Walking in the rain

033

Since we returned to Ipoh from Auckland after Christmas, we’ve experienced the rainy season. Most days it has been heavily overcast with torrential downpours that never last very long. This means that the temperature is a little lower and lack of sunshine gives the impression that it is a lot cooler. The rain of course makes it even more humid than it is normally, so it’s swings and roundabouts. Most mornings we get up when we hear the first call to prayer. One of the mosques nearby has a particularly devout muezzin, who starts hailing the faithful (and everybody else!) through his powerful loudspeakers at 5 am. He continues till 6 am, takes a short break and then joins the other three mosques within earshot in the actual first call. By that time we are wide awake and ready to go for a walk in the rain. We skirt the golf course and walk up the steep hill on the far side. Our route takes us past the fantastical houses (see my previous post  https://janeburnett.com/2016/04/25/cloud-cuckoo-land/) on the jungle side of the golf course. We are usually early enough to walk back along the course itself and as we near the club, we see lines of golfers waiting to tee off as soon as it is light enough. There is always a delicate balance between going out too early so that our whole walk is in the dark or too late so that, if the sun does make an appearance, we are dripping with perspiration by the time we get home. It is much cooler to be dripping as a result of precipitation.

Golf

056

As readers of this blog know, we live in a golf resort. Neither of us has ever played golf nor do we have any aspirations to learn. I can see the green of the 18th hole from our balcony. The other day I observed four golfers painstakingly taking turns to get their four little balls into the little hole. I watched for five or ten minutes as they stood in the searing heat making their many attempts. It seemed like a complete waste of time and energy and I got tired and hot just watching them. However, there must be some compelling element to this game because so many people around the world play it, many of them spending vast sums to do so. I can’t imagine that I would ever be tempted to take it up, especially in a tropical climate but living on a golf course means that our surroundings are very pleasant and for me, the most positive aspect of the game is that it is quiet.

Cloud cuckoo land

IMG_3241

In an attempt to keep up the daily activity I enjoyed while in Auckland, I have been going out early most mornings for a brisk walk around the area of Ipoh in which we live. The other day I came across this house – yes, it’s a house, not a hotel! I think it is meant to resemble a chateau in some mountainous region of Europe, hence the steep roof to cope with heavy falls of snow. The grounds are embellished with a fountain complete with cupids and the postbox is beyond my powers of description.

IMG_3243 IMG_3246

I guess whoever built it wanted a house big enough to conspicuously display his/her extreme wealth but also wanted a design that no-one else would have. I think they succeeded!

Traveller’s palm

033

There are two of these enormous palm trees in front of our balcony. The new leaves sprout from the middle and the old leaves on the ends slowly wither and eventually fall down. As the weight of the leaves lowers the sturdy stems, the hollow part of the stem faces up and is filled with water when it rains. Hence the name – traveller’s palm – a thirsty traveller can get a drink, though I don’t think I would risk the brackish water unless I was desperate! However, the birds love it. I have seen a pair of sweet little bulbuls dive in for a bath and then sit on the sturdy edge for a good shake. Our resident squirrels use the horizontal stems as a convenient pathway from one tree to another. They scurry along the palm’s leaves and stems and then take a flying leap into the tall tree beside it. We’ve never managed to get a photo of these lightning-fast furry creatures but often watch them with great delight. It is also a treat to watch the rain splattering off the palms (we’ve become Kiwis who love rain!) and  during one storm we took these photos.

038

Golf

056

Living beside a golf course is much more peaceful than living next to a theme park! The loudest noises I hear are the click of a club connecting with a ball or occasionally a shout of triumph or dismay, depending on how well the game is going. Sometimes a golfer will lose his or her ball among the trees in front of our balcony and I’ve watched them attempting to hit it onto the fairway without connecting a tree trunk. Though this is amusing for me, I imagine it’s very frustrating for the golfer. Many of the people who live around us are retired and are very keen golfers. They go out early in the morning and/or late in the afternoon on an almost daily basis. Some of them even park their buggies in their carports and drive these from home to the course and back. We often get asked if we play. The answer is and will always be “No” but that in no way diminishes our enjoyment of our present accommodation.

Jungle walk

091

We ventured into the jungle behind the golf course where we are now living. There is a pathway that leads to a series of small waterfalls. The water is clear and cascades over granite boulders, forming pools that are invitingly cool. The whole area is shaded by tall trees that have huge leaves. To get an idea of the size of the leaves we took the photo above, with my (very big!) feet as the scale. We were also fascinated by the tiny worm-like leeches that hurried in our direction as soon as they sensed us. We didn’t realise that any had actually latched onto us until we took off our shoes. When we removed the leeches from our ankles, the blood poured thanks to their clever anti-coagulating technique. We then took another path to get a view of the golf course and were met with the sight in the photo below. Someone had taken a lot of trouble to dump their rubbish in this otherwise pristine environment when they live in a city in which there is a rubbish collection three times a week.

095

Walking the golf course

168

If we get up when we hear the first call to prayer from the nearby mosque, we are early enough to walk (in my case) or run (in Jim’s) around the golf course where we now live. Any later and it’s too hot and also we disturb the golfers who are out honing their skills on the greens. This morning it was still dark when we set off. It was cool and the air was fresh after a good shower of rain. The buggy paths that we follow wind their around the course, through small groves of tall trees and alongside creeks that flow from the hills surrounding the area. Everything is pristine – there is no rubbish lying around and the green keepers are out on their tractors tending to the soft, green grass and raking the bunkers. They bob their heads under their huge straw hats to say “selamat datang”. I was half-way round when it started to rain again. What bliss to finish my walk feeling cool and damp. Jim was wet having jumped into the pool on his way back to the apartment!

Blue skies

IMG_0529

Today is my first full day in our new accommodation and so far, so good. It is peaceful and quiet. I have the sliding doors onto the balcony open and all I can hear is the birds. I spent a few hours getting the kitchen organised and mopped the floor when I had all the cupboards arranged to my satisfaction. So I was extremely hot by the end of the morning! I remedied that with a swim in the complex’s pool, which I had to myself. I did a few lengths on my back, which gave me a good view of the clear, blue sky and the towering white clouds. It was early enough for the water to still be a refreshing temperature. I’ve kept my damp togs on since returning to the flat so not only am I relaxed but I am still cool.

Moving on

meru valley

Readers of this blog know that we have been plagued by the noise generated by the theme park that Sunway developed adjacent to the housing estate that we presently live on. We’ve had enough! So we are moving to a condominium (which is a fancy word for what is really a flat) on a golf course in another part of Ipoh. We hope it will be quieter and more pleasant over there. We have a balcony that overlooks the golf course and the large trees that surround it. Although we will no longer be living in a house, we have two spare bedrooms and bathrooms. You are welcome to visit.