Moving on

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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.

The view from my window

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I have spent a lot of time at my desk in the last week because I am editing a couple of PhDs. This requires long periods of intense concentration, which is good for my old brain! Every now and then I take a break and look at what you can see in the photo above. I have written about my room in the Writing section of this site but it is worth repeating that I feel very lucky to have such a lovely environment in which to work. To look out at the river, rest my eyes on the lush green trees and watch the occasional bird or monkey or lizard going about the business of finding food provides a wonderful break from the computer screen. Now if I could just get the Lost World theme park to shut up, if not completely then just to reduce the noise level, things would be perfect!

Las Vegas in KL

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Last week we stayed in KL for a couple of days and I caught the hotel shuttle to Sunway Pyramid (see pic). This is a “resort” in KL, which comprises a huge shopping centre, complete with ice rink, hotel and theme park. Sunway is the property development company that built and maintains the area we live in in Ipoh (Sunway City) and also the ghastly Lost World of Tambun theme park, which is the bane of our lives because of the noise it generates. So tasteful development is not Sunway’s strong suit but the pyramid and sphinx is where this lack of taste reaches it apogee! Nevertheless I had a good coffee, a delicious lunch and a successful quest for food items unavailable in Ipoh before going to wait under the sphinx for the shuttle back to our much more subdued hotel. I was entertained during my wait by a large number of people standing under the sphinx taking selfies!

Peace and quiet

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This is the courtyard at the side of our house at Lakeside Villas and we spend a lot of time out here. It is cool, catching any breeze that there is, and there is a large fan in the ceiling. There is also a small table where we often eat all three meals. However, we are driven inside when the nearby theme park (http://www.sunwaylostworldoftambun.com/) starts playing music over its very loud sound system. The bass beat reverberates off the limestone hills straight into our courtyard. We have complained in person and by letter/email and were told that Sunway (the huge property company that developed Lakeside Villas and other housing complexes in the area, and owns the Lost World of Tambun theme park) seeks to provide “wholesome, family entertainment”, which obviously involves loud, repetitive “music”. Noise seems to be part of our lives here. The beautiful grounds around the area, which are also maintained by Sunway, are kept in shape by workers using very noisy tools – the grass is cut by teams of people each wielding a screaming trimmer and there is often the drone of leaf blowers. No “soft sighing of summer lawns” here! Renovating houses, which are barely seven years old, seems to be a favourite pastime of home-owners in Lakeside Villas. Several of our neighbours have moved out and left us to endure the noise of jack hammers and tile cutters. But today all is quiet – the builders have moved out of our street and the Lost World is not playing any music. Today we’ll enjoy our lunch in the courtyard.

The eye of the beholder

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Our daughters are with us at the moment and it is wonderful to have them here for all sorts of reasons – to catch up after not seeing them for six months, to have time to chat about things that don’t seem important enough to include in a Skype conversation or an email, and just to be together in the same place for a couple of weeks. It is also great to see where we live afresh through their eyes. They really like the house and approve the juxtaposition of our furniture and other household items with those of the landlord. They have enjoyed the walks we’ve done around Sunway City, the visit to one of the cave temples, the stroll around the alleyways of the old town and the delicious meal we had in a street restaurant in Little India. Their enjoyment of the things that are different about our life in Ipoh from our life in Ohaupo has made me realise again how lucky we are to be having this experience. And this weekend we are off to Penang!

Dog

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I have never owned a dog and I don’t consider myself a dog lover. I do, however, feel very strongly about the fate of the little dog who lives over the road from us in Lakeside Villas. He lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a cage in the carport. The maid wheels the cage around so that he is always in the shade and I presume she also makes sure he has food and water. I have seen her open the door and remove his waste and give him a slap when he tries to nip her. The people who live in the house never pay him any attention and he is certainly never taken out for a walk or to play. I first became aware of this dog because his barking at night woke me up. Now when I hear him barking, I just feel sorry for him. I have discussed this dog’s fate with my neighbours – apparently one of them has already notified the SPCA, which issued a warning to the owners, but nothing changed. There are many dogs in the yards around us. Some of them are taken for daily walks by their owners but more usually by the maids. There is one outstanding example of dog ownership in our street – an elderly rescue dog who is taken for a walk every morning and evening by his owner herself. She waits patiently for him to do as much sniffing as he wants to and then off they go on their slow meander around the pathways of Sunway City.

Our first visitor

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We’ve had one of our Auckland friends visiting us this week and it’s been such fun. As I had anticipated, having a visitor was an inducement to go out in my car and see some of the Ipoh sights. In the words of Winnie-the-Pooh, “two is better than one”, particularly when it comes to driving through the frenetic traffic and trying to follow the GPS. We went to the old town, the Perak Tong and the Cameron Highlands, though Jim did that drive – just as well because half of Malaysia seemed to be up there with us and some of the driving practices require a strong nerve! We also went to the Banjaran Spa (see pic) for a treat and what a treat it was! Beautiful surroundings, lovely people and luxurious treatments as well as a look into the restaurant and wine cellar built into a labyrinthine limestone cave. I have had such a wonderful week and look forward to another visit soon.

Heat

When I lived in New Zealand I was never really hot. I can confidently predict that I will never be really cold in Malaysia, unless I’m watching a movie at a cinema. More on that later. This photo is the view from upstairs in our house. It was taken early in the morning, which is the only time one can comfortably go for a walk. We usually head out at about 7am, which is when it starts to get light, and walk (in my case) and run (in Jim’s) round the pathways of Sunway City. It is lovely, with the sky turning pink as the sun rises, the birds waking and the river glowing green. Last weekend we went to see The Monuments Men at a local mall. The air conditioning must have been turned to maximum – it was freezing in the cinema. I had taken a cardigan but was frozen by the time the movie ended. I then noticed that some of the people around us were wearing jackets. I wondered why some of the stores stocked jackets – now I know! Don’t rush to see the film unless you are particularly keen to see George Clooney in a World War II army uniform. It was entertaining but I doubt it will win any awards.

The Year of the Horse

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We are in the midst of new year celebrations in Ipoh. These are the lights that greet us as we drive into our area of the city. Many of our neighbours are Chinese Malaysians and they have their families visiting, large gatherings at dinner time and very loud firework displays in the middle of the night. The noise of the crackers reverberates around the limestone hills that surround Sunway City. On the first night of the new year I woke with a start, certain that I was in the middle of a war zone! One of our neighbours who is Hong Kong Chinese invited us for high tea on the first day of the new year. We sat around the table, which was loaded with sandwiches and cakes, and were plied with cups of English breakfast tea. Very pleasant particularly as they had their air conditioner going full bore. We then piled into Jim’s company SUV and drove into the old city for a delicious Indian meal. Happy year of the horse!