Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry
Between Killarney and Kenmare

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ahhh Malaysia.

After about 16 hours in transit from Dublin to Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, I am in the Pan Pacific Hotel at Kuala Lumpur Airport. I usually try to stop overnight to break the trip as I rarely sleep on flights and need to at least lie down for a few hours to try to make the whole schlepp bearable. (My daughter hates it when I use the word schlepp – but I love it – feels good to say, you know what I mean.)
This hotel is attached to the airport, so you just take a golf buggy with your luggage and wham – two minutes later – you’re checking in.
It’s lovely – has all the great accoutrements of a business class hotel – grand lobby with impossibly high ceilings, columns and potted palms. A pool, gym, sauna, room service, good air con etc etc. I intend to just stay here and get back on my plane in the morning. I got in around 3pm local time and am on a 9am flight tomorrow.
In fact, I don’t even intend to get the local currency – the ringet – my room is prepaid and I will just use my credit card for the rest.
Too bad I was so tired that I failed to get to the pool, gym or sauna and the in-room massage which looked wonderful, would have taken too much sleeping time.
So I shower, order a Nasi Lemak: coconut flavoured rice accompanied with beef rending, fried kerisi fish, fried egg, onion sambal, cucumber, anchovies, acar rampai and peanuts (RM41.00). Yum.
After two plane food meals, the dinner being Sweet and Sour fish (the fish was cubed!) and breakfast cubed fried potatoes and scrambled eggs with cheese and a remnant of a tomato – both bland and tasteless beyond belief and only sampled by me – I needed something good to bring me back some joy.
By the time I ate the food around 5.30pm, I was ready to conk out. Tried to contemplate a swim and/or massage but my body wouldn’t let me. Zzzzzzz
Woke at 2am local time. Hmmm. What to do. Pool closed. Massage not available till 9am. Bummer.
Dozed for two hours then got up and had tea, repacked bag, did full make up for final leg home. Dressed etc...now just waiting till 6am so I can head down for some fruit and yoghurt. They do great buffet brekkies in these hotels and, even though they will serve food of some description on the plane, I can feel happy that I have nourished the body before leaving for the day. Australia here I come!

Drunk Irish man in Kerry

My mum, big sister, daughter and I went on a road trip to the Dingle Peninsula. We left Galway in the morning and headed down to County Clare to see Aughenure Castle, the Burren, and the Cliffs of Moher on the way and then decided to leg it as far as we could before stopping at a B&B.
You see, it doesn’t get dark in Ireland till about 11pm in summer – even then it’s not super dark. Daylight starts 4am.
So, with Ireland’s known preponderance of B&Bs, we just thought we’d stumble across one at the right moment. About 9pm.
I was driving, sister and daughter were in the back reading and my mum was upfront with me. We were all happy (I think).
We crossed the Shannon River on the car ferry near Kilrush and that was fun. When we got off at the other side, we could have stopped there – there were quite a few B&Bs...but I felt fine – the sun was still shining – so we drove on to Listowel (Irish pron: Lis-tool).
This is a largish town in Kerry – not far from the capital Tralee. Surely there’ll be loads of great B&Bs there? Wrong. For some reason, tourism has forsaken Listowel – and while there was a largish hotel in the town centre and some rooms above several pubs, Listowel just didn’t have the nice rural B&B we were after. By this time I think it was 9.30pm.
My mum had a lonely planet with three B&Bs listed that all sounded good – two problems. The Lonely Planet was from 2006 and the phone numbers seemed incredibly short. Also, I had forgotten my Irish sim card. Doh! We tried the local phone but it wasn’t letting us through. So, my mum asked three Irish ladies as they were passing if they had heard of this place.
They were women of action...they whipped out the mobile and called the first. No, the number’s disconnected. OK, let’s try the second. They got someone, but the place is not a B&B anymore. Irish practicality to the fore – do you know of another? Yes, they do. Yes, here’s the number. Is it a good one – we are assured it is. OK. She rings the 3rd – so generous – speaks to the lady, we get directions. The three women reconfirm the directions and we’re off to Nora and Jim’s B&B. Thank you delightful Irish ladies.
Let me explain something. Nora is a lovely lady and a great cook. She immediately offers us apple pie and tea but we haven’t had dinner. So Nora offers to drive us back into town so we can eat dinner and then, afterwards, there’ll be pie.
Ah the Irish hospitality.
We head to a pub which tells us it’s only the bar menu available now (about 10pm or so). However, this menu is huge. So, we have our chowder and other bits and bobs plus our Guinness with blackcurrant cordial (my mum introduced us to this one) and are stuffed totally full at 11pm.
We’re about to head to the ATM to get come cash when a young, drunk Irish man with large ears and a broken arm comes around the corner and immediately wants a chat. This guy is drunk...staggeringly drunk.
And he’s trying to be clever and guess where we’re from. First he tries English. We’re not really interested. Then he thinks we’re German and that we just have really good English. We do not enlighten him and also we see that he’s going the way of the ATM – so we don’t want to go that way either. He makes some joke which we don’t really understand about how to pull a Kerry man – use a hurly and a soccer ball or something. This puzzles us – I know that in this part of the world to “pull” someone means to get lucky – but I don’t think my sister, mother or daughter know this – and it just sounds – well – lude.
So, eventually we extract ourselves from this big-eared fellow and go to be collected by Nora who drives us back to her B&B. Just a ten minute drive.
The views from our rooms are lovely – out over the pastures, with a great view of the cows.
Then it’s homemade pie and homemade black forest cake and tea made with fresh water from the well, which is on the brother’s farm. Accompanied by Jim’s delightful Kerry brogue and charming commentary which is hypnotic – no matter what he says.
We roll off to bed too full to function and laughing at the wildly varying experiences we’ve had with the Irish today. Did I mention it’s midnight and still not quite dark....