Thursday, April 23, 2015

Enough is Enough

Enough really is enough and while most of us have been grumbling for a while about the state of our country, its taken a loss of a very precious life to  push people over the edge. We are outraged about Jayde Panayiotou's murder and its seems that at least one of the suspects should have been behind bars but due to our incompetent justice system he was given the opportunity to kill.
I used to be proud to say that I had chosen South Africa to be my home but these days I am ashamed and day by day I am feeling more foolish for staying here. As an immigrant I tend to hold back my opinion about the politics of the country of my choice - not birth. How do the leaders on this continent get away with murder. Why are cases of genocide in Nigeria, Rwanda and Zimbabwe not being heard in the Court of Human Rights? Why are the murders of our farmers not being taken seriously by the world leaders? Why is a country with one of the most modern constitutions in the world getting away with discriminatory employment practices against white people who are born here in the 21 years since that very constitution was adopted? Why is the rest of the world turning a blind eye to Mugabe and Zuma's incompetence? Why are the legal, cash paying customers of Eskom being forced to pay for the illegal use of electricity and why is theft of power being tolerated.  Every citizen deserves to be protected from criminal acts and deserves to share equal rights and opportunities.
There is something clearly wrong happening here in Africa and its about time the silent majority stopped being so politically correct - found its voice and starting saying it as it is.
I have been sad about the state of our nation but now I am bloody angry and so are a lot of people! Enough really is enough!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thai - Fry

So there I was in Thailand - another destination that I had no inclination to visit but jumped at the opportunity to join Sean and Nadine there. Its a one hour flight from Singapore so getting there was quick and easy. Its a favourite destination with South Africans because its so affordable compared to Europe and the States where our Mickey Mouse money goes nowhere!
What I loved the most:-

1. The Resort - We stayed at the J M Marriott Resort in Phuket which was outstanding (check it out). Sean had arranged a time share apartment that was really great for our needs with a toddler in tow and it really was home from home with everything we needed and set in the lushest of gardens. A stones throw from the beach and lots of pools to choose from which was good because it was HOT!!

2. The Massages - Sean and Nadine had a morning at the Spa but I just flopped onto a mat in a tent made from Saris and enjoyed unbelievable one hour massages for less than a R 150. If I could have fit one of those little Thai ladies into my suitcase she would have been living in my spare room - massage oil at the ready!

3. The Pools - Thai Chi in the pool - a wonderful way to start your day and Happy Hour at dusk - Singapore Slings are wonderful way to end it!

4. The Food - Fragrant, Fresh and with a touch of spice, Thai food is a favourite of mine and I enjoyed every mouthful and there were lots of them!

5. Excursions - We went on two trips - both private tours so we were the only ones and could tailor make it length wise which is important when you have a baby in tour who may not want to spend an hour looking at Buddha!  We went to Old Phuket which had all the ingredients of a thriving third world city - new buildings dotted amongst crumbling ones, masses of motor scooters weaving in and our of the traffic and some interesting curio shops with very enthusiastic owners! I loved the downtown afternoon tea enjoyed in a little tea shop with Formica furniture and glutinous blue treats! Seriously it was delicious!
6. Island hopping - When on an island, its mandatory that you explore other islands and we were taken to James Bond Island - swarming with tourists where we literally rubbed shoulders with Americans, Russians, Germans and Japanese! This is where the beauty of being able to say, Miss MoneyPenny take me somewhere else." Then we headed for Koh Panyee - a floating Muslim Village - which gave us a real inside into island life. The village is also famous for a documentary made about its soccer team - see here.  We enjoyed the most delicious food   - a banquet really! Back in the boat, it was a breezy ride back to land and to visit the Golden Buddha where different varieties of the Americans, Russians, Germans and Japanese tourists were and I wondered where they were going to display their photograph taken with Golden Buddha!

7. The Gardens - I spend a lot of time enjoying the gardens at the resort - mainly because I got lost every day but it was a lovely space to get lost in and I particularly loved the Lotus flower lake!
I also loved our novelty towel animals that awaited us most days in the apartment, Coconut Ice lollies, swimming with Katherine, smiling, peace loving Thai people and eavesdropping on tourists while reading my book (so much competing and one upmanship).

What I didn't like - THE HEAT was a bit much at times! Patong Beach - we visited at sunset and left as the night life was starting. It was like Blackpool on steroids and the sign below sums it up! 
Would I go back - I don't think so. It was a lovely experience that I am glad of  - but I think there are nicer places that offer the same sort of holiday that are much more interesting. i think once you have been once you have seen what you want to see - you cant beat it for relaxation and great Thai food but I like holidays where you can explore and learn and I have done that.
Next? Who knows.......?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Singapore Sizzles!

