Monday, May 31, 2010

This morning we woke to a bright sunny day in Cameron highlands.
We went for breakfast with Shannon and France before our guide picked us up for our Jungle tour.Breakfast usually consists of Pancake/crepes and or toast. Coffee here sucks big time so it is OJ for us.

We were told that our tour would be in a 4x4 with just the 6 of us and the driver. When our driver picked us up there were of course 4 more people that needed to squeeze into the jeep. You can never be sure that what you are being sold is what you will get. It wouldn't have been quite so bad if the little girl wouldn't have gotten car sick and pucked the whole 45 min. drive.

The mountains in this area are filled with vegi patches in the terraced mountains.

The 4x4 off roading was a bit scary at times. There were huge ruts and the road/train went up and down very steep hills.
Once we got to the trek part we walked for about an hour through the jungle to the spot where the big flower was.

A very pretty flower we found

The trees in the jungle are huge.

This is what we trekked an hour to see. The worlds biggest flower. It is Rafflesia flower. It can reach over 1 metre across.

This is our aboriginal guide. The Aborigine own the mountain and the flowers and waterfall.

This is the village that he lives in. |There are about 50 people who live in this village. They are done school at age 12. They marry around 16 and usually have 5 or 6 kids by the time they are 21. They usually don't have jobs outside of the village or other local villages.

Some kids where playing under the house and I couldn't resist taking a few photos.When I waved goodbye to them, I think one gave me the finger.

On the way home we stopped for some Indian food.

Then Miranda had to go to the bathroom. Yup, this would be what a bathroom in a restaurant or gas station is like.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cameron Highlands

We left the island this morning and squeezed into a van to make the 5 hour trek inland to the Cameron Highlands in central Malaysia. We met a fun couple from Holland on the bus. We hit it off right aways. Met them for dinner and plan to go on a trek tomorrow morning.

The ride up other than being very squishy was very amazing. The mountains are filled with date trees, rain forest jungle, and as we got closer to the highlands we saw vegetable fields planted on built up terraces. It was just about to rain and the clouds made a beautiful background for the mountains.

Tomorrow morning we are going on a jungle 4x4 trek to see the rain forest, flowers, aboriginal villages and waterfalls. I will post lots of pictures as soon as we get back.

Perhentian islands pictures

This was our view when we talked on skype.

These are the chalets that we stayed at,

There are monkeys on the big island!!

Miranda loves the water!!

Sweeping the sand off our front deck. There are no streets on the Perhentian islands. No vehicles/bicycles or any motorized vehicle. Ahhh, loved it.

Hanging out on the beach before running for the water to cool off.

The view to one side of the beach

The view to the other side.

The view straight out.

We have had no difficulty with the language so far in Malaysia. Mostly everyone speaks English fairly well. In Singapore everything was in English. The signs/menus everything. Here the sings are mostly in Malay but the people speak to us in English.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

leaving paradise....

Hi all,
Just wanted to give a quick update of our plans.

Tomorrow June 30 we are taking the early morning ferry to mainland, Kuala Besut.
From there we are heading by small bus (9 person) to Cameron Highlands. There we will do some trekking through tea plantations, mountain forests and relaxing cool weather (20).
From there we head up to Kuala Lumper where we will need to get a few passport pictures taken for our Vietnam visas which we just received approval for. ( we aplied on-line and it was very easy).
On June 2nd we fly from Kuala Lumper to Ho Chi Man city (Saigon). We may be couch surfing for a few days there with a family.

We will miss this amazing island and will post more pictures soon I hope.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lovin it....

May 26, 2010

As I sit here this evening I am thinking of our last few days. Being near the ocean, on the sand. I just love it. It is the most relaxing place I have been to in a long time. The fact that there are not many decisions to be made here, right now as we just hang out together. Meeting new friends, reading good books, talking, swimming, laughing and eating. It is just good.

As we were snorkling with our new friends from India the other day. I was hit by the realization that Colton and Miranda are growing up fast. We talk about it together, while we are sitting around or eating supper or in a vehicle going from one place to another. We have all this time and Miranda is not shy about asking things that she is wondering about. So here we are, together, talking about life and puberty and anything else that comes up. Because we have all this time, it seems so natural to have these really cool conversations. We have them together, the 4 of us. It feels great and right to talk about growing up as it comes. So cool.

