As an Australian, currently living in Penang, voting in the recent Australian election meant a trip to the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. Voting in Australia is compulsory but even if it wasn't I would want to exercise my democratic right.

Lucy has relatives in KL so it gave her the opportunity to catch up with them. We stayed with her sister for a few days.

Just getting there was a challenge. We chose to drive. I enjoy driving in Australia but not in Malaysia. Most people drive sensibly but there are a significant proportion who think the highway is a racetrack. The police do little or nothing and I'm told drivers can usually bribe their way out of any problem. The roads are quite good. There is virtually a freeway much of the way with either two or three lanes in each direction. Speed limit is 110kph but for many it seems the speed limit is whatever their car can do. They get annoyed if you happen to be overtaking someone when they catch up with you.

Lucy's sister lives a kilometer or two from the last suburban station on the train line. And even that far out of town the traffic is crazy. For my Australian friends, think two or three times worse than Sydney. Their lifestyle is not one I envy—they drive everywhere! Sometimes they even feel they should get caught up in the traffic for ten minutes just to go out to breakfast. Their leisure time seems to revolve around the shopping mall which is huge. Consumerism sure drives the economy.

I had hoped to visit KL Bird Park after I voted and spend the rest of the day taking pics. But I've had some minor surgery recently and my energy was a bit low so I decided to do as little as possible.

On Saturday morning we drove to the station, parked the car and caught a train. We were able to get a train from there to a station within walking distance of the Australian High Commission. This station is more-or-less under the Twin Towers, a well-known KL landmark.

We walked to the embassy, which was closed except for voting. Lucy was amazed at the high level of security you have to go through to get inside the building. It took us about five minutes. They let Lucy and Oliver in even though they weren't voting. They got to sit in a waiting room while I joined the queue of voters. When I came out Lucy commented that many people had gone in after me and come out before me. I said, 'Yes, they vote above the line.'

We have a complicated preferential-voting system in Australia. In theory you number every square in order of preference. That way if your first choice doesn't get in, your vote is not wasted, it goes to your second choice. If they don't get in, it goes to your third choice and so on. However we have many small parties running in the Senate election such as Shooters and Fishers Party; No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics; Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party; Smokers Rights and so on. You get the picture? In my state there were 82 candidates for the Senate. You have two choices. You can number every square or you can vote 'above the line'.

If you vote 'above the line', you simply put a 1 against the name of your first preference and let them decide who your other 81 votes go to. But all these little parties do preference swaps with each other. Your vote may end up going to someone you'd rather not have in there. I choose to vote below the line. I believe that our Senate is a house of review and it is good to have members there who do not belong to one of the major parties but I am fussy about who that should be. I choose to make my own choices. It takes a lot of study and I prepare my own 'how-to-vote card' and I vote my way.

After I'd done my duty, we came out and were going to take a photo of Oliver in front of the embassy. We did. But then a security guard came out and politely asked us to delete it. I don't know what they'd do if we refused but what the heck. We crossed the road and were going to take one from there but he waved and signalled for us to not do it, so we didn't. I'm sure lots of other people would anyway. I don't really think they have the right to stop you taking a photo in a public street. We went back to Twin Towers, wandered around inside. Had a not-so-wonderful lunch and then wandered around the park outside for a while before heading back to Lucy's sister's house on the train.

Of course my cameras were busy while were in KL—except for inside the embassy, cameras had to be left with the security guard. As usual I have a backlog of photos to process. Pics from KL will come to my ipernity page in due course.