"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Monday, June 28, 2004

Quote of the Post: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die." - Mel Brooks


Tasmania Travel Journal, Part 1 (with pics!):

General comments

On the whole, it is more relaxing travelling with only my father than with both my parents. My mother tends to take a confrontational approach to everything. For example, when something gets lost or misplaced, she shouts on about how she took so long and put in so much effort to look for it, as if others had deliberately hidden or thrown the object in question just to spite her.

My mother also has some odd superstitions. Among the travel-specific ones: you can't use the number locks built into luggage, because knocks may jar the mechanism and you'll have to spend hours trying to crack the disturbed combination (no word on if we shouldn't use normal locks, for surely falls can jar their mechanisms as well); at the same time, nefarious luggage handlers may put drugs into baggage, so it must be locked with a separate lock (no word on luggage with many outside compartments, not all of which can be or are locked.

The sheer number of types of electrical sockets used around the world is immensely frustrating. It's as if the various countries had conspired to frustrate travellers by deliberately making their sockets and plugs incompatible - this page lists 13 types of plugs, and I know that there are variations on these 13 types of sockets.

The disadvantage of having flat feet with complications is that they always hurt like mad when I walk a lot. Which is what I do when I go on holiday. It's almost not worth the reduced headache that the SAF gives me.

Flight to Melbourne

Our code-sharing flight to Melbourne was on Qantas (the return was on British Airways). Their in-flight entertainment has a slick interface: among other things, there is a page providing information about each movie, and on switching to a video channel, a little notice will pop up telling you how many minutes have passed since the programming on the channel started. But of course, SIA's video-on-demand beats this.

I like Qantas's policy on censorship: "We respect your right to choose, so our policy is to screen all movies in their original cinema version". Contrast this with the rampant and shameless bowdlerising of Emirates, the excising of material unacceptable only in the Middle East and similarly socially backward places.

Making calls from your seat is already old hat, so Qantas has gone one up: you can send and receive SMSes from your Qantas seat. At an exorbitant price, naturally.

Day 1 - Melbourne

Our flight arrived at 4+am, so we were all zonked out. On arrival at the Duxton hotel, we (or at least I) spent a while snoozing on the couches since there was no room available for us.

I spent the rest of the day walking the streets with Andrew. I also visited his flat, viewing his not-so-messy room and sitting on his overly-full beanbag. For lunch we had Quail Souvlaki, among other things. It was very succulent. Freakily, though, the toilet was lit with a UV lamp. He then brought me to a shop in Chinatown - "Pink Fashion", which stocked the most garish and tasteless clothes and accessories I'd ever seen outside a museum or off a catwalk, was staffed with Hong Kong-accented, Cantonese-speaking Chinese girls and had a nail painting machine.

For dinner, we went to Shark Fin House (sic) - a place we (sans my mother) had visited 2 years ago. At that time, my father had used his (almost) unerring knack for finding good food to choose that place to have dinner in and we were not disappointed. As with the last time, there were some discrepancies between the (Old) Chinese menu and the English menu - meaning those unable to read Old Chinese would miss out on some of the more exotic and exquisite delicacies, but I think they had lessened.

Day 2 - Melbourne

There were many Singaporeans at the Duxton hotel - I think fully half the guests I saw were Singaporean. My suspicions were further confirmed by the spread at the hotel's buffet breakfast - in addition to mediocre fried rice, there were bowls of Chilli, Thai Chilli and BBQ sauce.

After breakfast, my parents and I went to walk around the Queen Victoria market. There was the usual dodgy merchandise that one would expect in a market of this sort. For example, a "magnetic copper bracelet. Magnet controls your blood pressure", the maker of which evidently does not know that copper is not a ferro-magnetic material. In another part of the market was "Tuscan Naan" - it must be something from fusion cuisine.

As we walked past one stall, we heard a strong PRC accent calling after us (in Chinese, naturally). The PRC stall owner then proceeded to offer us rates for his merchandise far below their listed value - special rates for "zi4 ji3 ren2" (Translation: the kindred that is the Chinese diaspora), which disturbed me slightly. He was a very good merchant - insistent, warm, enthusiastic and seemingly sincere, so even my mother ended up buying probably more things than she wanted from him (though she tried to bargain the already low prices down further, just for the heck of it).

Later I met Andrew and he took me to St Kilda's beach, where someone who shall remain unnamed used to wander at 2AM (go figure). And it's not even a particularly nice beach in the first place. Maybe they should've imported Arabian/Californian sand like Singapore.

There was this interesting shop - "Urban Attitude" - selling all manner of novelties: things that would be nice to have at home, but which you would think twice about spending money on. For example, they had:

- A "Mr Wonderful" doll-keychain (which interestingly enough, I saw on TV a few days later), billed as being "Carefully developed with today's modern woman in mind. He is complete with good looks, sense of style, sincerity, charm and is genuinely sincere (sic). The perfect gift for any woman whether single or married" and which said things like "I seem to be lost. I think I'll pull over and ask directions" with a squeeze of his hand
- A "love spring" in the shape of a mammary gland to squeeze to "relieve stress"; strangely, it was rated for "ages 5 and up"
- something to test the breath for alcohol and so determine the blood alcohol level
- Rubber chickens! I've always wanted a rubber chicken. I credit the Muppet Show for my rubber chicken obsession
- the Librarian Action Figure that I had read about in This Is True

Somewhere down the road there was a plant shop, where I finally got to see what flax looked like. There was also a butcher's shop somewhere, with a sign in the window warning vegans that the Vitamin B12, impossible for them to ingest as part of their diets, was necessary for proper brain growth.

As the sun set, we sat by the water front and had a romantic chat :)


I suddenly have a strong urge to write Bananas in Pyjamas slash, especially since I couldn't find any.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking, B1?"

"I think I am B2"

"It's *** time"


Meanwhile Tym has her own travel journal, of sorts.
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