Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Stable Vacation

In an unprecedented turn of events, my mom let me go on a trip with my friends to Malaysia for a couple of days. I was surprised as... I was, I guess.

I've never been on a road trip to Malaysia before, save for that one time when I was younger and my whole extended family on my dad's side took a whole coach up to Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days of shopping and food. This trip was much more fun: I was going with friends, that family that you choose! I was singing musical songs with Carmen and Daryl most of the car ride, while Wei Jie was clearly murdering each and every one of us in his mind, multiple times.

We stayed in this country club on the outskirts of Johor, called the Legends Golf and Country Resort. It's this sprawling compound with golf courses and horse stables and bordered by palm tree plantations. It's a pretty nice place, not in the polished wood and marble way, because this still is Malaysia; but it's grand in size and scale. We stayed in this suite in this section of the club pretty far away from the main entrance, and it was a bungalow thing with a huge common area and two gigantic bedrooms. It was really nice and comfortable, and the bathrooms were gorgeous. I wouldn't mind showering in bathrooms like that, only I wouldn't want to clean them every week.

On the way to the suite we passed by this small wood-and-wire-netting structure housing a bunch of animals. Apparently the club is home to a pretty robust natural sciences programme, and they have rabbits and chickens and even monkeys for children to come round during the holidays and learn about the animals. There's even a small farm for growing local produce. Anyway Xi Min and I were very amused at the time to see one of the signs saying Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, also labeled as the "Toddy cat", and we were laughing at the "Paradoxurus" part, because we thought it might be the scientific species of Schrödinger's cat. But upon coming home I learned that it was the scientific name of the Asian palm civet, which isn't a cat at all but a close relative (yay genetics syllabus in Scientific Inquiry!). It was funny while it lasted.

The food was pretty good. There's one small restaurant in the club, and it served really delicious helpings of nasi goreng and mee goreng, Penang char kway teow and nasi lemak. We were constantly waited on my this Indian waiter, who I presume didn't have a very good command of English (it's Malaysia, after all; he probably had better command of Bahasa), and was constantly frazzled at having to deal with a table of a dozen hyperactive and noisy teenagers and young people.

One of the main reasons we came out here in the first place was because people wanted to try horseback riding, and I too was one of these people. I have never done it before, and it was pretty fun! My mighty steed was called Jazz Malone, which is such a cool name. I called him Jazzy for short. He's a pretty easy-going horse, although he did have a tendency to start walking forward when the horse in front moved off, without waiting for me to nudge his flanks; and also to pull his bit forward to have more free rein. But it's actually pretty easy to ride a horse, if all you want to do is clop forward at a leisurely pace. Forget trotting, cantering, or galloping; that's advanced stuff, that is. Amrullah got pretty far, up to trotting I think. It seems to be pretty hard; you have to bounce to the rhythm of the horse, which means you have to grip its flanks with your thighs. Crazy stuff.

Anyway I'm pretty happy to get as much time actually spent riding the horse in that hour as I did. Because Malaysia, I'm sure there were a lot fewer safety regulations to follow; or if there were, they didn't spend time explaining to us. It was get helmet, adjust stirrups, up on horse, go. (Though of course, because Malaysia, they stopped us ten minutes before time was actually up.)

At night we went to look at the stars. There's a lot more stars in the sky there than in Singapore's sky; but not as many as I would have liked. I recognized Orion instantly, it being the only constellation I could identify. I tried looking for the Big Dipper, but couldn't spot it. There was a cluster of stars which might have been the Seven Sisters nebula, but I vaguely remembered that it wasn't visible from Earth with the naked eye; I could be wrong. I also caught a shooting star whizzing by. There was supposed to be meteor showers around the time we were there, but a couple of days after we would have had to leave. I think we spent an hour in the middle of that road, just staring up into space, at the stars, and at the vast infinity of the universe.

Hanging out with my friends was awesome fun too. We played a bunch of games, like Sets, which I cannot play to save my life, because of colourblindness (and the yellow light we were playing under didn't help). And I introduced Shadow Hunters to them as well; that was crazy fun, especially with Amanda ruining Xi Min's master plan because he didn't plan for the fact that she was a new player and wouldn't know about his multiple layers of reverse psychology. I also managed to try out a variant of Would I Lie to You, which was pretty fun, but would be better as an ice-breaker game. Oh and during a round of Guesstures, I had to act out Catholic Afternoon Carwash, which was fantastically hilarious.

Even at the end on the last day, when we were just sitting at Evangeline's void deck and munching on pizzas; that was a brilliant way to end a great trip with friends.

I'm on a horse,
The Edna Man

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