Home after a short trip and everything looks bright. I still have time to relax and gradually ease into more writing, an editing course and semester preparations. I am sleeping well.
Without having done much research about it before I went, Penang Island in Malaysia turned out to be a great place to visit, relax and enjoy the water, and meet people. As a multicultural society, the food was fantastic and the culture fascinating. Everyone is very warm and friendly. They avoid rushing around and take time to talk. Moreover, city buses take passengers to nice beaches and scenic gardens.
The hostel was a tad run down and inadequately fitted; however, the owner came around to shore up the sitting room and do repairs later in the week. The breakfast was meager, though they added some more fruit by mid-week. I bet they got some negative reviews that spurred some changes. Regardless, the price was right, the bed clean, cool and comfortable, and the location fine. The staff were very responsive, diligent and warm.
I took a bike trip around town to see the historic places and art, and shop for souvenirs. The colonial and religious architecture and shops were intriguing and pleasant to explore. You can see a lot of important and interesting sites just on foot, too. Mosques and Buddhist and Hindu temples are neighbours with "Little India", the artsy "Armenian Street and the touristic Chulia (=Tamil Muslim) Street." The best museum is the state museum covering the general history and displaying many photos and artifacts all for about 25 cents. You can revel in the various cuisines, from Indian fare to Chinese-American diners, from Thai specialties to authentic Chinese dinners, and from Malay crossbred cuisines like Chinese-Indian food to European style cafes.
I had expected several storms during my period of stay, but there were only two brief downpours in that time. The rest of the time it was sunny and very hot--34 to 38C. It required a strong defense against the sun; I was well equipped to deal with it, so I only felt queasy that day of the bike tour, which was my first day and, they say, one of the hottest on record for January. I took siestas everyday, showering and changing in the middle of the afternoons. I took breaks to try several kinds of fruit beverages and ice tea and coffee. I went to the beach a couple of times; the shore was green and shaded with palms, and there was a small designated swimming area, which I made use of twice.
My neighbour and colleague looked after the pet finches very well. He kept the area very clean. On top of that, he unclogged a drain pipe in the bathroom. He rocks!
I was glad I had picked up some lovely suitable gifts for him and his family to show our gratitude for his kindness. I was lucky he was around. The timing was perfect for he took off on his holiday trip the day after I arrived back from mine.
The feathered roomies seem happy and healthy. When I arrived, the heater had shut off. With the weather well below freezing outside, the room temperature fell as low as 15C on the morning I arrived. That's getting to the lowest tolerance point for these tropical birds. I think there had been a power failure, which caused the heater to shut down. Thankfully, it apparently didn't last long and I arrived in good time to warm up the room. After unpacking and a quick cage-washing, we were back to the normal routine. I think the birdies prefer someone around all the time and this breed (Gouldian) is known for getting attached to their caretaker. The stick to a routine even with the substitute; in fact, the neighbour said that he found them waiting for a change of feed and a tray cleaning when he arrived after eight each morning. They danced and sang when he came in.
Getting back into gear and back online, I discovered some good news for me personally. First, a message from a friend informed me of some cheap online technical support for the e-book formatting. I therefore immediately sent off a bundle of work that needs to be fully and properly published for the publishers and bookstores to access. Second, I found out that I probably do not have to buy books for the online course. Third, a closer scrutinizing of my spring semester course load and schedule no longer appear as onerous as they had at first; I only have to make one syllabus from scratch.
I am feeling optimistic. I am a little refreshed from the vacation travel and I have a handle on things. I have things to do but time to spare. I am looking forward to finishing my fourth novel, starting the editing course, resuming my exercise regime and planning my spring lesson plans from now until March.