In my last post I mentioned my travels and I really need to tell you about Singapore and Thailand. Neither are countries that I had an ambition to see so not on my bucket list, but life has a habit of taking you were your heart goes and a part of mine went flying off to the east last year as my youngest son and family emigrated to Singapore. 
What I knew about Singapore was that its hot, its crime free and expensive which doesn't sound very exciting or interesting - and it is all of those - but what stood out for me was the calm and efficiency of its citizens, the peace and beauty of its green spaces and the respect with which people of all races treat one another. One of the most remarkable aspects of Singapore is the truly diverse nature of her population. Established by Thomas Stamford Raffles as a trading post on 29 January 1819, the small sea town of Singapore soon attracted many migrants and merchants and they brought with them their own cultures, languages, customs and festivals. Though intermarriage and integration, Singapore is now a multi-faceted society with a vibrant and diverse cultural heritage, with major ethnic groups being the Chinese, Malays, Indians, Peranakans and Eurasians. Singapore is also home to many expats from countries all around the globe and the shopping malls clearly reflect that.
I could wax lyrical about how well its run, how clean and safe it is and how affluent people there are - no visible poverty, no beggars, car guards or people sleeping in shop doorways or parks and i am pretty sure no one has urinated at the side of the road for many decades!
However I will stick to my highlights.

1. Of course it was spending time with these special people. Katherine has grown so much in 8 months but I felt that she remembered me and we were instant friends.

2. The evening light and music show at Gardens by the Bay.  We arrived early evening and enjoyed the views from the walkways between the man made Jurassic flowers over the bay and city  and into the gardens with the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel which dominates the skyline and boasts a vision swimming pool from the roof. As dusk fell these futuristic flower towers light up and change colour to music - Like fairyland.

3. Singapore Botanical Gardens. Imagine a tropical paradise where orchids grow profusely from trees and hang at eye level in a myriad of colour - well that's what was waiting for me at the Orchid Garden in the Botanical Gardens. I usually make a point of spending a day in floral splendour when on holiday - I spent the best part of a day in a corner of this botanical garden and my camera was very happy!

4. Afternoon tea at Equinox. There's high tea and HIGH tea! This was 70 floors high and the delicious treats were perfectly served and pure to tradition on a stand with dainty sandwiches, fruit and plain scones  and then petite fours. These were enjoyed with a 240 degree view of Singapore - wall to wall ships and skyscrapers! The most perfect tea experience was rounded off by the discovery of Marks and Spencers and of course I found something lovely to buy!

5 Fireworks! It was Chinese New Year whilst I was there so red lanterns were strung in buildings and stores and we had just arrived in from somewhere and enjoying a Singapore Sling when the unmistakable whizz of a rocket went up and we were treated to a firework extravaganza to mark the last day of the celebrations and to see the year of the goat in with a BANG! Sean and Nadine live on the 12th floor so we really did have a birds eye view. 

I also enjoyed the Bird Park, a City tour enjoyed with an ice cream sandwich - on rainbow bread! The numerous 'hawkers' food markets where the locals eat. An amazing Dim Sum feast at an Orchards hot spot!  It is hot and I mean hot - its on the equator and temperatures are in the 30s every day and it doesn't get any cooler at night so I languished in the pool at every opportunity.
There wasn't much to not like but I found the shopping malls and busy streets of Orchards district, where many ex pats live and where the tourists head for shopping, too crowded and commercial. I also had the wonderful opportunity to go to Thailand and that is what I will be blogging about next time.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Cinder - Really!

I am back ! I have been living in the bush, absent without leave and on my travels - which I will tell you about later this week. One of the great things about being back in PE, and there are many, is that the movies are more accessible to me and so are my grandies. I combined the two today and went to see the new version of an old classic - Cinderella.

I sat and enjoyed being swept away into Fairytale land which when you think about it is quite a savage place and full of life's lessons. Cinderella is in reality a tale about child abuse, Hansel and Gretel contains the threat of cannibalism, Jack and the Beanstalk trades poor defenceless animals for beans and promotes the theft of geese, Snow White also tells of cruel step mothers and Red Riding Hood has wolves eating grannies!
Anyway here are some life lessons relevant in any era that we learned from Cinderella.

  1. Have Courage and Be Kind - this was a recurring statement throughout the movie and we all need a lot of both - courage and kindness!
  2. Always have a pair of killer heels in the cupboard to bring out when the occasion demands - Or at least one glass shoe!
  3. Take dancing lessons and practice regularly - you never know when a Prince is going to issue an invitation.
  4. Keep your hair in great condition so it looks great when being twirled around the dance floor!
  5. Be cheerful - Life is short!
  6. Blue looks good on anyone - its all about the shade of blue for you!
  7. If you are out riding on a horse through the forest, be sure to talk to strangers  - you never know how they may change your life - or you theirs!
  8. If you find an old ugly lady on your doorstep when coming home late - be sure to give her a glass of milk. It may be just milk but anything served with kindness is everything.
  9. It takes courage to be who you really are - in other words don't pretend to be a Princess, you don't have to be one to be fabulous - be proud of  who you are!
  10. Live happily ever after - With or Without a Prince! 
Last one - Never date a lizard - they have tendencies to eat flies around the last stroke of midnight.

NB. Thinking of offering my house for Jessica's birthday party this year - a Cinderella theme! She can invite all her friends to sweep, dust, and clean my house for me - I shall feed them scraps. She is not keen.........