Friday, 31 January 2014

January Scavenger Hunt

Joining in with Madewithlove for our January Scavenger hunt photos, here are 12 photos I found in and around KK.

J is for- Japanese Products:
 Our local Diaso store is haven for all things cheap and cheerful- and all products come form Japan- It's the equivalent of a Poundshop, or dollar Store- as everything is just 5 Ringetts

Looking down
Looking down from the fourth floor in the shopping mall, where they were having a Chinese New Year sale.

Not the clearest picture of stamps- but I only had my phone with me, when I went to the post office to post some parcels.

A whole host of weighing scales in the local hardware shop- I wonder what the collective noun is for a group of weighing scales- A Mass, perhaps?

More from the hardware shop- I love the variety of plastic stuff they have.

They say "If you want to get ahead- get a hat!"

I could have taken lots of photos of our local market stalls and fruit sellers- but then my friend made these plums soaked in cranberry juice- yummy to look at - and tasted even better.

 A scenic view of our very natural jungle covered mountain range.

 Lanterns hanging down from the roof at a local hotel foyer.

 Crowds gathering to watch a Chinese New Year Lion dance troop

1 o'clock
 Tried to take one at 1pm- Instead I took this one was at 1am- That's a very drunken shot- of a few of us having tequilla shots at our friend's birthday party!

A coffee shop on the corner!

There you go, that's it for another month- Looking forward to see what February brings:)
Amanda x

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Invitation to Tea

Well. Hello,You must be here for a cup of tea and a chat.  Abi said I could join here for tea time- It's wonderful that you can join in too.
Welcome to my flat. I see you managed to find it ok. Did you get parked alright?- it's a real problem here isn't it? The visitors car park is always full.. Oh but you managed, It must be your lucky day.
Listen to me waffling on as you stand on the doorstep, come in, come in. welcome to my abode. Oh, I see you've taken off your shoes, just pop them on the mat by the door- It's not that I'm fastidious- Just a local habit that all us expats seem to have taken on board. I apologise though- you will get dirty feet! No matter how clean you think the floor is- my feet are always filthy by the end of the day.

I see you've spotted my notice board- It's a bit haphazard isn't it? It's where I keep my snail mail, just by the door so it cheers me up when I walk in. Yes, I like the picture of the hare too, they're one of my favourite animals and I often get a picture or something from the family in the post. The beach hut postcard came this week- it took nearly 3 weeks to get here from the UK, I seriously thought it had got lost. My grandma will be pleased it has arrived, she often sends me stuff- bits and pieces from the local newspaper, postcards, recipes, that sort of thing- It's nice to find out what's going on back at home- even if it is a couple of weeks out of date.
 The painting alongside my notice board is pretty bright and cheerful too. I got it whilst I was in Ubud, Bali, two summer's ago. It's quite small but I don't think I could have carried anything bigger back with me.

