Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Back in Malaysia 1: Housing and Driving

After eight years in the UK, we packed our bags and moved back to Malaysia. It has been slightly more than a month now and our years in the UK already feels like a dream.

Our first priority was to find a place to live. The first few weeks were pretty hectic. We were in my in-laws and lived out of our suitcases until we finally found a house to rent nearby after looking at several condominiums and houses. The agents wanted to know all kind of personal information, namely our ethnicity, our occupation, number of kids, etc., etc. Apparently, several landlords will not rent out their places to people of a particular ethnicity. This was something shocking as we did expect this in multi-ethnic Malaysia. We did not have this kind of issues a few years ago. Maybe an area of research interest for my sociologist friends. Compared with our small house back in Coventry, the house is massive and some rooms are still empty. Unlike other Malaysians, we did not bring back furniture and have to buy everything new.

Skyscrapers have come up everywhere. New highways and flyovers as well. I now need a sat-nav while driving as I am not familiar with some of the roads any more. Some of our favourite hang-out places have disappeared or have moved while others have not changed at all.

Talking about driving, it may be my imagination and years of driving in the UK but the drivers now seem to be more aggressive here and will break the traffic rules if they can get away with it. I have a huge issue with people who simply do not use their side indications while changing lanes or cutting into your lanes. One of my friends told me that a lot of drivers are so selfish that they speed up when you indicate to change lanes or move in from a side road. I do a lot of defensive driving now and will give way to other drivers, sometimes annoying my wife a lot. May be I am more mature now and I just want to take it easy and get to my destination and home safe.

Noticed a lot of foreign auto brands on the roads - I may be mistaken but seems to be more Toyotas and Hondas on the roads as compared to Proton cars now. And every 2nd car is a Perodua Myvi - the most popular model for now. Also seems like there are a lot of luxury brands - mostly older model Mercedes. But the fact is that there are lot of cars on the roads. I noticed that some houses have 5 cars parked out in the front. We have 2 in front of ours - my dad's car which I am using and my wife's new car, which we just got day-before-yesterday. Until the public transport improves, I guess more and more people will be using their own cars. A trip from my in-laws house to our house just 7 minutes away, can sometimes take up to half-an-hour. Definitely cannot rely on the estimated times given by my sat-nav.

Anyway, that was in brief about the housing and driving issues we faced. I will be blogging more about life here in Malaysia.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Israel and Palestine









Though, it sounds great, a democratic Israel where Palestinians and Jews live peacefully is not going to happen. Personally, I feel that the only solution is the two state option. Palestinians have to recognise and accept Israel and stop the rocket attacks. Israel has to pull back from the occupied territories and help the Palestinians build the infrastructure, help build their own country. Stop the blockades, release the prisoners and stop the collective punishments.

All this tit-for-tat revenge will never end and we have younger generations who hate each other. Israel needs to recognise that World opinion is going against them. Making peace with the neighbours and the Palestinians would be their only way to survive in the long run. I know it is easier said than done and the eagles on both sides would try their best to prevent this from happening.

Peace.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Vintage Swiss Army ladies watch

This is one of my eBay bargain finds.

It is a vintage Swiss Army watch. I am not sure about the model but it is a ladies quartz watch. Found out that it has been discontinued by VICTORINOX, owner of the Swiss Army brand. Looking at various websites, I estimate that it from sometime back in the 70s.


When I bought it on eBay it did not have a strap, the crystal was badly scratched and it was not even running. Opening up the rear of the watch was extremely tough and I can see from the scratches on the back that previous owners had faced the same issue.




I finally got it opened and changed the batteries and found out that the watch works fine - keeping perfect time. That's Swiss quality for you.

I then polished the mineral glass crystal and realised that the lume on the watch is really good. Even brighter than most of the newer watches I have.


I then bought a Nato strap on eBay. It was ideal for my wife but she did not really like the watch. My daughter asked if she could have it but the strap was too big for her. Searching further, I finally found an eBay seller in the US who sold replica straps which look exactly like the original. This is the 14mm Gilden Swiss Army Style Nylon & Leather ladies watch band (US $ 20.48 with postage).

Looks great.



Saturday, July 05, 2014

The end of cycling to work

Finally sold off my vintage Falcon bike. I had been cycling to work since last year but several factors meant that I could no longer continue doing so. My wife breaking her leg was the main reason - this meant that I had to send and pick up the kids from school. I often had classes in the evening and I was not comfortable cycling in the dark along the lonely canal paths.



In the end, the bike was left outside without any protection and the shiny mudguards and chain slowly rusted.

In the end, I had to let the bike go. I once had grand ideas about completely restoring it but never got round to doing it.

Next time, I think I would probably go for a brand new bike customised to me.

Till then, it is the end of cycling to work for me.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Replacing my Swatch watch strap

A couple of weeks back, I posted about the easiest way to upgrade the look of your watch - by changing the strap.

Well, why stop at that.

The old aluminium strap on my old Swatch Irony Chrono watch was showing it's age and I decided that it needed a nice new strap.

I had a nice new black leather strap but the problem is that replacing straps on Swatch watches is not straightforward because of their unique and proprietary 3-prong lug design.



So I decided to modify the strap to fit the watch lugs. I used the original strap as a template and cut away the necessary pieces of leather from the strap using my sharp Stanley knife.


I was confident that it would work and it did - a perfect fit.





Friday, May 16, 2014

West Midlands Safari Park - 3rd Visit

This was our 3rd visit to the Safari Park - this time with my sis-in-law and her family.

Not sure why but this time, we saw fewer animals but we had fun.

WARNING: Loads of pictures coming up.

Noah's ark



See how huge that Rhino is





Ostrich



Here you are allowed to feed the animals

You are not allowed to feed the camels. They have a nasty bite. Looks smug, doesn't he or she?




My daughter tackling the wall. Much better than last time.















Hungry Hippo

Two lost kids

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tired of your old watch: Change the strap

Unlike some crazy watch collectors who have several watches, most people normally have one beater watch which they wear everyday. Many don't even use a watch any more. However, if you do wear watches, there is an easy way to change the look and feel immediately : just by changing the strap. All you need is a new strap and some tools.

That's what I did with my old Sekonda watch. It is a Rolex GMT Master homage with a Pepsi (blue and red) bezel powered by a Miyota quartz movement. 




I bought a blue, red and white Nato strap - Royal Air Force colours, on eBay. I hoped that it would match the colours of the Pepsi bezel. Used the strap spring bar remover tool to remove the strap pins and replaced the bracelet with the new strap.



Now I have a watch that looks and feels totally different. The Nato strap feel much more comfortable as compared to the stainless steel bracelet.

What do you think?

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