Some people will insist on blogging at the craziest hours…while, other, more sensible folk, prefer to be maximizing the amount of shut-eye!
Back to the subject at hand, I have to admit, the best thing about China Eastern Airlines was the magnificently quick check-in line which, on first viewing, looked like it would take hours! What followed, including iffy food and Chinese (understandable) & Bollywood (???) movies on a screen that must have been 20 feet away…not so good (try reading dim subtitles at that distance). I think I managed a couple of hours sleep on the 12.5 hour flight while Brita snoozed and snoozed and snoozed! Feeling a bit woozy, Shanghai’s airport, which on other occasions would have seemed a very cool design exercise, gave me the impression of the thought police zapping my hapless brain with long electrodes! Given that both Twitter & Facebook appeared to be blocked (at least at the airport)…who knows!!! I was somewhat placated in my mental meanderings by the sight of this extremely non-fussed local….
Now, here I sit 3 days later and all worries about mental infiltration have vanished (maybe). It’s actually a thundering, but warm, warm monsoon deluge outside and I’ve just returned from sprinting out there and dancing around in it. It was glorious but, one would understand, if the mental questions might persist in the non-biased observer!
We’ve had some glorious days at the Berjaya Resort, located on Langkawi’s southern coast. It’s been in the low to mid 30’s celsius every day and a nice variety of sun and cloud (you need some of that at this temperature!)…and now the afore-mentioned monsoon. We’d, initially, been put into a regular chalet but we were a bit disappointed – it was quite dark and looked like the fixtures had been there since the 1980’s. However much I have fond memories of that decade, I prefer the memories not the reality in the here and now! So..for an extra $25/night, we have a fabulous “Rainforest Chalet”, recently updated, with the perfect combination of having an ocean view while still being surrounded by jungle. If any of you come here (and you should), make sure you get an updated chalet…it’s well worth it!
Being in a jungle, one tends to fraternize with our distant cousins – ie. monkeys (yeah, yeah…creationist types cover your ears)! Everyone needs a holiday so it’s completely understandable that Malaysian monkeys are in as much need of a bit of R&R as anyone else – who are we to make judgements! So…we’ve been getting quite used to waving to families of these guys coming and going, up and down the road, swinging from tree to tree, playing on the jungle gym…makes me wonder whether a tour bus of them arrived recently. However, even though all is very civil between monkeys and humans, there is a general view that monkeys, being the Rap Stars of the animal kingdom (they love shiny, blingy things) need to be kept out of the chalets. So…warning sings everywhere!
What more can one say about a few days at a resort? We ate, we drank, we swam in the ocean, some of us danced in the rain, we went to the spa…that about covers it! It really is quite gorgeous on this island – these couple of pics are at the Thai restaurant at the far end of the property. That’s Brita…checking Facebook in the middle of the first pic!
You can see an aerial view of it sticking out into the ocean from an earlier post here.
The only minor frustration (applicable purely to those of us who need to be connected to our social world at all times) is that the wi-fi speeds at the Berjaya, assuming you’re not being disconnected every 5 minutes, make me nostalgic (not!) for the days of dial-up, circa 1996. But seriously, you might be thinking, you’re at a resort…who cares! Well, you’d be quite right – it just took a couple of days of decompression and a trip to the spa yesterday, for me to report that wi-fi speeds are now mere piffle to me and that they can go on at 2kb/s ad infinitum for all I care. I can also report that I’ve now been scrubbed, wrapped and pummelled and have emerged squeaky clean, flexible enough for yogic exercises, and generally pleased with the world!
In the middle of all this serenity, we received some good news and some bad news from Dr. Banerjee. The good news was that the long lost wire has finally been found – so hooray for that! Always nice to know that large quantities of cash are not careening around, homeless, somewhere in the vast array of the ICICI banking world.
The bad news (especially for Neha) is that she has contracted Dengue Fever so will be unable to be our surrogate! There seems to be quite an outbreak around Delhi (and perhaps other places in India) but, I hope, given the monsoon has now ended, that it will abate. Between a cousin of mine and one of the Canadian gold medallist swimmers getting it, this is clearly not a parasite that differentiates between rich or poor or on the basis of fitness level. Dr. Banerjee, fortunately for us, has another surrogate whose cycle will match up to our schedule and is going to be sending us her details soon. I have no idea what happens if a pregnant woman gets Dengue…but it is a bit of a worry going forward. We can only do what we can do….and ask all the questions we can think of when we have our initial meeting on November 9th. For now, I’m not going to worry about it because that would defeat the purpose of this mini-holiday before we get to India!
Now, a final comment on Malays generally (obviously, a huge generalization): I don’t think I have ever experienced this level of friendliness by almost everyone we meet – anywhere! The resort staff, one can understand, as it’s part of their job (not that that seems to necessarily be true at other hotels/resorts I’ve been to) but it seems to be universal – from taxi drivers to gardeners to sentries. It’s amazing how pleasant interactions with people make you want to return (perhaps it’s an insidious tourist ministry plot!) over and over again. If Malaysia wasn’t such a long flight, this would be my preferred mid-winter holiday destination, no contest!
We’re catching our flight back to Kuala Lumpur this afternoon (hope the torrential downpour stops before that) and will be spending the next few days with my cousin Robert and his wife Hootoksi. They’ve decided to retire to Malaysia after spending many years with UNICEF and living all over the world (including Bhutan, Yemen & Tanzania). Given a quick viewing of Robert’s website, they spend most of their time hosting guests! Having seen Robert & Hootoksi a few times over the years, it is clear that Malaysia was the obvious choice for them. Given their amazing hospitality and friendliness, them retiring to Malaysia was like taking ice to the Eskimos, coals to Newcastle, rain to Vancouver….you get the drift!
Bring on KL!
PS: We’ve had confirmation that the CTV News piece will air on Tuesday, November 9th (6 o’clock news). At that point, we’ll be on a plane to Calcutta (10th morning, our time)