“In diving to the bottom of pleasure we bring up more gravel than pearls”

March 28, 2007 at 3:18 am (Diving, Kota Kinabalu)

I have just spent a week in KK (Kota Kinabalu), the north-west coast of the island of Borneo. It’s been hot hot hot and I am Brown brown brown. I have sucessfully completed my PADI Open Water Diver certification and am now a certified diver. That’s diver spelt D I V E R, not D I VA .

The past week has been spent deep sea diving around Pulau Sapi & Pulau Sulug, the uninhabited islands which are part of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park . I have seen some amazing stuff, including coral reefs and Nemo and all his friends.

It’s pretty cheap to dive here, in comparison to the UK obviously. It’s not free or anything but the travel expenses etc. are much less. However this may still be far too expensive a hobby to maintain back in the UK and I’m not sure the north sea holds the same appeal as the tropical waters of the South China sea.

My only concern is that with learning to drive and learning to drive, is that this new knowledge has to go somewhere and I am afraid it may push out the old knowledge out and I may forget something really important like, how to read. 

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Driving is a spectacular form of amnesia. Everything is to be discovered, everything to be obliterated.”

March 15, 2007 at 2:15 am (Driving, Swifty)

suzuki_swift_blue_vr.jpgI did buy a car! A Suzuki Swift GA hatchback ,  it’s red.  Very sadly, one of the staff  has had a mental breakdown of some description and is being shipped back to the UK. His boss is selling off all his stuff quickly so he has some money to go home with. Sad for him but bargin car for me. I checked with the counsellor and you can’t catch mental from a car so I should be fine.I went for a test drive yesterday with someone and then drove home ON MY OWN! I did follow someone (who lives in my block – he had offered –  I wasn’t stalking or anything) just in case.Then I did my first border run last night, while my passengers gripped the chairs and let their knuckles turn white!I drove to work this morning. Not following anyone or insisting that I had someone in the car with me or anything. Just me and my Swift. I am parked in the car park and have just invited everyone I have ever met to come and admire my parking skills. I’m in-between the lines and everything. Bet that doesn’t happen twice. I’m still a little over cautious but I don’t know that’s such a bad thing, especially as we don’t have pavements here so if for any reason someone does try and walk, they do it on the hard shoulder. I know most of you went through this at seventeen but please cut me some slack, I have been a phobic driver ever since my driving instructor when I was 17, asked if he could see my underwear then at a later date told me that he had put his fist though a window after an argument with his wife where she accused him of fancying me. Then there was the instructor with the false ear. Can’t think why I developed such a terror of learning to drive.

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Drive carefully! Remember, it’s not only a car that can be recalled by it’s maker.

March 10, 2007 at 10:43 am (Driving)

The latest saga in the tale of my driving lessons. In case you thought that the seven hours of driving lessons taken could be covered in one (admittedly extremely long) post, you are wrong. I have resurrected my posts from my now defunct blog so I can share the joy of not just learning to drive here but the additional treats o finding an instructor in South East Asia. In a rather self explanitory manner, all can be found under the category Driving.

I have been taking lessons and it has been hard, especially because I’d had lessons in the UK so on my first lesson here, I checked my mirrors, blind spot, signaled and moved out, to hear my instructor ask why I had looked behind. They don’t check their blind spot here (I’ve seen how the locals drive, I should have known that) and you can get penalty points on your test if you do. That is what your mirrors are for apparently. Even when reversing, you have to look in your mirrors, not anywhere sensible, like behind you.

I have also been quite surprised to find out I need the right hand lane to take the first exit on a roundabout. I don’t need to cut anyone up though; I just have to go round the round about twice. This is route one for the test and if you try and take the left hand land for the first exit, you FAIL.

Suddenly the appalling driving makes so much more sense.

I know now that having accused my driving instructor of trying to kill me was on reflection an overreaction. This is just how they drive here. He may manage to kill me but it’s probably not on purpose. However I did listen and when he told me not to cry in front of the examiner ( I can’t believe I needed to be told that, how embarrassing) he told me to smile so I did a practice smile for him and he just shook his head and said “not like that”

Another invaluable piece of advice from my driving instructor *don’t have a drink before the test* He was picking me up at 7am. Does he think I have special brew for breakfast? I could go into more detail about the whole driving thing, including the fact that when the examiners watch you doing your maneuvers they do if from the inside of an air-conditioned office. Obviously they have no idea if you stall because they can’t hear you. On the plus side, you can keep the window down and if you forget what to do, your instructor shouts through the window to you!

Anyway, I took his advice, I smiled nicely and didn’t cry and passed my test this morning!

One of the staff had a mental breakdown and is being shipped back to the UK. His line manager is selling off all his stuff quickly so he has some money to go home with. Sad for him but bargain car for me! It’s a Swift. I’ve taken it out lots already, Just me and my Swift.  I checked with the counselor and you can’t catch mental from a car so I should be fine.

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If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

March 6, 2007 at 12:33 pm (Health and safety, Monkeys)

Now I know you’ll all be very proud of me when I tell you I have been appointed a member of the health and safety committee at school. I attended my first meeting on Friday. This was slightly different to anything I have attended in the UK. Specifically the worries and action plans we needed to put into place regarding the Roaming Monkeys. There has been an attempt to humanely trap them but they work in packs (no really?) and they keep coming back. I understand its similar to mice in the UK, if you don’t release them far enough away they just keep finding their way home, but they are obviously a little larger and a little cheekier. There is a similar problem with dogs, except they can’t trap them as easily as they are unclean (unclean!) similar to pigs. They are a big no no in Muslim countries and so periodically when they get to be too much and little man comes out with a blow pipe and hunts them. ‘s not like Battersea here you know.

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Dear diary, I prefer to vent my private angst in cyberspace

March 6, 2007 at 12:20 pm (Bullying)

Confession, it’s good for the soul.

According to the Times, a survey of 1,019 teenagers suggests that almost half write blogs while fewer than one in ten keeps a traditional pen-and-paper diary. That’s no surprise really. Blogs aren’t anonymous, it’s a way of venting your spleen where the target of such may accidently stumble across it (sound familiar Jodie Marsh?)

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Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

March 2, 2007 at 2:29 pm (Mowgli)

I was being cuddled the other day by Mowgli (my very own jungle warrior) and he trailed his fingers down my back. Just as I was feeling romantic, he pointed out that what it feels like to have a snake crawl over you.
On reflection, I fear I may prefer my men with slightly less testosterone.

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