01.07.2010 - 03.07.2010 30 °C
Good evening all. It's 7.30pm here and I thought I'd give a quick update while I have some time, before watching the Argentina-Germany game later. Since I last wrote, things have been very relaxed and have just been settling in really. The first two nights I had I slept absolutely terribly even though I was incredibly tired- got to sleep no problem but both nights woke in the early hours for no reason and I just lay there awake until it was time to get up- I'm attributing it to jetlag but hopefully I'm over that by now. Thursday and Friday we spent in the office, reading up on on TEDs as well as checking out reports that MRF have produced and what they've been up to for the last couple of years. They've been doing some pretty cool research and Nick clearly is an important guy. Looking at the schedule on the white board in the office, he's off around the world all the time to places like Abu Dhabi, Australia, California, Philippines etc etc. It looks like he spends more time abroad than he does in KK. Should be able to pick up a lot of knowledge from him- he clearly knows his stuff and is very passionate about the work he does, which is great. I've got a copy of this great video that has been made all about problems in the oceans- much like all the other ones we've seen before but there is some awesome videography and definitely worth a watch. I might upload it but it's huge and not sure about distribution rights. There's another one about TEDs also, which you can't watch as I'm going to save it for my presentation! :P
So KK itself- well it's a rather interesting place. It's pretty small, I'd say not much bigger than York to be honest. I'm slowly appreciating just how obsessed with food Malaysian people are. Lunch time is 12 o'clock almost on the dot and most people eat again straight after work at 5. Instead of saying "how are you?" it is much more common to be asked "have you eaten?". The vast amount of food shops give huge choice and the main cuisines are Malaysian, Vietnamese, Thai and Indian. Most food places only do one type of dish and that is their speciality- so you end up deciding what you want to eat before you decide where you want to eat, which is quite the reverse of what we're used to. I've sampled a few different things so far- All meat is cooked and served on the bone, which means it was slightly disconcerting when you get your chicken thigh with a very bloody looking bone served to you. Still, I didn't want to be rude, so ate it anyway. If they eat it, then I'll eat. Trying to mostly brave with food stuffs- although the dish of BBQ chicken anus, I might pass on for the time being. The national drink is called something that I can't remember but translates to english as "pulled tea". It's basically a cold cup of english tea served with milk and a lot of sugar, served over ice. I'd rate it as OK but not something I'm going to rush to buy. If you want to know what it tastes like, please make it yourself back home. It's literally like I described it.
After work on thursday we went up to the closest beach in Mel's car. It's quite cool, but a bit dirty. There's loads of people selling fresh fruit so I bought some "Jumbo" as it's called- basically an apple-watermelon cross kind of thing, if that's possible and they put this weird salty, sour powder on it. That basically ruined it completely, but the bit at the bottom without any on was very nice! Thousands of little crabs inhabit the beach, which retreat down tiny holes in the sand when you go near. They are sort of like fiddler crabs I guess, they roll the sand into little balls, but they don't have the one big claw, so not sure what they are. The water is absolutely boiling also- never experienced anything like it. It's like a bath- it might even tempt you in dad!
Anyway, on to last night. Me and Gill were invited out with Mel and her friends to watch the Brazil-Netherlands game and then go out afterwards. After two nights of rubbish sleep I really didn't fancy going out after but was definitely up for the game. We went to Times Square in KK which is like a cool new area with loads of bars and clubs and outside seating and big screens. Was a perfect place to watch the world cup. The annoying thing about Malaysia is that it doesn't have any of its own brewed beer for some reason. So instead I had to settle down with a Heineken, much to my dissatisfaction. Anyway we met all of Mel's friends- there were probably about 15 of us there. All really cool people- they were so friendly and genuine and were pleased to have us there. A lot of them had studied abroad and all speak fluent english and talk to each other in english, which made things really easy. I couldn't say no to carry on staying out after a couple of beers and great chat. We headed to a club called the white room, which was pretty cool. At first, I've got to say it was hilarious and totally surreal. A live band were playing all sorts of music from the Black Eyed Peas to Evanescence to a totally varied audience of ranging from all different ages. The women were mostly scantily dressed to say the least. If you think Nottingham on a saturday night is bad- you should have seen this place! Anyway, a couple of bottles of apple vodka were bought which came with a bucket of ice, jugs of orange juice and a bloke who stood there all night mixing your drinks for you. Bizarre. I'd only had a couple of beers and I thought if I was going to survive this place I needed to step it up a bit, so I had my fair share of the vodka. The band were pretty cool after a few glasses and a few chins up and before you I knew it me and Gill, being the only white faces in the whole room were reluctantly dragged up on stage to dance. I'm not really one for dancing with a room full of Malaysians watching me and I was trying my best to not be the stiff British guy! But literally after about 1 minute of being up there 3 guys came charging through the room and bounded up onto the stage greeting us with hugs and more dancing. They were from Scotland and loving the effort decided to join in, which was just hilarious and also slightly heart-warming at the same time. Needless to say the faces around the room were quite a picture when we decided to get down. After that I just carried on drinking and chatting- the live band finished and resident DJs Kevin Na and Tongchai Jaidee hit the stage (that one's for you golf fans) and the music became trancy and weird- That pretentious shit that clears the dance floor. And when Uruguay-Ghana came on at 2.30am, that was literally the case. We watched some of the game unfold before heading off. Oh yeh, that brings me to the title of this post. I was told to take my drink off the dancefloor when I was up there because you aren't allowed to have glass on the dance floor- I guess this happens in some places in the UK, but still, it's a shit rule and I reluctantly agreed. Anyway as we left the club, with most other people, much to my surprise everyone piled into their cars and drove home. Apparently this is very common and everyone does it (Don't worry though everyone we were in walking distance!). Traffic laws are interesting in Malaysia, it's not the worst driving I've seen but it's pretty bad. To take your test you do it with a policeman and to pass the test you bribe him about 50 ringgits (£10). This is totally common- no bribe, no pass. Driving skill is irrelevant.
I've been blabbing on for ages now so going to stop as I intend to keep these as short as possible so you don't all get bored. But yeh all is going well- and settling in fine. Off out to watch the match with some people from the hostel now and off to an island tomorrow. Got my advanced open water course booked for next weekend and I think I'll be doing my rescue diver at some point after that. Going up in the plane on tuesday to go dugong spotting also, so will have lots to report on soon.
One last thing- I was in the bathroom earlier and got talking to these two Australian girls, who can't have been much older than 18. They'd be trekking up Mount Kinabalu today, when they were confronted by an angry squirrel. They tried to get round it and one of them attempted to shepherd it out the way, something which it was not pleased about. So....it bit her. Yes, this girl was attacked and bitten by a squirrel. Probably the greatest story I have heard in some time. They had to abort the climb to go to hospital and get a load of jabs. Classic.
Much love, speak soon x