 Anyway, come on in - I thought we could sit on the balcony. I know it's a little overcast, but it's still quite warm out there. It's a shame the clouds have rolled in, it has been pretty nice today- Ok, yes, I agree with you- It was glorious- these past couple of days have been, haven't they? It certainly makes up for all that rain we've been having. Mind you they wouldn't call it a rain forest, if we didn't get the rain!
 If you have a look over the balcony you can see the local 'Taman'- The little group of houses down to my left and yes i do have a good view of the pool- it's very handy when i want to see how busy it is, before I make a decision to go down or not. Can you hear the water rustling- that's the waterfall feature at the pool- you kind of get used to it after a while.
If you look the other way, you can just make out some greenery. Yes there's a road in among there somewhere- It's very quiet though, I never hear any traffic. What I do hear though is the bump, bump, bump of the ball in the basket ball court- I never knew it could be so noisy-did you?
Again, listen to me rabbiting on- I haven't even offered you a drink yet. What would you like? If you like tea I have quite the selection- Earl grey, Lady Grey, English Tea or Sabah? I even have some Tetleys at the moment, brought back with me after Christmas- Once they're gone, that will be it- until I can get some more sent over- But you're very welcome to have some if you want to.
Or would you prefer coffee? I don't have a great selection of coffee- which is a bit strange since I spend a lot of my time in coffee shops- but I never drink it at home. There is some Instant coffee, but if you would like to try the Vietnamese coffee - you'll be very welcome. It's one of the nicest coffees I've had. It's very strong and almost has a mocha flavour with it. Did you see the Weasel on the bag?- The same company make Luwak coffee too-I did try some when I was in Vietnam- I wasn't too bothered by it all- I don't know what the fuss is all about- Oh you don't know what it is?.. I didn't either until I came out here- It's coffee that has been, shall we say recycled, after weasels have eaten, digested and excreted it. Perhaps on my next jaunt somewhere I could get some for you to try- would you like that?
Tea it is then! Would you prefer a cup or a mug? I have these little individual tea pots- cute aren't they, which would you like to use?
Tea always tastes so much nicer out of a cup and saucer doesn't it- saying that I more often than not use a mug- Maybe I should remedy that and use the china more often. What do you think?
Would you like something to eat? I popped into the local bakery on my way back from work and picked up some 'Egg tarts'. They are sold everywhere here- just a couple of bites worth of heaven in pastry. Yes, They're a bit like portugeese tarts- I think that's where we get them from over here-Immigrants and traders from Portugal must have brought them over via Maccau and Hong Kong and now they are here. Unfortunately I like them a bit too much- especially when they are still warm- would you like to try one- they are delicious and not long from coming out of the oven.
Would you like a scone or two as well? I have cranberry scones with lashings of butter
or I have some plain ones.
Making scones is certainly not my forte- these have rose a little but they are still a bit flat. All my scones seem to come out like biscuits- Have you any tips for me? Have you a perfect unfalllible recipe, as I think that's what I need!
They still taste ok though- what do you think?
I'm going to smother them in homemade lemon curd, or perhaps Cumberland Rum butter- So many decisions!
Whilst the kettle is boiling for a second cup, would you like to see around my flat- I'll apologise now for the state it's in - but I have visitors coming to stay from England for a couple of weeks. I've tidied up my room and the spare room- but as I've delegated myself a camp bed on the floor of the office- well-perhaps we won't go in there! I'll give you a grand tour next month!
 What do you reckon? Do you think it's tidy enough for guests? I've put out some towels and toiletries on the bed and on the chair I've left a little goody bag of stuff.

There's magazines, a guidebook, water and some snacks-Just in case they get peckish when the Jet lag creeps in. Do you think I have forgotten anything? There's also a little welcome gift with things from Sabah - I hope they like them:)

Any more tea, scones, tarts? No? That's fine-  I can see you are in a hurry to catch up with some others for tea and a chat. Will you come again next month?- Maybe I'll have tidied up by then and I can show you around properly.
It was lovely of you to visit, I hope to see you around soon and I'll be able to tell you all about my holidays.
Watch what you are doing as you leave.Take it easy,
It was lovely to meet you,
 Amanda x

Sunday, 26 January 2014


For those of you who were around this time last year- you may remember me asking for your opinion about some of my photographs. These were to be made into postcards and sent as part of the KatEye Art swap. Kateyestudio Well this year, I have opted to take part again- and have now 5 postcards winging their way across to the States to be swapped with other like minded people.

It is always difficult to choose favourite photos- but after much debate - these are the ones chosen:

Now I don't know about you, but even though it was an art swap- Photography is the easy option as I haven't got an artistic bone in my body- yes- I may be arty, crafty and creative when I want to be- but I have no skills- nor can really draw a straight line. So I have decided to be a little more 'Arty'.
I have always been fascinated by Art journals, travel journals and sketch books- and have admired many from afar- but I let my photos generally do the talking- Until now that is!

Reading Kathy's blog I was interested to find out she was taking part in  Journal 52 an art journal challenge- and so I decided to grab the bull by the horns and take part too. There are weekly prompts to focus your Journal on- but then it is pretty much free reign what you do with it!

The first week prompt was 'Up, Up and Away'. My initial idea incorporated balloons and things, until I spotted some flying geese images in a magazine and used these to collage instead.

Now I know it isn't very arty, nor clever- But I'm going to use this journal as another way of expression and perhaps get my creative juices flowing. I've also decided to incorporate some rambling poetry / words that come up inspired by the prompt. 

For the second week prompt it was Somewhere- a simple place- And of course for me, that means the beach!

I apologise for the lousy pictures of the pages- But just like the pages themselves- not great- just wanted to show you what I've been up too:)

It's quite nice getting the paints and glue out- I feel like a child again!
What do you do that's 'Arty'? Does it make you feel like a child again?

Until next time-
Amanda x

Friday, 24 January 2014

Swap! and Cross!

