>On being in love

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I have too many words to describe my love, but at the very same moment, none. I do know that it is a privelege to be loved by such a good man, and to be on this adventure with him. I found a poetry blog that I enjoy, and the author had some snippets from an author called Jeanette Winterson, whose book is called Written on the Body. This is my favourite:

“Love demands expression. It will not stay still, stay silent, be good, be modest, be seen and not heard, no. It will break out in tongues of praise. The high note that smashes the glass and spills the liquid. It is no conservationist love. It is a big game hunter and you are the game. How can you stick at a game when the rules keep changing? I shall call myself Alice and play croquet with the flamingos. In Wonderland everyone cheats and love is Wonderland isn’t it? Love makes the world go ’round. Love is blind. All you need is love. Nobody ever died of a broken heart. You’ll get over it. It’ll be different when we’re married. Think of the children. Time’s a great healer. Still waiting for Mr. Right? Mrs. Right? And all the little rights?
Its the cliches that cause the trouble.”

So I am not sure how to express it without calling on some cliche, as love is an overdone subject, all I know it that mine is just right in this present, for us. So I am Alice and if love is Wonderland, I am there.

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>Favourites things in Ko Tao

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I wrote in an email to family earlier that I feel like I am on an island anaesthetic of some kind…salt water, sun, palm trees on the beach and the world seems so far away. Bliss. Some absolute loves of island life here on Ko Tao, or “Turtle Island” as it translates, on the east coast of Thailand, these are a few photos from the past 4 days to give you a peek, as well as:
Banana pancakes…or nutella pancakes…or any kind of pancakes, literally everywhere.
Snorkelling around the entire island with coral and fish that were painted with the brush of heaven.
The deep turquoise of the ocean.
Bright flowers.
The sky that changes a million times a day here.
Our view of the beach from our bungalow.
The food. Yum! Coconut soups, pad thai, thai green curry, chicken cashew nut, more pad thai…
Riding a motorbike around the island and stopping to jump into the sea to cool off.
Wooden bungalows with mosquito nets.
Wine cooler and beer on the beach.
Swimming for hours.
The boats, chipped and worn and colourful, tell so many stories.
The main road of the island is gravel.
Getting ten hours of sleep after being in the sun all day.
The smell of tiger balm to keep the mozzies away.
My new fisherman’s pants…so, so comfortable.
Fruit shakes, mmmm.

>Favourite things in Cameron Highlands

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Escaping the heat in the lowlands and the concrete of Kuala Lumpur, we caught an afternoon bus to the Cameron Highlands, named after the British man who came and settled here during colonisation. Some favourite things about this part of the world:
The bus trip from Ipoh {ee-po} up into the mountains…oh my goodness…green, lush mountain forest and jungle, little bungalows on stilts, and going up, up, up the windy road for 69 kilometers.
The quaint town of Tana Ratu, away from it all.
Strawberry milkshakes: THE best in the world with one whole punnet per milkshake.
The Rose Centre…a ten level nursery on the side of a mountain with the most magnificent flowers and views {unforgettable}.
Bee hives at the bee farm, if only honey weren’t so heavy to carry across the world.
Boh tea estate {this might be my favourite favourite}…tea plantations stretching to the hills, some 80 years old and dotted with pickers in straw hats…we tasted the golden blend and bought some for home to savour. Mmmm.
Laughing at my love who forgot to strain his last cup of tea and got a lump of leaves.
Indian curry {twice} at the best Indian restaurant ever in the world in our opinion, especially the dahl curry served on a banana leaf.
Being caught in the pouring rainy season downpour on the way back from tea and scones at Ye Old Smokehouse, an old colonial British institution.
Playing scrabble late at night in the evening air.
The view from our little hut.

