Published: July 2nd 2009June 30th 2009
Ready for any weather
No tropical downpours yet...
Eat or starve?
Malaysia is the home of laksa, curries and hot sauces. Even noodle and rice dishes are spicy. Dad says I will need to get to like spicy food - or starve! So we have been visiting Malaysian restaurants before we go. Just trying some new foods. Training the tastebuds. One of our favourite eating places has a collection of hawkers stalls inside a food court. A big range of styles to choose from. But dad says the food is still mild compared to the real thing. Hmm.. Maybe I will pack a few muesli bars - just in case!
We tried a Malay dessert this week called "Ice kachang" (aka "Ais kacang" or "Air Batur Campur" or "ABC"). It is a mountain of brightly-coloured shaved ice drizzled with evaporated milk. Inside, there are red beans, palm seeds and even sweetcorn. Weird! But refreshing like gelati. We also had "ice cream" in a can. Actually, it was a soft drink much like "cream soda". Sweet and tangy.
Keep your cool
Malaysia is hot! It is located in the Northern hemisphere. But only just. The equator runs right through the island of Borneo. Sabah and Sarawak
Creatures on the loose
are just above the equator. Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) is split on both sides of the equator. So, we can expect temperatures to reach 36 degrees most days. And it rarely gets cold at night.
No need to take jumpers. T-shirts and hats are far more useful. And an umbrella. Remember the four S's: Slip, Slop, Slap and Shelter.
It rains a lot in the tropics. Most days there are storms in the afternoon. Heavy rain. Those jungles are called tropical RAINforests. So, they get wet often. Kuching is the wettest place in Malaysia. It gets drenched with 4 000 mm of rain every year. That's 4 metres! You could drown in that much water.
Watch out for bugs
Bugs love hot climates. So, we can expect to meet lots of insects and other biting creatures. You just can't avoid them entirely! But you can do a few things to improve your chances of staying well.
Mozzies are a big danger. Not just because they are annoying. They can carry tropical diseases like malaria. And some of the nasty ones are known to hang around big cities on Borneo. Even in the daytime. So, long pants
Which plug is which?
Adaptors, plugs and rechargers
are a good idea. And seriously strong insect repellent. Plus mosquito nets at night in risky areas.
Then there are the bigger creepy crawlies. Like spiders and centipedes. I'm not too worried about them. But there are lots of leeches in the rainforests. Those little bloodsuckers don't let go! So, I will be checking my socks often
on jungle walks.
Plugging into the past
Electricity generation and power points are different all around the world. There are more than a dozen major socket types used in different countries. Australian electrical devices have a "Type I" power plug. Malaysian power outlets have a "Type G" socket. That is the same as in England. Not a coincidence. The British were in control of the country from 1824 until World War II. The mainland area was called Malaya back then. It finally became independent in 1957. Then in 1963 it joined up with Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore to form the new country of Malaysia. Singapore left two years later and became an independent country.
The good news is that both Australia and Malaysia use 240 volt power circuits. So, electrical gadgets are basically compatible. You just need to have
adapters to fit plugs to the sockets. So, we have bought a couple of adapters for our portable devices. Dad's mobile phone charger already has a "Type C" adapter. Soon, it will have two adapters piggybacked together to get power. I hope that works!
Speaking the lingo
"Malay" is the official Malaysian language. But everyone just calls it 'bahasa". That is the Malay word for "language". It is almost the same as Indonesian. Bahasa is the most commonly spoken language. The other common languages are Chinese and Tamil. Thankfully, English is also widely spoken. We probably know enough Malay words to get directions and buy stuff. What else matters?
"Ringgit"is the word for "money". But it is also the name of the local currency. This week, one Aussie dollar is worth almost three Malaysian ringgit. So, we bought some! Enough to get started when we arrive.
"Kampung" means "village" in English. But that is only a rough translation. It is also about a "community". The cartoon book "Kampung Boy" is about a Malaysian boy who has lots of adventures around villages. It tells about his school life and community celebrations like weddings.
Reading about village life
All of us three boys read it together. Weird pics!
Countdown to take-off
Young Rohan is learning his numbers from 1-10 in English. And he loves planes taking off. Benji and I are learning a few words of Malay. So, here is the countdown to our take-off to adventure tomorrow.
sepuluh (10)...sembilan (9).. lapan (8)... tujuh (7)... enam (6)... lima (5)... empat (4)... tiga (3)... dua(2)... satu (1)
There are more photos below