Post crossing? Heard of it? - No I hadn't until recently, but now i'm a convert. I even made sure I took part by adding it to my 52 Things list ' # Partake in Post crossing'. All done and dusted- another thing I can cross of my list!

All you have to do is find some postcards and send them to various people around the world- such a good idea- as you then receive 5 postcards in return. My class and I are having fun sticking pins into a map to see where I have to send a card too- and more excitingly- seeing where we receive them from..
My Borneo postcards are being sent to Hong Kong, Holland, Germany, Russia and the United States- It's a great little way of bringing people together across the globe and finding out a little more on the way. Plus of course there's nothing quite like receiving proper 'Snail mail'.
This gorgeous postcard was actually taken by one of student's mums- I'm very envious of her photography skills!

Which leads me to my next little nugget of super stuff- a swap- again some thing I've wanted to do but haven't yet- This time I have signed up for, not one but two swaps, this February. 

The first is a valentine themed send-little-love-swap.  organised by Tracey- so cool. so cute, so heart shaped and pink!

I've been linked with Lizzy at handmade-homemade-lizzy
and am looking forwarded to swapping some goodies with her. Lizzy also led me in the direction of creativechaosnz who are hosting a 'Share your country swap', where you swap items from the country you live in.
 Someone will end up on the receiving end of some Borneo treats.

 I just love the thought of all those parcels criss-crossing all over the world to share with like minded people. It's funny that we are all connected by cyberspace and wouldn't know each other otherwise, but yet it's the postal service and snail mail that brings happiness:)

Do you like snail mail too?
Until next time, Amanda x

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Simply a moment! 17.30 pm at a Coffee Shop Near You!

 The familiar cries of 'Good Afternoon' reverberate around this haven for coffee lovers, its echoes strangely getting louder, as not just one, but two, then three baristas join in with the greeting. The sounds appear to bounce of the walls of windows, and like the sunlight streaming in, ricochet between the tins of Arabica, Robusta and ceramic souvenir cups.
Greeted by name, it makes you smile, but you also have a small doubt that maybe you do come in here too often, especially as you now see the maestro coffee maker at work already making your cup of choice, before you have even placed your order.

Micheal Buble croons along in the background, his velvety tones a subtle backdrop to the myriad of voices that are the real coffee shop soundtrack. Voices that speak in different languages, that cross different ages and from different walks of life yet are harmonized with the common lyrics of cappucino and expressos. This constant melody, an a capella version, punctuated with the baritone sounds of  'One ice blended frapuccino'  and  'One tall asian dolce latte' are joined by the percussion of rattling crockery and the hissing of steamed milk.

As you wait to collect your cup of instant happiness, your eyes drift around this caffeine palace, to the many followers who pay homage to the Rich Dark Roast. Mostly, their heads are bent over small instruments of technology, fingers tapping at minuscule keys. Ear budded teenagers watch moving screens, their feet tapping to silent music, as they share a common non conversation. Smaller children are pacified with more moving images- this time of strange cartoon type characters, that beep tinny sounds, which mothers have an inherent skill of appearing not to hear.

Your cup arrives, the steam rising from the perfect latte. As you make your way into a quiet corner there is the anticipation of the milky taste as the hot cup touches your lower lip. Yet too hot. Sitting, you blow gently, ripples move across the surface like a still, cream frothy pond. You vacuum off the foam at the top, in one small sip. Smooth and silky it fills your mouth with warmth and the liquid glides effortlessly down your throat,  tantalising and tingling.

In the background the music changes tempo, to a more up beat rhythm. Occasionally, chairs scrape as followers leave and others take their place. But you are not going anywhere for a while. The latte is cooler now and you take a mouthful of coffee goodness. Sinking back further into the soft brown chair, each mouthful releases the tightly wound up, invisible cords that appear to pull tight across your shoulders. Each sip eases them and as you sink further into the chair, it envelops you fully, until finally, you relax.

 Just sharing a simple moment in January with Alexa.
Amanda x

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A Year of Reading and 10 Things Tuesday- Thrillers

Oh, I do love a good book- my apartment is full of them.- and I don't even want to think about all the ones I have stashed away in boxes, stored away in the UK! Anyway, I digress- Books, lots of them, scattered around my spare room-looks like a sale day at Barnes and Noble... but the reason why they are there and not neatly stacked on my shelves, is that I am having a big sort out.
 As you know by now I have loads of  challenges to do this year (strangely enough, 52 of them!) and a lot of them include reading stuff other than my usual chic lit and thrillers. So I decided to have a look and see what actually was on my bookshelf.