The other thing that I love about watching them is the joy they get out of everything. As Miranda runs full force into the warm South China Sea (I love saying that) she giggles. This wonderful amazing giggle that exudes pure joy. Then as she puts her goggled face underwater she squeals through her snorkel at the sea life alive all around her. She brings her face out from the water and yells, daddy, daddy look at this. As Dean swims over she dives down 10 feet and almost touches a funny creature that disappears back into the coral it is living on. The cool thing about this is that she also knows that what she is doing is safe. But I am amazed at how she just takes a deep breath and dives down to get a closer look.

Then as we were snorkeling with our new friends from India. Within moments, Miranda and Salome and off together taking turns diving down to touch a giant clam and watch how it quickly closes itself as they get near. They giggle and take turns doing it over and over. I love it. I love how she embraces new friends and new cultures and feels so at home wherever we are. Not that she doesn’t miss her friends back home. She surely does. We have seen a few tears over her missing them, but she very quickly wipes her eyes puts on her amazing smile and looks for the next adventure.

As we watch Colton growing at full force we know our time as a family is soon going to look different. He now stands as tall as I and his feet are as big as Dean’s. He is almost a man. He is such a responsible teen. He is an amazing brother to Miranda and we are so proud of him. He makes great choices and still over all loves to spend time with us. That is such a joy for us. Yes, we know that this will not always be the case, but for now I will embrace it. As we are always thinking of the next great adventure. We know that we are in the perfect place right now to do what we are doing. But there is always the talk of how we can continue and still have the kids go to school. Now that Colton is going into high school things will have to be planned a little differently. So yes, we will continue to cherish the place in life we are in right now. I love it.

These are the things that make it all worth every moment away from our friends and family at home. These are the moments I think of when people ask why we want to go. It is of course the new places we learn about and the amazing things we see. But on the top of the list is how we bond as a family. We try to cherish every moment for soon we will be back to the bustle of our regular lives filled with work and not nearly as much family time as I would like.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Malaysia travel

May 24, 2010

Our decision to get on the train to Northen Malaysia a day early ended up being a great one. We gave up our lower sleeper berths for uppers as they didn’t have any lowers left but it was an all night trip so we didn’t really loose out to much. We boarded the train at 7pm and with a bumpy rickety start we pulled out of Johur Bahru staion. This was definatly not a Eurorail train. More like a Manitoba train 100 years ago at best. Bumping and shaking along,, we were all smiles as we pulled away from the big city. The he ride itself was a bit uneventful other than the burping, loud talking Malaysians in our car. The train was so unbelievably cold it was hard to get comfortable. We got into the train in 35 degree heat and the A/C was on full blast. It didn’t get any warmer till we stepped off in Tanah Merah, Malaysia.

We hired a Taxi (guy with a car) to get to the coast which was an hour away. When we got to the water we took our first glimps of the South China Sea. It definatly is amazing. The bluest blue you can ever imagine with the whites sand ever. We quickly booked our ferry tickets to the Perhentian island. We wanted to stay on Long beach which we read was the nicest.

The ferry ride was a short 20 minutes. As we hopped off the boat we realized the water was bathtub warm. Too warm if its really hot outside. But, oh well. We are loving every moment of the heat and the water.

The powdery soft sand is so white and the blue water is so warm. How will we ever leave?

May 25,2010

We woke in the middle of the night to pouring rain, thunder and lightning. Wow, did it rain. Buckets and buckets of rain. I sounded like it would never stop. In the morning we awoke to a sunny calm day. We slathered on the sunscreen and we decided to make the 10 minute treck to the other side of the isand. Up and over the small hill. The other side is very similar to Long beach. It has about 8 small chalet type rentals and 3 or 4 restraunts. Perfect! We sauntered along, checking out the different places to rent and the menus on the boards at the end of restraunts and came to a small place at the far end. We asked about a boat and a lady (Julie)beside us asked if we wanted to split a boat with her and her kids to go to a private beach. We of course said we would and off we went, snorklles in hand with Julie, Malin and Julie’s 2 kids, Salome and Millan They all live in Calcutta, India and are down for a short holiday with the kids while their husbands had to stay back and work.

