Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Day 11: Departure at 19:15:00

For our final day we lived large with a trip to the zoo and yes, saw an orangutan. Not being into monkies much, I guess Mowgli was an ok sort of chimp. There's probably enough wrong monkey ID in there to get me in trouble with certain people (Orangutans are neither chimps nor monkies!!).

Yep, mm-hmm.

On the way to the zoo on the freeway somewhere between 80 and 100kph, ever so slowly a black ute pulled out right in front of us, cut across our lane forcing us to brake hard, he cut across the next lane, causing cars behind to brake hard, and maintaining his snails' pace, pulled into the turning lane. This earned him a hearty thumbs up from our driver who also gave a big wide smile and with amused surprise, turned to my husband in the passenger seat as much to say, "Wow! Get a load of that, eh?" Such is the manner of the people in the land.

Amongst all the usual zoo animals we did see some gorgeous maccaws and these are birds I love. I want one but could never care for it long enough because they have a 70-80 year lifespan. It's the kind of gift you give when someone is born or will it to them for after you're gone.

I first became acquainted with them while reading Linda Chaikin's Buccaneers series more then ten years ago and during a trip to Oahu discovered they have more character than you could wave a sunflower seed at. They are a funny and savvy package dressed up in a bird's body (no 'bird brains' here!).

Rex, one of the red maccaws at the zoo was a former 'actor' and appeared in Hollywood movies but the keeper did not say which. When he played dead it was cute because the keeper would 'shoot' him, he'd drop flat on his back, and then after about six seconds his head would pop up and he'd look around as if to say, "Are we finished yet? Can I get up now?" Too cute :) They are such smarties.

Back at the hotel we packed as a wedding was in action on the grass not far from the bay window of our hotel room. It's always a question of whether it's Muslim, Christian, or Catholic. On this occasion there was no question as to the belief behind the speak. I went outside to get some clothes put out to dry right as the minister was asking, "What kind of Christian do you want to be? Do you want God to be a Santa Claus Father Christmas God, or do you want Him to be real in your life?"

Definitely no question whatsoever, and it was food for thought to depart on.

Our trip was fantastic and a blessing of the best kind, making us feel very cherished, yet for me there's a certain awareness that not only can God do greater things than these, but it's my position here on earth to honour Him with my best at every turn. There's so much more to life than how we live it and I reckon He expects us to take hold of it for His Kingdom's good. Living like He is the supreme Santa Claus being in the sky is just plain shallow. I pray He will take me into the fulness of His will for me, and that with the grace only He provides...

Decide: "What kind of Christian do you want to be? Do you want God to be a Santa Claus Father Christmas God, or do you want Him to be real in your life?"

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it [as a precious prize--a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion]." Matthew 11v12

Depuis l'époque où Jean-Baptiste a paru jusqu'à cette heure, le royaume des cieux se force un passage avec violence, et ce sont les violents qui s'en emparent.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Day 10

Discovering Jim Thompson was a pleasant revelation, and if you love handbags, toilet bags, sunglasses cases, lipstick cases, silk scarves and other pretty things, you would get an endorphin rush in this store like I did. These items are not for the fainthearted, nor are they for the frivolous. These are exclusive items for the discerning fashion palet because they cost a lot, and they are quality of the highest order.

(not my photo)
The bags range from teeny tiny to large and have various designs and prints to choose from. The design mainstay is scenes of ancient Thai life in action and in particular, lots of elephants, which seem to be his trademark. I found a nice plain black t-shirt with "Jim Thompson" in rhinestones for about $130ish. Nice? Sure... It would outlive every other tee in your closet. Only when I got home did I discover Jim Thompson is first and foremost known for high fashion silk home drapery. I couldn't buy the whole entire shop but being a reader did settle for the biography ($22). You see, the man responsible for the birth of the modern Thai silk trade vanished in 1961 while on a walk in Malaysia. I love a good mystery and aim to read that as soon as I finish The Land Below The Wind.

Being our second last day in the place that has fuelled such praise to God for His blessing on us, and a real love for the people who never ceased in showing kindness (we could learn a lot), we spent it in a keen awareness that the clock was ticking and therefore we chose to relax. It always seems that when you're doing nothing or very little, the clock moves that much slower. I took the time to catch up on the journal and admired the view as much as possible (now perfectly embedded in my mind).

In the evening our whole group stole into the downtown district for dinner for the last time and ate fish out of frypans, which was a very novel experience. It was only slightly rushed, for the men in our group had an appointment to keep with a man who hired out guns. Paintball ones that bruise even the toughest ego. Us wives and kiddoes had shopped for an hour while they crouched, aimed and fired, and came back in time to see our menfolk were still at war with one another. Quickly we could see that if this war were real, we would all be very widowed by now.

Aware they being watched, their performance changed only slightly but one of them tried to do a big bodyroll over an inflatable log but only made it halfway, getting beached on his own belly and bringing a laugh from us standing behind the protective net. We couldn't help but think of real war, a concept so far removed from our beautiful holiday in this gorgeous place.

After the war was over and they'd used up all the ammo, protective beach footwear was removed from their crotches (yes) and overalls were stripped down, shirts were proudly hefted and trophies of dark purple bruises and welts were displayed. The kids were only slightly horrified. If their dads were laughing, this was good enough for them. They were sweaty, tuckered out, and pumped to the max. All for $17 plus ammunition.

If only real war were so cheap.

Decide: What are your wars made of? Do you ever remind yourself we war not with flesh and blood but with the other realm?

