A Travellerspoint blog

Maldives

Almost Paradise

sunny 90 °F

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With crystal clear water all colors of blue, this place was almost paradise. So glad I was able to take this trip, although it was super short.

There were five of us traveling. 4 of us from Raffles American School and Dave, my friend from the US. He had spent 40 hours getting her as his flight was canceled and they rerouted him. He arrived shortly after 1:30 am and we left at 3:45 am. Poor tired boy! But he did well.

We left at 3:45 am and drove to the airport in Johor, and then spent 5 + hours flying and 2 hours on a boat to get to Mathiveri Island in the Maldives. The airport there is it's own island, and Male is next to it, and you can get there by ferry. Would have liked to have just set foot on that island, but didn't have time and heard it's dangerous.

https://budgetmaldives.co/en/mathiveri-island/

While on Mathiveri Island we stayed at a really nice guest house and had all our meals prepared for us. One of the meals was a beach BBQ. They had set up tables on the beach and dug holes in the sand to put in torches. Candles on the tables. Super yummy food with banana pudding for dessert. It was so beautiful. All the meals were really good. Every morning we had this tuna dish with spices and rice in it and an egg. And yummy Roshi. I want to learn to make it.
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https://nadiyas-tastesofmaldives.blogspot.com/2011/09/roshi-maldivian-flat-bread.html

We were able to tour the school there and meet all the kids in all the classes. That was cool. Part of the school had the open air concept.

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We went to a small island next to us, and swam and chased rats away from our stuff. One day we took a boat tour and went snorkeling. That same day Gail, Candice and I went snorkeling off the dock and it was just as nice.

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And the rest of the time we just relaxed.

Amanda got a new Go Pro and put together the following video. Check out her skills!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vBdT7WUx6E&feature=youtu.be

It was an awesome adventure. So glad to have spent it with some wonderful friends!

Posted by dianeski4 23:35 Archived in Maldives Republic Comments (0)

Spring Break 2018 Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand

Family Fun

98 °F

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.

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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.
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Then we headed for the Pink Beach to snorkel.
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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.
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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.

Bali

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 (;
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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)

Best Friends and Desaru

Beach time an hour and half away! Can't beat this for a quick trip!

sunny 97 °F

I love the beach! I could spend everyday at the beach cause it's my happy place. Just 1.5 hours from my apartment in Johor, is a beautiful, peaceful and practically empty beach.

The first time I went here I thought I would come back once a month, but there is so much to see around these parts that it hasn't happened, but luckily I've been here several times. And hope to make it here a few more times before I leave in July.

The best part of Desaru, besides being so close to home, is the quiet and peaceful feeling. For some reason, there are hardly any people spending time on the beach, and especially swimming in the water. It's like having your own private beach. Yes, there are a few downsides. Like sea lice that are sometimes present, biting you on the body like underwater mosquitos. They especially like me. Sometimes it's just worth floating in the lovely cool water and enduring the bites. There are lots of shady places to over look the beach and relax wile hearing the calming waves hit the beach.

We stayed at Sands and Sandals Resort and this by far is the best resort here. The rooms are clean and comfortable. The pool is huge. There are several restaurants, including a Japanese Teppanyaki place where we had yummy food for less than half of what we would pay in the U.S.

And the best part of the trip:
Friends! I have the best friends a girl could ask for here in Malaysia. This weekend we celebrated Helena's birthday in Desaru. Melissa, Amanda and I all joined her for the special weekend. Nothing like spending time with fun women. They are a huge support and friend to me in every way. There is nothing like traveling with friends! We concluded our weekend with a facial and dinner at Osmans. Living overseas is not always easy, but it sure makes a difference having friends there to support you.

http://www.sandandsandals.com/

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Posted by dianeski4 05:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Plastic Chairs

Eating out in Malaysia

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It's always and adventure eating out in Malaysia, and it's very often that you sit on plastic chairs with plastic tables in the outside, and sometimes you are actually sitting on the street. There aren't any doors..it's nice and fresh air!

Sophia, our Chinese teacher from school, took us to a Chinese restaurant not too far from the house. A seafood restaurant. The food is yummy and flavorful. Tonight we had a big plate of rice, and about 8 different dishes including pork, crab, tofu, vegetables with different types of sauces. My boys would love this place! Especially the crab! Ended up being about 57 RM each....

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Posted by dianeski4 06:44 Comments (0)

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

It's summer break! 1st vacation of summer!

sunny 86 °F

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The 2017/2018 year is over! It's been a really rough year, but I made it. And even after the difficult year, and getting paid about 8$ an hour, I made a decision to come back for another year. It's the friends I've made, and the kids, and the opportunity to travel and see the rest of this part of the world. And the first trip is KK.

I booked a bunch of trips last November when they were super cheap, and will end up missing most of them after deciding to go go Europe with my sister Karen. But this trip is happening before I leave for Romania.

I flew out from JB yesterday and arrived in KK late afternoon. Took an uber to the hotel and rested for a bit before heading out for a walk around downtown. It is Ramadan Fasting time, so there is was a huge market nearby with all sorts of food, but I didn't try it. I did head back to the hotel and had dinner with a drink, salad, main dish, and dessert for 23 RM for about 5$. It is cheap to eat local in Malaysia.

Anyway, I had planned to go to the beach today, but got up late and didn't feel like heading to the dock and figuring out how to get over to the islands, so I headed to the mall and did some shopping, and then caught a tour to the Mari Mari Cultural Village. The driver showed up at the hotel and we drove about 30 minutes to the Village.

Then it was touring 5 different villages with the tour guide giving some really fun information about the different tribes.

In one village they are head-hunters. Before a young man can be married they must chop someone's head off. And they store them above the kitchen stove to keep them smoked and fresh. They also have a huge crocodile grass mound in which they mount the heads down the middle.
Along wth that interesting fact is the way they bury their dead. After a person dies they curl them up in a ball and put the body in a big vase. They put a hole in the bottom of the vase and leave it in the jungle for a year. After that they collect was is left and put it in a smaller vase where they store it in the trees.
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I thought the fire making demo was really cool. They started a fire with bits of bamboo shaving and rubbing bamboo sticks together.
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It was really fun seeing all the different types of houses. The dances at the end, and the yummy dinner to end the day.
I'd recommend this place to all visitors that come here.

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http://marimariculturalvillage.com/index.php/itinerary/

Posted by dianeski4 04:49 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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