Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tourist for a weekend

My oldest son, James, is with me for a holiday at the moment. He’s been living overseas for most of the last few years, so this time with him is very special. We hired Fernandez (friendly and knowledgeable taxi driver) to do ‘the tour’ around the island. It’s a must for every visitor to Penang. I think you could drive around the island comfortably, without stopping, in about 2+ hours. We took 8 hours on Saturday and 6 hours on Sunday!
I won’t fill this post with everywhere we went – just a few places.

The spice farm. This pic doesn’t actually show any spices – they’re not that interesting to photograph. But I liked the variety of mortars and pestles displayed, and you can see some lemon grass and limes and torch ginger in there. We enjoyed the most delicious nutmeg drink here. My knowledge of the uses of nutmeg has grown – it’s delicious candied for a snack too.
We walked in the National Park and are both keen to go back for a day of walking, and visited the batik factory. The Butterfly Farm was delightful, not only for the beautiful butterflies, but also for the lovely flowers growing there (butterfly food), and the insects.

Don’t you love the bright red ‘lipstick’ on this one?

Some flowers - notice the butterflies on the flowers in the lower pic.

And check out the ‘man face’ beetles, looking like faces from a totem pole.
Ahh the tropical fruit farm ... I adore tropical fruits.

I’ve developed a taste for the fairly bland dragon fruit – I love the texture.
But my favourite must be langsats, a fruit that is native to western Malaysia, but one I’ll be trying to grow when I get home. To me it tastes a bit like a lychee only creamier and better.

In this pic you’ll see the langsats are the small ovoid brown fruit on a stem surrounded by bananas. Mangosteens are the larger reddish brown fruit and they, too, are to die for. Also in my fruit bowl you’ll see ripe and unripe mangos and a papaya (pawpaw) beside the bowl. My breakfast these days is a fresh fruit salad with a little orange juice squeezed over it.
We spent some time admiring the beautiful Buddhist temples. Kek Loc Si was begun in 1890 and is one of the largest in Southeast Asia.

You’ll see many classical photos of this beautiful temple and the amazing Buddhas and the huge bronze statue of goddess Kuan Yin, so I thought I’d put up something different - my photo of the dragons on the roof that must surely be to protect the goddess.
Next post will be back to the fantastic food we’re eating, which seems to be the majority of photos I’ve taken!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Family time

I've spent a week with my husband in Bali - a long-overdue holiday we'd booked before I knew I was coming to Penang. It came at just the right time. Everyone is so very friendly, but a little bit of homesickness was creeping up on me.
And now I'm back in Penang and my oldest son has come up to join me for 10 days. He's more adventurous than I am. I left him with the Lonely Planet Guide to Malaysia and a book just on Penang while I came to work ... I can imagine what he'll have planned for me! For example this morning he caught the teksi (that's bahasa malay) with me and quizzed the driver about all the best hawker stalls for breakfast. We stopped and had THE BEST koay teow th'ng I've had. It's a thin soup with flat rice noodles, a few shreds of pork and chicken and some fish balls - don't know what the other flavours were but, yummy. It's served with a little bowl of sliced chilli and soy. This is a far cry from my usual breakfast of poached eggs or cereal that I eat in Aus.

Sam and Kathy and I are progressing well with the Gateway website. Kathy brings the 'youth' perspective to it, making sure it's not a staid old site! It's been a lot of fun researching the internet to find good websites to link to to make this a place you'll really want to have bookmarked for easy access. We're going to put some news feeds in too (on breastfeeding), so when you go to the site you'll be able to see what's happening around the breastfeeding world. And a Twitter feed too ... I'll leave that one up to Sam and Kathy to work out!

This is Kathy trying to teach me about Twitter...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Deepavali - a Hindu celebration

I'm so lucky to be here during the Festival of Light: Deepavali. This festival is the most auspicious for the Hindu and is celebrated with family and friends. People buy  new clothes for the day and will share yummy sweets and other foods. Last night an Indian colleague here at the WABA office took me to Little India with her. She warned me it would be busy and noisy - she wasn't wrong.

The shop owners have opened stalls on the pavement and roadside that are filled with flowers and decorations for the home. The atmosphere is electric with the number of people around and delicious smells and the music (verrry loud!) all adding to the excitement in the air.

