Saying hello from Penang

The last five weeks have been fairly hectic at my new job, which is OK because I had expected it. There has been quite a few nights when I’ve sat down at the laptop and said I really must post an update or two but then it is a case of where to start again.

I’ll start here, in Penang where I am for a week visiting one of my dearest, dearest friends for her birthday. I flew out of the GC on Friday morning and about 12 hours later I was in a massive round of hugs with Jo at the Penang airport. Happy times.



Air Asia was very good to fly with and on the GC-KL plane I think I had more leg room than I have ever had before.

We went out to dinner at Song River on Friday and had a very, very nice meal. The fried rice from the gum boots man was so smokely delicious and the satay from one of the other stalls was oh so good as well. We washed our meal down with watermelon juice and that was just like drinking summer.


Then it was back to the apartment to natter about the last 3.5 months and for me to get mothered, “now that you’ve finished your Lemsip you can go to bed”.

You see, I came home from a trip to Sydney for work three weeks ago with a dreadful cough. I’ve not felt unwell other than having for the first week a quite moist productive cough and rounds of coughing fits that would see me gripping what ever was closet to me so I didn’t cough my self to the moon. The second week it became a fairly dry cough but still massive coughing fits and my voice continued to sound well not the normal sweet voice I normally have. At the end of the second week the lower left side of my chest was causing me so much pain that I thought perhaps I had cracked a rib. Off to the doctors I went and after getting checked out to make sure it wasn’t anything more sinister it was confirmed that I had most likely pulled the muscles in that part of my chest. I was put on a cough suppressant and some antibiotics. The cough suppressant worked reasonably well to reduce my coughing fits to little piddly coughs. Well until I got to Penang of course and a day of travel and contrasting weather caught up with and the coughing returned in force. A cup of lemsip though and a good steam though managed to push the cough away again to just tiny coughs. The pulled muscles though not so fun. It hurts to laugh and well we do a fair bit of laughing. Still pain is the name of the game and whilst I could get some plastic surgery done whilst I’m over here, I don’t think they replace muscles yet. It is just a waiting game.

Yesterday we went to the Pinang Peranakan Mansion which is a museum of Nyonya life in the early heyday of Penang. Part of the museum is a Chinese jewellery museum which wasn’t as interesting as I had hoped as well it had been some time since the jewellery had been polished. The rest of the museum made up for it though, there was ornate furniture decorated with mother of pearl and some exquisite embroideries and very nice door handles and good turn of the century English floor tiles.


We then had a “scenic” walk round Georgetown before arriving at a shopping centre or really a “sweet Holy Grail of air con”. It was then a “scenic” walk round a series of connected shopping centres before a “scenic” walk to another shopping centre where I was looking for something an old coworker had asked me to bring back for her.




After that mission we hopped back in a taxi and headed back to the area where Jo lives to go to a shiny new shopping centre where we had lunch. One thing that Jo and I have in common is a love for hot food so we both ordered a curry laska for lunch that she had had before. One thing we didn’t think of is that my poor throat after three weeks of coughing is pretty scratched up. 🙁 Curry laska not such a good idea. Some gelato made it better though.

Back to the apartment then for some couch/movie/chocolate time and I finally watched Finding Nemo. Yes, I had never watched it. A few laughing coughing fits later the movie was over.


We had dinner last night at Bali Hai. We had a freshwater fish steamed Hong Kong style. It was lovely. There was obligatory coconut water out of coconuts.


After dinner it was time for some tropical berry mojito shakers at TGI Fridays whilst we watched children play in the water light show in the piazza and listened to a local trio whilst we of course nattered some more.

And that was my first 24 odd hours in Penang. Today is a big day as not only is it Easter Sunday, hello chocolate and hot cross buns but it is Jodes birthday :D. Which is the reason I’m visiting 🙂

I’m still on Queensland time, so I’m awake waiting for the birthday girl to rise.

Melbourne, Day 1

Well I am well and truly back from Melbourne, though I would move there in a heart beat and a half if offered the chance. I figure I got about 80% of the things I wanted to do in Melbourne done and I managed to get about half the things on my pre-planned shopping list.

Lesson #1, Qantas time and Helen time are not calibrated. I was supposedly 1 minute too late to drop my bag for my flight. I had already checked in online the day before but had to queue for the bag drop. I was in the bag drop line for about 4 minutes. The lady at the counter said they had put an announcement over the loudspeaker for people to come out of the line. I just shook my head and if I hadn’t been so tired I would have argued it because there was no announcement. She also tried to tell me that I had to have my backpack in a bag before it could be dropped. WTF? Never heard that before – you just buckle all the straps up and it is fine. Though I must admit I heard her a little later telling another passenger that the wooden box they were checking in as luggage had to be in a bag. WTF? I didn’t queue in her line the next time. Back to the story. $44 later I was on the next flight to Melbourne – it left Brisbane at 0655 instead of the 0555 I had been booked on. Still I was ahead because the Qantas fare was still cheaper than Virgin or Jetstar and they would have made me pay the entire fare again to get on the next flight.
When I went back to check in and drop my bag for the next flight, I joined a different queue and the man at the counter had no problems with my backpack just as long as I buckled the straps up. Silly lady.

Lesson #2, do not make eye contact with the person with the explosive trace wand, because she will target you and wave the magic wand over you.

