Sunday, 30 May 2010

Indonesian Island Paradise

Part family treat, part birthday present for Mom, my sister and brother in law booked us into an Indonesian island resort for the long weekend (Bintan Lagoon Resort).

We arrived Thursday via ferry and stepped off into an even hotter place than Singapore. It is stunningly beautiful, with tropical vegetation too thick to see through on all sides of the road leading to the holiday resort. We stayed in a private villa with our own pool approx. 50m from the sea. We had a bbq at the villa for dinner with ingredients provided by the resort, finished with a swim in the warm water of the pool under the near-full moon.

On Friday we took a trip to a nearby village which proved to consist mostly of shops for the tourists. It was lovely (if hot!) and I bought a few trinkets - and Steve bought a curious instrument that makes what is called "thunder music", which he is driving us mad with. Dinner was the resort buffet restaurant and was supposed to be a selection of local dishes to sample but the brochure in the bedroom fails to mention the "themed evenings" - and just as my luck would have it Thursday night was seafood night. For those who don't know, I'm allergic to shellfish. And by association I'm not that fond of most seafood. I ended up eating Rendang curry off the a la carte menu which I have had many times in SA and the UK because all the exotic local specialities I'd like to try had prawns in. Very dissappointing end to a lovely day.

Saturday started with a big buffet breakfast as usual, followed by some miniture golf - however it was extremely hot and not as enjoyable as it could have been. The course is adorable though, complete with little roughs, bunkers and (not so well kept) greens. Being very hot the rest of the family headed straight for the pool at the villa but Steve and I wanted to try the hotel pool. It is beautiful, with turquoise water and palmy islands in the middle of it. Oh, and of course the bar which you can just swim up to and order a mango smoothy margarita. We eventually dragged ourselves away because we had a snorkle booked for the afternoon but our plans were slightly delayed by a tropical storm. We spent the time playing board games instead and caught the later boat out. The snorkling was very good - if very, very salty - and I cannot believe there are so many different colours of coral! It was like sticking my head into a HD National Geographics program. Dinner was another, more elaborate bbq at the villa for my brother in law Louis' birthday (the following day) followed by divine chocolate birthday cake.

Today we had one last breakout breakfast - anywhere that serves noodles and chicken curry alongside their pastries and scrambled eggs is good by me. Then we took the ferry back to Singapore and rushed in to watch the Super 14 Rugby final from last night we recorded. My poor brother in law, Louis, had his team loose on his birthday but none of the rest of us could muster too much sympathy for him, as our team was crowned the Super 14 champions. Again. Go you Bulls!

I'll upload the photos once we're back in South Africa.

Monday, 24 May 2010


You may or may not be able to tell, but I’m excited.

I have nothing else of interest to add. I would mention that being away from home means I won’t be blogging very often, but I can already hear you going “so, what’s new?” :D

Anyhoo, I promise a post or two and some pics upon my return. Keep well until then!

Friday, 21 May 2010

It's hard work going on holiday

The holiday to Singapore has seemed far away for so long that it suddenly dawned on me a few days ago that WE’RE GOING TO SINGAPORE NEXT WEEK, woohoo!

As a result I’ve had a mad rush to use my lunch breaks and afternoons after work to get some laundry done in time for the housekeeper to iron it (she comes in once a week, mostly to iron because working full time gives me an excuse to refuse to do it), buy comfortable walking shoes, make arrangement for the housekeeper and gardener and someone to feed the fish, get my eyebrows and underarms waxed, get a haircut, get a pedicure (winter is not a good look for my feet), get the randomly self-opening security gate looked at (fixed!), look at whether our luggage will do (damn, it will, so no new pretty cases for me), arrange travel insurance, hysterically look for our passports (they were in the study), make sure we don’t need visas (we don’t, I have known this for months) and other mission-critical things.

The one thing I am not sorted on yet is my ghostly pale legs, which my family will not cease to make fun of if I show up like this and wear summer dresses. I may commit the one thing I never ever thought I would do – go for a spray tan. We shall see.


Sunday, 16 May 2010

Stupid pothole

Last weekend, Steve had a work team building weekend in the Cape. With some convincing from my dad (but not much!) I decided to use the excuse to go down there too and spend the weekend with my parents, especially since Sunday was Mother's Day.

I arranged for Steve's flight back to be changed to the same, much later, one as mine so at around midnight last Sunday we were driving home from Lanseria airport. On Malibongwe Drive, a fairly major road, we hit the mother of all potholes.

I don't think we were the only ones, either; there was a recovery vehicle seeing to another car close by. If it wasn't for Steve slowing down when he saw flasing lights we would have hit it even harder and who knows how much damage that would have caused.

It was an almighty slam, enough to literally make your teeth rattle and your heart to end up in your mouth. Since it was dark and the middle of the night in a city known for its crime rates we didn't stop - nothing felt too badly wrong so we continued home. When we got home it was obvious the front right rim was bent but on Monday we saw that the back rim was damaged even worse and the tyre was losing pressure. In the meantime we had to get to and from work so I would stop at a garage to have the tyre inflated whenever I set off and that's how we got around on Monday. Tuesday I phoned the insurance company; yes they can tow the car and have it fixed but no they don't offer a courtesy car (I could have sworn I opted into that; I'm still pursuing that with them) and it would take at LEAST a week to go through all their procedures and stuff; in the meantime we'd have to hire a car out of pocket. But the real kicker was that they wanted R3500 in excess. I couldn't believe my ears.

I told them to go shove it up their mule* and phoned a well known wheel and tyre place. They gave me the number of a place that fixes mags but they didn't have anywhere to keep the car - now I ask you how I'm supposed to take the car back home when they have removed two of its wheels. At this point I was really starting to freak out, I just didn't now how we were going to go forward.

At lunch I inflated the tyre again and drove to the wheel and tyre place. The guy took one look at the odd three-nut wheels on the Smart and said there's nothing he can do for me. I was feeling totally hopeless. Then he went inside and made a call - he knew another mag place and they had somewhere to keep the car; I could bring it in right then.

I tried to phone the office and say I'd be out longer than anticipated but of course no-one was answering. I took the car to the mag place and they assured me they could fix it, and for a lot less and much quicker than through the insurance company. The guy was also nice enough to give me a lift to the nearest car hire place.

Who had no cars available. At least the girl there was also quite kind and lent me her phonebook and a phone. I called a colleague to pick me up (another kind heart) and then started phoning around for a hire car. Found one but it was so expensive, and the only cheaper place I could think of then wanted proof of residence which of course I didn't carry on me. I had planned on asking the colleague to drop me at the car hire place but at R900 for three days' hire I asked him to just take me to the office, I'd worry about it there.

I googled around a lot and finally found an incredible deal with First car hire, a little more than R400 for the three days.

And then of course the next day my stomach was so upset I couldn't keep anything in and had to go home before lunch where I threw up and slept the rest of the time. My body does that when I'm very stressed, my stomach produces too much acid and it tries to digest itself.

So it wasn't a very fun week but I am very pleased to say we've got Roy back now and the wheels look good as new. It wasn't cheap but it was cheaper than the insurance excess would have been and I'm going to try and claim in back from the city council. And on top of it all it looks like we won't have to replace any of the tyres! Thank God for small mercies - no really, although I moaned about all of this the entire time it could have been much worse so I still have more to be grateful for than to complain about.

*I phrased it more nicely, but only slightly.