a nice breeze was blowing.  A far cry from the -15C we left in Edmonton, however we are managing to suffer through it.

Very close to our apartment is the coffee shop that used to be owned by Kim’s father.  It is still owned by the folks who bought it from him and they always look forward to seeing us, well particularly Kim.

So over we went for breakfast, after which we went over to sister Hong’s to visit and pick up Richard.  Oh, and we also have a few things to drop off, and, lo and behold, take a few photos such as the one shown on the left.  There we have Cynthia, Richard, Ah Kim, Hong, Phuong and Kim.

Then nephew Ah Boy shows up and we all decide to go for Teo-Chew style congee, joined by brother Ming, also visiting from Canada.  It seems we are settling nicely into the routine of regular food occurrences, which is fine by us.

By now I am also getting into the routine of driving in Malaysia.  As seems to be the norm, there are three systems of driving here.  The first is the official rules of the road, the second being the way that people actually drive, and the third being for motos (those on motorbikes).  The key seems to be knowing how the first is being interpreted by the second and then being on the constant lookout for the third.  The other aspect which must be kept in mind is that the steering wheel in on the right side of the vehicle, meaning that the vehicle is maintained on the left side of the road.  That all being said, driving in places like Chicago, Montreal or Vancouver can be good practice for Malaysia, then adding the wild card that is the motos.

Okay, we are going to a place recommended by Ah Boy to pick up a washing machine, microwave and a toaster for the apartment.  It was a good recommendation as we bought all three for RM1170 (Cdn$410), including delivery and installation.  The installation was scheduled for three hours later.

A little more shopping and then heading home when another oops occurred.  Our loyal steed overheated, in the middle of rush hour traffic.  Aargh!  Okay, no major issue, we pulled over, let it cool down and added water, a nearby shop let us use their tap.  Hmm, seems that the upper rad hose had sprung a leak.  We got home, installation guy was waiting for us, inside we went, and washing machine was installed.  Kim took Richard back to sister’s, Cynthia went off to work and yours truly relaxed in the apartment.  Kim returned with food that sister Hong had prepared, and then it was time for bed.  The first full day in Malaysia had come to a conclusion.

Crossing The Pacific

As I start this blog post we are approximately four and a half hours into our flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong, with about nine hours until our arrival.  It occurred to me that perhaps I should put some thoughts into words during this leg of our journey.
For many years my experiences with more lengthy flights were highlighted by my travels in the Canadian military when, over the years, I made a number of trips from Trenton, Ontario, to Alert, Nunavut, in the far north, usually by way of Thule, Greenland.  These flights, six to eight hours in duration, were, almost literally, made as part of the cargo in a CF-130 Hercules aircraft.  Conversation by the handful of passengers was accomplished only by shouting and sleep eluded many, unless they were able to drift off to the incessant roar of the engines.  Also, most of us did not remove our parkas as they both shielded us from the noise and kept us warm.
Most certainly this flight is considerably longer, however the biggest difference, to me, is the fact that I am sharing this aircraft with 300+ people.  As I look around right now, the majority of them are sleeping, in an amazingly diverse variety of poses, some of which one might think to be extremely uncomfortable.
It is now close to two hours later.  All around me more television screens have become active again, some folks are moving about, and the flight attendents have made the rounds with hot noodles, which are quite popular (and quite tasty as well).  I suspect this will be a reasonably brief activity time and that soon all will be quiet once more. 
I should mention that we left Vancouver at 1:25 am and it is now 7:00am Vancouver time, and midnight Hong Kong time, where we will arrive at 7:00am.
Shortly after takeoff, with no empty seats, dinner was served.  Choices were smoked salmon, chicken with black bean sauce, braised beef or vegetarian ziti pasta.  We had chicken and beef, both were good.  Then most people were watching their screens, with some counting sheep right away.  Over time the screens began darkening until we reached the point where I began this post.
Another two hours have past, many more screens have gone dark while a good number of others are shining only on the outside of their viewers eyelids.  With five hours to go we are basically quiet again.
Two and a half hours to go, the plane starts to wake up.  Breakfast has been warming for some time now, although the passengers were not aware, now the lights come on, the curtains are opened and people are opening their eyes, stretching, and talking with their neighbours.  Looking around I note that quite a few screens are now showing the tracking of the aircraft, 894 miles to go, 2 hours 24 minutes.  Face wipes are handed out, pretty much everyone is awake, conversations all over between folks who didn’t know each other fifteen hours ago and probably won’t fifteen hours from now.
Breakfast was beef congee or ham fritatta.  We had one of each and once again, both were good.
With breakfast over it’s a good time to say a few words about the cabin crew.  This is my second trip to Malaysia and both times have been with Cathay Pacific.  I continue to be both impressed and pleased by the quality of service.  As many of my friends know I do like to chat with folks and this flight I spent  considerable time chatting with crew members in the galley area.
We have one hour to go and all around I can see, and hear, passengers preparing for arrival, as well as crew doing all their tasks.  For me, I will wrap up here and post this while in Hong Kong.
All in all, a most excellent flight.

The Time Has Arrived

As we are sitting here in the Edmonton airport awaiting the start of the first leg of our journey I reflect on the past few days.  There was a point earlier in the week when the spectre of having to cancel the trip raised its ugly head.  It seems that I was suffering from a nasty pain in my abdominal area, well it seemed nasty to me, because I didn’t like it one bit.  Kim was worried and instructed me to proceed to emergency to have it checked out.  Something about being an old guy I guess.
Well, luckily it turned out to be only a bit of a pulled muscle, however having told the doctor that we were planning to travel in a couple of days, he put me thru a couple of extra tests just to make sure.  Although the whole episode took a good few hours, we really appreciated the work done by all the hospital staff, especially considering the volume of people they were dealing with.  So, bottom line, we were good to go.
Now, if have to share with you, one of our reasons for going to Malaysia is to see family.  As you likely know, Kim is from there, and she has two daughters and seven grandchildren we will be visiting, not to mention her sister and a number of nieces and nephews.  So you can probably imagine, we are bringing the odd gift or two.  Kim had been packing for weeks, and because brother Richard is traveling with us, managed to pretty much fill six checked baggage, leaving a small amount of space for our clothes and such.  So… prior to leaving for the airport there was much weighing of bags (only 50 pounds you know), and then marking the bags so that they stand out from a thousand other bags, and finally strapping them so they wouldn’t burst apart when loaded on the plane.  I told Kim that if she wanted to take any more we would need a bigger plane.
Son-in-law Aaron transported us to the airport in our van, check-in and security were smooth, and although the plane was an hour late, it is less than half full so the ride is good.  Yes, you are correct in assuming that this post is being completed on the way to Vancouver.  I will send it off when on the ground and catch up with you later on.