29 April 2012

Interesting times

There is a phrase, often said to be a Chinese curse:  "May you live in interesting times."  And April has certainly been interesting in many respects, including some that you really wouldn't want to experience.

The month appeared to start well, with a trip to Phuket in the second week.  And while we did, on the whole, have a good holiday, it is fair to say that the tsunami scare while we were there wasn't quite my idea of a relaxing time.  It is easy now to look back and say well, at least it didn't happen and it wasn't that bad really.  But at the time it was frightening.  We had just arrived in Patong, planning to trawl the beachfront market stalls and shops before going to Simon Cabaret, a show largely notable for the transvestites and transexuals that are included in the global-themed musical pieces.  We were browsing in the first shop we came upon, and were asked to leave.  It wasn't hard to guess why, given that the owner had already expressed concern over feeling an earthquake a little earlier, and that everyone was very clearly heading for the hills - literally.  We walked - quickly! - for a while, eventually finding shelter on the first floor of a food market/mall, but although we may well have been safe there in the event of a tsunami, I still didn't feel safe, and so we went back into the throng, making our way through the back streets, and then up a muddy and slippy hillside to the top of what must have been a recently cleared and soon to be built on site.  There everyone looked out to sea regularly, told stories of where they had been - in one case, checking out of the hotel and about to fly back home - phoned home and checked the latest news on their phones.  An hour or so later, we went back down the hill to a largely deserted (other than the traffic that was still stuck on the road running along the back of the town) Patong.  This all sounds very calm and orderly, and to be fair there didn't seem to be any panic.  But I found it very frightening, and it was hard not to recall all the stories read about the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which killed so many people - and which hit Patong very hard.

Anyway, all was well that ended well, and although the holiday continued to have a watery theme (including the Thai New Year water festival and a huge downpour just as the celebratory al fresco buffet was starting), we did enjoy it.  And in case you're in danger of feeling that bit too sorry for us, here is a picture of the view from our room.

The day after we got home, we had another interesting day.  Alex wasn't feeling well to start with, and then shut the door over his toe.  He sat, in some pain, on the side of the bath, and I, being a good wife, started to put a plaster on his toe.  And then he fainted.  And cracked his head on the tiles behind him.  And knocked himself out.  For several minutes.  Really - not good.  Very scary - not for him, of course, but certainly for me and the kids!  We called an ambulance, and they took him off to hospital - at this point he was conscious again, but still clearly pretty dazed and unable to stand.  He was checked over, given a brain scan, and within an hour or so was declared well enough to go home.

Since then things have, fortunately, been somewhat less interesting!  Although Kuala Lumpur made it into the international news yesterday with a rally,  allegedly not a political one though held by the political opposition, calling for fair elections.  It started peacefully enough, but when the demonstrators broke through the barriers to Merdeka Square (where they had wanted to hold the rally but were banned from doing so, it being of historical importance), the police retaliated with tear gas and water cannons.  

Over 330 people were arrested, apparently, all released now, and the post mortems on the event have already begun, with the blame dependent on which newspaper you read.

So there you have it, a quick catch-up post.  Which will probably make better reading than the forthcoming "April in photos" post, because I have been really rather negligent with that this month - some days have photos, but a lot of them don't!  Maybe I'll do better next month....

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