Tag Archives: sleep

Update 3: Butterflies and Foreigners

Thursday January 26th, 11:04pm MYT, 2:04am 27th AEDST

Today was, well, long. We resolved to leave the house by 7:00am, and were held to it by Jacop’s offer of a lift in to the nearest train station. It’s still dark at 7am here! Pre-dawn. It looked like an Australian 5:30am, it was bizarre. Regardless, we crawled out of bed, showered, climbed into the car and hurled ourselves into the wonderful world of the local public transport.

We spent half an hour on what we considered an incredibly crowded train. Good joke… We realised exactly how wrong we were when we were coming home during peak hour. Chaos. After reaching ‘KL Sentral’, we hesitantly changed trains and headed out to KLCC to visit the top of the iconic twin towers. We wandered around the shopping centre for a bit (and discovered the Discovery Centre! …which was closed) before decided to pass on the towers until Saturday. Personally I’m more excited for the Discovery Centre than the towers; for science! We’re thinking we’ll go back on Saturday morning, after we leave the orphanage and stay a night or two in the city.

Unsurprisingly, nearly everything in the neighbouring shopping centre was closed (Chinese New Year strikes again) so we grabbed the nearest taxi and headed over to Merdeka Square (AKA Independence Square) where in 1957 the Union Jack was lowered for the last time. Or so we hear. We came into the middle of a “celebration for the king” in Merdeka stadium; we know very little Bahasa, but our helpful taxi driver described it as such. We saw a marching band — twice — and spent some time in the Kuala Lumpur Gallery, from which stems our bountiful knowledge of its foundations. We got a lot of “Welcome to Malaysia! Where are you from?” from the people with whom we crossed paths — surely we’re not that obvious…? The warmth communicated by so many strangers definitely shows up Sydney.

After the museum we took a meandering stroll through a nearby park/garden — think Botanical Gardens, but bigger, more rambling and less manicured. After much deliberation at one fork in the path (do we want Bird Park and ‘Deer and Mousedeer Park’ or the Butterfly Garden?) we decided butterflies were more worthy of our time (and Ringgits). Brilliant choice. Basically a giant greenhouse filled with, in ascending order of volume, lizards, frogs, fish, people, turtles, butterflies and humidity. We felt like we were wading through the air, but it was worth it. On the way out there was a bit of a museum section full of terrariums/tanks/display cases containing various wildlife, both alive and preserved, as well as the obligatory gift shop (Aladdin pants: check). “A little shop! I love a little shop.”

After deciding we’d had enough of butterflies and damp air, we retired to the air-conditioned cool of Central Market, north of Chinatown. Lunch was a mixture of crispy bread with banana and chocolate, toast, iced drinks and soy noodles, as well as a distinct lack of Internet… The free wifi is almost always a lie. It’s rather disconcerting not having the Internet at my fingertips to check maps, trading hours, train times, etc., but it’s so much more enjoyable being thrown into an unknown world without any help; I learn so much more about where I am and how to get around when I’m not asking Google to tell me what I’m supposed to do. After lunch we navigated the twisting corridors of the markets, finding little to buy but much being sold and much to observe.

On our walk from Central Market to Chinatown (similarly directed by an overly helpful taxi driver), we were approached by an Australia guy asking if we were lost — we weren’t, but he was nonetheless lovely — and got caught for over twenty minutes in a conversation about travel; the best and worst airlines, the quickest routes, the most stunning Greek islands. He recommended a few hotels which we investigated later in the day; if all goes to plan we’ll have accommodation in an attractive hotel in the middle of Chinatown. At the moment we’re planning on leaving the Shepherd’s Centre Foundation lunchtime Friday, so we might stay Saturday and Sunday night in KL, and then head up to Penang on Monday, and then maybe Phuket. We might travel up the west coast of Thailand… Holly and I want to spend some time on Thailand’s beaches; I can’t remember the last time I went on a beach holiday as a tourist. What a novelty. Jas is keen for Chiang Mai, by which time we might fly back to KL to fly home. I’m glad we decided to come for the full month; it gives us so much more freedom to casually move around, instead of having to stick to a schedule.

Chinatown was thoroughly enjoyable, albeit a tad sweltering. Streets upon streets of shops and stalls, piled high with unreasonably cheap stock. The later it was in the day, the more persuasive the hawkers became; their sales pitches often sparked a few interesting conversations. We met a Dutch couple over dinner at a street stall selling roti, on their fifth of seven months of their worldwide backpacking trip, who are staying a street or two over from where we’ll be next week. When we went to check for vacancies at the hotel we’d decided upon, we met our travel-obsessed Australian friend Ian in the lobby, which amused both parties. If we ever feel like travelling to the Greek isles, I suppose he’ll come in useful.

