Thursday, February 19, 2015

Film - Mordecai

Well, Depp at his worst or funniest best, depending on your take on American comedies that involve a lot of gratuitous violence.  Why do they keep doing that?  Violence is not funny.  Slapstick is funny but shoot e'm up violence is not funny.  When will the film makers learn to be just a little more subtle?  Shame to say I did laugh, though.   So much stereotyping of the English, no wonder Americans have a weird view of the English.  Sorry, only 2 on the door for this one, much as it pains me so to do.  We gang of four were the only audience on the day of our cinema visit, and the place was bitterly cold, had us all shivering.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cameron Highlands - Travel Buddies

Just to the north of Tanah Rata a cafe run by a South American lady married to a Malaysian of Chinese origins who serves a very nice Malay cuisine.  Their son, David, clearly has his own favourites from his mum's menu.

One very happy Chris with his first Carlsberg in 3 days.

Our motley crew at the Smoke House, for afternoon tea.  A really enjoyable 3 days away, with 30 year old memories revisited.

Cameron Highlands - Landies

There are reputed to be 7,000 old Land Rovers in the Cameron Highlands district.  There could be more, nobody knows for sure the true number.  First brought here by the British Army during the Emergency, and imported in numbers since, they are the farmers work horse.  Local's  say they are the only vehicle that can stand the strain of the highlands terrain, a testament to the over engineered early Land Rover design.  No urban softy this one!!  .

The farmers only pay 10% road tax on the Rovers as long as the vehicle is not driven off the Highlands, hence the identifying CH painted on the doors.

It is amazing to drive through the towns up here and pass aging disgracefully, Land Rover after Land Rover, all looking bashed and battered.

But all good things come to an end as they must.  After the final act of cannibalism to keep his mates alive, what remains of the carcass is left by the wayside to become part of nature again.  Ashes to ashes, rust to dust etc.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cameron Highlands - Ye Olde Smoke House

Built in 1937, the Smoke House  would not look out of place in a Dorset village.  Come to think of it, it doesn't look out of place here, 4,000 feet up in the Malaysian mountains.  Lots of buildings are of the Tudor style around here.

 Around the side, past the rather rust pitted cannon,

to the front, which isn't the front because you enter the building at the back.

And inside a posh restaurant and hotel.

Nice fireplace in the lounge.  This one not used but the bar's log fire of last night could still be smelt.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cameron Highlands - Houses

 A hill top house on the edge of Brinchang.

Mock Tudor, and black & white decoration to  houses and hotels, is something of a theme in the Cameron architecture. And yes, those chimney are real,  real chimneys at the base of which are real fireplaces.  The annual mean temperature here is 18 deg C and the evenings are cold, down to 8 deg.

Jim Thompson's Cottage. Jim Thompson (Born March 1906 - disappeared March 1967) was an American businessman who helped revitalise the Thai silk industry in the 1950s and 1960s. At the time of his disappearance he was one of the most famous Americans in SE Asia. He was staying at this, the Moonlight bungalow, and it is from here that he took off on his last evening walk never to return.

Seen from the upper BOH Tea plantation tea house veranda.  I think it is an hotel, a sort of  Mock Tutor meets Victorian Queen Anne style San Francisco meets Swiss Cottage Chocolate Box style house. A house with an identity problem. Interesting.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Cameron Highlands - The Scenery

Not having a four wheeled drive vehicle or an ancient Land Rover,  practically every scene photographed in the High Lands has to clip a tea plant or a polythene tented market garden.

 But anyway, here are the best I could do.

 Even with the veg factories, the views are beautiful.

This shot was taken from as high as we could get in our hired Hyundai Matrix, every vehicle we passed had the occupants looking down at us.

Thursday, February 05, 2015


Today is the day of Ruth's funeral in London.  Ruth, the bestist of friends for the past 50 years. The most appropriate tribute to Ruth, I feel, has to do with travel, Ruth's abiding passion.

Ruth and Jennifer a top The Duomo, Florence (2001)
Ruth and Jenny, my first wife, were undergrad roommates in Wydrington Hall, University of Birmingham (1965), rooming for two years, which I think set an all time  record for a blind pairing of freshers. Birmingham Uni. is where Ruth and I first met, life long friends after that.  Apart from visits to each other's homes in the UK, we also took off on something like 11 holidays together.  Here are a few photos from our latest trips together.

On the Mongolian Steppes (2007)
Mongolia, a wild place where you can hear birds fly, with hardly a fence to be climbed in all of its 1.5 million square kilometers.  Ruth and husband Richard spent a week in the capital, Ulaanbaatar , with Gek and I just after winter's end.

Tiananmen Square, Beijing (2007)
From Mongolia we all flew to Beijing, at the time the city was preparing for the 2008 Olympics.  Getting a lot of TLC it was.

The Forbidden City, Beijing (2007)
Love this photo of Ruth, consulting her travel guide in the Forbidden City.  Travel guides take up a large part of Ruth's bookcases.

Singapore City from Mount Faber (2009)

Singapore with son Toby.  Matching t-shirt a complete accident.

Chinese/Vietnam Border (2009)
Our Vietnam holiday took in Hanoi, Halong Bay and here to north, Sapa.  Very strange border this, almost entirely deserted with no cross-border traffic on the bridge.  Guess they are not the best of neighbours then?

Lake Kenyir, Malaysia (2010)
A driving trip around the north of Malaysia.  Here at Lake Kenyir's lake-side bungalows where monkeys scamper over the roofs, monitor lizards prowel the grounds and hornbills eye you from the tree tops. Fabulous location which we had almost entirely to ourselves.  A very relaxed Ruth here.

East Coast Malaysia (2010)
The beaches along Peninsular Malaysia's east coast  and the South China Sea.  Deserted.  Shame about the hats.

E & O Hotel Esplanade, Penang (2012)
The E & O Hotel, Penang's Raffles, for a bit of style.  Lots of the good and famous have stayed here over the years, including Noel Coward, Douglas Fairbanks, Herrmann Hesse, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Sun Yat Sen, among others.

Suffolk House, Penang (2012)
Suffolk House for afternoon tea is a must do for any Brit visiting the Pearl.  Marvelously restored very early 1800's Georgian style home to the British colonial governors of Penang, built on the site of Francis Light's nutmeg plantation.  Raffles was here in 1818, you know.

Sutton House, Hackney, London (2013)
Our last picture together from Gek and mine's last visit to the UK.  Ruth and Richard's place is always has first and last bed for the night on our UK visits.  Rest in Peace Ruth.