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Shaun and Trina are Sweating

Join us as we eat curry, go on adventures and fight the evil travellers' diarrhea.

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While we’re not sweating

My tiny Thai story

“Hello TINAAAAA”

nasal greeting; music to my ears

the gaps in language

the many years passed

the cultural differences

all

disappear

over

Shared meat on a stick, cold beers and laughter

as monks

and BBQ

float by in boats

Writing with a full heart and belly,

Tinaaaa

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Celebrating driving away evil with coconuts, spears and body piercing

In case you missed it . . .

Shaun and Trina are Sweating

Ever feel like smashing a coconut midweek? How about walking for 6 hours in a trance with hooks in your back pulling a silver chariot? Me neither. But for many Hindu devotees, this spiritual undertaking is an integral part of Thaipusam festivities.

The Hindu festival of Thaipusam is celebrated on the full moon of the Tamil month of “Thai” (January/February) which happened to be Wednesday. According to Wikipedia, the festival celebrates the goddess Parvati giving her son Murugan a spear to get rid of an evil demon. And Batu Caves just outside KL happens to have the world’s largest statue of Murugan with his spear in hand. What better place to celebrate the vanquishing of evil?

Since I had the day off work, I figured I would squeeze into public transit and check it out first hand. The experience was one for all the senses.

“Whether insensible, outmoded, stimulating or…

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“Winter” in Malaysia

The beginning of 2018 has brought colder weather than most Malaysians have experienced. And it’s the talk of the town. People were bundling up as temperatures in Kuala Lumpur plummeted to a chilly 21 degrees this past Thursday (yes, that figure is positive and it is in Celsius). The unusual room temperature weather has been met by mixed reviews from Malaysians.

According to The Star Online, many people took to Twitter to voice their pleasure at the cooler temperatures and getting to wear sweaters.

@UzairJasmin posted: “Dear Malaysia. I love this kind of temperature and weather. Can every day be like this?”

Even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak weighed in upon his arrival home from Saudi Arabia, tweeting on Friday morning: “Wah it’s really cold in Malaysia today, like Jeddah! Alhamdulillah back home safe.” Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/01/12/metmalaysia-no-winter-is-not-coming/#6usUWpqCCQkfgqdo.99

Others in a Straights Times article voiced their concerns.

Fitness enthusiast Mohd Razif Abdul Karim, 29, said with the cold and rainy weather, it was harder for him to go jogging. “Usually, I can jog in the park after work but now, it is slightly more troublesome,” said the Petaling Jaya resident.

Housewife Siti Zaleha Abdullah, 53, from Taman Tun Dr Ismail, said the damp was making it harder for her to dry clothes outside. . . C.K. Wong said he spent RM4.50 (S$1.50) to dry his clothes for 23 minutes in the machine. “Otherwise, there is a musty smell on my clothes in this type of weather,” he said. Read more at https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/winter-in-genting-highlands-when-europe-comes-to-malaysia.

The cooler temperatures have been brought as a result of the rain and cloud from the northeastern monsoon, and just to be clear, the daily highs have still been near 30 degrees. Shaun and I are embracing the cooler weather. We are sleeping with a comforter on and no A/C, and we’ve been out running midday. This certainly is a far cry from a Saskatchewan winter.

Keep warm everyone!

Trina

A Humpdick Holiday Production

Well it’s officially 2018 here in Vietnam. We managed to stay up until midnight and were joined by my parents in the celebrations which consisted of going out for a nice meal and watching the countdown on television broadcast from Ho Chi Minh City. The headliner was apl.de.ap from The Black Eyed Peas. So as we were ensured “tonight’s going to be a good night”, we raised our glasses and toasted 2018.

Since we still believe resolutions are for chumps, you’ll have to settle for this random video we created instead.

Christmas on the Mekong

Wishing all our friends and family around the world a fabulous 2018!

Trina and Shaun

On a slow boat

All school year I’ve longed for a free day in which I could just curl up with a good book. Or in the case of sweaty Malaysia, sprawl out under a fan. Now here I am for 14 hours on a slow boat in Laos where the wind is surprisingly cold (I’m wearing my toque) and I’m restless. I’ve read two books, watched 4 episodes of The Crown and now I’m playing a strange game of eye spy in my head. I remember when I was a kid and the 4 hour drive to Carrot River to visit my grandparents seemed like an endless journey. There were no iPads so my sister and I were armed with a game of travel bingo in which you marked off all the things you saw on the journey – things such as grain elevators, cows, wheat, and other exciting prairie sights. So get your bingo cards ready . . .