I came to the conclusion- a lot!- but I finally got them organised and thought I'd share some of my 'to reads' with you.

I've also decided to join in with A year full of books- a meme set up by Laura at circleofpinetrees to share views and reviews on the books we are reading over the year. I found this little gem by reading a post by Kathy at Postcards from the P.P. and was inspired:)
My choice for January is 'The White Pearl' by Kate FurnivalL. I've read one her earlier novels 'The Russian Concubine' and was enthralled by it, so I'm hoping that this one will also be a worthy read.
I'm smitten already, as the book is set in Malaya, Singapore and the South China Sea- My current stomping ground- so it's already off to a good start.

As well as this one, I'm also reading 'Nightmare Abbey' by Thomas Love Peacock, for my regular book club-I'll tell you how that one's going at a later date!

For 10 Thing's Tuesday I've started off with my favourite 10 thriller writers- Not exactly high brow reading- but a little bit of trashy novel now and again does you good!.. I blame my Degree- Having to read so many English Literature books, certainly makes you want to read some trash- just because you can... Again, I digress...
Back to my Authors. I'm not saying you should read them- each to their own and all that.. but you never know- try them - you might like them:)

1.Lee Child
My number one thriller author is Lee Child. Strangely enough I haven't got one book on my bookshelf that is actually his. What I do have is my 'Jack Reacher Rules' book by him, not the same- but enough to illustrate my point!
All my Lee child books must be either back home in England or on loan to others. Anyway, whether it's because he's English, or lived in Cumbria or what I don't know- but I can't seem to read his books fast enough. Call me fickle- but Jack Reacher is one awesome character. I love the tag line that goes- 'All men want to be him- and all women just want to be with him'. i would go along with that- A 6 foot 4, 200lb all action hero- what more could you want. But don't even get me started on the Tom cruise film version... Tom Cruise portraying Reacher... No way.. but when you buy the film rights, I suppose you can do what you like...

2. James Patterson
Now from now on these are in no particular order of favouritism- but maybe James Patterson is up there, just because of the sheer volume of books he writes and how quickly I get through them. To be honest, some of them are good, some are ok and some are awful- but I still read them. His 'Alex Cross' books are definitely his best, which are the ones he writes on his own. I often find that when he collaborates with other authors, he tends to lose it a little- but that's just my opinion- and who am I to judge!

3.Kathy Reichs
I'm a 'Bones' fan, I have to admit, but even long before I started watching the TV Series, I had read many of Kathy Reich's novels.
if you like a bit of forensic Anthropology then Temp Brennan is the character for you. I now have an added interest, in that in reality, Kathy Reichs, works in Charlotte, NC and as an honorary North Carolinian gal, I have a soft spot for that particular Southern State!

4.Patricia Cornwall
Tying alongside Temp Brennan, Kay Scarpetta, CME, solves an awful lot of crimes. Always pacy, always close to the bone Cornwall's novels are almost as many as James Pattersons. I'm now restarting at the beginning of the series and reading them all again:)

5.David Baldacci
I started reading Baldacci Novel's years ago- then got lost somewhere in the middle - then re discovered them over the last year or so. I'd forgotten how good they were, In fact I think his latter ones are getting better all the time:)

6. Jonathan Kellerman
I can't remember the first Jonathan Kellerman book I read- I just know that I picked it up from a second hand bookshop somewhere on my travels, in some foreign country or other. I was probably looking for Patterson novels- but found him amongst the thriller section.
Once read, I was hooked- Another lead character, by the name of Alex Delaware, solving crimes in Los Angeles. Not a bad read at all.

7. Micheal Connelly
If you've seen the film 'The Lincoln Lawyer' then you know the work of Michael Connelly. If all leading men looked as good as Mathew Mcconaughey- I would surely watch every thriller there was. I've only read a few of Connelly's novels- but so far have yet to be disappointed.

8. Jeffrey Deaver
Often clever intricate plot lines, a little convoluted and with interesting lead characters, his novels certainly do keep you on your toes.

9 & 10 
Linwood Barclay & Alex Barclay
And now to two new authors I have yet to have the pleasure of reading.I have no idea how good they'll be. Same surname:Yet no relation, I believe!  One's Canadian, one's Irish, One male, one female- but both books feature murder and mayhem- and of course two heroes who are bound to get their man!

Who would you recommend for a good read?
Amanda x