Thursday 22nd of March at 10pm was my flight time from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur. I had booked my ticket in December with air miles (thanks to me flying from here to NZ), I got my flight for £350 (which are just the taxes). It was a bit touch and go whether I’d actually make it, but thanks to a few chess friends I managed to get my passport plus biometrics permit in time. I’m not completely sure if I should tell my story but if anyone needs any help in regards to immigration please feel free to message me. In the end after a lot of hounding by me and a few trips to 3 UKBA offices I managed to get somewhere. I also laid the pressure on my MP who actually got an answer from the CEO saying my case will be done by Date X which it was. It’s been such a mission and I hope none of you will ever go through the trouble we did.

Anyway, back to the holiday. Flight was okay,extremely packed and sat next to an older (45+) couple who had never been on a long haul flight. They seemed confused by everything. Quite nice nevertheless, though the wife wanted to fly Qantas but shut herself up after her husband pointed out it was triple the price. Touchdown in Malaysia and guess where I headed? Yes, to the choccolate store to pick up my Whittaker’s fix. If you guys have never tasted this stuff, you are really missing out. I could eat a block of Almond Gold very easily in a day and Gawain loves his Creamy milk.

The Good Stuff.

The Good Stuff.

Then it was dinner time, I couldn’t stomach dinner on the plane. I ordered a oriental vegetarian meal and I got some sort of strange tofu thing. On the ground, we headed to have Char Kuey Teow. It costs RM4 a plate and was delicious! Then it was saying hi to everyone, exchanging gifts then finally trying to fall asleep. I slept awfully, the weather was hot, the bed was hard and I was starving. My family live in Sungai Pelek and they own a Kopi tian which is effectively a coffee/tea/breakfast store. Breakfast is normally made of mee (homemade noodles with special sauce, pork and vege), nasi lemak (tradionally malay dish) or bao. I had mee and bao and milo ice most days for breakfast. But I had to wait until 5am to be able to eat! This meant reading/playing on my iPad for a couple of hours until everyone was awake. Once I ate and was full, I went back to sleep. Not the healthiest of habits but I thought it’d only last a couple of days and I was sort of right.

Getting into a routine when the weather is so hot is kind of hard to do and I guess I was also enjoying my “holiday”. We did a few things, being the holidays my Aunt was around so we did the obligatory shopping where I spent RM500! Not £500, for RM 500, I got a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, 3 t-shirts, 3 dresses and I even got change!

Me and Er jiu mu

Me and Er jiu mu

I did a minitrip with Xiao Jiu Mu((This means, she is my Mum’s youngest brother’s wife NB everyone has name so you know who side they are on), Er Jiu (Mum’s second eldest brother) and Er Jiu mu (Mum’s second eldest brothere’s wife)to see my family’s palm oil plantation. I slept most of the way up but arriving there it felt so peaceful. It was kind of strange to get away from the hussle and bustle of life and really pleasurable. We saw some Malays fishing in the stream with just a basic net. Quite impressive.
On Wednesday 27th we started our roadtrip that would end in Penang. We aimed to go to Sungkai Hot Pools ( I didn’t know they had hot pools here!) and stayed overnight with my cousin before driving up to Penang on Thursday.
Sungkai Hot Pools was a strange experience, being 30 degres outside there were lots of warning signs stating you shouldn’t be in the pool for longer than 30 minutes which is fair enough. We ended up paddling in a huge hot pool which was more lukewarm before heading to the 40-45 degres pool which took me time to stick my foot in. Initially it felt too hot but after a bit of adjusting I quite liked it. We then headed to the 30-35degres pool which felt too cold before spotting the winning combination of 35-40 degres. Pure bliss! Remember how in the Iceland Gawain had his hot springs hotdog? Well, we had our hotsprings eggs with soysauce. Yum.

The royal town

After a long day of driving, we arrived at my cousins house in Kuala Kangsar. A pretty looking town and went for supper which was roti! Yummy and a bargain at RM1!

Next day, we set out early for the final stretch of our journey and arrived in Penang at lunchtime. After unpacking our stuff,we headed out to the Kek Loh Si Temple but before we could walk up we had to have lunch. I went for the local dish “ayam laksa” which is more like a hot/sour soup noddle. I wasn’t too fond of that but I loved my fresh coconut water.

Ayam Laksa

Ayam Laksa

Kok Leh Si

Xiao mei, Da mei, me and my Ayis!

Xiao mei, Da mei, me and my Ayis!

We went to many temples in Penang and strangely shopping malls. Other than the temples we visisted the Botanical Gardens which didn’t impress me. There were loads of people exercizing there which is fine but there seemed to be no flowers! I thought gardens had flowers! After going here, we headed to a close by indian temple and took about 600 steps up (I might be exagerating) this was about 11am so it was so hot and once I raced to the top (I was trying to prove to my family though I am “big” i am fit!) I found all these termites lying around. Pretty gross but I managed to not think about it. We weren’t allowed in the temple as we were wearing shorts but it was very beautiful.