On this slow boat ride down the Mekong I’ve seen:

  • Water buffalo bathing
  • Untouched jungle
  • Villages
  • Temples
  • Waving kids
  • An elephant working
  • Many colourful long boats
  • Tourists with plastic bags on their feet and Kleenex tucked in their sunglasses
  • Live chickens in luggage
  • An entire garbage bag of sausage as luggage
  • The world’s longest mole hair

Anyone else have a blackout yet?

Trina

Really Japan? – Anecdotes behind the generalisations

Japan is efficient.

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Everyone talks about Japan’s incredibly efficient transportation system. So when we planned to travel from Haneda to Narita airport, fly to Hokkaido and be back to Yokohama for a conference all within a few days, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. There were regularly scheduled shuttles, trains, and buses. All run like clockwork. What I failed to take into account was that Japan also has many rules.

Japan has a lot of rules.

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I just figured that being as efficient as “Japan is” the Haneda -Narita shuttle would be running until at least midnight. It didn’t even dawn on me that you could view the entire schedule online (online schedules in Southeast Asia aren’t exactly reliable). Had it I would have seen that the shuttle finished at 10pm. But all was not lost, we could take the train and then catch a public bus.  The rule we weren’t anticipating was that items over 1 meter in length aren’t allowed on the city busses, and our friend had a snow board with her that was well over the length allowance. It didn’t matter that it was now 1:30am and we had waited 90 minutes for that bus. It didn’t matter that the bus was practically empty. Rules are rules, and unlike travel in Malaysia, you can’t pay someone a few dollars to come to your rescue. We tried to politely argue our case, but couldn’t help feeling bad for the poor bus conductor who was growing increasingly uncomfortable, avoiding eye contact and hoping we would just go away. So that is what we did.

Japan is expensive.

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We ended up taking a taxi, the remaining 50 km. That cab ride cost us an astronomical $200USD!! But we’d learned our lesson and Shaun became a master of reading all transportation schedules online from that moment onward. And for the record, the trains really do run like clockwork. We never made another transportation blunder.

Beer is cheaper than in Malaysia.

original_url: 8EB1443D-2A47-4FF8-B3E9-1523453E453BThankfully our first stop was a city named after a beer (or is it the other way around?). Sapporo, the fifth largest city in Japan, is located on the northern most island of Hokkaido and is home of the Snow Festival. There we rediscovered winter running, introduced our American friend to the word “toque”, ate copious amounts of curry and ramen soup and drank Sapporo beer. We did all this as we took in the unbelievable snow and ice sculptures (all for free!) We even got a day of skiing up further north in Niseko (not for free).

Japan is clean and orderly.

img_1017The entire time I don’t think we saw a single piece of litter. It blew our minds that they had on the corner “sand stations” where people could help themselves to little bags of sand to spread on the nearby sidewalk if it was too slippery from ice. If we did that in Canada people would go crazy taking truck loads of this free sand for their own driveways. It would be complete mayhem.

On the trains, everyone is eerily quiet. There are no kids screaming, no music planning, no randomness that you’d expect on a subway. Instead everyone is reading. You could hear a pin drop it’s so quiet. I actually felt like we were being rude because we were talking.

Japan is beautiful and the food is delicious. 

These final two things mean we will be back some day to enjoy the beauty of the seasons and get our fill of ramen and sushi.

Sayonara,

Trina

Fun tidbits about New Zealand

Spending the past three weeks in New Zealand was wonderful. We knew we were travelling to a place not that different from Canada but still found ourselves surprised by the number of similarities. However, those things are boring. What’s interesting are the quirky differences that make New Zealand stand apart. Here are our favourites in no particular order.

  1. There are way more sheep than people. According to Wikipedia, New Zealand’s population is approximately 4.5 million and as of 2007 they had 39 million sheep (which is way down from the 70 million in 1982). In fact, dairy farming overtook sheep farming as the #1 agricultural industry in 1987. How many cows are there? 5 million – still more than there are people!
  2. The kiwi isn’t just a fruit. It’s the national bird and New Zealanders love it so much that they
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    I can see why people might identify with this cut little guy with powerful thighs! (Image from New Zealand Birds Online. Great spotted Kiwi. Adult. Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre, September 1975.)

    have taken its title as their national nickname. We learned that kiwis don’t

    fly, are nocturnal and had no predators until ferrets and other despicable creatures were introduced to the region. Ironically the stoat, ferret and opossum were introduced to deal  uncontrolled rabbit population (also another failed species introduction). Now the kiwi is endangered. But luckily the human Kiwi’s are on the case. Their love of their cute feathery friend is strong and an extensive campaign is in action that makes a Hollywood ending seem very possible.

