Due to a wedding party’s booking in the lodge, we were unable to return to our beds the night we touched back on blessed dry land. Malaysians are very big on their weddings – people are apparently always very keen to invite absolutely everyone. These people however did not seem to fancy it, and though Lucy tried to wiggle us an invitation to the reception as a kind of cultural experience they weren’t having any of it. Though our room was not actually needed they desired a little privacy, and booked out the entire B&B.
So instead of returning to our cute quilted beds, Lucy booked us at a very good rate into a new hotel, called the ‘J Suites’. Entirely unable to find it on any single form of social media and becoming ever so slightly concerned as to its actual existence, we were much relieved when Yanti kindly dropped us off outside and it proved to be a very contemporarily decorated and entirely pleasant hotel. It had shiny black granite floors, and really cool automatic door locks with light-y up ‘Do Not Disturb’ and ‘Please Clean My Room’ signs.
(It did, however, have a small hole in the bathroom ceiling and an area of spackle on the wall that had not been finished. Made no problem for us, slightly amusing actually).
After being treated to coffee the night before by Yanti and her friend Nisa (I consumed an Americano at midnight that kept me up for about three hours), we decided to cheekily skip off work the next day, due to both the feasibility of getting taxis and also a bone deep need for a 15 hour sleep, and enjoyed the fact that our hotel was directly adjacent to China Town. We had a lovely but slightly rushed mooch around the lantern-filled streets, wherein I completely and utterly pissed off Jess by lackadaisically wandering through the decorated streets taking photographs on my big camera while she urgently tried to ensure we made it in time.
My favourite was the Umbrella Lane, though the Fabric Lane, Love Lane and Weird Kite Thing Lane also placed.
Without much fuss we caught a taxi back to the lodge on Sunday night and with it, our general pattern of work for the next week began.
Dr. Wan was off on holiday, so we caught a daily taxi in to INOS (with varying success – sometimes a lack of understanding of English/our poor Malaysian led to us being dropped any given distance away from our actual destination out of pure simplicity). Work was a 9-to-5-what-a-way-to-make-a-living kind of grind, but we really started enjoying it as Jess hit a groove in her graph making and I found my skill in making one giant table which complied species presence data for different Malaysian states, and different countries within the United Kingdom.
The atmosphere in the office was brilliant – every day, someone would bring in some new food for us to try, or we would be taken out for lunch, or… invited to play badminton in the pick up/drop off area outside?
Regardless, we had a busy week of playing with databases and making illustrative figures, such that we were glad when the weekend rolled around. After much talk on the boat and explanations of all our favourite British foods, Yanti had expressed an interest in trying them. We had said yeah, that’s totally fine, we can definitely handle cooking for you, what a fun challenge!
Then, Yanti said she’d maybe invite some of her friends over, if that was okay. Again, yes, the more the merrier!
A few friends turned out to be… 11. 11 people. We were making roast dinner and apple crumble for 11 people, in a kitchen in Yanti’s friends house where everyone was genuinely surprised to find there was a conventional oven (it’s really not a thing here).
We were taken out shopping at Giant for supplies, and then Yanti and her boyfriend treated us to lunch at the oft recommended Chicken Rice Shop which was brilliant. In the end, we had a slightly hectic and incredibly lovely evening – there were seven people in the kitchen at any one time and, or course, Jelly.
Jelly is Yanti’s kitten. She’s a tiny tortoiseshell and she is absolutely adorable. She is kept at Abung Herry (Yanti’s friend, whose house we had invaded)’s house since Yanti herself can’t have pets, and she was rescued from a restaurant that her new mum was eating in when she saw her. She likes chasing after our blue Malaysian Samsung brick phone when we slid it along the floor, and had no name until we turned up to cook. Yanti named her Jelly as a combination of ‘Jess’ and ‘Millie’. Like Bradjelina.
I really, really like the idea that there is going to be a cat somewhere in the Malaysia who will forever be named after us.