Soursop my new favourite fruit

Soursop my new favourite fruit

Penang, was very clean and kind of reminded me of Singapore. I loved visiting the Hawkers store and eating everything!
After this roadtrip, we slowly headed back to Sungai Pelek as we had my Grandfather’s eldest brother’s wife’s 80th birthday to attend. It was a kind of strange family affair and more strange for me seeing as I only speak a little mandarin. They normally spoke in their mother tongue dialect. We had food but there was no cake and I got to meet some distance counsins who loved singing their karoeke albeit somewhat badly. All in all an interesting experience.

The next day, I was going to help my family go and clear up/pray at my Great-grandmother’s headstone. This tradition has been going on for our 80 years and it was my first time visiting her grave. I really should’ve took a before and after picture as we spent 2 hours, clearing the weeds and then of course burning the money and clothes for her to use in the afterlife.

Great grandma's grave

Great grandma’s grave

Money and Clothes for the afterlife.

Money and Clothes for the afterlife.

My Xiao Jiu Mu acutally cut herself badly and my first aid experience kicked in. I insisted we tie it up and then stick her hand above her head. She wasn’t at all impressed but she survived.

Delicious dragonfruit that I ate all to myself!

Delicious dragonfruit that I ate all to myself!

My last day came so quickly and I spent the day taking pictures of the shop and hanging with my Er jiu mu .I’m going to miss them all and I hope to be back soon. I know Gawain was very jealous he didn’t get to stuff himself with all the yummy food.


9 Responses to “Malaysia.”

  1. Chris Eve
    April 12, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing about your trip. I meant to write after reading yesterday’s post about chess in Newham. You two are wonderful ambassadors for chess, and though I am a complete stranger, I feel I have come to know you well through this blog.

    You wrote recently about fluctuating enthusiasm for chess and I have been thinking about that. I think fluctuations are probably a natural phenomenon depending on what else is happening in your life.

    My BP has been erratic and I gave up otb chess tournaments on doctor’s advice. For the same reason I cannot play on-line in real time. After early retirement I took up turn by turn chess and got to research my games. I used to worry about my rating – and I would play differently against higher rated players, usually with disastrous results.

    About three years ago I happened on a piece by the great Australian player C. J. S. Purdy. He pointed out that every move we make contains some element of error. As someone who would beat himself up for days after a “silly” move or an oversight, mistakes had consequences on the board and they would also make me depressed, tense and even more error-prone.

    Finally I clued in that if every move contains some element of error, I would do better to stop worrying about it. Its only a problem if the opponent is able to identify the error and then can find a way of exploiting it. And if they do spot it and I am in a bit or trouble, it really does not matter how I got into this mess – what matters is what comes next.

    I try to ignore extraneous factors like rating. A 1500 player who is not yet established might be a 2500 player in disguise. And if I can do that for lower rated opponents and play my game, I should also do it for higher rated opponents.

    So now during a game I try to keep my mind clear and focus solely on the position on the board. It is always nice to win, but the result is really secondary. The important thing for me is to have fun, and its odd – the more fun I have the better the results seem to be.

    Thanks again for your blog – and continued success to you both.

    Best regards,
    Chris Eve

    • Sue
      April 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Hi Chris,
      Thank you for your feedback! It’s great to know we’ve got readers all over the world and I’m glad. That’s why I enjoy writing for the website, so it’d be great if more people told me they like it! (Which a lot have!) Because then I’ll be more than happy to write more. But I think it’s hard sometimes to always be inspire in something. Last night, I was up at 1.44am writing a post because I had so many thoughts and it just flows. Whereas sometimes I sit in front of my laptop and my brain is not thinking anything!

      Yes, I think you are right regarding fluctuations. Part of life! But I guess it fluctuates from I love it to I don’t want anything to do with it. Which is much harder if you are a professional chess player. Being frustrated at times, I think is something different.

      Did you read my blog post about “The Stronger Opposition”? If so, I hope you liked/will like it.

      Fun is the key and confidence will improve your chess so much. How do you get that confidence? I’m not sure but you got to be positive!

      I’m feeling more positive about my chess comeback already.Thanks Chris 🙂


      • Chris Eve
        April 19, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

        Sue wrote “Fun is the key and confidence will improve your chess so much. How do you get that confidence? I’m not sure but you got to be positive!”

        Hi Sue,

        “How do you get that confidence?” No one’s ever asked me that before. But yes, you got to be positive.

        And what works for me may not work for you. I enjoyed your post on facing stronger opposition. I try to play every opponent the same way and use the same methods on all-comers. If the opponent opposite really is only a 120 player, it will be clear soon enough, but they may be seriously under-rated and surprise you if you play more frivolously.

        I guesstimate that I am at least 40 years your senior and our learning styles will probably be very different. All my knowledge of computers and chess databases came later in life because when I played in Gravesend in the 60’s there were none of these.

        Chess books in the local public and school libraries were my main inspiration plus the occasional copy of BCM or Chess. At 15 I remember blowing a week’s pocket money on a job lot of “20 recent issues of Chess”. Those magazines had annotated coverage of the first Botvinnik-Tal match as well as several of Leonard Barden’s column “How Good is Your Chess?” which has been much imitated since. After that I was seriously hooked on chess. I have had a strong bias to using printed books and magazines for most of my life.

