A Travellerspoint blog


Asian Adventures

Part 1 Malaysia

sunny 103 °F

Day 1
Melissa and I were supposed to meet up with Lisa and Jane on June 9, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We went to catch our flight at 9:40, but we got distracted and didn’t pay attention to the gate. When we finally realized how late it was, and ran over to the correct gate, we watched the plane take off without us. So, we went back home to Melissa’s house, took a nap and hung out with Amanda. We also booked another flight and went back out at 9:40. Of course by the time we got to the hotel it was late, and we went to bed, setting the alarm for 3:30 am. We stayed at the Tune Hotel. The room was the size of my bathroom at home, but it was clean and only 25 a night. Good thing we didn’t share rooms that night. Wouldn’t have fit our luggage in the room.

Day 2.
4:00 am we took a shuttle from the hotel to the airport and flew to Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. We caught a GRAB taxi to the Jetty where we waited for our 9:30 departure on the ferry. Now, I took a really nice ferry in Seattle where we drove a car on, and had a beautiful view of the harbor and nice scenery. This ferry, however, was not like that. We were packed on, and you couldn’t see out of the windows unless you stood up. The views were lovely with small islands, and so much green, with beautiful seas. But it was a bit choppy. The ferry took about 1.5 hours. It was pretty packed. Probably about 100 people. And lots of kids.

We were dropped at Redang Island, checked into our rooms, and had our typical Malay/Chinese food. Lots of noodles, rice, chicken, and fresh melon, papaya and pineapple. We are surrounded by beautiful green tropical forests. And the water is beautiful colors of blue. We took a nap and then went snorkeling and wave catching. There were tons of fish and we even saw a monitor lizard getting into the water. That is when Melissa got out. The water was quite rough, and it was reminding me of when my dad taught me to dive under the wave as it starts to crash down. LOL I was the only one way out the doing it. These asians don’t really like getting in the water. And we are a minority. Very, very few foreigners.

We cleaned up and went for a repeat dinner of what we had for lunch. With the exception of some additional meat items, like steak and satay.

Day 3
We decided to go on a jungle trek to the other side of the island and find some turtles to swim with today. We packed up our snorkel gear, had some breakfast and head out. Luckily we brought along our new friends Jane and Lisa, who the mosquitos were attracted to. I think Melissa and I have been here long enough that they don’t like our blood. LOL. The jungle was hot and humid. And filled with so many colors of green plants. A couple of times the trail wasn’t very well traveled, but we made it in about an hour. Where we are staying it is so populated by tourists, but when we came out onto the beach there were only a couple of people. This is the Malaysia I know and love. We snorkeled for a while near the shore and saw tons of beautiful fish, but no turtles. There were a couple of boats filled with people in the middle of the bay and one of the locals told us thats where the turtles were.
Check out the GoPro video that Melissa put together.


So we swam out and were amazed to see about 6-8, including a baby turtle. We were able to swim with them, and were even close enough to touch them. They were amazing! There were these bigger fish that would swim right under the turtles, maybe to clean them? And lots of other fish around.
We stayed in the water about 30 minutes and then decided to try and get a boat taxi back to the other side instead of walking back. The locals on the beach couldn’t believe we walked thru the jungle without a guide. They told us there were money 1/2 the size of us that attack people. We never saw any. Lucky for us. We found a guy with a boat that took us all back for 100 RM. The water was super choppy. When we got back we went and had lunch. Melissa took one bite and immediately had to throw up. Not sure what that was, but after that she felt much better.


We took a little rest and then headed to the beach near our hotel for a little more snorkeling. I have never swam with so many fish of all colors, shapes and sizes. It was totally amazing. It was quite shallow and you could really stand up most places. The coral was beautiful too. And there were sharks? About 5 of them. They are small sharks and apparently they don’t hurt humans. But it was so cool to be swimming with them.

What an amazing day, and so happy that we were able to have our Alaskan friends experience the beauty of Malaysia. marks
Day 4 And some days it’s just not that great. Like this quote.

