so i've been missing in action lately for a good reason. i've just had a lovely 2 week holiday overseas which involved visits to melbourne & malaysia. i feel incredibly lucky to be able to do such a thing, and i very much needed this mid-winter break. the problem when i get back is dealing with the jetlag, and trying to build up enthusiasm for all the various things i'm involved with. so i'm in that phase where i'm trying to settle back into my "normal" life.
i've also been extremely lucky in that the places i've stayed when i travel have been incredibly lovely and the hospitality very humbling. to not have to worry at all about cooking, cleaning or any other domestic chores, as well a total break from works and meetings of any kind, was wonderful.
one of the best days of the trip was exploring melbourne city. catching a train into the city centre, armed with a map and using the trams to get around to the museum and the queen victoria market. then managing to get on to a shuttle bus for a drive around the docklands & being dropped off right in front of the art gallery, which was also stunning. one thing we found was how amazingly helpful the city is to tourists. all the free transport, and both the trams & shuttle bus having detailed commentary so that we could easily find our way around to the things we wanted to do.
we spent the evening wandering through chinatown & had dinner at a japanese restaurant. it all felt so safe and so incredibly easy. i can't say i've felt like that about any other city in the world, though istanbul would probably be my next favourite city that i've visited.
malaysia was wonderful, as always. and as always, it's because we fit into the majority culture, and it's so relaxing to not have to worry about finding halal food or a place to pray. it's also great to find clothes that are right for us.
the global recession seems to have passed malaysia by, with the shopping malls all packed & plenty of construction activity going on. there's something to be said for a regulated economy, and a prime minister that had the guts to stand up to the world bank and IMF. which isn't to say that there is no poverty or social problems, but on the whole, the country seems to be doing well.
i enjoyed the whole of my time in malaysia, but the highlights would be visiting the shah alam mosque, and visiting i-city. they were both beautiful in their own way, but the latter was pretty spectacular - the photos at the link really don't do it justice.
i also spent a fair amount of time watching wimbledon, and was very happy with the results. i am, of course, a long-time fan of mr federer so it was great to see him play well and take out the title. but i also really enjoyed watching serena williams come back into form to win another title. i love watching her, not just because of her game but because of who she is. i love that she's a woman of colour succeeding in a sport where so few of them are seen, i love that she is considerably bigger than most of the other women players and yet super fit and super strong. i would love to see more women like her playing top-level tennis.