They are fun great people to hang out with. We spent all day in the water and on the beaches. Talking and swimming while the kids played. We had a late (3pm) lunch when we gat back to the island and swam and talked some more till the sun went down and we had to boogie back across the island before it got to dark to see the path.

Another day in paradise. Oh, on a different note. Miranda and I got to experience our first squat toilet. Now that we are experts, we are hoping we don’t need to go there again. Luckily our room here has a regular toilet. Thye train had the option of either or. Though it was so discusting that Dean would not go in it. He waited all night and all morning to get to a somewhat clean one on the coast. Thought I should add that all in so you don’t think we have it too easy her in paradise.

I haven’t heard much about Thailand recently other than that someone heard the fighting is all over. We have no means to get TV info. If anyone has any info pertaining to whether it is getting to be safer there, it would be great to know (e-mail us). We are thinking we will not go there unless all the fightling has come to a stop. But at this point we can not get any up to date facts.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Johor Bahru,Malaysia

Well, they let us into Malaysia. The border crossing went really easy. Basically we got onto a bus on one side of the border, went through Singapore customs, got stamped, got back onto the bus drove across the river, disembarked off the bus, filled out some form, brought it to the really friendly immigration guy and whalla, we are through.

We decided to check on if the overnight train would have space for us today. We have tickets booked for tomorrow but thought we would check and yes, they did. So we are hanging around for 5 hours eating really cheap food and drinks till 7pm when our train leaves. It is the Malaysian KTLM train line if anyone wants to check it out. We are booked in a 2nd class sleeper train to Tanah Marah (town) and will take a ferry tomorrow to the Perhentian islands. We will probably stay on the island called Kecil. White sand beaches, swimming and snorkalling. Can not wait....

Back to now. We are loving the cheap food here. Wow, everything is so cheap. We ate 2 huge Malay dishes plus 2 big bottles of water and 7 cans of pop all for the low price of $9 Canadian. Then we found a McDonalds, where we are now. Ice cream cones are 33cents, flurries are $1 and a sunday $1. Then we had some french fries $1.20 for supersized. I am getting full now.

Off we go to our train. Night night.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Little India, Singapore

May 23, 2010
We spent the day touring around Little India and the harbour yesterday. As it was our lst full day in Singapore we wanted to make sure to see as much as possible. We had a little trouble finding it at first but with the help of many many local people who stopped and asked us if they could help us we finally found the shops. Singapore people are so helpful and friendly. I have never had a bus driver stop the bus and wait for me to run over till here. We had bus drivers park the bus and come to the back to make sure we would get off in the right stop. We had a bus driver who asked the advise of people on the bus to make sure we knew where we were going. We also had people on the street stop and ask if they could help us find where we were going and went on google earth on their phones to get a map to make sure they were telling us correctly.

When we arrived at the shops we were overwhelmed by the beautiful selection of Indian clothing .The vast array of veggies and fruits was very interesting to see. We have tried a few of the different fruits and they are very yummy most of the time. We have also tried a few different fruits that have not been so good.

The smells of the markets were at times a little to much. Parts of the market were meat markets and other parts were clothing and fruits and veggies. You can imagine that we stayed to the clothing areas as much as possible.

The temptation to buy an Indian sari was very great, They were so nice and relatively inexpensive. But we held back because we know there will be much more of this further north and we won't have to carry it for the next few weeks.

We have no idea what most of these veggies are called.

I have no idea why this would be on the carvings on the top of the church. 

This elephant boy is one of their most important gods. We were told that the boy had his head cut off accidentally by his father. His father felt so bad he went and cut the head off of an elephant and put it on his sons body. People take care of these statues every day by dressing them up and decorating them and then in the evening they take it off. They also bring offerings of flowers and milk.???

The Singapore flyer. Very big. No, we didn't go on it. But Colton really wanted to. He got outvoted.