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
Anthony Bourdain

We didn’t do much today. It was spent mostly waiting for the ferry, waiting for our room at the hotel to be ready and waiting for a new room because the one they gave us was filled with bugs. And I’m not kidding. There were dead and alive bugs all over. Our beds were full of them.

We left the island about 11 and got in Terengganu, Malaysia about 2. We took a Grab to the hotel, checked in and had some not so good lunch. Then we headed to our rooms to be grossed out. It took a while but they upgraded us and the rooms were better. Melissa stayed back to relax, and the rest of us headed into town to look at Chinatown. Which wasn’t too big. We had some dinner of sweet and sour pork, and veggies, and rice. And then tried to Grab it back. But its Ramadan, so finding a ride took a while. Finally arrived back at the hotel.

It’s been one of those days that wasn’t too exciting. But we are safe and sound and off to Vietnam tomorrow.

Day 5 Malaysia to Vietnam

Day of travel. We flew to Kuala Lumpur, had some breakfast and the boarded our 3 hour flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. 4 hours total travel time, but with all the connections and getting there and back, it takes time. Not the favorite part of traveling for me.

We had a taxi waiting for us at the airport and took us to a lovely hotel. Hanoi L’Heritage. It was a beautiful older hotel with very clean rooms. Malaysia needs to take some pointers from Vietnam. We dropped our things and left to walk around the busy city, trying not to get hit from all the traffic. We ate dinner at this fancy restaurant and the food was so flavorful and tasty. We over ate, and although it was an expensive place, our total bill for all of us was 60$ US.

Posted by dianeski4 22:57 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Raffles American School! It's a wrap!

Outstanding 2 years in Malaysia!

sunny 102 °F

One of the most rewarding things about teaching is knowing that you have made a deep impact on a students life. After school today, the Mehrin family came to have photos with me. The kind words from the father touched my heart. I was happy to hear that Tasmia loved her teacher and class this year, and that she wants to become a teacher, because of my influence. There were tears on both sides. This is the kind of family that will produce our future leaders and citizens that make a difference in our world. It's what teachers hope and dream for! And I had the privilege of working with many students who are smart and capable and will do great things in the future.
I have been so blessed to also have other parents come and thank me for the impact I had on their children. I believe that my students knew that I loved them, even when they didn't deserve it. Especially one that started with a K and ended with an I. LOL I loved them all, and I suppose because I raised 3 boys, and a girl, I understood their activeness, and we ran lots of laps to get it out so they could settle down and learn. And the girls loved hugs!


It's been a wonderful experience living and teaching in Malaysia, at Raffles American School, these past 2 years. It has not always been easy, for at every school there are kinks to work out, difficult children to be patient with, problems to deal with. But I have been able to work with fantastic teachers and 2 classrooms of kids from around the world. My class this year consisted of 12 children. China, Ireland, Australia, UK, China, Japan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Spain. 5 girls and the rest boys. They loved learning and having hands on activities. They loved math, GoNoodle, music, and were the best little artists. They memorized poetry and were fantastic at it. The last poem they memorized was The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost.
I will miss them.

I will also miss the fabulous teachers and staff I was able to work with. Today was a bittersweet day. I had so many good friends come and make me cry, because they were crying. They have made an incredible difference in my life. I can't imagine leaving them behind, but I just keep saying, We will meet again. And I believe we will. This world is smaller than we think. And I would love to come back to Malaysia again.


I have not had the opportunity to make any Muslim friends before I came to Malaysia, (because I really never lived near any) and I didn't know what to think honestly. But I have learned to love and respect them, and they have become my dearest friends. I always new that us Mormons are a little different, and so are they, but in many ways we are so similar in our devotion to what we believe in. And we share the same values of not drinking alcohol and not having sexual relations before marriage. We both fast, although we don't go all out like they do. We believe in being honest and kind. I am so grateful for the chance I had to meet and live among this wonderful culture.


