you for your letter. Yes it certainly is interesting and different
living over here. We have settled in quite well and have met lots
of interesting and some boring people.
Sam is going well at school. He's
learnt heaps up here compared to T'ville. I could honestly say
he learnt more in 4 days here than he did in a year and a bit
in Qld. He's in kindergarten (which is N.S.W. system equivalent
to Prep in Tasmania). They do pretty intense work for 5 yr olds
writing, reading etc. numbers and counting.
Net week the school is starting a
3 week intense swimming program for Sam's class. The base have
their own swimming pool. They go 3 days/wk (about 1 and a half
hours at a time) for 3 wks. I'm going along on the Thursday afternoons
to help mind some kids whilst others get taught to swim.
Jenny and I go to playgroup Wed mornings,
then we go to the pool afterwards and stay there for lunch and
catch a bus home before Sam gets home. Next year she goes to
preschool 4 mornings a week which I am realy looking forward to.
I've had lots of luck lately catching
buses, most of them stop. Apparently it's the Malaysians (known
as Bumiputras and mainly muslims) are the laziest and don't stop
for anyone. If you get an Indian driver you're ok. They're real
bone rattlers (ie the buses) though and it often sounds like the
gear box is going to fall out. Anne, (the lady next door) and
I got on a bus in town the other day and he only stopped at one
bus stop even though locals flagged him down at every bus stop.
He only stopped to let people off.
Last Fri was Budda's birthday so there
was a small procession down the main road with the Chinese and
different Budda floats. There are a lot of Buddhist temples on
Penang. We have visited 3 or 4. Apparently they worshp several
different Buddas. Sam is fascinated by all the temples. Outside
the temples you usually get a couple of beggars rattling their
tins but I don't give them anything. You'd be broke if you gave
to all of them. The temple of a thousand steps (aptly named!)
has markets down the bottom which are known as the temple of a
thousand rip-offs. We get about 80% off tourist prices. There's
tourist price, RAAF price and local price.
We have a man called Mr Poon who comes
to our door every second Wed and sells souvenirs, dresses, shorts,
shirts, linen, towels and anything else you need. We also have
Mr Womly who visits Sun nights selling books and the latest novels
in English (mainly from U.S. and England). Raymond the greengrocer,
visits daily and does everything from selling groceries to posting
letters, getting fresh meat (mainly chicken and pork) and fish
(including prawns). He also gets your dog licence, TV licence
and car licence and rego fixed up. One need never leave the house.
The Malays are having their fasting
period at present and are all a bit off. It's a muslim thing.
They're only allowed to eat after dusk and at the end of it all
they have feasts and celebrations and gift giving. It's called
There's been strange and scarey things
happening this last week. First one of our RAAF firemen knocked
an Indian girl off her pushbike and killed her (the girl pulled
out in front of him!) 2) There were 2 RAAF guys bashed on Fri
night at a night club some 500 yds from our house. One chap has
to go back to Aust for plastic surgery. He was beaten up with
a mallet and had 150 stitches in his face. The other guy has a
large scar down his face. 3) An army guy was bashed outside Kentucky
Fried Chicken about 2 miles down the road. 4) A trishaw driver
set up a RAAFIE to mug him and took him up a dark alley to his
mates waiting, but he got away by singing out 'RAAF police' and
they all scattered. 5) Last night a Chinese lady tried to abduct
a white child from one of the RAAF areas but a neighbour saw her
and called the S.P's. (service police. 6) Another 3 army guys
were bashed in Penang the night before last and ended up in the
The drivers haven't improved over
this Hari Raya period either. There was an accident on our corner
the other night (the 4th since we've been here in 10 wks!). There
were 3 motor bikes involved (better known as plastics!), initially
that is. You see over here, if you have an accident you have to
leave your vehicle where it lands even if it's the middle of the
road. Anyway, this motor bike was lying on the road and we were
watching and along came a car and ran over the top of the bike,
went up in the air and landed in the monny (monsoon) drain sideways.
The next minute there were about 20 locals trying to kick his
door in and get to him. The passenger got out and ran up our street
(the locals were only interested in the driver) to our gang (about
20 whites). He told us he was in the Malaysian airforce so Anton
(a neighbour) rang the RMAF police for him. Our S.P's brought
them down to the scene of the accident. The best part was the
RMAF orderly officer arrived in a jeep, 6 armed men jumped out,
3 stood either side of the road, guns cocked whilst the orderly
officer got his chap out of the car and the passenger, put them
in the jeep and the others hopped in and they all took off. We
went inside after this and I heard them about 20 to one in the
morning taking the plastics off the road. The accident happened
about 10 pm and the civilian police arrived about midnight. The
police station is less than a mile away by the way. We were watching
all this from some distance by the way. We only live 4 houses
from the corner.
The plumbers have just arrived to
fix our hot water and put a new system in. We've had no hot water
for 3 weeks (these Malaysians are slow). We used to have hot water
until they fixed the cold water and messed it up. Mind you it
never gets below 20 degrees C so its OK having a cold shower at
I'm going to Hadyai 20th June or something
like that. That's in Thailand. It might be cancelled yet if enough
people aren't going but Andy said we might all go there soon. We
haven't been to Singapore yet so we're waiting until Andrew has
leave due. We'll probably go about Nov time. The airforce pay
our return airfare once a year to Singapore so we only have to
save our accommodation and spending money. We want to go for about
a week and enjoy the sights. There's a big zoo there too.
The food up here is great. My amah
cooks the best curried chicken (Indian style). It's more orange
than our mustardy coloured ones. It's so tasty we go back for
more. She also cooks chilli crab, sweet and sour pork, chicken
koy teow and beef koy teow. We're having beef koy teow tonightl.
I won't leave Malaysia without knowing how to cook all these dishes.
Chinese cooking classes started this
week at my house. There are about 10 other girls doing the course.
We did fried rice (with croutons) and mixed vegetables with pork
and prawns. They were delicious. I've cooked the vegies for Andrew
and he loved them. I'm doing the fried rice either tonight with
the koy teow or tomorrow night. The recipe for mixed vegies is
I used about 12 big prawns cut in
2 or 3. About 15 thin slices pork. Next week we make spring rolls.
There's a great gold shop down the
road with 22ct gold necklaces and earrings etc. They make things
to order if you wish. The furniture is also great. We've bought
a few things in our short time. I've a nice bookcase for my encyclopaedias
when our stuff ever arrives. The ship has been delayed several
times and is due in docks any day now. It takes about 10 days
to get it out of customs.
We spend a lot of time eating out
or getting Malaysian take-aways at our RAAF golf club and boat
club. It's so nice and cheap as well. when you get take-aways
they're in plastic bags. They also give out their drinks in plastic
bags. I always tell them I'll just have a straw in a bottle.
We have a typhoid and hepatitis outbreak
at present so we're not allowed to eat at the local Makhans (eating
places), not that you'd even think about eating at some of them.
Well I could go on for hrs but I hope to get home at the end of
August on a RAAF Charter. If I get on it I'll be home for a month
so I'll bring some pictures and tell you all about it over a lasagne
dinner. (hint, hint!)
Bye for now.