Let South East Asia learn to swim !!!

Recently I have read so many articles about refugees from Syria crossing the dangerous seas wearing not much but a lifejacket (sometimes a dodgy one…) that my mind is completely set on feeling on edge any time I see the photograph of someone seating half way in the water wearing a life jacket. My pulse starts going faster and my stomach feels heavy. I feel sorry for the poor people having had to leave home to travel to far away place just to be safe and more importantly to have to risk their life in the process by just crossing the sea…

So a few days ago I was sitting in a “Air Asia” flight between Singapore and Kota Kinabalu (Borneo) and I was in stitches when reading that I could get prosecuted if I had the bad idea to “steal” the life jacket from under my seat… why on Earth would I even want to do this… my bag is overloaded as it is with all the bits and bobs I collect on my way places without wanting to uplift a very bulky aged life jacket… Why would anyone want to do this?

But over the past few days I have been spending a bit of time near an hotel pool with quite a few people from China, Korea, Malaysia, even Cambodgia… and to my surprise I have seen many of them off all ages floating in the pool wearing the bulky mentioned earlier life jackets (including very young children). I suddenly understood poor “Air Asia” trouble with their lost life jackets… South Asian can not swim… they dont learn when being children, they don’t have access as we do in the UK with our numerous “public” pools, they don’t get dragged as children to group sessions… and many many adults I have seen recently do not have this essential life skill or just child fun skill of swimming.

My lady just above is not a poor refugee having just had crossed the sea looking for better tomorrows… she is a “nouveau riche” from Korea with her little girl enjoying a very expensive pool in Borneo but she simply cant swim and as such can not teach her child this simple skill.

You never before looking around know your luck and its so easy to take things for granted… when I float around relaxing in the warm water I feel blessed knowing that if I had to cross the sea in a crisis time I could swim about if I did not have a life jacket… but who else could in the crowd enjoying themselves with me today.


Please get South East Asia to learn to swim… its such a life saving skill… and it will allow Air Asia to relax a bit.

Best Wishes


Betty xx

Once up on a temple ! 

Last December I had the Great privilege to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodgia. This is a world renowned temples site dating from the 8th centure. What is left of the highly skilled Khmer civilisation which reigned over South East Asia for five hundred years during our Western European Middle Ages. A highly sophisticated and skilled civilisation who managed to erect in the middle of the jungle cities and temples where over one million people from the humble servant to the King all serving a bunch of Gods.

         A religion which had roots in India with a complicated story where any normal European looses its understanding and where half man/half gods get lost in the great milk sea and where soldiers with green monkey faces battle to save honor. The Ramayana with a different twist.

Anyway this great complex suddenly became empty at the end of the 1300 was discovered again by a Khmer King in 1600 was overtaken by the jungle again to be rediscovered in the 1800 by Europeans explorers looking for rare plants and gradually got a world wide status for its uniqueness ! For its beauty ! It’s a Unesco site only equated by the pyramids or the Great Wall of China…

It’s breathtaking ! And very very busy with tourists … Guides … Tuk Tuks … And so very hot but so worth travelling to the other side of the world !

The small circuit ! The big circuit ! The North temples for which Thailand and Cambodgia disputed for years … One must read before visiting to fully grasp what you see when visiting between steps so steep because going to the Gods and outside Libraries … Many holes in the walls for wall plaques and rooms full of Buddhas…

 I loved it it was so hot ! So tiring ! We climbed so many stone steps ! Walked kilometres in the scorching sun feeling drenched in sweat like true adventurers but I am in love with this site and I can’t wait to go back another time to check all the details I missed! I want to get up before sun rise to see Angkor Wat and drive up through Angkor Thom South Gate in a Tuk Tuk ! I want to give a donation to the Landmine small orchestras which are playing delightful music on each sites … Orchestra of ex soldiers with missing limbs smiling as they play but that is another story …

 I know there is only one God but I rather like the idea of an ancient civilisation with many Gods and great architect !

Do make the plan to visit Angkor Wat sometimes it’s one of our world’s wonder I can guarantee you will love it too!

Love Betty xx


I was travelling in the old town of Georgetown during our holidays in Pennang the other week thinking how our time in Malaysia had been so enjoyable and feeling almost home there after two visits. I like very much the cosmopolitan way of Malaysia. Everyone under the same sun enjoying peace and very good street food…

But then I realised that any new things I had discovered during my time there had to do with China… And not Malaysia ! 

       Well when I say China I don’t mean China as we think in Western Europe… Not the China that takes our jobs, China that pollutes the world and manufactures everything we wear … Live in … Or use in modern life… No I have discovered a lot about the China out of China … The Chinese who migrated to Malaya at some point from the 17th century to make a better life out of such hard work and determination. And they settled… And they married… And they had children… Who had children… But they never forgot their roots and they are now part of the very strong community of Peranakan (married in) who spread across South East Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand…) . 

     I had discovered the beautiful Blue Mansion in Penang last year … Used by French actress Catherine Deneuve in Indochine, transformed I am hotel but very much Mansion of a Chinese emigrant who adds name for himself out of hard work and wanted to prove it to the world. I got the biggest house built even had a cast iron staircase imported from Glasgow (Scotland). 

So we went on a Chinese discovery this year… The Singapore Peranakan museum, the Georgetown Peranakan museum, The bar/cafe The China House in Georgetown, Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur … 
I felt in love with this community which has kept a strong sense of their identity so strong that teenagers are happy when they meet a Peranakan partner for life. So strong that they have their own cuisine, their own architecture, their own tradition, and whatever else.

   So when I met the old engraver in the Chinese quarter of Pennang I could not resist getting my very own Chinese seal made. I think there is something beautiful in the unknown the foreign typeface… I believe it says my name but who knows maybe the old man as a joke wrote :

“The white woman who thinks she is Chinese” 🙂 

What do you think ? Is it not beautiful anyway ? 

I like to think anyway when I use it the old Mr Hua made it for me with all the love he has used to make seals for the past 40 years.

You can get those seals ordered on the Internet nowadays but I had to walk under the midday sun of Malaysia p to find the old Shop house where Mr Hua welcomed me and made me seat in the shade to rest. I had to discuss my birth sign and the stone I wanted my seal made off and I had to pay in funny money not by credit card and that makes it special and unique.

I like to write my name in Chinese because behind this there are a lot memories … And you ? How do you like to write your name ? 
Betty xx