        While working I would buy at least one chess book a month and dig into it even if I did not read it from cover to cover. Though some are now seriously dated I am agreeably surprised at how useful this collection is. Its now about 900 volumes and growing.

        If I was starting out afresh, instead of printed items I would be collecting e-books and videos but given the choice I prefer the book together with a set that I can shuffle pieces about rather than a computer screen.

        In 2001 I retired and took up turn by turn chess on the internet. The amount of free material available is just amazing to me. I have become a manic collector of games, which I edit for duplicates, put into databases and search by position and player. Every day I will spend up to an hour checking sites and collecting games – but also reading blogs. There are internet tools that will check sites for you and point out the changes so you do not need to visit them all everyday. The blogs are for fun and inspiration.

        Occasionally I get overloaded – a position search may be new to me but produce 3,000 plus games. I put these into a Fritz ctg file, and this tells me what moves have been played in this position, and their percentage success. In 1988 a visiting GM wiped me off the board in a simul and said “You brawl like Korchnoi – study his games.” 25 years on that advice is still good, but I’ve added others to the Brains Trust – players whose style I like and who play openings that suit my style. And if any of their games are in the 3,000 I will give special attention to how they handled it. And if I want new options for openings, I start with the players in my Brains Trust.

        Confidence came when I came to trust I would know what to do when my knowledge of theory ran out. Confidence was also deepened by an eclectic and broad reading of chess literature. Confidence grew even more when I found that my databases allowed me to create my own personal up-to-date ECO and find the games of almost any opponent in a few minutes. I hope this helps.

        Best regards,

        Favourite sites for games:

        Bishops Bounty
        Chess Publishing
        Hebden Bridge CC

        • Sue
          April 20, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

          Hi Chris,
          Yes positivity is a good thing. When the going get’s tough, don’t give up – just dig in and you’d be amazed at your own resourcefulness and perhaps at your opponent’s ability to quickly fall apart! I know I’ve definately fallen apart when I had so called “winning positions”.

          I don”t read many chess books, I don’t read many books at all but I try to do the puzzles in New in Chess/Chess. I don’t really read blogs or chess news website – I check them out mainly for the non chess related information and pictures :). I think videos are a great learning tool – but the interactive kinds are much better! It’s kind of hard to sit there for 4hours plus trying to drill theory. I use to do the tactics trainer on which was quite good until I started caring too much about my rating as oppose to working out the moves. I’d still recommend the programme though it occasionally does repeat itself.

          The best thing for your chess is playing and keeping that feeling alive. I’ve got a match on Monday but I’m not going to worry so much, do a bit of prep and then just make some moves and see what happens. That’s all I can do.

          I’m very lucky I have a very supportive husband who is very enthusiastic about chess (Wouldn’t it be tough if he wasn’t?) and very keen to help me improve.

          Thanks for your notes Chris, I think I’m feeling even more positive now.


          P.s Thanks for reminding me, I need to update my TWIC.

  2. Denis
    April 13, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    Hi Gawain,

    Got confused after read your post…
    Wondering, do you need any permits/visas to be in Malaysia?
    Cause I’m actually myself flying in a week time for 10 days in Singapore/Malaysia, but I thought It’s enough to have a EU passport?

    Thank you for info,

    • Sue
      April 13, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

      Hi Denis,
      No, you don’t need a visa! Unless you are trying to work.
      I wrote it as I needed my NZ passport to leave the UK and my (UK) spousal visa to be able to re-enter the UK! When you read the blog posts if you check under the heading you should be able to see who wrote the post either me “Sue” or Gawain. I probably write about 80% of the contents and then I ask Ga to do the rest! He mainly does the proper chess stuff and I do all the pretty things.

  3. Denis
    April 15, 2013 at 3:11 am #

    All right. Thank you Sue for the information and explanation. Very nice photos. Hope you enjoyed your trip to Malaysia!

  4. Barone (Italy)
    April 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    Thanks for your interesting latest posts!
    Something about inspiration and writing. At leat in my case, the problem was that I forgot all those interesting (to me…) topics and points of view I have during a normal semi-buisy day (usually during trasfers, by train and bus mainly, but also at work and elsewhere): the easy solution was to pocket a little block and pencil for writing down a brief note when something comes to mind. Nowadays you can have tiny i-whatevers and multiprocessor-anything which I’m sure are even better if you are used to keep them always on, but if batteries are a problem for you as they are for me, the good old block+pencil-in-pocket should not be forgotten.
    Now, if I just could find a way not to be so grouchy-groggy when I wake up, I cuold just write my first spy-story novel in a week or so, thanks to my block of notes!

    • Sue
      April 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

      Thanks Barone, You are right. The good old pencil and paper combination never fails! I have a beautiful diary which I put in all my engagements so I think I’ll add in any bright (and not so bright) ideas I have.My latest inspiration made me do a write up at 2am, it’s really rough so I’ve got to re-write and then get the approval from the Chief editor. Hopefully I’ll get a new post out tomorrow, even if it’s non chess related.


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