Driving in Penang…

…can be a very tiring affair. So much so that at the end of the day, all you want to do is just curl up to a nice comfy anti fatigue mat.

Now why do I say this?

First of all, there is nothing wrong with Penang roads. Sure it has some quirks like how some lanes are just for turning left or right, how it can start off with two lanes and suddenly end up as one or how two-way traffic ends up becoming one way (in other words, no entry signs are plentiful and so are u-turns). Of course there are potholes too but for the most part, it’s normal to have less-than-perfect roads. I attribute this to how the island has been developing – over already existing roads (long story there about how the state government has to find ways to develop the place because it’s opposition-led).

The problem lies with Penang drivers. Here is a list of some things I experienced and noticed so far…

…Penang drivers can’t seem to stick to their own lanes. More often than not, a typical Penangite driver will hog two lanes and stay in the middle. They don’t know how to control their steering wheel and will often end up in another lane when making a turn. The issue with drivers hogging two lanes on a straight road is due to two things – lousy driving skills or other people’s laziness (for an explanation on the latter, please see the next item).

…People here love to just park their cars anywhere and everywhere. Never mind that there is perfectly decent, legal AND empty parking space about 100-200 meters away from their destination. If the roads are wide, this wouldn’t pose to be a problem but trouble is that the roads are often narrow so when you have cars parked on both sides of the road shoulder, it turns traffic from a two-way one to one-way. And if you add a lorry into the equation or a car that is double-parked…well, you get the picture, don’t you?

…They love danger…or just that they are not very patient. People here will overtake uphill on a winding road with a double line just because the guy in front isn’t pressing down on his accelerator hard enough. They will create lanes just because they think that it’ll get them to their destination faster (never mind that it actually has the opposite effect). Breaking the red light, speeding when you should be slowing down (like going downhill), etc.

…I feel sorry for those on motorbikes but sometimes they can be a darn nuisance too. Some motorbike drivers LOVE to hog the road and by this, I mean they love to ride their bike in the middle of a one-lane road or stay in between two lanes. So the only way you can pass them is by heading into the lane meant for oncoming traffic. Haiz.

One thing nice though is this – Penangite drivers are pretty tolerant of their peers. No honking and lots of giving allowances. In KL, there would be plenty of honking, finger showing, lights flashing and who knows what else but here, no such thing. Road rage, it would seem, isn’t part of the driving “lifestyle” here.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m in an alternate universe after having driven in a large city like Lyon and then a small town like Dole and then back in a large city like PJ/KL and now in Penang. Surreal, I tell you…

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A last minute birthday wish.

If I we had the space…

If I we had the money…

I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a piano, especially considering that I would have access to music sheets of all sorts, courtesy of the local library.

I miss tinkling the keys and it doesn’t help that we live in a rented place. Hm, you know what would really really make a great birthday present?

A house with a nice garden.

My own home.

(Can’t you tell that I’m sick of rental spaces?)

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Back!

At Sanary-sur-Mer

I know my last post was in July and then I disappeared for an entire month without a squeek. I have my reasons for it; they revolve around a few words – “homemade jam”, “beaches” and “Internet-less”. LOL.

We spend a good deal of time at my mother-in-law’s place in the countryside of Lyon and then at Nil’s family home in a little village called Mazelgirard – population is less than a few hundred, I THINK – and then at his other family home in a nice place called Sanary-sur-Mer which is just after Aix-en-Provence (in the south). The picture you see up there is an attempt at capturing the beauty of the town, its port and surrounding beaches. To enjoy, do click on it to see the full size picture – it’s HUGE!

Being away from the Internet has allowed me to catch up on a few things like reading, knitting and other pleasures like the company of my two children, especially the youngest who is know more mobile and alert. (Watch out now – Mr Noah can roll over so no more lazying around on raised surfaces like the bed or sofa!) On top of that, Eva has just started school (we get Wednesdays off! YAY!) and we have to seriously, SERIOUSLY ditch the diapers or face her NOT going to school at all. While it means that I get some breathing space while Eva is at school during the day, it also means that I can catch up on my knitting. I have some knits planned out for the winter and need to get started on them now that summer is over. (It also means I have to store my clothes somewhere (including my maternity pajamas) and break out my winter wear soon!)

Suddenly, it seems like I never really went on a vacation. Hm, maybe I should go on a break more often! Tehehehe.

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Reading again.

Being on a self-imposed holiday without any knitting or craft of any kind means one thing – catching up on my reading.

The last time I picked up a book was months back and it is safe to say that I miss it terribly. One could always suggest that I settle for e-books which are plentiful but it’s not the same. After all, boardgames like Risk don’t give you the same feel as online games like Dead Island or Starcraft. (Having said that, I should break out my birthday present from my parents – they bought me a tab! – and use that for my e-books!)

Anyway, I got Nil to take me into town yesterday to get some English books. While they are not common, you *can* find some in large cities like Paris and yes, Lyon although selections are limited unlike back in Malaysia or Singapore where you have rows and rows of nothing but English books. Here, I have to contend myself with two rows of the books. In contrast, you would find a whole section of translated manga books. Heh.