At our teacher farewell party, Melissa honored me with this sweet speech:

Three years ago today, Diane was saying goodbye to everyone In Bolivia. And here we are again saying our goodbyes in another beautiful country. Even though I tried to keep her here another year, I'm happy she will be home with her family. There's a lot that we are going to miss about Diane. From her charming wit to her amazing baking, but what I'm going to miss most is hanging out with my dearest friend. I know she's a friend to all of us, but rest assure we will see her again. She has that restless spirit where she must travel so I know she will visit again. Diane will always be remembered for being a wonderful teacher, faithful member at her church, and having an adventurous person. But most importantly, a teacher that never complained. Jk

Anyways, Diane You will be missed. We love you and we wish you all the best back in Utah. Enjoy retirement and those grandbabies.

And so, as I end this school year, I do so with fond memories, and a grateful heart that I was able to teach and learn here.


Posted by dianeski4 07:06 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

Farewell Sunday

I'm going to miss my church family.

sunny 98 °F


Today was my last Sunday in Johor, Bahru, Malaysia. It's been a wonderful place to be on Sunday. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, or LDS, or another name is Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it.


There are usually about 30-40 people there. Due to school being held on Sundays, most of the children are unable to attend. We are hoping with the new government that it will change and they will be able to come again. Like every congregation in our church we a variety of people attending. We have families of all sizes. We have singles and missionaries. We have a variety of talents and abilities, and personalities. We have different professions. We are led by a bishop, or in our case here because it's so small, a branch president. Larger congregations are called wards. We are smaller so called a branch.

We all have "callings", things to do to make our branch run smoothly. And none of our positions are paid. I have loved serving in this branch. I was first called as a primary teacher. I taught the children, when they came, from ages 3-12. Jaden and Hyrum were the ones that most often attended. I loved teaching these kids. Not always easy as sometimes, when there was a holiday, many would come and they didn't all speak English.

My next calling was to teach in the Relief Society, the largest women's organization in the world. Although I wasn't able to teach often, because of traveling a lot, I also loved this calling, and the opportunity to get to know the women better.

I have also been able to play the piano on many occasions. I have sure become rusty not having a piano around to practice on, and I was never that great anyway.

Today I was able to speak in Sunday, another chance of what has been many. It is difficult preparing talks, and I'm not good at it. So stressful to put together ideas in a coherent way, but finally I was able to do it. I used the theme of journeys. We are all here on earth making journeys of our own, trying to make it through the hardships, but trying to find happiness and showing gratitude for our many blessings, while serving others. I have loved the journey I have made to Malaysia, and am grateful for the opportunity to meet each Sunday with the wonderful members of my branch.


Today, as they do every 4th Sunday, they had a Linger Longer. This is where they bring potluck food to share and everyone stays after church to eat and visit. Today they had it in my honor. And the food was fabulous. Some of the best food ever. Roast beef and pork, and noodles and sandwiches. Yummy Chinese dishes cooked with love.

Until we meet again, my dear friends. I love you dearly.


Posted by dianeski4 06:50 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)


Food feast after food fast!

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There is so much going on during Ramadan. And it's so fun to be a part of it...well... the eating part anyway. I haven't tried the fasting part. Muslims fast from about 6 am until 7:10 PM. No food and no water. Even some of my 3rd grade students participate on some days. To the point of not swimming during PE so as not to get any water in their mouths. I admire my Muslim friends. In this heat, I would find it so difficult, but they seem happy to do it, and I'm amazed at their self-control and show of their faith. The church I belong to, the LDS church, fasts one Sunday a month for 2 meals, and that's hard for me!

It has been really fascinating to live in Malaysia which is a full of diversity. The major religion in Islam. The 2010 population census states that 61.3 percent practices Islam. 19.8 percent Buddhism; 9.2 percent Christianity; 6.3 percent Hinduism; and 3.4 percent traditional Chinese religions.


Tonight our school nurse, Suhada, took us to a food bazaar after school. Talk about a smorgasbord of delights! Food stalls with yummy looking food everywhere! It was only 5 pm, but the place was packed with shoppers picking up food for the evening meal. We ran into our friends Peter and Sharina.

