Tuesday, 26 February 2008

"A drinking club with a running problem"

So, today I did my first hash!

Basically, a hash is a run through the jungle. Kind of. (Read more here.)
It's more to it than just the running, there are loads of rules and traditions surrounding hashing. The Womens Hash here in Brunei was the world's first women's hash, founded in 1966. One of the co-founders - Glamour (all the hens have different code names) - is still running! She is 75+ something old, still going strong.

Today the run was at a site called Diplo. It is on different locations every week, and every week two "hens" are chosen to be "hares" and lay the trail the rest of us will follow.
The more seasoned "hens" were all equipped accordingly, with "waterbackpacks", whistles and flashlights (in case you get stuck or lost, when it goes dark). At least I had proper hash-shoes, which basically are football shoes made out of material, but with big rubber pegs on them, to get a good grip in the jungle.

Everybody signs in (and when they get back out they sign out so everybody is accounted for):



Your first time, you have to go "with" someone who is already a member. I got signed in by my friend Amanda, and she was also responsible for me all throughout the hash today. She had to walk with me, never let me out of her sight, and make sure I made it all the way around.



17.15 the horn went off, and we set off out into the jungle - exciting!
(And no, we didn't see any scary animals - they don't hang around when 40-50 loud, laughing, talking women power on through..!)

To know where to go, you have to follow the paper trail. It's a bit like orienteering. (Well, you can also just follow the people in front of you, but do stick to the paper as well, you might not go by the same pace, and all of a sudden those people might be gone faster than you.)
People keep calling out throughout the jungle "on on" which means they are still on track, "head" if there is f.e a branch really low, or "trip" if there are loads of branches or other things on the ground.
Along the trail there are 3-4 checkpoints, the forerunners will find them first, and call out "check ahead". Sometimes they have a hard time finding where the trail continues after the checkpoint, then you will hear "checking checking", until they find it - and go "on on paper".



I took a moment to pose on a log, crossing a stream. Grateful this was a dry crossing, as I had heard a few horror stories.



"In the jungle, the mightly jungle"... *Singing*



Taking a pit stop after having climbed a huge hill. We had to stop up to drink water, otherwise we would have tripped over. Not really a clean path we were walking on, no, quite the opposite. I'm really getting into it though, see my red face?



Here we are, trekking away. Up and down the hills...



Another piece of paper. Actually there were laid out with about only 2-3 meters in between, so no chance of missing any. The "hares" had taken three hours the other day "rekking" for the trail, and another 2 hours today laying it. Hard work.



I'm sorry this next picture is a bit blurry, but I just had to put it in anyway. It shows Amanda going through the deepest stream of the run. She is slightly shorter than I am, so she had to get in quite deep - I just got the water up to just over my knees luckily. Still made my shoes go all "slurp, slurp, slurp" afterwards, when doing the very last part of the trail... Yuck.



YES! Here I am - on my way out of the jungle, after having climbed the last high hill, in soggy shoes... It took us 1h15 to get around, which was pretty good. Really good exercise with all this climbing up and down huge hills, over and under trees and branches, over stock and stone etc. I'm so proud of myself for finishing! Now I just have to get fitter, so I can pick up the pace!



After the hash itself, there is always a shout-up.
Today I got introduced and rewarded with a down-down (a Tiger beer and a special song) being a guest and first-timer. I have to do two more times as a guest, before I can become a member, and be trusted to go about it on my own.
There was some singing and some speeches and also delicious food and drink - all quite sociable and nice. It's a good mix of different people that I normally don't meet, so I'm looking forward to next hash already!

Look at him!

As I have said earlier, both kids are gaining enormous amounts of confidence in the water down here. (Would be strange if they didn't of course, with us going swimming several times a week! But it's still amazing to see!)

Lucas favourite game is to jump into the pool from the side, over and over again. Even though he can't touch the bottom, he still launches himself in with full force.
Here he is on Nathans shoulders, another favourite - about to jump off. He is so cool!


Sunday, 24 February 2008

Another birthday party

Today the kids were invited to yet another birthday party, they come close this time of year! It was arranged at the Yacht Club, and the fact that it was raining didn't stop everybody from having a good time or the kids from swimming and playing in the pool.





Mind you, it was a little bit cold I think...

The birthday boy had requested a football cake, and one of their friends had made it for him - it was looking absolutely fantastic! Almost too nice to eat! (But it tasted good too I can report!)



Since it was a half-Swedish little birthday boy, there was a Fiskdamm (=fish pond) where the kids could go fishing for their party bags. Lucas though, got a shoe at first (to his great amusement!) before he got a bag on the hook.



Linnea was very concentrated on her task too.

