Shirl: Thoughts & Shots
Rowan: Paroxysms

Christmas Eve in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The stockings have not been hung because we don't have enough room to travel with stockings and there's no mantel on which to hang anything but despite that Santa has managed to locate us early enough to make a nice spread of gifts. Apparently he stopped by while we were out having our Christmas Indian Thai dinner down the street.
From the Untethered Folks: Thanks for following our journey or at least occasionally checking in to see how we're doing! That's the best gift we could ever have.

Merry Christmas from Chiang Mai!


Please Sir, May I Have Another Update?

Home in Thailand until January 11th.Here we are living in the lap of luxury in our two-bedroom villa in Chiang Mai, Thailand, while our poor readers pour over old posts looking for some morsel of insight because the high and mighty Rowan and Shirl couldn't be bothered to post an update. Well, Timmy, here's a picture for you! Our little hacienda for the holidays that Mr & Mrs Scrooge have settled into for their winter's rest. All shimmering in the cool (finally) night sky, one of three houses in a little gated community south of the moat that makes up the old city. With the ghost of Christmas past assuaged with this pittance of an entry ("Can you not see the chains of expectations that bind your followers as you sit idly by?"), we are eagerly awaiting current and future ghosts to goad us into writing a catch-up entry of the last few weeks. For now, rest and per chance, to dream.


Singapore, Singapore, Singapore, we loved you three times!

A brief entry as we prepare to go to a house for *a month* in Chiang Mai, Thailand:

We had a great trip to Singapore, stocking up on all the items that are not available in the other countries we have been visiting.  A place where you can drink the water (!) and where you can eat salads and ice cubes and other wonderful modern conveniences for a hot and humid equatorial country. 

We loved the Singapore Art Museum, which had several exhibitions to be summarized in a gallery to come.  Meanwhile, the featured artist was Hyung Koo Kang, whose portrait of Marilyn Monroe is accompanied by the following description:

"People recognise these portraits of famous people as photographs, but I do not draw famous faces.  I fragment them and then I reclaim the original through assembling." 

Here's Marilyn

and the artist himself


and for the traditional news from the location:  You may have heard of "SlutWalk," a worldwide movement, set off by a Toronto police officer's remark that women could avoid being raped by not dressing like "sluts."  Well, in Singapore, the land where hardly anyone showed up at Raffles Place when there was an "Occupy" event that lacked a state-issued permit, there was a SlutWalk event.  According to a local newspaper, "Hundreds of people gathered at . . . downtown Singapore's Speakers' Corner, the only public outdoor space where demonstrations are allowed in the Southeast Asian country."  The newspaper called it "a rare public demonstration in the tightly controlled city state."  The newspaper also noted that last month, authorities in Singapore decided to abolish a law that allowed a woman's sexual history to be examined during a rape trial.  Hmmm.   


Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

After beautiful Brunei, we had a short visit back to the Malaysian part of Borneo.  And yes, sometimes we are tourists.  In Kuching, Sarawak (Western Borneo), we went off early to the Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre at Seminggoh to see some orangutans feed, but they were not hungry and did not come out for us.  This is a centre dedicated to rescuing injured orangutans and then preparing them to re-enter the wild.  Fortunately, the staff do not force them out.  Apparently at this time of year, there is plenty of food in the forest, and if the orangutans are eating on their own, they are getting better.  Yeah!

So when we reached Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah (Eastern Borneo) for the second time on our trip back to Singapore, we set off for a short visit to a Bird Sanctuary and were rewarded by visions of many animals and a few birds!

Here are the greeters at the entrance!  Monkey is in the front, and Blacky is in the back.  They look suspiciously like our Macha and Chakra.  Hi, guys back in Twin Peaks!!   We miss ya muchly.

And here are two more unnamed kitties.  It is so funny that a herd of cats would welcome us to a bird sanctuary, but the staff feed them so, no worries about the birds. 

Now *here* is what we came for - a great egret! 

and this gives a good sense of the preserve generally, with an egret

and a fiddler crab - wildlife in a smaller size, food for the egrets

the lovely lily pond

and then hugs from Shirl for the kitties

and from Rowan too...


Beautiful Brunei

At Rowan's suggestion, we next went off on a 20-minute plane ride from Kota Kinabalu, in eastern Malaysia, on Royal Brunei Airlines, to the Sultanate of Brunei, and it was a wonderful trip!  Rowan and Shirl were each in charge of a three seat section of the exit row, at the request of the flight attendants.  What a difference from the West, where people fight over exit rows.  They *asked* us to serve!

The big kahuna in the town of Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, where we stayed, is the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, here shown in the daylight before we visited, with its Ceremonial Ship

and then seen from the Kampong Ayer (River Village) by Rowan, walking without handrails!

and then seen from the nearby shopping mall, reflecting old and new

Here are Rowan and Shirl, appropriately dressed for a mosque visit

Rowan and Razik, security at the mosque, who welcomed us with open arms, as did all who saw us waiting to enter!

Shirl in front of the Ceremonial Ship after the mosque visit

and the mosque lit up at night. 

And now for the new tradition, here are snippets from the paper in Brunei:

1.  Things are the same all over the world:  from the Brunei Times, December 5, 2011, Headline on page 1:  "Minister's call to private sector:  Give more benefits to women staff . . . She [called for] reviewing compassionate leave to enhance work-life balance. . . .  She said as half of Brunei's population constitute women, it is pertinent they are employed or it will be a 'big loss to Brunei.'"

And 2.  And a unique Brunei perspective:  From the Borneo Bulletin, December 1, 2011:  "His Majesty the Sultan . . . again showcased his commitment to ensuring . . . excellent  . . . education by taking the time to pay a visit to a few schools . . . .  Echoing his many recent statements over the last couple of months about the importance of energy conservation . . . [he pointed] out the questionable use of air conditioning units inside the school's gymnasium and whether that is actually required . . . ." 

[The temperature in Brunei is about 90 degrees, and the humidity is about 95%.]

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