I picked up some BBQ chicken, roti, crepes in rainbow colors, pomegranate, sugar cane and coconut juice, and curry. And I didn't wait until after 7 to eat it. It was delicious!


Posted by dianeski4 06:17 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Spring Break 2018 Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand

Family Fun

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There is nothing better living overseas than to have family and friends come to visit. I have been very lucky to have had all three of my boys come to see me at some time during my stay in Malaysia. This March my youngest son Kevin, his girlfriend Kena, and my sister, Karen, came to visit.

They arrived early Thursday morning and my wonderful friend Peter picked them in Singapore. They were able to come to my school and take a tour and see the kids in action for Sports Day. They were impressed with the layout of the school and how big it was. And it was nice for them to meet some of my teacher and staff friends. We even had a little bit of time before the final assembly for the kids to talk to Karen and Kena. We had dropped off Kevin to have some dental work done. Two fillings for 70$. What a deal!

That evening we went to dinner at our favorite restaurant Sushi House. The missionaries and Helena met us there for dinner. Total for 8 people, and all you could eat. 50$

We ended the evening with a Dotera Oils party where Kena presented to a small group about the benefits of oils. And the off to my apartment to pack up and get some sleep.

And then the fun began. 3:30 wake up and 4am pickup by the school driver. Our group of 6 includes: Amanda, Melissa, Diane, Kevin, Kena and Karen. We arrived at the airport too early so we went and had some Roti for breakfast and made it to the plane on time for boarding...well....we were almost the last ones, but we made it.

In Kuala Lumpur we rushed to the other terminal only to find we had missed our 1st connecting flight. Which meant we would miss the next flight to the island where we would meet our boat. So, it was plan B. We purchased more tickets and spent about 200$ more, but at least we made it.
Although our boat tour started about 2, we didn’t arrive at Lubuan Bajo Flores (LBJ) airport until 5 pm. Our tour guide met us and off we went to the boat. I have to admit, I was in a little shock. I don’t like to stay at any hotels that are less than 5 star anymore. I have become a princess. And this boat was a 2 star, if that. Kevin and Kena shared one bedroom, and all us girls shared another one, with bunk beds. Luckily there was air con at night. During the day it was impossible to sleep in there because it was so hot. There was only one bathroom and the shower is next to the toilet. No soap to be found. And the crew used the bathroom too. And guess where the waste goes? Out into the ocean. We were feeding the fish! Yum! Poop for lunch! There was a crew of 4 guys. Our tour guides name was Florin. There was the captain and the cook and another guy. Only Florin spoke English. Breakfast was toast and some type of banana pancake. Dinner was chicken the first night, and then fish, bought from the local fishermen, the next nights. There wasn’t a fridge on board and everything was cooked on the back of the boat in a wok. Primitive, but it got the job done. Luckily I had stocked up with peanut M&M’s and some snickers bars as they didn’t have snacks on board.





Dinner was served. Rice, fried chicken and two kinds of vegetables. There was also some fried bananas. We docked late at Rincha Island. And after a long day, we all wanted to head to bed.

After a fitful night, we got up about 6ish. Breakfast was more fried bananas and toast with Nutella on it. Then we took off for our first trek looking for Komodo dragons. We ended up seeing 17. The island supposedly has 1500. We had two guides that had heavy long sticks with forked ends to protect us. One in front and the other behind. We walked on a trail and at one stop it looked just like we were on the Jurassic Park Island. Watching the dragons is so interesting. Just knowing that they can kill so easily and eat the entire body is fascinating. Their run is amazing and they can go 35 kilometers per hour. The guide told us about a man from Singapore who didn’t stay with the group and touched a dragon, became poisoned, was airlifted out, but later died. The guides don’t mess around and expected us to stay together. We got so close to one dragon that we could have touched his tail. We spent a couple hours on the island walking and looking for dragons.


















Then we headed for the Pink Beach to snorkel.




