Thursday, June 27, 2013

Message in a bottle

Found this bottle washed up on Balok beach at Swiss Garden Resort & Spa. Unfortunately there was no message inside. 

Have you ever found a message in a bottle?
What would you write in a message before throwing it in the sea?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lauren's interpretation of the HAZE in Malaysia!

Haze is a hot topic in Malaysia right now - literally. It's the worst haze in 16 years but thankfully it has become a lot clearer today in Kuantan.

Lauren decided to do a drawing of how she sees the haze. Thought you might be interested to see how a 5-year-old interprets this situation!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


It's haze time again in Malaysia and Singapore and Kuantan has been hit badly too. This time every year, fields are mass-burned in Indonesia in preparation for plantation. Unfortunately, the winds blow all the suffocating smoke our way.

The picture at the bottom centre of the above collage is how a normal day looks here. The other three pictures were all taken this morning. It's terrible. It stinks and it's suffocating. We are not going out today.

So much for the super moon tonight. And my poor flowers on the balcony have died.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Views of Kuantan taken from The Zenith Hotel

Kuantan is a small town on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It has been my home for 7 years. Following is a series of photos of my adopted hometown, most of them taken from the very top of The Zenith Hotel.

East Coast Mall describes itself as 'the most happening place' in Kuantan, which at least holds true from Fridays to Sundays when people from the northern state of Terengganu come down to Kuantan for the weekend. The heavily Muslim state of Terengganu hold their weekend on Friday and Saturday. East Coast Mall is here visible from the gym at The Zenith Hotel

As it looks over Kuantan, The Zenith Hotel illuminates in colours of purple, red, green and blue every night

A closer view of the Jalan Dato Lim Hoe Lek/Jalan Bukit Sekilau junction. To the left lies Putra Square and East Coast Mall; straight ahead sits the newly refurbished Darul Makmur Stadium

The stairs from the lobby to the First Floor at The Zenith Hotel light up in a brilliant blue when the sun goes down

Kuantan looks like a burning heap of night lights as the moon hangs high above

View from our 22nd floor room at The Zenith Hotel

Aerial view of part of Bukit Sekilau. The purple and yellow building to the left is the UiTM campus, while the gold dome and blue roof of the Bukit Sekilau mosque is visible in the background. Behind the mosque lies SK Bukit Sekilau. The open ground at the front left is being prepared for a Ramadan Bazaar. The Muslim fasting month begins on 10th July

Menara Zenith towers over Putra Square below. The white building in the distance is Vistana Hotel. Beyond that to the right, just out of the picture, is Teluk Chempedak beach

Jalan Haji Ahmad runs to the left behind The Zenith Hotel. Straight ahead is the residential area of Taman Galing

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Restaurant Dish Washer

This lady is a dish washer for this Chinese restaurant in Bukit Sekilau, Kuantan. Every day she sits on her small stall and washes dish after dish. She appears to be very happy. Do we sometimes get irritated when doing the same old things day after day, or do we appreciate the fact that we CAN do them?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

When students interview their teacher

Today I just have to direct you over to our English class blog for a great post.

Last week in our English classes, we had our students interview me. And they sure asked some very interesting questions. Questions that made me cringe, questions that made me laugh, and questions that really got me thinking!

Read all of the most notable questions and the answers I gave by clicking this link:

Hop on over and let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Crocodile Rock, Kuantan

Crocodile Rock is a restaurant located in Kuantan on Jalan Teluk Sisek, a stone's throw from Taman Gelora and Teluk Chempedak beach.

It is not clearly visible from the main road but has a signboard which points you to the entrance to the left when coming from Kuantan town.

Crocodile Rock is a restaurant we had wanted to visit for quite some time but just never got around to it. We took some friends along with us and by the time we left around 8pm, it was quickly filling up. 

There is a nice cosy atmosphere in the restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating areas.

Fidelia and Leah in the foyer

There is also a small garden to wander around in, and a spiral staircase that leads up to the roof. I'm not sure if we were meant to go up there, but I took the children up anyway!

