It’s a man’s world …

I went to the ballet in Laos – the Ballet Theatre of Luang Prabang – to see a show called ‘The Return of Princess Sida’ The unhappy princess was separated from her husband due to war, and pined for years.  Her husband also claimed to be unhappy to be separated from his wife. Finally the…

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Luang Prabang – Wats and wiring

Laos is a country that loves wires – This picture was taken in Vientiane in a not particularly attractive area, but it was the same story in Luang Prabang, which is a UNESCO world heritage town, full of monks and magnificent temples, called Wats – all gilded and carved and generally very splendid. So I wondered…

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The gardening monks of Laos

As I walked past a temple in Vientiane I was pleased to see that the monks were out doing a bit of topiary and trimming the hedges. There’s something very homely and unthreatening about Buddhist monks, and I’m pleased to be back in a Buddhist country again – if only for a couple of weeks,…

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A dilemma …

What do you do when you’re out for the evening and you bump into a chap from work and he’s clearly wearing eyeliner and lipstick? … Go and watch him in his panto, of course! It was my first experience of expat amateur dramatics and there were the usual cheesy jokes, songs and topical references…

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On a foodie tour of Malacca

On a trip to Malacca last week I rekindled my love affair with the Peranakan culture.  The Peranakans were also known as the Straits Chinese, and were the first wave of Chinese immigrants from the 14th Century onwards; wealthy merchants who traded in Malacca and intermarried with the local Malays. They had their own culture,…

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Ahead of the curve … yet again

I see in the UK press that Nigella is predicting that the next hip ingredient – essential for every foodie refrigerator and food-related hipster conversation – will be pandan. Well – sorry, Nigella, but I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt to prove it … or the photos, at least. Here is Mr Toad…

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Phew, what a scorcher!

The temperature in Malaysia doesn’t seem to stray far from 32 degrees, with humidity around 70%.  It’s usually sunny in the morning, and there’s often rain later in the day – but this week has been an exception. Last Tuesday we went to the Helilounge to celebrate Julia’s birthday.  It’s a helipad by day and…

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The oldest Viking in town

This week one of my pupils asked how old I was when the Vikings invaded Britain. I like to think that this is because my description of the Anglo-Saxons standing on the cliffs watching the long boats heading for the shore was so vivid that she  thought I was actually there myself – rather than…

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The High Life

There’s an intriguing sign on the wall in the swanky Royal Selangor Club in KL – Since the club – all mock Tudor and with a waiting list as long as your average Malaysian spitting cobra – is a bastion of male chauvinism, I assumed that the wacky-baccy boudoir would be strictly men only, so…

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A week of firsts

In first place of all the firsts, I have to announce that I am no longer a durian virgin. I have almost bought durian so many times, and then lost my nerve at the last minute – but Lauren was with me and determined to try it, so this time there was no going back. …

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Just before I get the sack …

It was student review and reflection time again this week – one of my least favourite times of the term – where pupils reflect on their progress, fill in a form, and then take it home for their parents to sign.  I don’t like it because, in my experience, young children are incapable of reflecting…

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A boy called no one …

  Names in Malaysia are an endless source of confusion and/or amusement. Could anyone blame me for constantly confusing the two girls in the same class call Ya Jing and Ja Ying?  Or for not realising that a child with two names is usually known by both of them and not just one?  Do they…

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Hubris

After writing my rather smug little blog post yesterday about how easy it is to pick up Bahasa, I noticed that I had received a Facebook message from my local area’s Facebook page.  Glancing at it, I saw the name of my condo – Villa Flora – so I read it more closely. Now, I…

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