Published: October 16th 2011
October 16th 2011
It’s been a while since my last posting, and a lot has happened on our SE Asia adventure. I’ll try and fill you in on some of our experiences.
A couple of days before leaving Borneo, Jeff ended up meeting a lovely 60-year-old woman named Poula as she was fishing off the wharf. Maybe he’ll blog about the details of the meeting and how it came to be that we ended up staying with Poula and her family at their home. Poula’s best friend and cousin Amelia took us around the Kota Kinabalu area sightseeing. We went to a traditional village and saw a dance/music performance. We also played some traditional games such as trying to hit a target with a blow- gun. That evening, we joined the family at a Malaysian wedding of one of their relatives. It was a little overwhelming to say the least, but also fascinating. We felt honored to be invited. There were about 1,000 guests at this wedding – lots and lots of food, music and festivities. Poula and Amelia “adopted” us as their Canadian family and we call them our “Borneo Grandmothers.” They spoiled Gemma and told her that
when she’s older she can bring friends and come visit anytime.
Our next flight was to Kuala Lumpur (KL) where we spent 4 days waiting for Lucas’ arrival. He was delayed overnight in Tokyo, but made it safely on October 6th. Jeff was getting really sick of the city with all the traffic and having to be wary of pick-pocketers, etc. Gemma and I spent the better part of 2 days at a craft complex learning batik. We had a blast and Gemma enjoyed pizza and other Western food in the city.
We also spent a day at the water park outside of KL – what an experience! We were the only foreigners there, which didn’t bother us; however we felt “out-of-place.” All the boys/men were wearing long shorts and long sleeve shirts in the water, and all the girls/women were wearing hijabs, long sleeve shirts and full-length pants and here was Gemma and I in our Canadian bikinis and Jeff in his regular swim shorts. Every time we got out of the water, Gemma and I immediately wrapped ourselves in towels and headed for the next slide. Mothers in full burkas were on the pool-side watching their
little ones in the pool and glaring at us “naked Canadians.” Our biggest cultural faux-pas so far!!!
Having Lucas with us has been such a great addition to our three-some. It gives Jeff and I some couple time together when Luc and Gemma go off together. We’re not used to all being together 24/7 and staying in one room, so there are definitely some challenges to this kind of traveling as a family.
After giving Lucas a few days to recover and to see some of the sights of KL, we took a long bus ride north to the Perhentian Islands off the East Coast of Malaysia. We spent a glorious week on the islands with no internet – just white sandy beaches, blue skies, warm crystal clear aqua waters and delicious seafood. We stayed in a beach bungalow and went snorkeling every day. The coral and fish life is some of the best we’ve seen in our travels especially around some smaller islands (Rawa Islands) off the main Perhentian Islands. A highlight was when we swam with a giant sea turtle for almost a kilometer.
Another long bus ride to the south of Thailand (Hat Yai)
where we are on our way to catch a flight to Bangkok on our way to Vietnam. We are spending two nights in Bangkok visiting friends that we met 8 years ago when we first starting teaching in Vietnam. We were surprised how much of a military presence there is in Southern Thailand near the Malaysian border. We were stopped at numerous army checkpoints along the way. We were in this area 10 years ago and we don’t remember it being like this.
We’re looking forward to our time in Vietnam connecting with old friends, colleagues and neighbors. We already have several friends meeting us at the airport.
Sending love to all our friends and family back home and thinking of you all.
There are more photos below