Watching the children wander around the garden

Lauren and Sharmayne on the roof of Crocodile Rock!

Here are the menus:

And here is a selection of food we ordered between us:

Fidelia approved of the food!

The children enjoying themselves in the green glow by a tree outside Crocodile Rock

Now, the price for 4 adults and 3 children came to over RM200. However, the food was of an excellent quality, the staff were friendly and the restaurant very comfortable.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Spending time Vs Socializing - Expat Diaries

I have always hated the word "socializing." I'm not anti-social. I just don't like the word.

"Socializing" brings back a lot of memories, mostly negative, from high school. Back then when I was a teenager, socializing meant going out on a Friday night with mates to drink. Alcohol. It was the 'in-thing' - but not for me.

I have never touched alcohol and have no plans to do so. But it's pretty hard to explain that to peers when you're an adolescent! I lived my high school days either coming up with false excuses why I couldn't join my friends on Friday nights, or just avoiding them on Fridays by hanging out in the toilet during breaks, or going to the art studio to work on a project that didn't really need working on :)

"Socializing" was not something I had any interest in doing.

And so I've been living in Kuantan since 2006 and for the vast majority of that time, we have kept ourselves to ourselves, remained busy with teaching English, and only went out by ourselves.

Maybe I thought that "socializing" was not for me. However, recently we have become close friends with some locals and have enjoyed "spending time" together. (As an expat, it's great to mingle with the locals and get to know them. Though it can be hard at first, particularly if you are in a faraway country and trying to get to grips with language and culture. But it's very rewarding too)

"Spending time" is a much better phrase that I like to use. Our time is precious. We can never get it back once it has gone. I believe my school friends genuinely enjoyed their Friday night socializing at the pub or club. It's just that for me it would have been a waste of time.

Living as an expat and spending quality time with great friends has added a new dimension to my state of happiness. While I will always be from England, I definitely feel Malaysian, and spending time with some of my Malaysian friends is a very enjoyable part of my life!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Swiss Garden dim sum

You may have noticed in recent weeks we have been falling in love with dim sum. Thanks to some very good friends and their dim sum influence, we have been sharing a few breakfasts together.

A great dim sum brunch we had was at Swiss Garden Resort & Spa. This was on the occasion of a short stay at the resort to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary.

Fidelia sits at the table waiting for our dim sum breakfast

Really nice restaurant, clean, tidy, elegant, and best of all, quiet!

There are also private rooms within the restaurant. Maybe next time with more people we could eat in one of those!

Our very expensive apple juice

One mistake we did make was allow the waitress to persuade us to order apple juice. Who would have thought that a simple fresh apple juice would have come to RM14?! So that was RM28 added to the bill that we didn't expect!

Lauren with her favourite teddy "Kissy"

Some of the delicious food we ordered

A few baskets of dim sum can be very filling. We ordered around 5 or 6 baskets and were completely satisfied.

Fidelia's good with chopsticks - I'm lousy! This is a charcoal bun, which the waitress told us, can only be found here at Swiss Garden Resort & Spa in Kuantan. Boy, it tasted good!

The "special" charcoal bun

The total price for our dim sum meal came to RM88, which took us by surprise a little, no thanks to the RM28 worth of apple juice!

Good quality food anyway and would love to try it again next time, perhaps just with a nice glass of warm water.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Old Town White Coffee

Old Town White Coffee is a restaurant which has a number of outlets around Kuantan, most recently opened at Teluk Chempedak beach.

We went with our friends to an outlet located at Jalan Mahkota one morning for breakfast. The restaurant has a nice atmosphere and good service.  There is a smoking area outside whilst inside is non-smoking.

Best of all was the price - for 4 people, including drinks, the total bill came to under RM35 - which we thought was very good for the quality of food.

hot chocolate

Ipoh chicken Hor Fun

nasi lemak

English breakfast

BBQ chicken noodles

Sharmayne and Lauren at Old Town White Coffee, Jalan Mahkota


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