I settled on two titles by Cecilia Anhern and one by Sophie Kinsella. Unwilling to spend more since I had already bought five books over BookDepository.com, I thought it better to wait for the arrival of the books than to purchase more. The recent hike in VAT for books (from 5.5% to 7%) meant that books were a little bit more expensive than usual. Most paperbacks would be in the 10-euro plus bracket instead of below and suddenly, some titles are hitting 20 euroes. Eeks indeed. Still, I must admit that dollar for dollar, reading is quite inexpensive here. Everyone loves the book store and Nil’s family is no exception – from his late paternal grandmother with her first editions to his uncle with his shelves of paperbacks.

Y’know, there is something about thumbing through a book on a cool summer afternoon out in the garden and even more commonplace to doze off with a book in hand (or on the face).

Ahh, the joys of reading.

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{ 34°C }

Bees busy buzzing!

We are seriously seeing some high temperatures this week – all hovering around 34-35°C. While it wouldn’t have been an issue in Dole, currently, the entire family is spending a few weeks semi-house-sitting for my mother-in-law. Nil calls me “Mabel’s self-imposed vacation”.

That means I spend less than two hours on the Internet each day, juggling assignments on precision instruments, emails and Facebook. I didn’t have time to pack my knitting or spinning so I’m left with just reading. It isn’t a bad thing at all. It has been quite a while since I last read anything and the environment here is good – garden, some breeze…

It has been good playing catch-up with some titles especially Christian titles by Max Lucado so much so that I ordered a few more titles via Book Depository. With any luck, I should have fresh titles to digest by this weekend.

Hopefully Nil is taking care of my plants and making sure that the house in Dole is still in relatively good shape. In the meantime, I’m hoping (and praying) for cooler weather. The following week looks to be cool so it’s just one more day to go.

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Did you know…

…that we finally paid off my delivery bill?

I didn’t really share this here but my delivery – unlike when I had Eva in Switzerland – was not covered. It took us more than six months of emails, phone calls and visits to try and get things clarified, etc, but in the end, the Government decided that I would not be covered…just because Nil was a few hours short of the required number of working hours.

Usually, a delivery bill would be covered under social security – so long as there is a working adult in the family. There is no need for any sort of insurance, not even general liability insurance. If you’ve just arrived in the country, you need to have a certain number of hours under your belt before you can qualify for any coverage. Unfortunately for us, Noah decided to show up early. Hence the big slap on our wrists/hands/bank account/how ever you want to look at it. If he had waited a week, it wouldn’t be a problem but noooo, he decided that coming into the world when he wanted to and with a bang is a must!

To make things even more insulting, when we showed up at the hospital with a big fat cheque, we were told that they don’t issue receipts. The deduction that shows up on the bank statement is proof enough, says the guy at the counter. Should have seen Nil’s face when he said that. What the heck? I give you a cheque of that amount and I don’t even get a printout stating that you’ve got my money????!!!??? Heh.

All I could remember saying to him when we left was “Welcome to France”.

O’well, at least we won’t get hounded for this any more. Still, it means that the option of purchasing a house here in France will have to wait a few more months. After this dent, our bank account needs some time to recover.

So yeah…

Welcome to France.

=.=

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For a good night’s rest…

My bed is old. Well, specifically the mattress.

We bought it when I was pregnant with Eva and still living in Switzerland. It is a dense foam mattress from IKEA and was a step up from the one Nil was using. On hindsight, I should have settled for a spring mattress. They last way better and are much more firmer. These days, I can feel myself rolling in towards the center – a sign that it’s time to replace this.

I saw some pretty good ones from www.tranquilitymattress.com and wonder if I can get anything similar here for a decent price. While I can still sleep pretty okay on this, I have a strange feeling that if I continue using this, my back will start to go!!!!

What about you? What sort of mattress are you using?

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A simple meal…

Stir fried glass noodles with egg omelette strips

When I’m having one of those crazy days, I whip up one-pot meals in the form of either fried rice or noodles and garnish them with some salad leaves or strips of egg omelette. Yes, I have become that un-adventurous and mayhaps even lazy when it comes to cooking. Ohhorror. I have taken to surfing my favourite cooking sites just to get an idea of what to prepare for lunch and dinner.

The shortlisted recipes include the following:

  • Turkey meatloaf – recipe here
  • Pasta e fagioli – recipe here (this looks extremely yummy!)
  • Warm lentil salad with sausage – recipe here (I might make this tomorrow since I already have the lentils. I have some sausage but will check with Nil if I can use those instead of smoked sausage.)
  • Strawberry summer cake – recipe here (tomorrow’s dessert…since we have strawberries!)
  • Roast chicken with dijon sauce – recipe here
  • Meatball subs with caramelised onions – recipe here (looks awesomely yummy!)

I seriously need to be inspired to cook. Funny how I have no issues being inspired to make soap. Hai.

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