Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sri Panwa Resort - Phuket, Thailand

To describe this establishment as luxurious is only the beginning, for this place cannot be dismissed using merely one adjective. Firstly, lets start by stating that this sort of place is far beyond this families usual price bracket when it comes to holiday destinations. We were only able to do so with the extreme generosity of our Malaysian friends.

Despite being imposters in the world of the well heeled, Lina and I (just the two of us) made a creditable attempt to blend in. I did this by packing every nice shirt in my wardrobe. There were no ripped shorts, t shirts or jeans, a first for me as I recall. So we lounged by our private pool in our Luxury Villa, listening to the Bose sound system aired to every room. We awoke to a panoramic sea view behind the glass walled bedroom, as we lounged on the oh-so-comfortable king sized mattress.

Impossible to ignore was the service. At these sort of places you can genuinely let it go, just leave it to them. And I mean everything; checkout, checkin, it really was the full pampering package.

So comfortable were we that not once did we set foot outside the resort. Not once were we tempted. In fact we became so used to the style that Robin Leach introduced us to in the 80’s show ‘Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous’, that it was something of a letdown when we arrived at Phuket airport for the return leg to Kuala Lumpur. It’s a downright shoddy airport in need of a substantial upgrade given the status of Phuket as one of the more popular tourist destinations in the region. The place was crawling with sunburnt, package Russian tourists, downing plastic cups of duty free liquor before the long trek back to Siberia, perhaps steeling themselves for the 6 months of urban freeze that awaits them.  Then there were the Australians. Three generations commonly represented in various stages of tanning, resembling human pelts with eyes and painted eyebrows.

Friday, October 28, 2011

2011 Rugby World Cup

What a 6 week period its been.

This competition has been much anticipated by New Zealanders around the world. Personally, I've had my ups and downs when it comes to my support of Rugby Union and the New Zealand All Blacks. I grew up with it, played for many years, and  have wonderful memories of watching the All Blacks, nervously, through the 80's and 90's.

I've been a critic of the commercialism that has enshrouded All Black rugby since the start of professional Rugby in 1996. Of course its been inevitable and I don't begrudge the modern player the right to earn a wage playing the game. But its fair to say I've blown hot and cold.

However, I was completely swept away with it. A couple of years ago, if someone had asked me want I wanted to see happen with NZ hosting the RWC, I would have spoken about the fact that we need to be good hosts. To go along to the games such as Georgia VS Namibia, despite the Rugby on offer being of a lesser standard than could be viewed at any club ground on a Saturday afternoon. It was all this and more.

For goodness sake, I saw New Zealand blokes in the ground on the night of the final Vs France, clutching the silver fern emblem on their black jersey with tears rolling down their cheeks. Unheard of a mere 10 years ago in a society where keeping a tie on ones emotions and toughing it out have been one the mainstays of the culture.

We won after 24 long years, putting to bed the chokers tag that has been round our necks all this time.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sounds of Kuala Lumpur

This was taken on the patio at home during the evening call to prayer. Accompanying is the melodic din of the car alarm in the background. Ahh, the sound of the city........

Turn up the sound.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Money, Money, Money

It's never to early to get the young ones proficient in handling 'the green stuff'. One of the many extra mural courses available to school age Malaysians.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Adventure Pastimes

The first time I realised that I am afraid of heights was in 1994 when I bungee jumped for the first and last time. New Zealand is well known as the ‘adventure capital of the world’. I have met those abroad who assume that apart from playing Rugby and admiring the scenery, we spend our day’s bungee jumping, white water rafting, and other such adrenaline sports that cater largely for international tourists.

Whilst on the subject of international perceptions of New Zealand, following is a conversation I have had many times whilst living abroad.

‘Where are you from?’

‘New Zealand’

‘Ahh, New Zealand. It’s beautiful’

‘Oh, you’ve been there?’

‘Err, no,... but I’ve heard its lovely. I’d love to go one day’.

Regarding my bungee jump, I was not cajoled into doing it. Quite the contrary, it was following my suggestion that I found myself strapped to an elastic cord 47 metres above the ground, trembling as my previously shy and retiring sense of self preservation began to raise its cowardly head. To call my experience a bungee jump is to be disingenuous. It was more accurately, a bungee knee-trembling-plummet. I had always imagined leaping forth into the air, all embracing of the sensation that comes with free falling from such a distance. This did not happen. After being convinced by my captors on the high platform, whom I had paid $147, that the best course of action was not to be unstrapped and return more conventionally to the earth, I decided, jelly legged, to collapse from the platform to the ground below. I was terrified.

Given all this, it may seem somewhat strange that I volunteered for the Skytrex adventure circuit. It’s a series of flying foxes, ladders and aerial obstacles negotiated at the height of 17 metres. Of course, we were all strapped in and attached with what appeared to be very safe devices. The fear of user error was always foremost in my mind however as I double, triple and quadruple checked my harnesses at various points.

After the first few platforms I began to breathe a little easier and at one point towards the end of the course I even enjoyed the sensation of throwing myself off a ledge. It’s a fantastic facility out at Shah Alam and I would highly recommend it. It’s a bargain price as well; 45RM, incredible value, so check it out at

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Plug For 'Allo Expat Malaysia

Its a challenge for anyone to move to another country.

Luckily there are some very useful online sources that provide advice. One of these that I found most useful when I was trawling the net back in New Zealand looking for info on this strange, unfamiliar place called Malaysia, was It has everything from immigration to leisure tips and includes a discussion forum for any specific questions.