Max- Everyone has been so generous - we're going to be doing some special posts about all the great gifts we got very soon. It's going to take a while as we got LOADS of loot!
JD - It's brilliant! Thank you so much Fatty and Ally and Santa and Minnie and Christmas and Cobi! You and your humans are wonderful, and so very generous!
Max - Mind you, we are a bit alarmed because our humans now keep on saying they'll never have to buy us treats ever again because we got so many!
JD - Hmmmm, IS there such a thing as too many treats? We think not!!
JD and Max investigate the gift bag from Santa, Minnie and Christmas - you can just see Max starting to drag a toy out to play with!
Max - Anyway, whilst we're working on our posts we're going to hand over to female human so that she can give a recap of their great holiday!
JD - It's going to take her several posts to finish - there is so much she wants to tell you about! So, without any further ado, I am pleased to present to you - female human.....!
FH - Er, thanks lads!
There is a saying that is bandied around - 'if you want to make friends get yourself a dog!' I have certainly got to know many wonderful people since JD and Max came into our lives fourteen months ago, but if you had told me back then that getting the dogs that I had waited over 10 years for would culminate in me travelling 6,557 miles from London, UK to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to meet up with the good friends I had made as a direct result of them I would not have believed it. Yet this is what has just happened and I can hardly believe the adventure that I've just had because of JD and Max!
We booked our flights for KL over a year ago. We don't usually book anything for a holiday so far in advance but this decision was borne out of a combination of reasons. Firstly, we were aware that our local airport (Stansted) had started to operate budget long-haul flights to Asia courtesy of Air Asia and we wanted to support this. It makes a big difference to be able to get to an airport within an hour - travelling to the more well known Heathrow or Gatwick airports in London is not so convenient for us and when this is added to a 14 hour flight it starts to makes the whole experience less appealing. So - flights from Stansted? Oh, yes please, don't mind if we do!
However, as I had just started a new job when these flights first became available and because the boys were still so young we decided to postpone the trip for a year. Hence, our flights were booked for February 11th. We would be in KL for valentine's day. And, as it would turn out, also for Chinese New Year!
When we booked the flights we didn't even know the blog pals we would end up meeting! We got to know Santa first - I remember seeing her photo on Suzuki's guest book and thinking 'Wow! What spectacular ears! I have to track down this schnauzer!" Santa was the one who introduced me to Fatty and Ally - she left me a chat message saying she thought they looked like JD and Max and that I should swing on by to say hi! I also got to know Scottie and Cobi through Santa blog (she's very sociable!) and eventually Santa's family grew to include Minnie and Christmas.
Street lights and lanterns adorn a KL street for Chinese New Year
It slowly dawned on me that these blog pals lived where I was due to visit. I thought it would be great fun to visit them, but I was also worried that they might think I was a blog stalker if I told them I was going to be appearing in their city! I think this is a British thing - we're rather reserved and prefer not to 'trouble' people or 'put anyone to any trouble'. So, much as I wanted to visit I was really, really nervous about telling them I was coming. Well, this certainly turned out to be a groundless fear - they could not have been more welcoming about us coming over.
Fatty and Ally even did special 'tour guide' posts for us, highlighting places to visit, places to eat, even guides on the language. When we told them what hotel we would be staying at Fatty took her daddy down there and had her photo taken in front of it with him so that we could get a feel for the place! How's that for amazing friendship - we were blown away and started to get really, really excited about the holiday.
So, Wednesday 11th February dawned and we took the boys to the kennels in the afternoon (they ran in without so much as a backwards glance - I'm so pleased that they obviously enjoy their breaks away as much as we do!) and set off for the airport. Just as we were putting the suitcases in the car it started snowing. Heavily. As we pulled away visibility was limited and the car in front of us was slithering all over the place! I was convinced our flight would be cancelled and I started getting grumpy before we'd even got to the airport.
