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One of the features that have gone out of fashion is the veranda. The veranda is a sort of transition area between the "interior" and the "exterior" of the house. It is roofed, but not walled. There is not a single traditional Malay house without one. Every traditional Japanese house had a veranda too. It is a much loved and much used space.


Here's the veranda on a traditional Malay house bought and re-located by a resort in Langkawi



Here's the veranda around the perimeter of a Japanese house



Another veranda


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There are these little pucks of anti-mosquito gel that disguise your smell so mozzies do not know you are there. They are citronella-based. But there is no overwhelming citronella smell, just a hint of it.


Do hammocks really work? It is nice to lie in one? I used to have one to play with when I was small. I remember it as distinctly uncomfortable to be in.

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I've been trying to source for some rattan chairs. Not long ago, I really disliked rattan furniture because of what they were associated with in my mind: the dinky, dark, new village "living" rooms which were inevitably furnished with rattan. Those with the gaudy foam cushions on them. Even the coffee table is rattan, with a dark tinted glass top. Where I live (in the country, predominantly Chinese village), there are still many homes furnished this way. Never missing is of course the altar in red with a oil light burning. All kinds of stuff is wrong with the new village wooden houses or brick-wood hybrid houses.


But I'm thinking that the right sort of rattan furniture can be very nice. Here you see the rattan wicker furniture on the lawn of the leading hotel in Penang during colonial times.



They used rattan furniture even for lounge chairs on the inside




So I went about asking people where I could look at some, from bah ku teh shop proprietors, hardware shop proprietors, to furniture shop guys. And everybody tells me that rattan furniture is no longer produced on a small artisanal scale anymore. At least not in the nearby town, and that they all come from big workshops powered by foreign workers around KL.


There are broadly speaking two types of rattan chairs. One has the sitting surfaces in rattan as well. The other type has sitting surfaces in wicker, which is woven rattan skin. The wicker variety is more comfortable to sit in, but less durable.


BTW I noticed for the first time yesterday that OldTown uses wicker in their chairs. I was trying to figure out if it was rattan skin or a synthetic wicker, but it looked authentic enough. Some chairs were even fraying already.

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I've been looking at chairs recently. It appears there are really two major categories of chairs. There are lounge chairs and there are work chairs. Work chairs are paired with tables or desks. Lounge chairs are paired with side tables or coffee tables.

Lounge chairs are for relaxing in, for dreaming, for dozing off in. One can read a book in one, with a side table nearby to rest the book or a drink. Lounge chairs have more slanting backrests, a lower seat (15"), and armrests. In a lounge chair, one is mostly leaning back on the backrest.
Work chairs have a higher seat (18"), more upright backrests, and may or may not have armrests. In a work chair, one only leans back occasionally -- most of the time, one is sitting upright or leaning towards the table or desk. 
Provide both kinds of chairs in the good sitting spots around the house and garden. They can be placed next to each other because they support different kinds of activities.
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In case you haven't noticed, I loath the way Malaysians build their houses. Very unenlightened. I have felt this way since I was a child. Ask my mother if you don't believe me.


One major stupidity in a very long list of stupidities is the use of Western-style roof tiles. A few decades ago these would be in clay; now they are concrete. The major problem with these tiles is their heat capacity. They store massive amounts of heat. So much so that the top floors of all buildings are really quite uninhabitable.


The Thais and Northern Malays have a far more suitable solution. Except it's dying out.


Singhorra tiles.




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I know I'm going on and on about this. Just now, at 8 p.m. I happened to glance at my car's thermometer. I was in KL then. It read 34 degrees Celcius.


Immediately after leaving KL at about 9 p.m., but still in the lowlands, it read 28 C.


When I parked a few minutes ago at the McD near my place (where I am right now) the thermometer read 25 C. The area around the McD is warmer than where I live, so I think my apartment would be 24 C.


It's some 10 degrees difference between KL and where I live.


There is a phenomenon called "urban heat island". It's caused primarily, but not exclusively, by the amount of land given over to tarmac. The higher the density of roads, the hotter a place.



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I have found a place that makes and sells nice cane furniture. Mun Onn Cane Furniture along the blighted MRR2. I've found a few places that sells these things, but there is a difference: many sell pretty "ghetto" cane furniture. By ghetto I mean relatively raw and unfinished cane furniture which are very vernacular-looking. The sort a shirtless small town shopkeeper would lounge in while watching TV in his shop.


I like vernacular, and generally like unfinished too, but this makes the furniture less versatile.


Mun Onn has a different category of cane furniture. They make the sort of cane a resort hotel might buy. Their furniture uses cane that has been de-skinned and sanded smooth and varnished. Some look quite distinguished; others are quite vernacular. The shop itself is quite ghetto and the workshop is right next to it. Prices are quite a bit higher than the shops that sell purely vernacular cane.

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I saw a chair that was quite nice and distinguished-looking. It's meant to have a cushioned seat, and the way it works is you pick a fabric for the cushion cover then come back a few days later to pick up the chair. I took a glance at their cushion covers and want nothing to do with them. I was thinking of supplying them with a worsted wool for the cover, but am now swaying towards a cotton trousering in ivory.

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