Dancing on the Ceiling…. I said upside down you’re turning me!

MARK: I’ve never started off writing a blog without knowing what the subject matter is.

It’s a bit like getting in a car and setting off up the M3 without knowing where you are going.  Arriving at a football ground undecided as to which side to support.  Or finding yourself at a self service check-in kiosk in an international airport without having a clue which country to fly to.

Just where are we going?

Just where are we going?

But I haven’t written much in the past few days and the urge to start tapping away on the old laptop hasn’t gone away.  I suppose because we’ve been “chilling” – whatever that is – there doesn’t seem to have been anything of any real consequence to write about.

Indeed since we left the fascinating country of Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia just seem so sanitised in comparison.  They are essentially western style countries with a slight twist.

Tourists abound.  There seems little obvious “hardship” to the naked eye.  We have not encountered any really interesting people, other than the taxi driver earlier today who liked his “happy American music from the 1960s”.  The busses run on time and are more modern than those in Camberley.  The hotel in George Town (Penang), was clean, efficient, well run and offered free flowing tea, coffee and ice cream.  I could have been back working at De Vere Venues, except they don’t offer free ice-cream – yet…

The view over the island from Penang Hill was interesting enough.  But the 70 minute queue to go up the funicular railway and 45 minutes to come back down just reminded me of being stuck on the M25.

Grey outlook, grey mood - the view over George Town from Penang Hill

Grey outlook, grey mood – the view over George Town from Penang Hill

Reality has therefore hit home a little.  Or perhaps not reality, more perhaps that this is not really travel that excites.  We are now tourists and I hate being a tourist.  Hate’s a strong word, but it’s all so “same same” but not different.  I take my hat off to anybody who can lie on a beach for two weeks, get brown, have a few drinks and read books”.  Double points if you do that two years on the bounce.  Can’t do that, won’t do that.

I sound like a miserable, ungrateful little kid.  But that’s what I feel like.  Airport departure lounges simply ram home a notion of modern day hamster wheel mentality. A WH Smith store is directly in front of me as I type at Penang International Airport.  Snickers, Mars Bars or Pringle’s anyone?

Home from home

Home from home

Yawn

Yawn

Sarah has taken me to task more than once during the past few days and told me to “get a grip”.  She has a point, but get a grip of what?  Can I so soon have forgotten the pain experienced by people in Cambodia and Vietnam, that I forget how lucky I am?  Have I have entered into some sort of parallel universe where Donald Trump is revered as some sort of modern day saint?  Or is my head finding it strange looking at Christmas decorations, when it is 35C+ outside and no black, cold wet weather to speak of?

News from home and abroad continues to make me sad.

The terrible floods in Carlisle.  Thousands of people hit again by what must be a familiar pattern of destruction, despite the millions spent on flood defence in recent years.  And then you see the floods in Chennai where double, yes double the rain hit this Indian City.  600mm in 48 hours, hundreds killed.  The floods claimed a couple of people’s lives in the UK – major news on the BBC.  India – what’s a few hundred between friends…?

Indian water - but does anybody really care?

Indian water – but does anybody really care?

People, politicians and countries have short memories.  If it doesn’t directly affect you, then out of sight, out of mind is the mantra which seems to fit best.

This World of ours literally feels upside down to me at the moment, which is perhaps just as well because in two weeks time, we’ll be in Australia.  We both felt it important therefore to get in a little bit of “practice” before enjoying Christmas with Sarah’s brother Shane and his wife George’, plus Sarah’s parents, who at this precise moment are boarding an Emirates Business Class flight to Adelaide via Dubai.

The chance to turn our lives “upside down” was grabbed with both hands when we visited a bizarre “Museum” in central George Town.  We had enormous fun, posing in different rooms.  Our fav shots were the ones in the toilet and the bedroom – which are yours…?

Sandwich please

Sandwich please

What's for dinner?

What’s for dinner?

Hasn't forgotten...

Hasn’t forgotten…

Playing "Men at Work"

Playing “Men at Work”

not much room

Not much room

A little flushed

A little flushed

weird

Weird!

A bit of shopping

A bit of shopping

So flight Number 17 on our RTW Trip is about to be called.  Penang to Langkawi.  Probably one of the shortest scheduled flights I will ever take.  An Air Asia A320 200 sits outside ready to leave.  The flight is scheduled to take 35 minutes.  The reality is that the flight is just 80 miles to a “paradise” island.  I watched some “saddos” You Tube video last night, the flight was in the air for only 17 minutes.  But the flight was a bargain at just £17 including taxes and baggage charge.  “Now Everyone Can Fly” is the airline’s strapline – well they can at the moment, but the financials for Air Asia look decidedly dodgy since the tragic crash a year ago.  So, got to fly – the flight has been called.  See you later…

Ready for a long flight, not

Ready for a long flight, not

Nearly time to go..

Nearly time to go..

LATER THAT DAY AS THE PALM TREES GENTLY SWAYED IN THE TROPICAL BREEZE….

Wow that was quick.  18 minutes 27 seconds from the time the front wheel left the runway in Penang to the bang of the rear two wheels as the concrete runway announced its arrival in Langkawi.  At first glance as we came in to land, the island is a cross between the lush green of St Lucia, the golden sandy beaches of West Barbados, all mixed with a little olde-worlde Grenadean charm.

So we did what I said I wouldn’t do and that was to hire a car.  But at £42 for four days it would be daft not to plus the island is only 40km x 25km and the roads are quiet.

