Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nost-Italia-stalgia



I'm not homesick at all... sorry, people at home.

For a start, I don't have a place I identify as 'home' - every place I've ever lived in England or Scotland now presumably has other people living in it (or is hopefully demolished in a couple of cases). And when I think of the countries themselves, the only sickness I feel is being sick of them, rather than longing to return. As well as memories of chip shop batter, that makes me feel a bit sick too.

But weirdly, I've recently started to feel sad pangs of longing for Italy of all places.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

More Malayzin' food


Dave 'Two Plates' Warburton needs some feeding up by the looks of him


Believe it or not, I have continued to eat food and drink liquid since the last Malaysian food blog, and some of it has been so most excellent, it would even please that annoying kid in the early 1990s McCain Oven Chips adverts (some worthless nostalgia for you, there).

Admittedly, most of the local things I eat are variations on a theme of 'noodle' or 'fried rice.' But there is variation, dammit!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Do I really want to teach English?



'I'll probably end up teaching English in Japan or Korea or somewhere, when I get bored of travelling or if I want to have a reason to stay in one place for longer.

'It'd also be nice to have a job that actually helps people, rather than just filling the internet with more crap'

is the standard postscript after I tell people I meet about the freelance writing job I currently work and love, and then feel uncomfortable about their wide-eyed envy. I've sadly met very few other people who have the freedom to work and travel, which I suppose is why I feel the need to add the teaching thing to bring myself back down to Earth. To give the impression that - while it may be going well for me now - there'll be a price to pay later, when I have to wear a suit and report for duty at 9AM sharp like everybody else.

But I'm not sure if I really want to teach English to kids. Actually, on the rare occasions I actually think about the words coming out of my face-hole, I remember that I don't really like teaching, don't really like English (or the English) and don't like kids. I also really don't like a lot of the other stuff that comes with the package, like having to dress smartly and to endure work colleagues. So why don't I let the slightly unpleasant dream die?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tioman kangaroo down, sport



My resort on Tioman Island could be accurately marketed as a zoo, where I can sit on the porch and watch mental monkeys, gargantuan monitor lizards, inexplicable goats and too many cats getting along in racial harmony, and only occasionally pilfering my biscuits. The furry gets.

Here are some Tiomanimals.

(Disclaimer: Features gory animal death. Does not feature kangaroos)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tea for the Tioman



It wasn't until I came to Pulau Tioman that I really appreciated a good island. This is a bally good island.

I've been to plenty over the last few months, gradually overcoming my Bill Hicksesque distaste for the beach and learning to relll. But when I started to miss Pulau Perhentian after my last island trip, I vowed to give myself as long as it took to get sick of paradise the next time around.

I've been here 12 days and counting, which by my restless standards is about eight months. It's not like I have some place I need to go. Really, I'd be crazy to ever leave.

Friday, May 13, 2011

That'll do



Contrary to appearances, I didn't fail to learn anything from the social-life-apocalypse that was NaNoWriMo 2010. Even if the very fact that I started NaNoWriMay would seem to point to this conclusion.

As well as learning just how futile and anticlimactic a rushed first draft can be - because you know you'll have to rewrite pretty much the entire thing before you even think of letting anyone near it - I was also reminded of just how long 50,000 words is. In case you're suffering similar ambiguity, I'll tell you: it is very long.

That's why, as soon as I realised this new thing I'm writing was at best a 20,000 word short novel (or 'novella,' if you want to sound pretentious - says the guy who describes himself in the URL of his website as a 'freelance flaneur'), I decided to leave it at that. There's no way it would've survived the padding process to 50,000 words intact.

Here it is.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Which country has the hottest girls?



A couple of years ago, when I heard that a friend of a friend had booked a holiday to China solely because he 'liked Asian girls,' the idea of favouring one specific spin-off of the woman species and going out of your way to infiltrate their natural habitat seemed like a ludicrous idea. Don't all women have equal potential to be desirable, and isn't it more about what's inside than superficial factors like their ethnicity or the colour of their skin?

Nah.

It was only when I got to Asia that I realised this horny, slightly misogynistic, borderline racist fool was right. Asian women are the best, and in the several months I've been on this continent, my formerly desperately broad and accepting palate has narrowed considerably, to the point that Western girls (especially English ones) don't really do it for me any more.

Maybe this is just another symptom of my pathological rejection of anyone who reminds me of the country I left behind. Similar to how English men abroad unfailingly piss me off, the well-spoken English woman dialect now grates on my ears like no other.

By contrast, I now find most Asian women instantly appealing, and get a funny feeling in my tummy whenever they smile politely at me (which they like to do a lot, the slags). But what do I racistly mean by 'Asian?' What am I after anyway? And, most importantly, which country has the hottest girls? For these definitive answers and more, read on!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mouldering in Malacca



A dead stuff special, set in one of the biggest Chinese graveyards outside of China and an old Portuguese church stolen by those thieving, plundering Dutch. God, I hate the Dutch. They should all go back where they came from. Wherever that is.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Malacca - A study in scarlet



Malacca was probably really nice until someone decided it would be a cool idea to paint it a nauseating shade of red. What were they thinking?

Like Georgetown, the historic centre of Malacca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because places need to be full of European-style colonial buildings to qualify as significant, obviously. So I wouldn't bother with the rest of Malaysia if I were you - it's all just foreign nonsense.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Learning 'Malaysian'



Malaysia's cultural diversity is one of the things I like about it most (apart from the food, the scenery and the girls [TBA]).

But while this multicultural melting pot is the reason behind many of these great experiences (including the food - sometimes ironically prepared in a melting pot), the downside of this ethnic smorgasbord is that it can be more difficult to converse with locals - as depending which state, city or even which side of the street you're walking down, the local language might be Malay, Arabic, Hokkien, Cantonese, or none of the above.

If you're the sort of considerate, respectful traveller who likes to make the effort to learn a few local phrases, this can mean working a little bit harder. But better to get tongue-tied trying to pronounce Arabic numbers than arrogantly assuming English will be spoken everywhere. Which it is. Even between Malaysians of different ethnic backgrounds, who typically use it as the de facto national language rather than learning to speak like their neighbours.

They only become fluent in two languages? That's just lazy. Not like me, with my sketchy German and bits and pieces picked up from other places I've been, most of which I pronounce wrong. Nope!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What the bloody hell am I doing?



Last November I wrote a 50,000 word novel in a month. For fun. It wasn't. I'm glad I did it though, mostly for the experience and also the slight satisfaction of getting something out of my brain and into a .doc file (that you'll never be allowed to read, so don't ask).

This satisfaction wasn't really worth the self-imposed stress - as you'll see from this downbeat and hostile post I wrote when I finally finished the bloody thing - but at least I can now say I've written a novel. A scruffy, slightly confused, massively padded novel, but it's all about the word count, right?

And what else was I going to do with those two free hours per day anyway, when I wasn't visiting tombs and writing for a living? Watch through all of Battlestar Galactica again? Talk to people? Don't be ridiculous! No, taking my laptop to a remote Wi-Fi no-no area and compulsively clicking Word's 'Recount' button in the hope that it might magically skip a digit was the best way to unwind in Jerusalem, Cairo and Luxor.

I'm an idiot. But a creative idiot, at least. One who clearly doesn't learn from his mistakes...