Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Dad Moment

Recently my mum came out to visit me. 

This is always fun and the exchange rate is a happy bonus - I become a princess, if only for a week...

Parents: "Dinner for £10 a person? Bargain! Where shall we go tomorrow?"

Me: 0.0

Another bonus during a parental visit, is the mini-trip.

This time, in an escape from British winter (which is basically all year…:P), Mum wanted to sun herself on an island. Unfortunately it was the wrong season for the East Coast, so we ended up in Langkawi (still nice). And although dearest Dad was deprived of the trip himself, he got involved by taking charge of the virtual booking. 

AirAsia. You want anything, you pay for it. This encourages an attitude of: "Well, we don't really need it, do we?" And then all the normal things that people DO need on a flight, like food and luggage, is defiantly self-denied. 

To be fair, the flight from KL to Langkawi is only about 45 minutes, so food and a comfort kit isn't strictly necessary. And apparently, depending on the length of your trip, neither is luggage….

Mum: "Shall we just book one suitcase for the both of us then?"
[Thinking this is already a reasonable reduction from the assumed 15kg each.]

Dad: "What do you want a suitcase for? It's only 2 nights, all you need is a swimming costume and a spare pair of knickers."

Dad philosophy in a nutshell. Just a backpack then..?

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Small Asians

In Europe I am considered average height. At 5'7, perhaps slightly taller than average. But still normal. And I am the smallest person in my family (Ok, actually my mum is smaller than me but not by much...). 

In Asia, I am a giant. And after a few years here, people who I now consider to be really tall, are my height. And on the occasions I do encounter another mat salleh i think to myself…."huh…white people really are tall…"

I'm sure this is not a revelation to anyone. It's an observable fact that Asian people are small. But occasionally you run into someone who frames these simple facts in completely new ways for you...

Friend: "What is your weight?"

Me: "What? Why?"

Friend: "I have a guess in mind, but I want to make sure."

Me: [skeptical face] "What's your guess?"

Friend: "I guess 73kg" 

Me: "Wow, that's really specific"

Friend: "Yeah, 73, am I right?"

Me: "Um…I don't know…maybe around that?" **

Friend: "Ooh. You weigh a lot more than me then. That is a problem, because in case of emergency I cannot carry you."


In case of emergency? Hahahaha.... Who thinks about that? (Do people think about that..?)

** Note: I'm convinced that this is at least 10kg above my real weight…but am lacking scales to prove the accuracy of this claim… :P

Friday, 24 June 2011

Milo Fork

Today I made milo at work.

3-in-1 in the cup, then add hot water. It was only at the point of seeing the floating clumps of milo that I realised the need for a stirring utensil. At my previous office, there were spoons. In this newly renovated, shiny, big office, there are no spoons. Only a water cooler. 

Cue rummaging.

Pen? Bit dirty.

Finger? Obviously painful.

Pin? Clearly too small. 

Nothing at my desk then. 

How about someone else's…I know - they guy with the mini-oven on his desk!! If he doesn't have something to stir with, no one will. 

Giant mug? Unhelpful.

Oven pan-handle? …possible.

Fork? YES!

Brilliant. Still in the packaging but the packaging is open. Even better. I steal, go stir my milo and all is well.

Until I notice my blue hand. Blue! All over! How?? 

Answer: Fork. Extremely cheap, blue-handled fork.

How is it possible that someone is allowed to sell items of such poor quality?

Literally, the lightest touch and you're branded with blue, declaring:

"Yes, I stole this fork!"

So. Lesson of the day: don't steal stuff!


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Last Time I Wear a Bikini..?

Time for a scary, nay terrifying, story.

I've given myself a day to recover and reflect…because this is not the kind of story I imagined I'd ever be telling and it certainly doesn't fit with the tone I was attempting to create here. But. If one cannot blog about daily happenings, what is the blog for??

So here we go…

My friend and I just took a weekend trip to Cherating. Sun, sand and sea -  fun. So we drove the 3.5 hours from KL to the East Coast and checked into our hotel.

First things first, this is clearly not the resort they photographed for the website.

Second of all, after giving us our room key, the receptionist confidently pointed us towards our chalet (always more exciting than staying in a hotel block, no?). We walked in said direction…only to discover the chalet was in fact located in exactly the opposite direction. How long has he worked here??


Chalet is delightful, kampong style, raised, wooden hut. Small problem - air con doesn't work. But Chinese people are the most vocal complainers I've ever met, and as my companion is Chinese, we head to reception:

"Eh, your air con not working!!"

Turns out we didn't press the button hard enough.


We proceed to enjoy our mini-break - roaming in our bikinis, lying on the beach, eating noodles in the pool, etc, etc.

Contextual Note to Explain Assumptions Later in Story: Normally in swimming pools the sign says no jeans and no t-shirts. At this resort, there was a picture of shorts and t-shirts next to big green tick.

Eventually, nighttime comes and we sleep.

Then. Out of the darkness I hear a whisper:

"Claire….Claire. I think there's someone outside."


Now, I love to sleep. Really, really. I love it. And nothing upsets me more than being woken up in the night. I don't care about anything at 2am, it can wait. Even if there is someone outside. Even it's a dinosaur. Or the apocalypse. Can it just wait till morning?

But my eyes are open. Sigh. And as I'm already facing the window, the only thing I have to do is look up to check if anyone's there. I accept this task. 

