|Location: Le Faubourg Montmartre, Nice, France|
|Local time: Sunday, 5:26pm|
It was good to return home for those five weeks. I got to visit many friends, catch up with most of my family, and generally re-organise my life. I gave away a lot of clothes (uttering on several occasions such exclamations as "oh my God, why the hell was I storing THAT!"), and sold old car parts that were still being stored in Dad's garage. I rummaged through many boxes containing photos, school certificates and medals, university projects, and other knick-knacks from my life, and it turned into quite the nostalgiac (and time-consuming) walk down memory lane.
At the end of April, my brother Brett and I flew out to Kuala Lumpur (pop 1.5 million) - an 11-hr flight from Auckland. (I had heard that Malaysian Airlines had great food, but that really proved not to be the case). We stayed with family friends (locals who'd lived in New Zealand), and enjoyed incredible Malaysian food (my most favourite cuisine along with Indian) at rediculously cheap prices. KL is a hectic city, but the people are very friendly, and speak relatively good English. The shopping was great, the weather scorching (30-35 degrees, and 90% humidity)... and did I mention the food?!
We managed to squeeze in a two-day trip (5 hrs each way by bus) to Singapore, which was worth a look-see, although it's not much more than glass towers and fashion stores. And don't even think about littering.
And then, after a 13-hr flight to Paris and a 6-hr train ride south to Nice, I was back into it - the never-ending quest for cash, during which one must undergo The Great Job Hunt.
I left Brett on the train and got off a few stops before Nice, in Antibes, where Krista met me at the station. It was great to see her again after four months (and to have somebody else help to carry my bags for once - I had been feeling like a bit of a pack-horse as of late). We stayed in Antibes for a few days with friends, then moved to a hostel in Nice (my old haunt of yesteryear).
And that's where my bag was stolen, outside the hostel doorway. My back was turned for only a minute, and some opportunist managed to walk off with my black computer backpack, containing my new laptop (with 21,000 photos from four years of travelling the world, and my vast and prized music collection), my MP3 player, digital camera (my small 'party cam'), glasses, all my DVDs, movies, software.... and passport. Somebody hit the jackpot that day.
So it's been a rather depressing return to France, having to deal with the police, complete passport applications etc. Thankfully I had backed up my photos with my parents in NZ just before leaving, but all my documents, projects, theses from university, original music (countless hours had gone into that)... all gone. It's funny how it can all change in an instant. After my motorbike was stolen in NZ, my guitar and other instruments stolen in the Caribbean, and now this, I don't really have much left that can be taken! Perhaps it's better that way. Karma, where are you when I need you?!
Anyway, the search for a boat job is coming along, albiet slower than I'd like. I've already turned down an interview, as I felt the pay was too low. Gotta stick to my guns. It's a competitive scene at the moment, but there's a few possibilities, and I'm sure as hell not giving up just yet... I know it'll happen. (Although if I had boobs I might have a job by now, as there's always more demand for stewardesses than there is for deckhands).
The apartment complex we stayed in in Kuala Lumpur. Not too shabby huh?
These little guys were everywhere in the parks of Kuala Lumpur. We were
told not to eat in front of them (or they'll gang up and try and snatch it from
you), nor bare your teeth (smiling's over-rated anyway).
We spent a lot of time staring at a map of the city. Here's Brett in full swing.
Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown. Lots of rediculous bargains here - the fruits of Chinese slave labour no doubt!
The outside of KL's electronics shopping mall - six floors of geek heaven. I could've spent the entire day in there!
The recently-crowned King and Queen of Malaysia.
These signs could be found almost every ten metres.
We were there during Wesak day - the celebration of
Bhudda's birthday. This little boy was one of thousands out
on the streets carrying lit candles.
The Sultan Abdul Samad building - home to Malaysia's Supreme Court.
Not sure if this was just for Wesak day or not, but everything was looking well lit-up and purdy!
Kuala Lumpur's city hall. There's a LOT of flags hanging out of the windows...
Looking up at the 88-story Petronas Towers, Malaysia's symbol of prosperity and economic development, built over five years and completed
in 1997. The contract to build each tower was given to competing building contractors, to see who could finish it off first. At 452m, they're the
world's tallest twin towers, and second tallest buildings in the world (behind 'Taipei 101' in Taiwan). The SkyBridge connecting the two towers
weighs around 400 tonnes, and was built on the ground then hoisted up into place, 30cm at a time, over 24 hrs. It forms part of the buildings'
fire escape system, and provides a public viewing platorm 170m up.
Inside the SkyBridge.
The view over the city.
The obligatory one-hander for Malaysia.
The huge Suria KLCC shopping mall beneath the towers. The hordes of people got too much for me after a while.
The bus that took us to Singapore. First class all the way - it was the nicest bus I've been in!
The view from the top... Brett's foot, my foot, and roadsigns. Malaysia's roading system is predominantly very straight, tolled motorways.
Not so exciting to journey along.
They're serious in Singapore.
Serious about their glass towers, too. (The tents in the foreground were for the Singapore Marathon taking place the next day).
The obligatory one-hander for Singapore.
The famous Raffles Hotel, where the Colonial Brits used to hang.
The Long Bar, inside Raffles - home of the Singapore Sling (a gin and brandy concoction); invented around 1910. Notice
the cast-aside peanut shells scattered around the floor at the bar. In such a fancy and expensive venue it seemed odd (and
strangely rebellious) to sit at the table de-shelling peanuts and throwing the remains away (or better, at my brother).
One form of the city's public transport system. But, as the photo suggests, not well-used.
Chinese lamps for sale in the street, in Chinatown.
The details of one of the towers of a Hindu temple, in Singapore's Indian section.
Indian shoes for sale.
A view of Antibes (20-mins train-ride from Nice) from a friend's apartment I stayed in briefly with Krista, upon my arrival in France. To the left
of the shot, perched on the bushy hill, is the sixteenth-century Fort Carré. In the middle of the photo, on the far coastline, is the apartment
building I photographed last year. And to the right in the distance is the snow-capped mountain range Alps-Maritimes. Antibes is one of the
major superyacht destinations in the French Mediterranean (you can see some very large 60m+ boats to the right of the picture). This is where
Krista and I have been working this past week, and is also where 90% of Europe's superyacht crew agencies are based.
Brett and I enjoying a few laughs. He's 11 years my senior and quite a different person, but we get
along really well and are often both reduced to children when cracking jokes and feeding off each other.
On the beach in Nice, wearing the new mammoth tusk/ivory carving (with native Paua shell inlay) that Brett gave me while
back in NZ. The previous carving he'd given me for my 21st birthday (seen here, taken 7 years ago!) broke last year on my
28th birthday. It was strange that it had lasted seven years of constant wear, only to break seven years later, to the exact day.
Both carvings were made of organic material aged anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 years old, and both are works of art,
if I do say so myself! (If you'd like to know more or perhaps order your own special carving, check out my bro's web site:
Me and my girl. We hadn't seen each other in four months.
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