Busy times in Penang
We have been busy bees here in Penang – the days seem to rattle past and before a blink of an eye we are talking about the forthcoming end of term and Christmas. Wow. This has been a whirlwind and for all its ups and downs, as ever an incredible journey. I have learnt so much, about myself, each other, and yet again in a new place and how to find our way, find our groove.
The boys are in fine form and grow in confidence day by day. The school makes them happy, and I am both relieved and pleased for them that they now find comfort and joy in their days at school.
Of course they have their moments, but fundamentally I know they are just fine. Why wouldn’t they be? They, we, have a comfortable home, a room each, a pool. We have a fridge, oven and 2 bathrooms (hurrah!), all of which were a faraway dream during those Battambang days. As we lay under a single A/C unit in our room in Cambodia, we could only ever dream of a pool to cleanse our exhausted bodies, and at times our spirits.
We have had parents evening this past week and both are doing fine each in their own way. They have settled well into routines, sociable and fairly(!) diligent with their work. This brief time away from school has not held them back in any way, in fact both teachers acknowledge insatiable imaginativeness and colourful, creative minds. For sure, in time they have missed a few academic concepts and strategies, but who’d argue this over the nurture of a curious and creative mind? The world is totally unpredictable and we have to teach our kids that this is the world they’ve got, this is it. Acknowledge it’s wonder and its strangeness. I give myself a hard time as a parent, but just this once I will say yes, I did the right thing. I was crazy, I was brave, but I had to do it. I am not wired to live a life of regrets, I’m wired to follow my heart. It’s not easy to follow your heart, for it inevitably means change. But, we are have and we are. There are good days, bad days, but I know that good old tug and stretch of the comfort zone is growth, and it’s worth it.
Big O has had a first these past few weeks. After years of expressing interest in learning the drums, I have found a music school La Viva Musica not too far from home for a weekly lesson. It was such a joy and a pleasure to see him in front of those drums, to witness the wonder on his face. I am not wholly convinced it is his thing, but if he is happy, that suits me for now.
We have had a few ‘moments’ this past week or two, one a day is just purely to test your calm and resourcefulness. Well one fine weekday with all our best intentions, we tested just that. J and I had ascended from Moongate at the Penang Botanical Gardens to the first stage of Penang Hill. We do love the challenge of this climb and the reward at the top – groups of Penangites amass early morning to share in Chinese tea, a game or too and a few exercises on the albeit ropey machinery.
All going well, all to plan with a full morning stretching ahead for a list of jobs, work and admin but alas, not to be. On our return we were unable to unlock and mobilise the car. Assuming it to be a dud alarm battery, we took a taxi to Georgetown for a replacement. Easy. Back to car, keys in lock, keys in ignition.. zero. Naught. Nothing. Flat Engine Battery.
The taxi driver concedes to jump start our car and as the battery jerks back into action, all the doors auto-lock… with the keys INSIDE.
Sweaty, hot, frustrated, this was #SeriouslyBadNews.
It was to get worse. We had to let the taxi go, but lucky to have retrieved my bag only moments ahead of the lockdown, we were armed with a mobile we tracked down a locksmith.
3 hours after descending the hill, we were in. Despite the hassle, the cost, the irritation, it made a bloody good story for the boys. And you know why it happened? We left the lights on..
For every bad moment, there is always a bucket load of good ones, and what better way to wind down from a school week with Friday Night Drinks by the pool here in Miami Green. It has become an institution, and one which is hard to beat. The kids are safely wild, running amok through the communal areas, and us ladies (and some token gents) quaff G&T’s from our plastic bottles by the pool. It’s good. It’s great in fact. It is low key, low stress, relaxed and real. Each with a nibble of sorts to share, and our own drinks, we take this precious moment to unwind into that Friday Night Feeling.
We have had some good social events to keep us from becoming hermits, from a buffet dinner at the E&O (arguably the oldest and one of the more upscale hotels in town) with J’s new boss visiting town, to an expat organised Christmas Party at a nearby condo, The Cove. It was a delight to even be at The Cove, it’s own stretch of private beach, and a playpark and pool to match.
Taking a plate of sweet and savoury food would be relatively easy for some, but an oven 30 x 25cms doesn’t leave much scope for culinary flare. Nevertheless, I am not to be beaten and to date this damn fine little oven has produced mini quiches, chocolate muffins, banana cupcakes and a good old Kiwi mince pie.
For the boys the highlight of Father Christmas arriving in a flame red Austin Healy. Now that’s pretty damn cool.
We have enjoyed simple pleasures too with the boys. As you know, always on the hunt for good coffee, but equally satisfying is a bargain breakfast. We got the boys back to the Botanical Gardens and a hearty $1.50 breakfast reward. Nice.
J has since been in England, due back in a few days. Another expensive passport run as I had done only a few weeks prior. In a way I am acclimatising to this single-mum thing. I relish this me-time, but at the same time we have not experienced it like this, and for sure it will take time to recalibrate and adjust. I have had joy in simple pleasures. A walk with a new friend, a chance meeting with another. The boys and I have explored more of Penang, visiting the Cornwallis Fort in the centre of town. Constructed in the late 1700s, Fort Cornwallis is a historical landmark in the centre of Georgetown, built to withhold and defend attacks from enemy invasions, no battles ever occurred and it has really only served administrative purposes.
We have found a park we like too, not all that far from the Botanical Gardens is Youth Park, a leisure park with both children play areas, walkways and water fun.
A coffee, a market, and a few uninterrupted hours in cyberspace, I made a plan, set a goal, an expectation that I can, I could, and I would blog more frequently.
I have been posting on a weekly basis through the past few months and I struggling to break this strange life-in-a-week cycle. I have said on my occasions that so much can change in a week. Take a look through your own phone photos over the past week and you too well realise actually how, then you’ll start to get a sense of how much can happen in a week.
I marvel at this opportunity to keep a record of what I do, see and feel, and what we experience as a family. It won’t sound like a struggle to you, but all my life I have looked to tomorrow, strived to achieve as much as I can today, so I am prepared for tomorrow. I harness a whole bundle of positivity and with a curious nature I have a ferocious energy to see the people and places of the world. But, this comes at a cost. I don’t always remember the specifics of where exactly I have been, what I did, why I did it, who I was with. I neglect to take notice of what I have already accomplished, experienced, observed, know.
I tried, but was never much good at keeping a diary. Always I started with the greatest of intentions, savouring those moments of selecting the faithful notebook (stationary mad), but I never lasted more than a month before something else would take my time and my fancy.
Now today this can be, and is, different. This is digital. The digital era. I have the opportunity to carve out my space, to curate my life as a digitised memory box that I hope will both teach me, entertain others and provide fun memories for my little family. I sleep at night knowing it is okay to forget, that I have recorded it all in some way.
So I will experiment. I will try a few things, see what works and what doesn’t. This is trial and error after all. The blog will evolve as I evolve, and I guess it has a life of its own and will become whatever it intends to be.