Monday, May 28, 2001

How To Kill A Snake

The following announcement is courtesy of S from Singapore who learnt how to do this at school.

First get your snake (the easiest way to do this is buy it at a market), make sure it is put securely in a bag.

Go into the jungle (this will add authenticity).

Bang the sack containing the snake against a tree to render the snake unconscious.

Carefully open sack and grab the snake’s head (be careful) then slit the snake’s throat.

So the next time you come across a disorientated snake in a bag in the jungle, you know what to do.

Unfortunately we didn’t have these highly useful survival skills when we revisited Pangkor with my sister L. The snakes there came in boxes (how are you going to knock them out?). The whole snake thing was especially horrifying for the kiwis (we come from and island far, far away where there are absolutely no snakes), though we fearlessly did the ‘holding the boa constrictor’ thing. Only when the snakes were back in their boxes did the snake man tell us the snakes were all caught on the island, which was the end of any jungle trekking plans.

Other wildlife spotted by my paranoid and therefore highly observant sister: Finally a monitor lizard.

We were looking the muddy river that KL is named for; where incredibly a lot of large fish seem to thrive (it gets very stinky in warm weather – which is all the time). L spies a large piece of wood (there is loads of rubbish floating by).

L: That’s a large piece of wood isn’t it?

Me: Yes.

L: The large piece of wood just moved its tail.


Just kidding, I was very cool – although very excited to see my first monitor lizard, especially as it was so large (1.5metres). I say this very knowledgeably, ignoring the fact that that was my first monitor lizard. I can now confirm this to be true as I have since seen 2 more and they were much smaller.

I have now 'done' all of the major tourist sites KL has to offer and am ready to act as your tour guide: The Railway Station.

Strange but true, this is after all a city of architectural delights and the railway station certainly is an architectural wonder. It is in fact two buildings, one on either side of the road, on one side an interesting blend of Moorish, Gothic and Greek influences and on the other, Northern Indian and Islamic and all this was designed by an English architect.

The Twin Towers (Petronas Towers).

An absolutely stunning building and you get to go up to the bridge that connects the two towers and fulfil any Catherine Zeta Jones/Sean Connery fantasies.

The KL Tower.

A much better view of the city than the Petronas Towers.

Batu Caves.

400-million-year-old caves with Hindu Temple built inside. Fortunately or unfortunately we had just missed the festival of Thaipusam, when over 800,000 devotees stick skewers into their bodies. You have to climb up 200 steps to get to the caves, which can get a little sticky.

Genting Highlands.

Very cheesy, the only casino resort in Malaysia. The temperature is much cooler up in the highlands 2,000 metres above sea level (I was needed a jumper, the GM didn’t) Seems to be the place where bored young KLites & Singaporeans hangout on the weekends. Bukit Tinggi The absolutely fabulous Bukit Tinggi (otherwise known as 'Colmar Tropicale'). a French–themed resort. This is a truly bizarre concept, a replica of a French village, namely Colmar built in the Malaysian jungle, comes complete with French restaurants, and half finished castle, will keep you posted on any further developments.


This was the big find – (and not nearly as boring as it sounds). It was quite an expedition to get there – we were trying to get to the Forestry Research Institute of Malaysia (nobody had ever heard of it), yet when I showed a taxi driver the address on a piece of paper – ‘Oh you mean FRIM!’ (I should have guessed, just like KL – Kuala Lumpur, PJ - Petaling Jaya, KLIA - the airport). Unfortunately by the time we finally got there it was closing for lunch (so I still have lots of things to go back for with the next visitors). We really wanted to go on the canopy walk (on a swinging walkway through the tree tops) but had to go with the jungle walk on the ground instead.
We were given a map with points of interest circled, and told we must stop at the ‘must see spot’ about half way along the trail. After liberally reapplying bug repellent we, the intrepid jungle explorers, set off. About 45 seconds into the jungle I couldn’t see L for the clouds of mosquitoes following her, they took about another 10 seconds before discovering any patch of skin untainted with insect repellent and commenced to feast. We bravely pressed on stopping, or rather pausing, to admire the points of interest as indicated on the map. We reached the ‘must see spot’ and couldn’t see anything particularly worth stopping for at first until we looked up and saw the Camphor trees. It’s very beautiful looking up at he intricate lace like patterns the leaves make, particularly when there is a breeze blowing and the leaves all sway in unison trying not to touch other branches, like synchronised swaying, anyway as I say it was all very beautiful albeit not when you are being eaten alive by mosquitoes and the only way out is through more jungle and you have already seen the beautiful camphor trees and their lovely delicate leaf patterns (L and I had unusually walked into the park and saw many Camphor trees on the way in, and had already admired the aforementioned fabulous leafy formations, sans mosquitoes). We tried to make our escape only a rather large spider’s web, inhabited by a correspondingly sized spider, blocked the way. L has a strong conviction in the jumping abilities of spiders and could not be persuaded to go further until I had gone first (being the eldest). I did stop to take a photo as supporting evidence of the size of the spider though it unfortunately came out blurry, due to the rush we were in).

Apart from the mosquito bites the most impressive thing of all was the Arapaima. They originate in the Amazon and can leap up to 2 metres out of the water to eat insects, small birds, bats and reptiles – at least that’s what it said on the little information notice board beside a very murky pond. L and I peered in to the water for some time in the hope of spotting one of these amazing fish, but all we could see were slightly large goldfish. We were about to give up when we saw one of them, I can’t tell you how deeply scary it was to see a goldfish (well that’s what they look like) 2.5 metres long (did I mention they grow up to 4 metres in length?) – there was something very radioactive mutation about the whole experience.

Wesak day.

My friend L who invited us for Chinese New Year invited me to join her and her family for Wesak day celebrations, the holiest of holy days for Buddhists. Celebrated around May (it depends on the moon) it marks three momentous events in Buddha's life - his birthday, enlightenment, and achievement of Nirvana. The celebration is highlighted by a candle procession. It was very beautiful and the only opportunity to walk through central KL streets safely (no cars), though quite tiring, walking for 3 hours carrying a candle (it can get quite warm) at quite a fast pace to see as many of the floats as possible. I felt very peaceful (totally worn out) afterwards still it’s only once a year.

Squirrel soup.

Some friends took me out for a meal to a little Chinese soup restaurant. It was like walking into someone’s kitchen with about 5 tables crammed in. The waiter (there is only one, a serene old Chinese man) takes your pulse then ‘prescribes’ a soup for your condition, fatigue, insomnia, lack of energy, breathing difficulties and so on. I was too yin or too yang so I needed rebalancing (I can’t remember which, anyway it doesn’t matter now because I’m cured). I happened to glance at the menu after we had eaten, there are about twelve soups, which seem to cover most ailments, and at the bottom was squirrel soup. I can’t remember what it was for however will definitely be returning with the GM for a health check.

Service issues resolved:

M (the Singaporean snake killer’s boyfriend) goes into a store to buy some Levis. He finds a pair that fit perfectly and the helpful sales assistant steps in.

SA: You like those?

M: Yes

SA: You want them in another colour?

M: Sure, what other colours do you have?

SA: No, no we don’t have them in any other colours.

S (the Singaporean snake killer) and I are out buying plants for the balcony and see a plant we like but it out of my price range,

Me: Do you have that plant in a smaller size?

SA: Yes, so high (indicates preferred size) it is (names preferred price)

Me: Great I’ll take it.

SA: No, no we don’t have any.

Ergo I now have the secret to getting good service: go to Thailand.

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