Wednesday, 29 August 2012

jeudi de paris

This blog was a great way for us to keep family and friends updated about our adventures around the world.  No reason to stop now, for our adventures continue on our vol de vie (literal translation: flight of life).

I can't say yet how much time I have to dedicate time to this blog but I wanted to be sure to post something at least once a week.  So here is Jeudi de Paris, which translates to "Thursday from Paris",  which also sounds like "I'm saying from Paris".  This will be a regular weekly post that you may find time for to see what we are up to in this part of the world.

We arrived in France after a long flight and a long transit in Amsterdam.  A heatwave awaited us, temperatures expected to soar to 40 degrees.  The following day, 15 August (a public holiday here in France in celebration of the Assumption of Mary), was when we usually gathered for a traditional family lunch at my father in law's house near Bordeaux, known in the family as Sturget.  This year, JB's aunt and uncle hosted it at their summer property Parjadis in the Dordogne Perigord area.

The menu is the same every year, and eaten only for this occasion.  We are welcomed with drinks and little snacks for aperitif. The entree is honey sweet cantaloupe melons, followed by home-made quenelle (a type of gnocchi) in a tomato and olives sauce.  The main dish is roast lamb accompanied by French green and flageolet beans (the caviar of beans).  A selection of cheese follows.  Miraculously, we always have room for dessert and its a decadent chocolate marquise made to a secret recipe by cousin Benjamin.  Wine of course, is the highlight of the lunch, and cousin Benedicte is the regular and much-appreciated supplier.

Its all very sympathique.  Good food, good wine, good company, who's complaining?  There is always  lots of laughter and horsing around, and this year, there were also some dogs, cows and birds...

Benjamin starting the marquise apprentice young?

Some outdoor exercise after lunch to whet an appetite for dinner.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

days are long, years are short

During our world trip, JB of course always had some kind of ‘agenda’ lined up.  One of it was a ‘happiness project’.  This was inspired by a book he was reading.  Anyway, we both read this book, and the only phrase I really retain from it is this: days are long and years are short.

Well, the ten years we spent in KL certainly seems short.  And they were certainly happy, one of the main reasons being we were constantly surrounded by family and friends.  

Anais and Tea are so lucky to have had the chance to spend a small part of their lives with their  grandma who they adore and their Malaysian cousins.

We had the privilege of our home being the centre of family gatherings.  I will miss these get togethers, reminiscing with my brothers about our childhoods while our children share their childhoods.

I found Anais behind closed doors today, crying because she misses Malaysia.  She is more often than not excited about her new life, but it was one of those days today.

The adults are nostalgic too; what better friends can we ask for?  Before I hurt anyone's feelings, let me say now that I have limited photos in my computer as they are mostly in another computer which is in our shipment and which we understand is delayed...(summer here, so things are on pause, Welcome to France)

We have a few people to thank.  Our weekend in KL was logistically a bit challenging, as we were without a home and a car, and a run-down bank account after our world trip.

Jack, we will remember you for your hosting and karaoke talents, and for being the best dressed airport chauffeur ever.  Thank you for picking us up, driving us around, opening your home to us.

Kathy and Richard - for coming to see us from Singapore (but any reason is good reason to escape Singapore for a weekend!) and helping us run errands, watch the kids, buy us lunch.  I haven't got photos to show (believe me when I say they are a very good looking couple and would not be embarrassed to have their photos posted here) as they are in the other computer, see explanation above.

Karen, whose heart is bigger than her stomach, and that says a lot - for being our other driver.

 Ivy, our other other driver.

We visited our tenants on our stopover in KL.  As Anais and Tea left, tears in their eyes and heads hung low, Tea said "Its not my home anymore".  We haven't yet gotten the keys to our new apartment in Paris, but we sure won't have the same space.

Oh, the parties we had!

A long to-do list for KL on our short stopover, almost impossible to complete.  But we prioritised.  Dim sum, butter crab, roti canai, won ton noodles, char keow teow, rojak...

And doing batik.  But most of all, stocking up on quality time and hugs and kisses with friends!

It was an emotional departure for me as the last ten years in Malaysia have been very special and significant.  Anais and Tea were born there.  JB carved an important stage in his career.  He also had H1N1.  I had children and forgot the meaning of modesty.  We bought our first home.  I had my mum living with us.      Anais became addicted to durian.  Tea won her first cross country race.  We truly had a blessed life.  

I felt sad leaving my home.  And anxious that I may not feel as easily at home in France as JB did in Malaysia.  Its taken me years to learn the nuances and subtleties of the French culture, and I'm still learning.  But its time to look forward.  Embrace change.  Happiness has a word in French too.  At least I speak the language...

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

the journey goes on

Its officially over.  We've come full circle.  The world trip is now behind us.

After our Swaziland stop, we drove to White River where famed Blyde Canyon is the third largest in the world.  Honestly, we thought it tiny after having seen the Grand Canyons in the US.    

The attraction for the girls as we toured the Panorama was a donkey cart ride; they gripped the sides of the cart in thrill and terror as it raced down the little street of Pilgrim’s Rest.

The Panorama area offers many waterfalls views.

We then headed towards Kruger National Park where again we see that nature in all its splendour commands respect.  Many a times it was hard to spot an animal but other times we came into close contact with some of them.  The elephants initially escaped us and I made a wish that I would see them up close, and more of them too.  We then found ourselves continually either driving past a trail that an elephant had just crossed or was about to cross, with 20 others following closely behind; a couple of times we zipped by while an elephant stood perfectly still by the side of the road, grazing.

We stayed at the campgrounds which had excellent facilities.  We can self-drive in the park but are required to be back by 6 pm in the latest.  One day we got back late, having taken a more scenic drive, and got told off like errant teenagers.  The guard scowled "Do you know what time it is?".  We cooked up a feeble excuse of being lost and of elephants crossing etc.

JB went for a sunrise walk one morning, accompanied by armed guide rangers of course.  The girls were rather worried he would chance upon hungry lions but giraffes and rhinoceros droppings were all that was on offer that day. 

Thank you for following us on this amazing trip.  But our journey is not yet over.  After all, our blog is called vol de vie - the journey of life.  And who knows how long that will take.