Kindy Schedule 25-29 February

Term 2 Week 8 – Storytelling and friendship, Letter Ss
Focus activities:
Story – Three Billy Goats Gruff – Dramatising and retelling
Shape of the week: square
Number of the week: 7
Problem solving, designing bridges, small and large scale
Role play, Doctors Surgery, caring for eachother
Co-operative play and activities



Monday
NO SCHOOL in lieu of National Day

Tuesday
08.00 Assembly with Mrs Moran: Keeping school tidy
PE with Mrs Carter
ICT with Mrs Harris

Wednesday
Mandarin

Thursday
Library
Mandarin

Friday

Swimming
Fresh fruit Friday

Saturday, 23 February 2008

THE party

So, yesterday we went to THE party! The party that people have been looking forward to for weeks. It was my friend Anna, and two other guys, who had gone together to celebrate their 40th birthdays - and invited about 100 people to a huge cocktail bash.
I wore a stunning dress my friend Linda once gave me, and some new glam earrings. I had made an effort to put my hair up in a do (took a can of hairspray and serious amounts of patience...) and I felt really pretty!
Me and the birthday girl:



The party was held at the Empire Hotel & Country Club's Marine Center. They had chosen an absolutely gorgeous setting. The venue had been decorated beautifully with loads of white, flowy material, fresh flowers and lit candles everywhere.
While sipping on some Pimm's upon arriving we got to admire the sunset over the South China sea - fabulous!



There was a lot of mingling going on, "everybody" was there. They had a guy entertaining with some soft jazz and chilled out music while the buffet was on; and after we had had some yummy cake, the DJ got people dancing all through the night.

The theme for the night was "cool and colonial", and while the ladies were mostly sporting lush dresses, almost all the guys were wearing nice linen outfits and all looked very cool.
Even Nathan made it very late in the evening after returning from Hong Kong. This is Andrew, John and Nathan:

Friday, 22 February 2008

Independence Day

Tomorrow Brunei is celebrating it's 24th National Day, in commemoration of their independence, won 1st of January 1984. (Before that they were a British protectorate.)

I've been trying without any luck so far, to find information about what is going to happen tomorrow. Usually schoolchildren and private sector representatives work together with flash card displays and other colourful crowd formations, and there is supposed to be a big parade and celebrations all over Bandar (the capital). It would be nice to go and see it all so I will try and find out more today.

All of Brunei have been decorated for the occasion though. Almost every lamppost has been equipped with a flag, and nearly every car is driving around with flags as well. (Just like they did in they UK for the big sports events!) It looks rather festive!



Lucas is off school on Monday, in lieu of tomorrow - so we are looking forward to a long weekend!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Operation dry initiated

It's time.
Not that she really shows any signs, or is particularly interested, but it's time. Peculiar enough, she is more into doing nr 2 on the potty than nr 1 at the moment. We just go with it and hope she will catch on to what to do fairly quickly.



The to-do-list

Today we ticked off another thing of the endless to-do-list; we went to submit our applications for the IC cards (identity cards). We have had to wait this long, because we couldn't do it until Nathan had his work permit, and all of us our visas; and that has taken forever because... yeah, neverending story...

Today anyway, we went to not only take our pictures but to have our fingers fingerprinted! They are thorough here!

So once we have picked the IC cards up in a couple of weeks, we can go ahead and apply for national drivers licenses. Another thing on the to-do-list.
Then we only need a house. Only.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Taxfree shopping

On Friday we had to go out and in of the country (because of our visas/work permits, long story) the whole family, so we took a drive to the border at Kuala Lurah = did a border run.
I have been writing about this special experience before here; but I just wanted to add a couple of photos especially for those of you who think the border shopping here is like the nice, airconditioned taxfree shops in Germany off the ferries f.e - because it's not...

Here it is, Linggis - the bar/shop where you order your alcohol out of a little "menu"; and while you wait for it, can have a bite to eat. (We had chicken wings, yum, yum!) If you come in the evening, you often stay and have a few beers as well and make a night out of it!



And here we are, waiting for our both our food- and alcohol order:

Waterplay

Here is a little movie (wait, it loads slowly) of Lucas in action yesterday at the Yacht Club. I thought he would be a little bit cautious now since we hadn't been swimming for a month - but no, he just ran and jumped straight in!
It is really cool to see how water confident both of them has become since we moved here. It wont take long before they are swimming even!

The good thing here is, that the water is just as warm as in a bathtub (normally) so they never have to get out because they are too cold. They can stay in a whole day, no problem, which they do... They love swimming!

video

More waterplay

Last week Linnea and I went to "the other" playgroup for the first time, at the other international school, ISB.
This playgroup is in the afternoon, which is probably the reason we have never made it before - but we will most definetly come back, it was fab!



It was all outside and Linnea had a great time with her little friends running around, going in and out of the playhouses and splashing eachother with the water.
They had a big waterplay area set up, which was the absolute most popular thing. Linnea ended up completely naked after having got soaked, and run around in just her diaper at the end of it all... Next time I will bring a few changes of clothes!