As the sun goes down, my mood has changed to one of excitement.  There aren’t many tourists here.  We can escape on four wheels if we need to and above all, this is a truly beautiful island as recently voted in the Top 10 scenic Asia escapes, 2015.

It seems a natural place to stop.  I’ve said enough, let the pictures of Sarah on our own private beach tell the story.

Langkawi 1

Langkawi 1

Our plane coming back with another load of punters

Our plane coming back with another load of punters

Sarah relaxing on our "private beach"

Sarah relaxing on our “private beach”

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10 thoughts on “Dancing on the Ceiling…. I said upside down you’re turning me!

  1. Andy

    Oooh I feel you need lots of good news – we have an Englishman in space travelling at 17,500mph, now that’s impressive. Leicester are top of the Premiership, a surprise and welcome one. There is a global agreement on climate change, that’s a good start and apparently Star Wars has been given a good write up 🙂

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  2. David

    Walking on the ceiling! Preparing for Australia?

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  3. Marie and Stuart Bailey

    Loving all your blogs, really brighten up a dark winter here. Hope you have a great time with Sarah’s brother’s family and parents in Australia. Happy Christmas! Marie and Stuart xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think religion makes a massive difference too; Russ and I were so happy in Taiwan and were fascinated by the differences between us and them- I bet things have ‘westernised’ though in the last 20 years! Whilst visiting Sydney I remember being positively underwhelmed and bored – the harbour bridge was like Newcastle Upon Tyne’s bridge and The Opera House was …………..ok! CX

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Mark. Hope you are both well.

    As much as I’ve enjoyed your blogs I’m going to say that I don’t necessarily agree with everything you have written here. I’m sure you will take this reply in the spirit intended.

    In reality, haven’t you been a “tourist” ever since you left Heathrow? The mass tourism you are now experiencing also brings in a lot of cash to those economies. Without it those locals would not be able to live the way they do.

    What I really wanted to question though was from who’s perspective you are seeing this? Are the “interesting” people of Cambodia only interesting because of the hardship and how they manage to live in those conditions? I suspect those people grinding out a living aren’t doing it because they want to live a simple life with very little but because they have no choice. Offer them Thailand and a less “interesting” life there and I wonder what the answer would be?

    When you say “there is no obvious hardship” you almost sound disappointed. Not sue if that’s how the good people of Thailand feel about it!

    I kind of get where you are coming from. I’ve said to people myself “go and see Cuba before the Americans spoil it” but I also recognise that for many Cubans American dollars will radically improve their lives.

    Each to their own I suppose. Perhaps beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder…..

    Ps UTB
    PPS McDermot coming back to Reading. Oh yes!

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    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your excellent comment, it’s great to get a reaction and I agree with much of what you have said. The people of Cambodia were interesting because we came in to close contact with them – not so sadly in Thailand and Malaysia, because of mass tourism, everyone keeps their distance.

      Mass tourism does bring “same same” culture – and I think Anne below sums it up very well in her final paragraph. As you know, I have done my fair share of resort hotels and I can honestly say that these hotels be they in Cuba, St Lucia, Barbados or Majorca offer pretty much the same product and service.

      No, I am definitely not disappointed by the obvious lack of hardship for the locals. I think the point I was trying to make – I obviously did not do it very well – was the fact that countries are so much more interesting when they have a story to tell. China a classic case in point the new leader of the 21st Century…

      The World is changing and changing quickly. One of the reasons we chose to travel now rather than when we are retired is because we wanted to get under the skin of some carefully chosen places who are still in the early stages of development.

      I absolutely agree with you about Cuba. We were horrified to see people queuing with ration books for basic goods. They will I am sure be pleased to receive the US Dollar. However it will be a shame to see Starbucks, Macdonald’s and KFC on every corner of Havana, Trinidad or Santa Clara within five years.

      As you say each to their own…

      Thanks for your ‘Boro good wishes – it will be a touch few games. If we win, we go up I think. Great news about Mr McDermot – an absolute legend.

      All the best to you and Angela.

      regards Mark and Sarah

      STOP PRESS….. I THINK THIS VIDEO SAYS IT ALL JOHN…. FAR BETTER PUT THAN I COULD EVER WRITE.. PARTICULARLY THE REFERENCE TO PEOPLE…

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  6. you do make me laugh Anne…. I must try your check in idea…brilliant…. in the meantime love your line… I am def’ learning!!! thanks – M

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  7. anne@manorfm.net

    I love the pictures of you diving into the toilet, playing on the piano, and Sarah turning cartwheels on the wardrobe top!

    I have indeed found myself at a self service check-in kiosk in an international airport without having a clue which country to fly to – this was as a result of saying to a close friend that I was tired of having to organise everything and be ‘in charge’. He offered me a “Magical Mystery Trip” so I arrived at Gatwick airport with only an airline and a code for the electronic ticket. It was only when I entered the code to check in, that I discovered I was flying to Tallinn in Estonia. It was an absolutely great holiday and I highly recommend this process. There is something great about being “whisked away” with someone who’s got great ideas about what you enjoy.

    It is a rather sad thought that the more we help and assist underdeveloped countries the more likely we are to superimpose our society rather than assist the independent development of their unique culture. However, on the bright side of being in the westernised Asian countries, you’ve learned something about what you like and are passionate about and want to assist. A couple of days of feeling fratchety is probably not a lot to pay for that. “Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.” My favourite quote.

    Liked by 1 person

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