And silhouetted against the curtains, I see the figure of a man...

But, it is really late and I am very sleepy. Abstract things always look like people or monsters when you're half asleep. It's nothing. 

And then the figure moves. 

And then the figure moves the curtains. 

I am now thinking:

"Oh crap, there's a pervert outside trying to watch us sleep. Gross. But I'm not gonna move."

And then slowly, my brain catches up…


I suppose my friend saw this calculation happen on my face and let rip the most immense scream I've ever heard, simultaneously flapping her hands and jumping onto my bed, whilst I jump bolt upright and join in the screaming. 

Terror, like none I have felt before. 

And the figure is gone. 


I scramble for the bedside light and we call reception, babbling something about, "a man in the window, please come and help".

Also at this point, feeling vulnerable and underdressed, I pull on some trousers and pick up my bra, then get yelled at:

"What you doing!?! Don't put that on now?!"

Oh yah…I guess now's not really a bra moment…cardigan will do the job...


Shortly after, a torchlight appears from outside and my friend calls out in a panic, 

"Help, help, we're in here!!"

They know we are in this room. We just told them to come here and help us. Haha. But seeing as we have no way of knowing if the torchlight is actually the return of the pervert, I am all for this loud announcement. 

Luckily it's not the pervert, it's the night-receptionist Amir, and a security guard. We relay the story.

Question number one, "Do you have anything valuable here, laptops?"


Until he said this, it hadn't even flickered across my mind that the "pervert" was after anything except out bodies…although on reflection, material theft does seem to be the more likely option…(although the prize for his efforts would have been approximately rm100) 


We move to a new room in the main building, first floor. I am instructed to check the windows. Sliding and metal and seemingly secure. I have a minor panic attack upon realising that by opening the curtains with the light on, I have just revealed our new, secure location to the pervert for potential attack number two...  o.0

Around 4am, after a few hours huddled, sleeplessly in one bed, we hear a sound suspiciously like someone trying to open a sliding window. Against all rational thought, we panic, call Amir and demand he come and escort us to reception. He does, and we stay there with him as our personal security, until breakfast. Then, full of food and confidence at the rising of the sun, off we go to bed…traumatised but alive…


The next day I wore my bikini. 

Friday, 17 June 2011

Crazy Landlady

I've been looking for a new place to stay. 

When I moved into my current place, my housemate (and colleague) assured me it takes "about half an hour" to get to work. This was fine, as my previous abode was roughly the same distance…minus the pool ;)  

Plus, Googlemaps agreed with him. So I happily carted my thousand or so boxes over to the apartment.

And then I drove to work. 

I quickly realised 2 things:

1. My housemate drives at approximately 120km an hour.
2. Googlemaps doesn't account for traffic. 

I have subsequently convinced myself that the drive is 45 minutes, in order to handle the mental trauma of driving this much. But that's a lie. It basically takes an hour. Twice. Every day.

Adding insult to injury is the fact it costs almost rm5 each way for the privilege sitting in my car that long. 

Hence the new apartment search.

So I was browsing the ads online and found a place that looked ok. I called up. In no other country I've visited is this the first question a stranger asks:

"Are you indian or chinese?"

Neither actually, but does it matter? In Malaysia, yes. Lucky for me though, "No, I'm English", is a reply that only dreams are made of, to which the response was;

"Oooh, great, great"

After a brief phone interview, which  I apparently passed with flying colours, I went to look at the apartment. I had asked about the middle room. I turned up and the only room free was the master bedroom. Advertising fail. Therefore, too poor to take room. Want to leave. Not so easy. 

I spend the next hour negotiating the various pros and cons of staying there. A brief summary of the discussion:

Me: "It's quite empty" [read: empty]

Landlady: "What do you want? I can buy you a washing machine"

Me: "Mmm, I'm not sure. I was looking for furnished"

Landlady: "Ooh."

Me: "What about the other tenants, didn't they ask for a sofa? Don't they cook?"

Landlady: "No. They are really good, very quiet, they just come home each night and go to their rooms."

 Me: o.0 
[Note to landlords: this is not a positive selling point…]

Me: "Oh. Well, I can't really afford the rent anyway"

Landlady: "But it's so convenient for your work, you can see your office from the window [True but irrelevant]. Shops and swimming pool, you can use anytime [Also true and equally irrelevant]"

Me: "Yes..."

Anyway, I eventually managed to get back to the lift lobby, only for the hard sell to begin. 

Landlady: "Oh I really hope you can move in, I really want you to stay here, I know you will look after the place. Maybe we can go out together sometimes or I can cook for you? Can? [begging eyes] Oh, you don't need to look at anywhere else, mine is the best. Ok, I hope you can stay. I love you."


Also note, that all of this was said whilst hugging me.  Really. I couldn't make it up.  

The search continues...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Well I suppose this makes me a blogger.

So, even before I've written my first blog post, I've already had a critique.

Apparently the correct title for my blog is, "Minah Salleh Keliru". But in the extensive two years I have spent in this delightful country, not once have I been called Minah Salleh.

Mat Salleh, yes. Frequently.

And on various occasions small children have stopped in their tracks, mouths open, to report the orang putih, to their parents.

Well children (AND assorted unsuspecting adults), saya faham. And even if I didn't, I can see you pointing!!

So I shall stick with Mat Salleh. And Keliru will become apparent in due course. This, I am quite sure of.