Lesson #3, Helen ♥s Melbourne.

I picked up the May issue of Real Living at the airport, so that with The Australian and The Courier Mail courtesy of Qantas were my reading material for the flight. I ♥ Real Living. I had a really pleasant flight down. The breakfast was good and one of the flight attendants, commented on my ear-rings which was nice, I returned the comment by saying I would love to be able to style my hair in the way she had done it.

Some photos from the flight.
This is the view as we flew over the Murray, I love the patchwork.
The MurrayQantas Wings

I landed in Melbourne to drizzly rain and grey skies. ugg not the Melbourne I wanted. Still this is the city of “four seasons in one day” by the arvo it would be blue skies. I again stayed at Greenhouse Backpackers. I can not recommend them enough. $30/night, free breakfast if you are up early enough and in such a fantastic location. On Flinders Ln between Swanston St and Degraves St and it has a rooftop 🙂 It is great. Once I had unpacked my bags and grabbed a bed. I was off to explore.

I started on the corner of Flinders and Swanston and walked down to Spencer, back up Flinders Lane to Swanston, down Collins etc in a similar manner till I reached the corner of Little Lonsdale and Swanston. Oh the sights I saw and the sights I didn’t see.

Flinders Lane was great and I must say I loved living above it. The Aesop store has the most incredible fit out, the entire shelving system is made from cardboard. Didn’t go in but I loved what I saw. There was another shop just down from the Greenhouse entrance that had the most gorgeous emerald green wool shift dress in the window. If I was a size 10 and lived in Melbourne I would have stolen it from the window. Had a browse in Polyester Records but didn’t find anything that tickled my musical fancy. Had lunch at Le Petit Gâteau but that will be another post. Really enjoyed walking round the court district, lots of nice buildings and nice looking people.

Saw some lovely bicycles, one great thing about Melbourne is that because it is so flat it is very cycle friendly. I was suprised to see many ladies in full office wear, cycling home after work in high heels and all. I guess you don’t really work up a sweat cycling home in the cooler Melbourne weather.

Melbourne BikesMelbourne Bikes

Had a fantastic time on Little Bourke between Elizabeth and Queen. Wilkins and Kent was a fantastic shop, I picked up a cute little wooden tree brooch from States of Nature, a lavender heat pillow from Tonic Australia and placed a Jo Luping tile on hold that I would pick up from the Fitzroy store the next day. If you go to this article at Lost My Way and scroll down to the Jo Luping section, I got the tree tile that is in the middle. I love it! I had a little look in Paddy Pallin and tried on a great pair of shoes but the size 9 was too tight, tried on the size 10 in a similar style as they didn’t have the size 10 in the style I wanted. The good news was that the Fortitude Valley store had a size 10. Called Pabbi and he went in the next day and picked up a pair for me. Score!!! These are the new shoes, that were waiting on my bed when I got home from Melbourne. They are made by Simple (a shoe company that I just adore) and they can be found on Zappos here

Carousel shoes by Simple

Went to Metropolis Books and oh my I l ♥ that shop. I love how much space they were – it was great not having a really cramped bookshop. I picked up the Sublime Stitching Pad which I had been looking at for a while and a book called It’s So You, edited by Michelle Tea, writings from thirty-five women about personal expression through fashion and style. It looks like it will be a really great read. The lady behind the counter said she had loved it, so should be good.

I also stopped by Made in Japan where I picked up three very lovely ceramic pieces. I got the 18cm open shape bowl and 25cm large shallow bowl in Embossed Asanoha, they looked lovely nested together. I also got the 25cm large shallow bowl in Blue Blossom.

Mmm what else did I do? I walked and I walked some more and took photos! Took some street art photos for Karl
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Another thing I ♥ about the Melbourne CBD is all the rooftop spaces with gardens on them etc as well as all the balcony/window sill gardens.

This photo made me laugh

I loved the grid of the tram lines against the blue sky and the number 39.
Tram lines in the sky

A little lane way off Little Bourke

This photo reminded me of a show called Loot I once saw on the ABC.

Something a little arty.

The Myer windows in the Bourke St Mall, had costumes and props from Australia. I loved this outfit in the movie.
Australia Windows

dead umbrella, no longer needed, the sun is out.
umbrella, dead.

and I leave you with one last photo. You would want to hope that this building never changes street numbers 😀
Three Ninety

I retired back to the hostel with a bag full of goodies and a very tired Helen.

Back to Melbourne

Well in about ohhh four minutes, I will be walking out the door and heading to the airport to catch a plane to Melbourne!!!! I am currently eating a quick breakfast and then I’m off. I stayed at my parents last night and Pabbi is about to take me to the airport. I am soo excited. Excited to be having a real mini holiday away from work. The last few months have just been hectic. I have a big list (ie 12+ pages) of things I want to check out, places I want to go etc etc. I haven’t got my Rudd money yet, but that is what I am going to be using this week!

I’m back Sunday night as I have to work on Monday morning.

A few pictures from last time I went. I am not taking my 12-24mm this time, just my 16-35, the 50mm and the 135mm. See you on the other side 🙂

Turning off Johnston St, Fitzroy St Pauls from Swanston & Flinders @ 12mm Getting off on Elizabeth St Waiting for the tram at 17mm The GPO @ 12mm