The Pink Beach is named this because the red coral when its shattered blends in with the white sand. I wish I had been collecting beach sand from around the world to compare the colors and textures. So amazing. The snorkeling was really good, so many amazing fish, but the flippers messed up my toes and I was unable to wear my hiking shoes anymore.

Following the Pink beach we drove to the Komodo National Park and took our second trek to see the dragons. We didn’t see many, only 7. But one was up on top of a tall dirt nest digging for eggs. These dragons are cannibals and will eat each other, and even their own babies. When the babies hatch they live in the trees for 3 years for protection and eat lizards, bugs and other birds.

We got back on the boat and drove past a few more of the beautiful 17,000 islands and anchored in the bay of the Padre Island. Along side of the boat we saw some dolphins. We had dinner (more fish and vegetables, cooked by one of the crew) and listened to the noise of many other boats that were docked there. It was an early night for us as we had to be on the small boat to get to the island at 5 am. We climbed about 30 minutes up the mountain to watch the most beautiful sunrise ever. Gorgeous views of both sides of this island, and tons of islands nearby. The temperatures were wonderful.







We trekked down the mountain and back to the boat where we traveled to Manta Point to see the Manta Rays. Melissa, Kevin and the guide went in the water, but didn’t get close to them. And Melissa got stung by Jelly Fish. But within 30 minutes of getting Doterra oil put on it, she was healed. Then we traveled to the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to. Kanawa Island. There we snorkeled with some of the best coral and sea life I’ve encountered and so close to the beach. Because I couldn’t wear the flippers, I just swam and had to be careful not to touch the coral. Our cute guide, Florin, came and held my hand and pulled me back to the beach. I was getting pretty tired, and I could have made it, but it was sure nice to have some help.

That ended our trip and we got back on the boat for an hour and half ride back to the dock where the tour company took us to our hotel. We stayed at the Eco Lodge with beautiful gardens and a short walk to the beach. Mango trees were abundant. We really enjoyed hot showers and a good flushing toilet. We got a taxi downtown and ate some local food including lots more fish and yummy smoothies with dragon fruit in it. Then headed back to the hotel and went to sleep early as we were getting up early to catch our next flight to Bali for our next adventure.

It’s been so fun to travel with all of us. We have all gotten along great and had lots of fun together.


We arrived in Bali Monday March 26th. The view from the airplane alone was exiting, until we landed. It was pouring!! Kena almost had a heart attack, and all of us were a little worried due to the fact we were headed on our bike tour the next day. Luckily soon after we found our driver and got into the car, the rain had stopped. PHEW! Took a quick ride over to a temple overlooking the sea. It rested on the cliff side. The grounds were stunning and green. We also encountered some monkeys who were just like the ones from Jumaji even to the point of destroying someones car. We all stood and watched cause none of us felt like getting bit and infected with rabies, got a cool video though (;












Took another quick ride back over to the beach and our driver Putu took is to a local area where you could get fresh fish, literally they showed us what fish we could have including lobster! We ate right on the beach with our feet in the sand. After getting back in the car we made Putu come to a screeching halt when we saw a gelato sign. Ice cream in the hot sun was quite the little blessing.

Finally made our way to our villa and man was it gorgeous! Private pool, large kitchen, two rooms, and AC (the essentials). We all got a nice warm shower and headed out for walk to the main road close by. There were lots of shops and restaurants and it was quite a pleasant little community. The sales people were a bit invasive, but sweet. Karen and Kena founds some little treasures to take home and some fun clothing items. Prices were really good (after a bargain war however) and they found some really neat stuff! We made our way down to a nice restaurant to eat, and Kevin and Kena got King Crab for only seven US dollars!! Best Bargain of the day. After sweating through dinner a nice cool quick dip in the pool was much needed. Felt nice to be in something other then salt water. Then off to bed for a full day tomorrow!

