A Travellerspoint blog


Part 2 of the girls trip

sunny 100 °F

Day 5 Malaysia to Vietnam June 13 Lisa’s 60th birthday! It's good to have someone older than me!

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 called Grandma's Kitchen, and the food was so flavorful and tasty. What a beautiful setting. We over ate, and although it was an expensive place, our total bill for all of us was 60$ US.

Day 6 Vietnam June 14

After a yummy breakfast at the hotel, that included real bacon, we were picked up by the Dragon Legend Cruise company and taken to Halong Bay. The ride took 3.5 hours and we had wifi, somewhat spotty, but chargers too.
We stopped at a tourist trap and I told everyone not to buy anything here, that we could get it in the market cheaper, but I didn’t listen to myself. LOL. There were about 30 people with disabilities that were making these beautiful silk handmade sewn pieces of art that looked like painting. I fell in love with one. It started at 1000$ US But, I got it down to 550$. The workers make 150$ a month working everyday. I hope they get a bonus when something sells. The lady that made my piece was a deaf/mute. The only regret I have is that it doesn’t fit in my suitcase and I have to carry it around for the next 18 days. (But I fixed that on the way back. They repacked it for me.)

We stopped and were shown a water puppet show and had lunch.

We arrived about noon and got onto the boat. Melissa and I had taken this same company cruise back in December and froze. We were looking forward to the same accommodations, and warmer temperatures. We had done the 2 day, one night cruise. But this time we did the 3 day, 2 night one. Imagine our surprise when we saw the room and realized how small it was. And with only 1 bed. But we managed. Once we were getting on the kayaks and Melissa was on first and a lady said wait for her partner. LOL. I had to set her straight. Pun!


They fed us such wonderful food. So many fresh veggies and fresh fish. We also had pork and beef. Lisa is a vegan now, but they catered to her and she had plenty to eat. 3 substantial meals a day.

We spent our time relaxing on the deck, kayaking and swimming in the bay. And enjoying the fantastic views and the 1969 islands in this area. The water was warm and wonderful to swim in, but there were a lot of jellyfish and one lady got stung.
There were 16 people on the boat, plus the crew. Australia and the French and Americans and Asians, and Malaysian. No kids. Which was nice. One guy is here from back east. He is a tennis coach in the Maldives. Worked 4 months on, and then travels the rest.

The last day we went to a fishing village. These people used to live in caves, but the government kicked them out and now they live in these floating villages. Bung Bieng lagoon is where they stay because of the calm waters. 2700 fishermen. 7 fishing villages.
The people catch Mackerel, grouper, squid, sea bass and oysters. It takes them 4 hours to get to the city, or 5-6 hours with waves and weather.
One family fishes 12 hours a day earning 260k dong or 12 dollars a day. They buy three main things. Fresh water, diesel and rice. Little veggies. They eat mostly rice and fish.
One drum of water costs $1.50 and lasts about 3 days. They use the drums to take fish to Halong City, and then fill the empty drums with water.
The floating school opened 1994-2014. Kids were needed for fishing, so many of them didn’t attend. The children were expected to work from ages 6-16, and were married at 16 by arrangement. They buy the couple a new boat and they live next door.
The floating school has closed down, and now the government brings the kids to the mainland for school. They live in the city Monday-Friday, and then come home on the weekend. 95% of the people in the villages can’t read or write.

We enjoyed our 2nd trip to Halong Bay, and both trips were similar. I’d recommend taking this trip one time with the 2 night, 3 day trip.
We headed back in the van and were dropped off at La Suite Hotel in Hanoi. This hotel I wouldn’t recommend. Very small rooms, and Melissa and I get to share a bed….again…but at least it’s a king size.

We ate at a local street restaurant called 72. We had yummy Pho and fresh egg rolls. The dinner, which was totally filling was only 4.50$ each.

Then we went to the street market and did some shopping for various things, like cards and clothes and coconut bowls. And to top off the night we had massages at the hotel for $15.

Day 7 Hanoi
June 17

We were up early this morning and enjoyed breakfast at the hotel before heading to find The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. We paid a grab to take us, about a 30 minute drive for 5$. Although the website said 8:30, it didn’t start until 9. The branch president and his wife came in on a motorbike. It was fun to see an older couple from Arizona come to church that way. There were 3 sets of missionaries and even sister missionaries. One of the sisters was from Cedar Hills, but not in my ward. It is such a small world.
The speakers spoke in Vietnamese, and the missionaries translated. It was a good meeting. And I especially enjoyed the primary children when they sang, “I’m trying to be like Jesus.”

We headed back to the hotel and then went out for a walk. About 10,000 steps of a walk. Which was nice after sitting on a boat for 3 days. We shopped, and shopped and walked and finally found our first destination, Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton. What a somber visit. It was portrayed as being a nice place for the American Soldiers. A place where they were treated well. Hmmm

Next we walked and walked more and came to The Temple of Literacy. This was a beautiful garden built in honor of Confucius. Well worth a visit, but probably better when you’re not so tired and hot.

We finished and got a Grab back to the hotel and ate at the same restaurant as yesterday, called 72, or also called A New Day. More Pho and vegetarian spring rolls. Delicious and fresh. This evening I stayed in and relaxed while the girls went out and did more shopping. Sometimes you just need some downtime

Day 8 June 18 Monday

We slept in today and had breakfast about 8. Then it was off for more adventures. First we took a golf cart tour around Old Town for an hour. Then we caught a Grab over to West Lake and took another golf cart tour around the lake. It took an hour to get around the the lake it was so large. We checked out a pagoda there. Then caught a grab back to the hotel and had some lunch. Then more shopping. Never ending shopping. And tired feet.

Tonight we ate dinner at a more fancier restaurant called Butter Butterfly. It had good ratings on Trip Advisor. The meat eaters had the set meal, and it was so much food for about 17$ each. A little more shopping and then we headed back to pack and get ready to leave early in the morning.

Vietnam has been an exciting adventure. The streets are always busy with never-ending traffic. And in all our rides we have never seen an accident, which is totally amazing as there are hardly any traffic lights. The people have been kind and friendly, and even though the weather has been terribly hot and humid, we have been able to enjoy the air con at the hotel. I did run into a guy today that we met on the way here. He is a teacher from Kuala Lumpur. He told me he was walking and a motorcycle went my him and stole his phone. Bummer. He decided to cut his trip short and head back to KL tomorrow. Things like this really put a damper on things. And reminds us to be more careful as we walk around.

We enjoyed some durian. It didn't taste as bad as some I've had in the past.

Posted by dianeski4 00:46 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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!

overcast 88 °F



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)

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