The train trip back was unbelievably crowded; the train we were planning on catching filled to bursting point almost as soon as it pulled in, leaving about a third of the hundreds of people packed onto the platform to wait for the next one — the train was full to the point of doors closing on the people on the outer edges of the crush inside the carriages. We, bemused trio, waited it out for fifteen minutes, but it wasn’t too much better the next time; standing room only, amidst a crush of bodies and heat the struggling air conditioning system couldn’t handle. The humid air never felt sweeter than the escape out into the night air of Kajang.

Tonight we spent a little while working on the website, with hopes to finish as much as we can by tomorrow afternoon. We won’t be able to get the site live until we get back to Australia due to the appalling consistency of Internet here, but we want to get as much content proof read and approved as we can, to minimise lengthy email communication when we get home. Apparently Michael’s going to take us on a bit of a tour tomorrow evening, so we’ll be staying until Saturday, rather than Friday as originally planned. The Discovery Centre will just have to wait until Sunday… I probably won’t miss the Chinese New Year crackers — which, apparently, are illegal? You’d have no idea from everyone’s behaviour — but I’m going to miss this friendly little village.

We’re all curled up in bed now; Jas and Holly watching Jumanji (of all things) and me typing away. I’m loving it here; the freedom, the differences, the sheer number of possible plans. Splendid.

P.S. Feel free to email me! I enjoy updates from home. I hear it’s flooding on the North Coast? Surely everyone is surprised and no one is prepared, right…


Update 1: Long Flights and New Languages

Monday January 23rd, 7:10pm AEDST, 4:10pm MYT

We have arrived without dying or getting lost. I count this as a success.

We flew out of Gold Coast airport yesterday morning at 9am Australian time (it feels like half a week ago) and settled in for an eight-hour flight. We were kind of over waiting by the time we’d waited in all four thousand queues, but the anticipation helped a little — that and the occasional nap. Our flight consisted of intermittent sleeping, reading, listening, eating and laughing, and the odd question about high-altitude insanity. Unfortunately we were perfectly positioned to hear all about the emotional ups and downs of the five girls in the row behind us (although really, how could they possibly get through all of it in a mere eight hours?) but otherwise the journey was pain-free.

Arriving at KLIA was a bit of a shock after the jumper-worthy temperature of the aeroplane, but wasn’t any worse than your average North Coast summer (99% humidity, Dad?). Thanks to the earnest insistence of family and friends that Malaysia’s equatorial location would result in an experience somewhat akin to the Saunas of Hell, I was a touch disappointed, but generally pleased that we’d not be drowning instead of breathing.

We were picked up from the airport by a group from the Shepherd’s Centre Foundation in Semenyih, the orphanage at which we’ll be staying for roughly the next week. We’re staying in a little two-storey house a few streets over from the main part of the orphanage, which is comprised of a street of buildings. They own almost the whole street bar a few houses in the middle, which (I think) are currently being used as a recording studio, of all things. They’ve turned these houses into the core of the orphanage; church, school room, kitchen, dining hall, a house for the girls, a house for the boys, etc. The staff (volunteers) live in the neighbouring houses and streets; Pastor Jacop and his wife Bridget live in the house opposite the one in which we’re staying, which is generally given to visitors here.

Feeling pretty hungry and tired (we arrived at 3:30pm MYT, 6:30pm AEDST) we quickly checked out the house before raiding the kitchen and chilling out with some cereal and tea and a good book each. We spent some time on the balcony upstairs looking over the rooftops of the rambling houses surrounding us and enjoying the early Year of the Dragon festivities; the crackers and fireworks and atmosphere were all really cool, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the celebrations.

This morning we wandered around the orphanage (the no shoes rule is my favourite part), which included getting to know some of the kids while we helped chop vegetables for lunch. We spent some time talking to a guy on the staff called Michael, who told us how he came to be a Christian and working at the SCF, before settling down in front of the Disney Channel with a handful of kids before lunch. There are around 97 kids here without including the local college kids, which made for an interesting (noisy) lunch experience in the dining hall, which was, incidentally, delicious. The lunch, not the building. It’s a bit disconcerting not being able to communicate with a lot of the people here, but makes for interesting communication. Bridget told us that they speak four or five languages to the kids because of their varied backgrounds; one sentence might contain a mix of English, Bahasa and Chinese, to help the kids communicate more easily with each other.

