Month: December 2014

Bahasa Melayu.

If you know English you will find it interesting to learn Malay. As the country used to be under British rule a lot of the English language has seeped into the Malay language. It might not be spelt the same way, it might sound a bit different when spoken but there are plenty of English words for the keen listener/observer to find. What follows is a brief example of common Malay words that are almost the same as in English. See if you can understand them all.

“You ride the bas to the post office to go to the kaunter to pay your bil. And then you go to the buku store to get something new to read. On the way there you feel a bit peckish so you buy a sosej in a bun, and some epal juice with ais to quench your thirst. In a shop window you see a leather beg and remember that your old one has a broken zipper. Then you keep walking and see a nice blaus in another shop window. You like it so much that you buy it and on the 50 ringit bill you pull from your wallet there is a picture of the gabenor. The cashier hands you the plastikbeg and you walk out of the store.”

There are of course plenty of words that are pure Malay, in which you can’t find any trace or history connected to the rule of the British. There are so many nationalities living in Malaysia and has been for years and years, all of them leaving words in the language. As it is in every country, in every corner of the world. And languages change over time, they evolve and new words are created as we humans invent new things and change our way of living. Back in 1852 no one knew there would ever be the need for a word like computer or wifi because those things didn’t exist. Other words lose their importance or their meaning is changed. When you read a text written a couple of hundred years ago in your native language you will stumble upon words you barely understand.

So I am trying to learn a new language, and it is not as easy as I wished it would be. Luckily all the Malaysians I have met so far have been kind and helpful in my endeavour. And not a single one has laughed at my pronunciation, at least not to my face. On the contrary, they have looked surprised and happy that I at least try to talk to them in their own language. And here is a tip if you ever plan to visit Malaysia; the first word you should learn is makan. It means eat.

Bas=bus
Kaunter=counter
Bil=bill
Buku=book
Sosej=sausage
Epal=apple
Ais=ice
Beg=bag
Blaus=blouse
Gabenor=governor
Plastik=plastic

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Time is not a theme park’s best friend.

Our expectations were low as we drove from Kluang to Ayer Hitam to visit Tropical Village. The theme park was opened in 1993 and things can go downhill fast here in Malaysia, if not maintained properly things break and fall apart very fast indeed. Nature is quick to reclaim areas not used, and if you don’t cut the grass the plants and trees will move in and not leave without a fight.

So with that in mind we paid the entrance fee, RM 10 for adults, RM 5 for children (under 3 for free) and RM 5 for the car. On our visit it was hot and humid, which is the normal weather any given day here, so we chose to bring the car. Most people did. Or, the three other families that were there at the same time as us. As it was a Saturday and a school holiday as well we had expected it to be a bit more crowded. But as we drove and walked around in the park we came to understand why it wasn’t.DSC03843

The years have not been kind to Tropical Village. In its glory days I believe it looked amazing. There are smaller versions of famous buildings and statues from around the world. We saw a pyramid, the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal and so on. All in dire need of some paint job and general cleaning up. There is a mini zoo, or there used to be. Now there is a peacock in a biggish cage and a monkey all alone in a small cage. It did not look happy. The manmade lake was green and did not look inviting at all. All areas of the park looked old and worn down, some were closed and looked like they had been for years.DSC03761

I think our children found the small fishpond at the entrance to be the most interesting part of the park. The big cat fish was a success as it even caught a small shrimp right in front of us. Show off!
To be fair there were people working in the park, some were painting the statues in the cartoon character area and others were sweeping and washing the pathways. But the park looks old and run down, in a few years time it won’t be worth your time or money at all. As it stands today you can spend an hour there, if you have young children. They are not as picky as we adults are and therefore oblivious to the flaky paint on the Great Wall of China.

Hello Kitty, goodbye Kitty!

Having a 5 and a half year old is both wonderful and totally exhausting. Sometimes you end up feeling you have somehow been persuaded to do something you don’t really want to do. You have lost the argument and to a child that is no way near as old (or smart) as you.

So we went to Hello Kitty Town in Johor Bahru. On the way from the hotel one quarter of the family was super excited, one quarter was talking pure gibberish as per usual and two quarters wanted to turn the car around, strongly suspecting they were on their way to a place most horrid.
I had googled around a bit and knew that it was kind of expensive to get in, it is RM 110 per person (free for children under 3) if you choose to buy tickets for both Hello Kitty Town and The Little Big Club, if you choose just one it is RM 75 per person. I strongly recommend you splash out and buy tickets for both places.

Hello Kitty Town is on the first floor and if you are a fan you will find yourself in heaven. You can walk around in Hello Kitty’s house, take a photo alongside her, find her missing friend and so on and so forth. BUT first you have to stand in line, for a long, long time. And listen to really loud music. And if you’re really (un)lucky the carnival will be performed in and around the stage smack in the middle of the place. My daughter thought the carnival was too loud so we went upstairs. Hooray! I must admit I am biased in this matter as I do not really care much for Hello Kitty to begin with. But I do think they are robbing you blind when you buy your ticket to this place. It is not that big, not that much to do and it is really all about how much money they can make you spend.
Luckily we had bought the tickets for The Little Big Club as well. On the floors above Hello Kitty Town you will find Bob the Builder, Pingu, Barney, Thomas (you know that train that is always super friendly and helpful) and Angelina Ballerina. You can go on a short train ride, a ferris wheel, bumper cars and some other things. There are some great play areas with huge enclosed jungle gyms and both our children loved them. My husband ended up chasing our youngest through the biggest playground as she laughed and just climbed and ran as fast as she could. She slept like a baby (pun not intended) on the way home.

And I went on the ferris wheel, finally I found one small enough for me to climb aboard and not feeling I would die as I looked down. It wobbled a bit when you moved in your seat though so I sat very, very still and instructed my daughter to do the same. As I have said before, any normal and sane person has great respect for heights.
If you like good food like us, eat lunch somewhere else. I had a chicken burger meal, don’t have that. Really no taste at all, but it was freshly made so that was nice. My husband had chicken and rice and he said that it was okay. I think we paid RM 38 for us two so it wasn’t too bad but still, I have had better for way less.

There is of course a shop that you have to pass through on your way out. Be prepared to spend a lot even for a small trinket such as a keychain. We had talked about this before going into the place and it went smoothly thanks to that. No drama in the gift shop, phew!
On the way home our oldest talked more about the jungle gym than Hello Kitty which I feel quite happy about. Bye, bye Kitty.