However, any fears about the holiday being a non-starter were unfounded as the flight was good-to-go when we got to the airport. Well, eventually it was at any rate. It wasn't cancelled but it was delayed. Unfortunately, the delay began after we'd boarded the plane so we were on it for 17 hours, albeit only 14 and a half of those actually being airborne!
When we touched down in KL, tired, cramped and rather grouchy, we turned our phones on and got a message from Eric, Fatty and Ally's daddy. "Are you here yet?" We'd been in touch a couple of days before as he'd asked us if we'd like to go for a late supper on our arrival - he would be bringing Fatty and Ally and their mummy, Jaclyn.
I was dubious - I don't travel well and I didn't want to be cranky, sleepy and rather whiffy from the plane at our first ever face-to-face! So I asked if we could play it by ear. However, upon arrival - and especially after the plane food which had been spectacularly bad (apologies Air Asia - your concept of low cost long haul is fabulous and your staff are truly wonderful, but your food is the worst I have ever tasted on a plane!) - a late supper sounded like a great idea!
It took longer to get to the hotel than we thought and felt bad that we kept Eric waiting for about half an hour. I said to my husband, "Let's just dump the cases, brush our teeth, brush our hair and get downstairs quick!" Well, that was the plan and it would have worked too if we hadn't forgotten to pack a hairbrush - eek! There I was, looking as fresh as if I'd been dragged through a hedge and smelling as fragrant as if I'd been sleeping rough - and I couldn't even brush my hair! The hotel provided free soap, shampoo, body wash, body lotion, shower caps and even body scrub - but no free comb! However, it DID provide free toothbrushes. So I cleaned my teeth with my own toothbrush and ended up attempting to brush my hair with the hotel's free toothbrush, all ready for my very first meeting in the flesh with our good blog pals!
I will always my very first meeting with each of my blog pals. We exited the hotel lobby, a maroon Golf drew up and out leapt Eric - young, stylish and sporting one of the most amazing smiles I've ever seen. He ushered us into his car and in the front sat the most beautiful woman I've ever seen! Jaclyn is truly stunning - and when she turned to smile at us it filled the whole car!
Fatty and Ally were with them - we were aware of low growling being directed at us! They are very protective of their mummy and daddy and they didn't like these strange, crumpled strangers who had just leapt into their car! Jaclyn handed me Ally - she is super-cute! Absolutely tiny at a very small 4 kg. Max is 9 kg and JD - my gorgeous tall-boy! - is an impressive 13 kg! So you can understand our wonder at how tiny - and light! - Ally is! She continued growling at me, but allowed me to cuddle her and scratch her behind the ears. Eventually she settled down on my lap, but she made sure she was positioned to ensure her daddy was in her direct line of vision!
Eric drove us round a few streets, pointing things out and telling us how to get to some of the places. We stopped on a street that was full of open-air eateries and the 6 of us made our way to one that cooked seafood.
Eric ordered for us - we were pretty tired by this point so were grateful that he did! Spicy cockles, deep fried squid, mixed veggies and sting-ray - it was wonderful! Fatty and Ally had their own chair - Fatty is very protective! Whenever she thought anyone got too close she let them know about it!
Ally (l) and Fatty (r) sit in their pretty mummy's lap - Jaclyn is beatiful, friendly and adores her two girls!
It was a nice experience, enjoying a meal outside with a couple of dogs - it's not something I've ever experienced in the UK. Dogs are not allowed in restaurants or cafes or any indoor places over here (unless, of course, they are service dogs). They ARE allowed in beer gardens in most pubs - but unfortunately the UK weather isn't very conducive to alfresco dining!
Eric and Jaclyn realised we were tired so took us back to the hotel soon after - but not before Eric handed me Fatty for a cuddle! I was expecting her to take great exception to this but she behaved very well and snuggled in nicely whilst I carried her back to the car! It was wonderful to be cuddling her - I do suffer withdrawal symptoms from missing my boys and this really helped! As he dropped us off at the hotel Eric told us that he had organised a meal for the following night with several other bloggers and their furkids - we couldn't wait!