Kindy Schedule 18-22 February

Term 2 Week 7 – Love and friendship – Letter Rr
Focus activities:
Story – Little Red Riding hood – Dramatising and retelling
Number ordering and counting forwards and backwards 0 – 10
Number and shape rockets
Shape of the week – rectangle
Junk modelling – robots, rockets etc.
Problem solving – designing bridges to cross an pretend river – the bridge should be strong enough for the children to cross – watch out for the hungry crocodile!
Rainbow colours



Monday
PMP with Mrs Carter
Music with Mr Instone

Tuesday
08.00 Assembly with Mrs Newton - Being independant
PE with Mrs Carter
ICT with Mrs Harris

Wednesday
Mandarin

Thursday
Mandarin
Library

Friday
Swimming
Fresh Fruit Friday

Sunday, 17 February 2008

EFIT - Sunday 17.02.2008

07.20 Time to get up to a new EFIT day! (This globe-calendar has been with me for as long as I can remember, one of my most treasured possessions.)



08.40 Checking up on my friends around the world, together with breakfast.



09.40 Got an email from a friend in Greece, telling me wonderful news about the birth of her daughter - I got inspired to do some scrapping, of some photos from our holiday in Lefkas 2006. Here is the beginning of the creative process...



10.55 ... and here is the finished result:



11.45 Lunchtime: bacon and omelet. Yum!



12.30 Packing the car to go swimming. Had been looking forward to a dip since we got back from Sweden. (Then it turned out to be so cold, I didn't swim anyway!)



13.20 Went to a friends house for coffee on the way to the Yacht Club. Had coffee, a chat and swopped some magazines. Here is what I got:



14.30 Arrived at the Yacht Club. Lucas is getting really confident, jumps into the water without hesitation and even swims a short bit.



15.40 Still swimming, playing with the ball.



16.30 While waiting for dinner, down at the beach, the sun is on it's way down.



17.45 Stopped at one of the big shops on the way home, to buy a radio to put in the amah's room. A nice thing to do, so she gets some "life" in her room.



18.50 Ended the day with some DIY, attaching the new shelf to the wall, in case the kids would try and climb on it.


A new low

As you know, Brunei has a tropical climat. Temperature is fairly constant, averaging between 23-33 C degrees all year round.

The climate is monsoonal, and normally there is supposed to be a wet season between November and February, when there is higher and more constant rainfall.
However, this year, it seems to have come slightly later - since we've been back, we have only had ONE clear afternoon. The rest of the time (for over a week now) it has rained constantly.
It's also been pretty cool. Yesterday driving in to town in the late afternoon, I experienced the lowest temperature since we've been here: 21 degrees. Pretty cold!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

An early Valentines surprise

Nathan and I are going out for Valentines dinner tonight. Yes, we are a day early, but he was supposed to work tomorrow, so it was the best he could do.
I say 'he', because it's actually Nathan who has organized it! Unfortunately the amah ruined the surprise by confirming the babysitting, with me...

Ah well, it was a nice surprise anyway, even if it wasn't on the night itself! We are heading out soon, and it's still a surprise though where we are going, I better go and make myself pretty!

Happy Valentines to all of you from all of us! Love all around!


A pleasant IKEA-experience

So, we go our Expedit today, not only delivered but also mounted! Yes, that's a different kind of IKEA-experience! I was sitting on the sofa reading my glossy magazine, while two guys were doing all the hard work! Me like!



And here is the finished result, I am so pleased! It really swallows heapes, the whole "play room" looks a lot more tidy and clean now. And I haven't even filled it up all over yet.

Weeee - Wii is fun!

Ok, I must admit, this Wii thing is actually quite much fun! Lucas plays 'Cars' and his favourite 'Lego Star Wars', and together we play the sports games.
I decided that tennis would be suitable, but I am sorry to say, Lucas kicked my butt! I have to practise more I think...

Here we are in action, hence the funny facial expressions:



Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Enough

I haven't wanted to buy any furniture while we were still in this temporary house, since it would be hard to know if it would fit in any future house or not. I also had a dream/plan to have someone custom build some toy storage, in whatever new house we would get.

But today I had enough.
We went to the "IKEA-store" (a local store that imports furniture from IKEA in Singapore and sells it with a slight added cost) and bought one of these:



IKEA Expedit - an IKEA classic! Perfect for toy storage!
The good thing here is that delivery and assembly is included, so by tomorrow lunchtime we should have order again amongst the toys, at least for five minutes...
If only they would sell Swedish food too, it would be perfect!

Monday, 11 February 2008

Chilly weather

When I went to do some grocery shopping today, I was surprised at how chilly it was outside, only 24 degrees!
It has been raining since this morning, so not strange maybe. Still, quite unusual. Maybe it's the "wet season" that has finally come?
Brrr!

Back on track

I think we are back on track already. Last night we played a bit of "musical beds", the kids fell asleep in their own beds, but came into ours when we went to bed. Then I took Linnea back to hers and stayed with her until she fell asleep, and when I was going back to my bed it was occupied by Lucas - so I went to sleep in his...
But, we all slept, which is the important thing!



We woke up at 8 this morning, so Lucas went to school, slightly late but I think he was happy with becoming the center of attention when he arrived.
I have unpacked and the house is almost back in order. Tomorrow I will go to the gym and hopefully tennis and swimming is on later in the week. Feels good.