At the moment we’re sitting in the main office, using one of their ancient computers to check our emails (and attempt to convince Optus to let me use my phone.) We’re investigating the available wi-fi, so hopefully this will get posted online soon enough.

The generosity shown by everyone has been amazing, we feel so comfortable here. I’m looking forward to getting to know the kids better, and we’re all really excited to explore for the next few weeks!

Irrational Ideas: The Uberman Sleep Schedule

Today, my friend Louis and I decided to begin adhering to The Uberman Sleep Schedule. Basically, it involves having a nap every 4 hours for 20 minutes, apparently causing your brain to use those 20 minutes solely for REM sleep, thus giving you more REM sleep than you would usually get (around 1.5 per night). Apparently for the first two weeks or so we’ll be sleep-deprived zombies, but after we “recover” we’ll be 22-hours-per-day machines (provided we keep exactly to the nap times and lengths).

Essentially our main problem is organising our lives around when we need to sleep; we’ve decided upon 0100, 0500, 0900, 1300, 1700 and 2100. Good thing USyd has many sprawling lawns and comfortable surfaces. I’ve compiled a ludicrously large list of things to occupy myself during my copious free time, but it’s mostly to keep me awake until I get over the zombie stage… I’m also quite grateful that my boss is so flexible.

This is probably detrimental to the body, but we’ll find out.

I expect the coherency of all future posts to decrease.

A foray into iOS

For the last six months or so, I’ve been meaning to get into developing iOS applications. I somehow managed to miss the beautiful opportunity presented by the entire post-HSC pre-uni break, and recently I’ve been saying that I’ll get into when I have less uni work, fewer assignments, when I’m less tired, etc. You know, practical things like that.

Last night, I decided to forgo all that (I just learnt the difference between forgo and forego), and gave up revising maths; I started programming around 1am, went to sleep at 6am, woke up three hours late for uni and elected to stay home.

So it goes.

You know those alarm clocks that require the user to solve a puzzle before the alarm will turn off? I NEED ONE OF THOSE. My inclination to properly wake up is inversely proportional to how warm my bed is; I need something to actually get my brain working, something that requires actual cognitive function. Something like a phone call I need to concentrate on, a physical action like having a shower (ruled out by my inability to get out of bed) or, say, solving some maths problems.

The only problem here is that the ones that exist are either really lame, über expensive or make it too easy to dismiss the alarm. I need no mercy in these situations! Some have been built from scratch, which is really cool, but are projects for which I’d need more time and/or motivation.

Anyway, as such, I’ve decided to make an iPhone app for this purpose. Some exist, but they’re really clunky and far too overloaded with features for me.

Watch me procrastinate.

Xcode 4 not only costs money now, but has the worst error handling I’ve ever seen in an Apple product.

And Sleep will not lie down, but walks

Wild-eyed and cries to Time.

Five days into uni holidays, and I’ve already failed in my decision to sleep during more rational hours. I think this was prompted by my appalling eight hours asleep vs. seventy-six awake that occurred in the middle of Death by Assessments week, and yet Portal 2 has stolen a lot of my nap time regardless; clearly I prefer to have abuse hurled at me by a passive-aggressive robot rather than sleep.

It’s incredibly good to be on break, though. It came at exactly the right time, I think; I was at that tipping point where I felt like my head would explode if I tried to cram in anything else. Assignments, assessments, catching up maths lectures— uh, I mean, going to maths lectures… One would think that living twenty minutes’ walk from uni instead of an hour and a half’s commute would mean I would make it to 8am maths, but I have found that not to be the case. I’m determined to make it to every single one in the next half of the semester, but we’ll see how that goes. I’m skeptical of my own determination. I’m looking forward to that glorious day at the end of semester when ENGG1805 is no more, and I can go back to being as unprofessional in my balsa bridge building as I so desire. Bliss.

Meanwhile I’ll have to tough it out on vanilla malt milkshakes and buckets of chai latte. How unfortunate.

Speaking of unprofessional, today I discovered that Facebook is victim to the Y2K38 bug. Fantastic. How do I know this? I wanted to create an event for the nuclear holocaust as depicted in the Fallout series. Totally reasonable, right? Not if your event occurs in 2077, apparently. Tom, Jack, Josh and I plan to meet up on October 23rd, 2077, sit on the verandah and reminisce about video games from our youth. I will be eighty-four years old! So far my main reason for wishing to live that long is not for enjoying longevity of life, but for the express purpose of making that appointment.

Now that I’ve entertained myself and created a blog, I think I’ll sleep.
Approximately 65 days until Pete comes home.

P.S. “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” — go read it.