  3. The duty free limit when you arrive is 3 litres of spirits and 6 bottles of wine per person – the most of any country we’ve ever visited.
  4. Thanks to The Simpsons everyone knows when you flush a toilet south of the equator the water flows the opposite direction as it would in the Northern Hemisphere, but did you know the light switches and locks are also opposite?  Or at least they are in New Zealand.
  5. The start of summer in New Zealand is not very hot. New Zealand is south of the equator and is located southeast or Australia, so while we heard of the record breaking temperature of 40 degrees in Adelaide on Christmas Day, Auckland reached a very comfortable high of 23. At night it could get downright chilly (10 degrees). Luckily when tenting, I could still feel like I was sleeping in Malaysia because my Canadian sleeping bag is rated to -20.
  6. Weather forecasts are nondescript. A typical summer day will be described on the radio as “rainy”, “fine” or “quite fine” with no mention of temperature at all.
  7. New Zealanders sure love their adventure sports and the outdoors. It makes sense since both the founder of bungee jumping (A.J. Hackett) and Sir Edmund Hillary  having called this country home.
  8. “Wh” in the indigenous Maori language is pronounced like “f” in English. So place names such as Whakatane, Whakahoro and Whakapapa become so much fun to say!
  9. The country is made up of both a North and South Island. In this trip we stuck just to the North, but the stunning vistas, friendly people, good food and active adventures have us dreaming and scheming about a return trip to the South soon.

Trina

*Note: Photo credits for the featured image go to our friend and traveling bud Jeff Ormrod who snapped this shot while we were in Cornwall Park, Auckland. That’s right a park in the middle of the city has sheep!

 

 

 

 

MC Hammer in Malaysia?

Even wonder what happened to the stars of the early 90s? Well it seems once their North American fame has long past, they hit up Asia. They can tour for 20 plus years past their fame here, and Asians love them! This might explain the frequent air time artists like KC and JoJo, Rick Astley, Billy Ocean and others get.

Now imagine our excitement when we found out MC Hammer was coming to RetroFest Asia. And then imagine our disappointment when we found out days before he cancelled. Supposedly, he wanted more money for more dancers. So Shaun took to social media to protest. He did get the promoter to change their poster, but he didn’t get a refund and he couldn’t return his Hammer pants.

We decided to make the best of it.  One hit wonders – All 4 One (“I Swear”), Diana King (“Shy Guy”) and Tommy Page (no idea who he is but apparently he did a cameo on Full House as DJ’s crush) were still taking the stage.

So a group of us braved the rain and made the drive to the Sunway Mall / Theme Park (the same place Shaun plays hockey) for the concert. The venue was the Sunway Lagoon. Picture it. Sand surrounds an extensive pool which has been drained just for the concert. A canopy walk overhead is deemed in flashing lights “ASIA’S BIGGEST ATTRACTION”. Families ride a holiday train round and round the venue. Yep- definitely the place for a concert!

The artists played and I have to say it was very entertaining for many reasons. They sounded pretty much the same, their dance moves were well choreographed and they looked – well . . . older. Moments of nostalgia took me back to high school dances and driving in my 1984 Hyundai Pony with friends. That in itself was worth the price of admission!

Trina

 

Not again. . .

 

While I waited in the airport for my next flight out Shaun and our friends in Myanmar sent a barrage of photos of the fun they were having.
 When travelling internationally most people check and double check their flight intinerary. Most people if they had the misfortune of missing one flight would make sure that never happened again. I am not most people! I’ve managed to misread my flight intinerary and miss a flight not once, not twice but thrice. Here’s how it all shook down.

The first time involved an understandable mix up of forgetting that 1minute after midnight was actually the next day. This meant no weekend getaway to Dubai. The next time was misreading the day entirely and winding up at the Bangkok airport one day too late. The consequence was a flight change fee, extra time hanging out with the Thais and being very tired at work the next day.

This time was probably the most ridiculous and I can’t even blame it on any form of impairment (which would be a better story). No, I was all packed and in bed by 11 the night before. I checked my itinerary twice, flight leaving at 8:35am, and promptly set my alarm for 5. It wasn’t until I was at the airport and looked up at the board of flights to see no flight to Yangon scheduled for 8:35. “(Insert profanity), not again!” I immediately thought. 

Turns out I was looking at my return flight not my departure. I was able to pay a flight change fee and after 12 hours in the airport alternating between various coffee shops and finishing a 550 page novel, I was off. 

Hopefully, the third time is a charm and I’ll learn my lesson but I’m not guaranteeing anything.

Trina 

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