Lots of stalls also sold the sweets and biscuits which are special just for this event. I've bought some and am looking forward to trying them, though have been told that the home-made ones are better.

This design on a table is a rangoli and is being made from coloured rice  (see artist in background who didn't want to be photographed). I've seen a few of these around town now - on the floor of shopping centres, in hotel foyers, etc. Apparently on Deepavali morning (this coming Friday) oil burners will be placed in the middle and lit.

We also dropped into the many sari shops - all busy with shoppers buying new clothes - another tradition of the day. Oh those fabrics are just beautiful! I never see fabrics like that in the shops in Australia.

Friday one of the WABA staff is holding an 'open house' at her place to celebrate the occasion. I'm very much looking forward to sharing the traditions and fun on the day.

Some Penang observations

Motor cyclists here are suicidal!! Ducking and weaving through the traffic no matter what speed it's going.
Rain is a part of every day. With it the humidity drops and a cool breeze blows - delightful!
Standing in front of a fan after you've dried off following your shower will stop you perspiring long enough to let you get dressed.
Food is a very important part of each day ... and for this newbie to the cuisine I'm having fun working my way through the whole range available (have I got enough time!!)
Walking/jogging is difficult along suburban roads that have uneven paving stones. Is this why I never see a local out walking/jogging when I go?
EVERYONE in Penang is happy. Smiles are infectious.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Youth for Breastfeeding

This video was created by the Youth team attending WABA. They're a highly motivated, fun-loving and inspirational group.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

In summary ...

I would like to set the record straight here - it would be very easy for the those who know me to assume that the location of a conference at a beach resort in warm sunny Malaysia was a disguise for an R&R opportunity for this Aussie beach-babe and her two willing compatriots ........ 
How wrong you would be!
We were heavily ensconced in international policy and political intricacies of breastfeeding advocates whose lives are threatened on a daily basis as they stand up for what they believe in.
- We voted on consensus for the correct use of Plumpinutt in cases of medical emergency for malnutrition.
- We were present for the launch of Youth for Breastfeeding- the young leaders of future breastfeeding advocacy.
- We formulated action plans for WABA to proceed with mother-friendly practices.
- We discussed gender sensitive national policies and women's and baby's rights.
- We debated rights/wrongs of expressing vs feeding at the breast.
- We pledged to continue our work to tell the world that mothers and babies need to stay together.
- We were reminded of the power of money used by infant formula manufacturers against the power of the people protecting breastfeeding.
- We always wore a hat and sunscreen so we aren't bronzed (haha!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

the GBPF, the GBPM and the SCM

Haha - one of my biggest learning curves so far has been to learn all the new acronyms. I now have sympathy for newbies coming into medical-speak.
Anyway, the GBPF (Global Breastfeeding Partners Forum) was an exciting 3 days of presentations and workshops. It was like no conference I've ever attended before - this 'conference' had different goals. Most conferences are just to impart knowledge, whereas the Forum had plenary sessions addressing certain themes (sharing knowledge), followed by targeted workshops for the audience to discuss how the knowledge could be applied or disseminated. What was very interesting though was the participants came from 36 countries, so the perspectives were often illuminating to my limited world experience. Note takers were assigned to each session to record the comments ... you'll see why soon.
It wasn't ALL work and no play. There were some wonderful dance and mime presentations ... and the WABA Secretariat did the WABA Crawl - I hope someone has put it up on Youtube... it was fun.

After the GBPF was a day of the GBPM (Global Breastfeeding Partners Meeting). Now of course you'll all know that WABA has 5 Core Partners (LLLI, IBFAN, ABM, Wellstart and of course ILCA).  This meeting was for them and the Regional Representatives. Apart from the usual reporting stuff, the ideas and actions from the previous workshops was presented and these were then categorised and prioritised according to importance and ability to achieve given the resources at hand.
It was a very interesting process for me, and one that I feel was very effective.

After this was a day off!! My feet felt wonderful after the reflexologist had done his thing and the masseuse, who does traditional Malay massage, gave me strict instructions on how to stop the tension and knots she had such trouble getting rid of in my neck and shoulders (basically, keep away from computers!! if only!)

Got to finish for today, but will add more tomorrow .. and some pics.