The next day I set off in search of a hairdresser. I'm not a 'girly girl' - I'm really extremely lazy about how I look. I never wear make-up, I usually slob about in either gym gear or 'comfortable' outfits for walking the dogs. But I do like to have nice hair - well, nice hair without any effort at any rate! My hair is naturally very frizzy, but the thought of using straightening tongs bores me - you'll never find me spending time preening myself (I figure 'you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear' so why bother!!)
So, about 5 years ago when I visited Bangkok I found myself doubling back when I walked past a hairdressers there after seeing the sign 'permanent hair straightening'. I had the treatment and was amazed and delighted at the difference it made! I had been quoted £700 to have this treatment carried out in London because of the length of my hair - it cost me £50 in Bangkok. I've had this treatment a few times now, but the last time was about 2 years ago and my hair was frizz-fest once more. I had informed my husband that one of the first things I'd be doing in KL would be looking for a hairdresser to have the treatment carried out again! Well, we found a hairdresser and 4 hours later I was happily striding around the shopping centre checking out my reflection in every window! Hey - I said I'm not a 'girly-girl' but I never said I wasn't vain, he he!
We wandered round a few more shopping centres and then headed back to the hotel for a quick cup of tea before setting out again. Well, that was the plan at any rate, but we fell asleep! Well, there is an 8 hour difference in time between KL and London!
We woke up half an hour before Eric was due to collect us which was just as well really! After a quick change of clothes we were ready to roll! So, we picked up the gift bags we had put together for the pals we were due to be meeting and set off!
Eric kindly met us at the hotel again and we piled into his car. Jaclyn was there withFatty and Ally and so was her good pal Ringo who had her cute dogs Cheddie and Kyoko with her. Jaclyn told me my hair looked nice which made me feel fabulous (well, when the world's most attractive woman tells you something like that it gives you a bit of a buzz!)
We were going to have a 'steamboat' meal, which is a typical Malaysian way of eating. A big pot of soup is cooked in the middle of the table and throughout the night food such as chicken, fish and crab and finishing with noodles is placed in it to cook - yummy!
We got to the restaurant and Eric sorted out a table near the edge so that we could keep the dogs out of every one's way.
We knew that 'Aunty Diana' would be there with Santa, Minnie and Christmas and that she would be coming with her sister Cindy, who is the mummy of all the dogs.
We also knew that handsome Scottie would be there too and I was looking forward to seeing him do his famous 'balancing food of his nose' trick!
Another schnauzer was also joining us - the pretty Carrie. I didn't know her blog but have become a follower since I've got back!
Well, the first person who turned up to join us was Audrey with Scottie. I hadn't seen a photo of Scottie's owner on his blog - but that didn't matter as I recognised Scottie immediately!
I introduce Minnie to Scottie - he was the only male dog in attendance and behaved like the perfect gentleman!
He's a handsome fellow, stylishly groomed and very well behaved. I zoomed over to say hello, feeling very excited that I was meeting him for real.
Audrey was wonderful too, so friendly and - like all the folks we were meeting - effortlessly stylish! Next to turn up was Carrie with her owners - what a cute girl she is!
We were just sorting out the chairs for people and dogs alike when Santa turned up with her family - we recognised those wonderful ears driving past!
Diana brought Santa out of the car with her and I got Minnie to cuddle - she is adorable and loves to give everyone a kiss! Diana introduced everyone and Cindy took Santa so that Diana could also bring Christmas out to meet everyone.
Christmas is so sweet - she is rather shy and a bit nervous of people, but she's only been a member of the family since December so she's still finding her paws.
I feel in love with all of the dogs - all so well behaved and all so easy to make a fuss of! The meal that evening was wonderful - very tasty! Diana and Audrey took great care of me and Neil, always filling our bowls whenever they were empty, it was great!