We are about to catch a bus all the way to Ko Tao in Thailand, a two day trip in all, so maybe in a week there will be an island post…after lots of time snorkelling in the sea, drinking banana milkshakes and lying in the sun…mmm…

>Favourite things in Kuala Lumpur

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After Seoul, we flew to Kuala Lumpur for two hot, humid and wonderful days…a few of my favourites from this capital Malaysian city:
The Coliseum Hotel.*
All of the scooters zooming around, some with entire families on board.
Road side stalls selling all kinds of Indian cuisine.
The hop off hop on bus with free wifi on the go.
Petronas Twin Towers glittering in the night skyline.
The SPECTACULAR view from the top of KL Tower, 245m high, with an mp4 guide of what one is looking at, which is really good.
The glittering, glass dome in the lobby of KL Tower.
The smell of roasting chestnuts in Chinatown.
An interesting blend of three cultures: Indian, Chinese, Malay.
Curry dinner in Jalan Pudu at a very authentic Indian restaurant {very}.
Merdeka Square and thousands of Malaysian flags flying everywhere in preparation for the 31 August celebration.
Fresh pineapple on a stick and soy milk in a bag with a straw.
Prawn sambal.
Meeting a famous old Malaysian football player in the bar at the Coliseum.
Walking through the hot streets.
Afternoon storms.

*This grand old lady is an awesome place to stay…but not for the feint-hearted. You can read a good review here. We loved the sense of colonial history, especially as the building was established in 1921 and the hat stands and one or two barstools, along with some other furniture, is as old. Some of the staff too, have worked there all of their lives. We found them really friendly and able to laugh at themselves…and reviews of the hotel, one of which suggested that both the hotel and the management needed a lick of paint! We dined in the famous cafe which was buzzing every night and enjoyed a good breakfast with thick, fresh white bread and dollops of butter. The room was shabby and the mattress well slept-in, the shower and toilet were like something out of the Transkei, with only cold water…but on the whole, we wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Best of all? We were the only guests sleeping in so no jostling other tourists to disturb the ambience.

>Favourite things in Seoul

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We spent a whirl of a weekend in the massive city of Seoul with new friends we met teaching…which was amazing fun. My favourite things:
a building made of doors…all different colours and designs
fresh roses on the road side
a Korean barbecue on the floor
the hop off hop on bus {for the most part}
an old royal palace called Gyeongbuk with lush ponds and gardens
a hair wash in grass root juices
visiting a traditional style village and dressing up
black bean cake in Insadong, the oldest, and my favourite part of the city
views from Seoul tower at night
the designs on the doors and windows of old buildings
one last night in a jinjilbaan
the buzz of a big city where you can’t understand anything
a walk along the canal at night
melon ice-creams
couple t-shirts {look carefully, it’s so sweet}

>My last week in South Korea

>Just some thoughts. First, generosity. This week was my last week of teaching in South Korea…and I could not have wished for children in my class with more personality or funk. I fell in love with the little jots and was so sad to say goodbye to them today. The biggest lesson they reminded me of is that of giving. Two girls spent all of their store money on lavish gifts for me…with no money left to spend on themselves for a snack or some such thing. Their act of generosity punched me in the stomach, in a good way, and reminded me of the lesson God has been teaching me: to receive graciously and to give freely and liberally. I am convinced that generosity is one of the most beautiful human acts…when giving is done in a selfless, wise and unassuming way.

gen⋅er⋅os⋅i⋅ty  [jen-uh-ros-i-tee]
–noun, plural -ties.
1. readiness or liberality in giving.
2. freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character.
3. largeness or fullness; amplitude.

Two giving projects that have inspired me are Global Giving and this Give Fest poster which is just the coolest idea, making me think of hosting a give fest of my own for people…mmm…still working on the ideas…

Second on my mind this week: a farmhouse. This picture completely captures my dream at the moment: a farmhouse in need of love and serious renovation, as long as it is far away from anywhere…and lots of open space.

Thirdly, my blogging might take a rest for the coming two weeks as we are off to Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and to the Malaysian jungle for an adventure, followed by a quiet island rest on the beach and snorkelling and sipping smoothies, followed by a Bangkok whizz and a trip to Chang Mai {thank you for your travel tips, Gins!}…so forgive me if I am off the page for a while…I will load updates if I have time and inspiration. Otherwise, see you on the other side of my South East Asia whirl!