Morning came on Tuesday a little later then we were used to, got to sleep in till 7! Good thing cause we needed it, had a long bike ride ahead of us! The drive alone to get to Bali Bikes was stunning. The rice fields filled our view and they went on for miles! Or Kilometers as they would say here. We had four other girls join our bike ride. Three of them were friends from California and the other woman was from Australia. She was super sweet and was traveling alone! Left the husband and two kids behind to get some peace and quite.








The bike ride took us through the peaceful village of Ubud. No peddling needed as our bikes had little motors that could make us go really fast, almost too fast for me, we all liked it though. The streets were busy so it was a little taste of driving around with the locals. No one really crashes but they sure get close. We stopped at a temple and our tour guide taught us just a tad bit about the religion and explained the offerings that we had been seeing all over Bali. The ride continued through the rice fields where there was a path only about 4 feet wide and irrigation on either side. Good thing no one fell in! Well not yet… We stopped at a cool swing and a coffee shop where we tasted many types of tea and coffees. It’s quite interesting to learn about the little ferret like animals that eat the coffee beans and poop them out, then they are cleaned, dried and roasted for coffee.

Me, Kena, and Karen got back to the bike shop first with the front guide and waited for the others. We got some refreshing cold rags while we waited. And waited. We all started to worry a little because no one was coming. The guide even got back on his bike leaving us standing on the side of the road waiting yet again. Everyone came about 10 min later and the Australian lady wasn’t with them. Turns out she had a horrible crash on one of the downhills and her bike ended up way off into the rice fields. The bike company took her to the hospital. Glad it wasn’t any of us, but also super sad she crashed because she is traveling alone! Hope she is okay. ):
Later I got her number from the tour company and WhatsApp with her and found out that although she had lots of road rash, she was ok.

Next stop was the monkey forest! Monkeys everywhere and Kena held a banana over her head and one climbed up her body to get it! Pretty cool.
The taxi then dropped Karen, Kevin, and Kena to the Main Street by our villa to go shopping, and me back to the villa to take a break with my book and the pool. Eventually we all ended up in the pool for a nice cool down after our long adventurous day of biking and shopping. We went and had some pizza for dinner and headed to bed soon to wake up and head to Krabi!

We arrived in Krabi about noon and took a taxi to the hotel. And off we went to catch some shopping and lunch and a look at the beach, which was only a five minute walk away. Kena and Kevin had wanted to ride an elephant so off they went for a ride. Only about 15 minutes away from the hotel. While they were gone Karen walked on the beach and I swam. Kevin and Kena joined us for a sunset swim, and then we had a late dinner and off to bed.

On Thursday we hired a taxi driver from 8-5 for 80$ and off we went for more adventures. We were able to visit the Blue and Emerald Pools. Beautiful walk through a jungle forest to these beautiful lakes full of color. We were able to swim in the Emerald Pool. We had some treats on the way out of corn on the cob, crab sticks, delicious coconuts and ice cream. The coconuts are amazing in Asia. At home when we bought coconuts there was maybe a teaspoon of milk in there. Here, there is about 2 cups of yummy milk.

We next were drove to the hot springs. And the water is hot! After a soak we jumped into the cold river to cool off.

And next was the visit to the Temple and the 1237 steps up to the top. In January I hiked it with Ben and couldn’t walk for 3 days, so I skipped it and relaxed below. But Karen, Kevin and Kena made it up and back in record time.
After a trip for the go carts for Kena and Kevin we were exhausted and headed back to town for some dinner.

The next day Kevin and Kena went out on a tour to some islands and Karen and I stayed back and took a short boat ride to Railay Beach for a relaxing time on the beach. After getting back and having lunch and some shopping we met up with Kevin and Kena for our last evening.

Then it was back on another plane and back to Johor Bahru. Kevin spent time at the dentist getting 3 more cavities filled. 128$ Karen got a cleaning for 25$. Then the girls had facials. Following a trip into the city and dinner we headed back to my apartment to pack up. I put my family on a taxi into Singapore at 5:30 am. A few tears. But it will only be a few short months before we are together again. It was a fantastic trip and so glad they came!

Posted by dianeski4 07:07 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

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