"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm." Ephesians 6v12-13 

Car nous n'avons pas à lutter contre des êtres de chair et de sang, mais contre les Puissances, contre les Autorités, contre les Pouvoirs de ce monde des ténèbres, et contre les esprits du mal dans le monde céleste.
C'est pourquoi, endossez l'armure que Dieu donne afin de pouvoir résister au mauvais jour et tenir jusqu'au bout après avoir fait tout ce qui était possible.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Day 9

Please, you must forgive my tardiness in writing. If I were one of those bloggers who made a message out of everyday life occurrences, it would read like a mish-mash of Nicholas Sparks meets Susan May Warren and they get invited to dinner by Tom Clancy. Seriously.

So moving right along...

This day seemed a good one for getting out and about, like really out and very much about, and we made the lengthy and dramatically beautiful trek by Avanza into the mountain region. Like the grocery stores of other countries, the cars are of equal interest to me. Yep, it's just one of those things I love to check out. Rather than bore you with the technical details, Toyota's Avanza is smaller than an Overlander/Kluger but bigger than a Corolla and not a van, but seated eight of us. It's a very matter-of-fact vehicle that handled the bumps pretty well.

And in this land there are serious bumps that proved to be well-known to the driver. The bumps and dips must have been intentionally created by eXtreme construction workers who had it in for cars, shock absorbers, and passengers alike, men who were living surpressed dreams of working on rides at a theme park. We'd be flying along the freeway at 100kph and the driver would brake at the sight of a bridge down to about 30, we'd go ka-whack over the bump and he'd floor it back up to 100. At first it was weird, but we quickly got used to it as part of life for getting anywhere, because especially in the instance of a bridge, there was always the downward ka-whack to consider at the other side where the road joined again.

The ride up the mountain was breathtakingly beautiful. Everything was deep green, dropping away then rising up in glorious picturesque splendour in so many different shades of lush. Every turn saw us oohing and aahing just as we had from above days earlier when we'd taken the flight in the chopper. The same teeny mishmash houses of wood, tin and/or concrete were now roadside, proving to us they were indeed very colourful and usually no bigger than a small apartment. The only BMW I saw the whole trip was outside one such house and clearly had not been driven in some time. Only the telltale grille made it recognizable amid the wad of disused goodness-knows-what stacked against it and the plants growing up and around the fenders. It was such an ironic image.

Because of the trucks and small flatbeds making the trip along the steep mountain roads, the drive up was slow at times but no one was complaining with the gorgeous jungle views outside the window. At home we grow pretty things or native plants in sandy soil where terrain is flat. These guys were growing papaya and durien and edibles they could use or sell, which seemed like such a good idea and far more practical.

Of all the things we did on this trip (we were gone the whole day) some experiences stand out more than others, and the durien tasting was one of them. The fruit is pronounced "jurian" and look like this:

  (not our photos) 

These things look like a warning on a tree. Why would you open this? Like, who tried this first and thought it might possibly be something you'd want to eat? If you see them in this state, I suggest leaving them alone and no one will get hurt. If you are an adventurous soul and do decide to open the fruit, please, please have someone else open it for you, do NOT get it on you or on your clothes (unless you are preared to run behind the car all the way home), and have handy a pack of Mentos and some scented wipes. I'd been in contact with these fruits before but the others were keen to try. We stopped at a roadside where the seller obviously propagated a tree at home. The back of his trailer was full of these spiky odd-shaped pods, and at the cost of RM10 (about $3), he put on his gloves and opened one for our group.

If it looks like a kidney or some other bodily internal organ, I assure you that the taste is everything as pungent that you could conjur. My hubby declared it to have the sweet note of a mango but the strong finish of a pile of onions, but in my opinion that is way too kind. Let these images tell the story because the faces say it all...

The caption with this woman's photo should read, "What crawled into this fruit and died??!! Don't make me put it in my mouth!!"

The smell is bad and yet one in our group decided he didn't mind it. I couldn't believe it! Even the teksi driver was telling us how they are banned in hotels and cannot be brought onsite.

Back in the car, overtaking was a real Borneo experience, because unlike home, they don't seem to police the road rules because their rules seem to be that of martial law. There are few speed limit signs and every move made seems to happen by unconscious mutual agreement with the car in front or behind or ahead. Overtaking on the way up or down a hill with a blind corner coming and no gap between cars to pull back in is dealt with by sheer courtesy, and oncoming cars will even slow down for you until you are let back in. No one curses (at least not openly) and there's completely no road rage. There are plenty of thumbs up and only very rare horn honks. In brief, you won't die and it's all good. Please, pull out in front of me so I can smile at you and wave!

On the way back down the mountain we saw a section of road that had dropped away and sunken beneath the tarmac that wove through the jungle like a ribbon, and we actually drove around this one whack-worthy bump. Not even the teksi's shocks could take the next ka-whack. During an eXtreme overtaking section, there was nowhere else for us to go and at speed at about 80kph on the way down a decent incline with a hairpin bend in sight, the kids in the backseat very much felt the next ka-whack, and ground out a "Whoa!" that made us all laugh - not to mention the passenger in the middle without a seatbelt hit his noggin and released a pretty funny, "Oww...".

Our teksi driver gave a small wry smile that grew to a more openly amused grin. "Sorry."

Yeah right. It might have been hard to swallow if we weren't laughing, too.

Decide: Is life better when you can see the bumps, or when they take you by surprise? What smells in your life that you might need to get rid of yet have been living with for some time, managing to convince yourself that odour of decomposition might not be coming from within?

“Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!” Colossians 2v21

Ne prends pas ceci, ne mange pas de cela, ne touche pas à cela!