Scottie and Fatty are chaperoned by Audrey and Eric as they shyly flirt with each other and discuss the possibility of becoming exclusive!
The conversation flowed easily and the night just flew past. We couldn't believe it when it was all over and everyone had to leave - we had had such a great time.
Santa, Minnie and Christmas had got their Aunty Diana and mummy to put together a great goodie bag for both humans and doggies alike!
As it was Chinese New Year during our visit Diana had been baking cookies - we are proud to boast that we were the lucky recipients of two batches of Aunty Diana cookies!
She had packed them with a bag of chicken floss and some clementines individually wrapped in red bags. These are the foods that are traditionally in people's houses for Chinese New Year - we were thrilled that she had passed these yummy treats onto us.
From left to right - Audrey with Scottie; Asa jei jei with Carrie; me with Minnie; Aunty Diana with Christmas; Cindy with Santa; Jaclyn with Ally; Neil with Fatty
And let me tell you - Aunty Diana cookies taste even better than they look! Seriously - myself and my husband are seriously addicted to her pineapple cookies - super-yum! The gifts for the boys are simply wonderful too! Aunty Diana is a great seamstress and makes a lot of toys for Santa, Minnie and Christmas.
One of the toys she has made for Minnie is a cute dinosaur stuffie - we've always loved it! When she passed us the huge bag of gifts I noticed a dinosaur stuffie sitting on the top and I was so excited! They also got an Aunty Diana exclusive stuffie bone and stuffie balls, as well as a squeaky log toy, some doggie aftershave and loads and loads of treats! The boys are going to be doing their own post on the gifts they got over the next few weeks - it's going to take us a long time as everyone was so generous - most of the luggage we brought back with us was gifts for them! Which they feel is only right and proper -he he!
After the meal Eric and Jaclyn took us for a drive around KL. First we stopped off at a night market. Fatty and Ally were packed into their 'doggie bag' for Eric to carry them round with us.
I admit I did try to concentrate on the market but my eyes were drawn to the cute noses of Fatty and Ally peeking out of the mesh at the back of the bag as we made our way through the busy, narrow streets.
We bought a few pots of traditional Malaysian snacks and Eric bought us a cup of fresh sugar cane drink - it was very refreshing! As Chinese New Year was almost upon us all the market was packing up a bit earlier than normal so we made our way back to car for a little tour of KL.
Eric took us to a great spot to get some spectacular views of the Petronas Towers - they really look amazing lit up at night. Eric and Jaclyn said they didn't pay them much attention as they were so used to them now - well, we're the same with the Gherkin and Buckingham Palace and Big Ben in London. Having worked in London for 22 years I see these buildings and think - 'meh!' and that's about it!
But I loved the Petronas Towers - I thought they were a really stunning sight. Eventually we had to go back to the hotel where we bid each other farewell.
Chinese New Year is a major celebration in KL, rather like our Christmas, so all our pals were busy with family and friends for the rest of our trip. Everyone had been very apologetic that they could not spend more time with us - well, we hadn't expected them to spend as much time with us as they already had!
As we got out of the car Eric pulled a huge box out of the boot and handed it to us - gifts for JD and Max!
The box was amazing - full to the brim of treats and toys! (Fatty and Ally have already done a post about their gifts here and here so please take a look!) The boys are going to do their own post on the gifts soon - it's going to take us a while as there are so many things!
The generosity of everyone we met has left us speechless. We don't just mean the gifts, but also the time that everyone spent with us, showing us around and looking after us when they met up with us. We can't thank you enough - it really helped to make our holiday so special.
JD - Right-oh FH, we think that's about it for you for now! You've hogged our blog for long enough thank you!
Max - Indeed! This is a dog blog you know, not a bi-ped blog, he he he!
JD - We're thrilled that our humans got to meet so many of our blogging pals - we're just a bit sulky that we couldn't get to meet everyone ourselves. Oh, the fun we could have had playing with everyone!
Max - Female human will be back with more updates over the next few days - and so will we!