It was a bit of a struggle in the last few days at Tam's to sort out what we were going to take with us, what we were going to send back to the UK and what was to be left in Oz.Frankly, we hadn't devoted enough time and effort to downsizing since we sold Annie and we had to make some quick decisions with only a few days left before leaving the country.However, we made progress when our shipping/storage company delivered boxes on time, and before long we found ourselves sorted.We perhaps didn't manage to do as much as we'd planned to do in the Blue Mountains but we did have a second Christmas feast with Tam and Don.The weather hadn't been particularly kind over the last few weeks, being cool and wet, but it no doubt helped us to focus our minds on our forward planning arrangements.Although we'd said fond farewells to Jean, Craig and Tam, and had had a chance to meet up with Archie & Helen, and some other friends, it was good in many respects to be 'back on the road'.
Touch down at Kuala Lumpur found us in pleasantly hot and humid conditions, and we were soon met by Ganesh - Devei's nephew - who gave us a quick evening tour of the city before taking us for a Chinese meal.Being in Malaysia for a few weeks we needed to sort out some things, such as a new SIM card for the phone, forward travel and accommodation arrangements etc, as well as familiarise ourselves with all the vagaries of a new country - the 14th we've travelled in since August 2006.So these were tasks we had to get done in KL, although we also managed to cover some of the main sights of the city.As the previous day had been a major Muslim festival, the main mosques were unfortunately closed.But we were able to visit the absolutely excellent Islamic Arts Museum, (the first museum dedicated to the Islamic faith. It was really refreshing to see Islam portrayed in such a positive way, and the wonderful displays of its history across the Islamic world in terms of architecture, dress, jewellery, pottery and other arts and crafts. Afterwards it was off to the Bird Park for a cooling drink and a close look at some of SE Asia's birds.Some of the most impressive were the peacocks which were determined to put on their best displays.Overall it was a very comprehensive and wide ranging display that certainly entertained the many visiting families.Most of you will have experienced little sparrows, pigeons etc hopping around under tables picking up the crumbs.Well, while we were having our cooling drink, others on the cafe terrace were being terrorised by enormous and aggressive Hornbills landing on tables to steal their food.It was pretty chaotic, but good fun to watch.At the end of a very full and invigorating (and sticky) day we enjoyed excellent Malaysian food at Bijan Restaurant in the Golden Triangle (E even had durian cheesecake - those who know durian will know what we mean).
Next day we met Devei's sister, Mano and her daughter Kasturi, who collected us and took us to the famous Hindu Temple at the Batu Caves, after popping in to their house for a cup of chai, where we also met Param, Mano's husband who was just heading off to a Christmas party.Batu Caves is one of THE main Hindu Temples in KL and one which Deveigoes to when she visits home.It is certainly very impressive with the enormous gold plated statue of Maruga at the foot a huge flight of 272 steps leading to the massive and towering Temple Cave (see Kuala Lumpur photo album).The Temple steps are riddled with cheeky wee monkeys sliding up and down the banisters and taking every opportunity to pinch food off the unwary pechin' their way up the 272 steps.After climbing up and down it was good to chat to Kas and Mano over some Indian delicacies that she treated us to.We headed back into the city to soak up the night atmosphere and marvel at the Petronas Twin Towers that dominate the skyline and which, until recently, were the tallest buildings in the world at 451.9 metres tall (see Kuala Lumpur photo album).Our last day in KL was spent doing a self-guided walking tour from Merdeka Square through Little India.Merdeka Square is where Malaysia's independence was proclaimed 50 years ago.It is a lovely green oasis in the middle of a hectic, modern, bustling, Asian city. Although we didn't see the Selangor Golf Club (where Julia played golf in her time in Malaya, as it was called then) but we did see the Tudor style Selangor Club which forms one side of the square in which cricket used to be played - and maybe still is. Perhaps Julia enjoyed a few G&Ts there???Our walk ended at the Coliseum hotel, which used to be frequented by Graham Greene - a rather run down but nevertheless atmospheric watering hole. That evening we were treated to a delicious meal of fish, chicken, vegetables and rice cooked by Ganesh's wife Mala .It was really good of her to do the meat for us because she is on a Hindu 40 day vegetarian fast so she couldn't have any, or even taste the food during cooking.She was a bit concerned that it might not be just right - but she needn't have worried because it was absolutely delicious!
While we were with Devei's relatives we enjoyed seeing photos and videos of family occasions - they certainly know how to enjoy themselves.Devei's family treated us most royally and were so friendly and hospitable.With particular thanks to Ganesh for running us around, we had a really great time in KL.
Merry Christmas to one and all!
Eric & Margaret xxxxx