Saturday, January 28, 2012

Malaysia to Laos

Jan 11
Laziness at its supreme.  Nothing but lounging, napping, blogging and reading are on the itinerary for today.  Oh yea, and flying to Kuala Lumpur.  We have a flight out in the morning from Kuala Lumpur to Laos so we’ve decided to stay at the airport to save money.

Jan 12
11 am: Whoever thought it was a good idea to stay at the airport instead of get a hotel room should be strung up by their toes.  Originally, it didn’t seem like too bad of a set up.  Kyle, the expert hobo, and commandeered cardboard boxes, and after setting up our airport fort, we had just laid down to sleep when we were informed the airport was closing for a few hours and we’d be allowed back in then.  We, and the rest of the Malaysia who all seemed to have the exact same idea as us were herded outside. (Seriously, there were hundreds of people)

 Another hobo camp was set up, not as comfortable but doable.  That is until the coughing started. It was a tickle in my throat, and a slight stinging in my eyes.  But I was NOT the only one. We all started coughing.  It was a chorus, a concert conducted by an invisible hand.  When the coughing fits increased, and the crowd began dispersing from their temporary encampments, we too moved.

I’m exhausted now.  I haven’t gotten any sleep, and I can hardly keep my eyes open, but we’ve arrived in Vientiane, with only a slight bump at the immigration office.  Kyle needs more pages in his passport.  He got reprimanded, and we are to find the US embassy soon. But for now we are just glad to have found a soft bed in a clean guest house.

Our neighbor

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Malaysia 2 (Langkawi)

Jan 8
Once again, we’re awake too early than is reasonable for a non-nocturnal being.  After piling into a van, we make our way down the windy mountain side at a much quicker speed than our bus two days earlier.  I can’t sleep.  The constant twisting along the mountain might turn my stomach into a curdling mush. 
The ferry is our next mode of transportation.  Below the deck, rows of chairs are nearly stacked one on top of the other.  Airplanes are sometimes jokingly called airbuses because of the tight quarters.  They might as well vacuum seal us into the ferry we’re so tightly squeezed.
Our taxi pulls into the parking lot of a coral pink grandiose hotel with white columns.  Gaudy only begins to scratch the surface.  If “white trash” married into money, this hotel would be its equivalent in buildings; over the top and missing the mark in fashion.  This hotel was a gift to ourselves.  Because we’re traveling in a group of four, we’ve figured out that booking a double room will cost us each under $20 a night.  It’s a bit of a fortune to backpackers like us, but it’s the one “nice” place we’ve allowed ourselves.  The website promises not only a pool, but the equivalent to a water-park with a wave pool, three water slides, and multiple pools.

My mosquito bite which expanded across my thigh about six inches across.
Jan 9 Langkawi
The hotel is run by monkeys.  No, I’m not calling the Malaysian workers that are employed here monkeys; lazy and clueless yes, but they are people non-the-less.  No, we say this hotel is run by the monkeys who habitat outside the hotel, sneaking into guests rooms to thieve when they can, because no one seems to be in charge.  Everything in this place is either falling apart or on the verge.  It’s long overdue for a paint job; the wave pool ripples pathetically, and no one seems to know whats going on.  When we arrived to the hotel one of our first questions was, how can we get back to Kuala Lumpur  from here?  “Uhhhh… there is an airport…” Was her answer.  There are trains, ferries and buses.  How can they not know?  Many other questions were asked with similar answers.  The monkeys, they are in charge, I know it.
I like Malaysians for the most part.  They seem to be a kind people, not pushy in the least. If I smile at someone, I don’t feel that they will take it as an invitation to sell me something, but instead, they offer a genuine smile in return.  But I have to say, as a people, they aren’t very ambitious.  In fact, I might even call them ambivalent, and the opposite of hard-working.
“Do you have happy hour?” I asked one waiter at a restaurant.
“I don’t know.” He answered, and then smiled obviously not intending to find out the answer.

Jan 10 Langkawi
We’ve spent the past few days lounging; Lounging at the pool, lounging on the beach.  I haven’t read this much in I don’t know how long.  I’m actually almost finished with a book I only started this week. It’s amazing.  This morning we’re going on a tour.  Last night, we arrived too late to book at the designated booking desk, so the front desk made a booking for us. This morning, however, no one seems to know anything about it, or what we should do.
“We put a deposit down, should we pay you the rest?”
“You put a deposit down?”
“Oh” Frantic looking around
“Just wait in front.”
“Okay so who do we pay?”
“Why does everyone else have stickers? Do we need stickers?”
“Stickers?” More frantic looking, “No, don’t worry”

Monkeys run this hotel I’m telling you. Monkeys.

Van after van drive by picking up properly stickered passengers.  After thirty minutes of waiting, we start to get worried.
A beat up jeep drives up and I joke, “That’s going to be our ride.”
Turns out, it was our ride.

We’re taken to a dock, board a small speed boat with three Indian looking fellows and away we go.  At first I think the speed is exhilarating, but as our boat begins to break the sound barrio, flying through the air like a wingless eagle, crashing into the waves hard enough to split the boat in half, our laughter turns maniacal.  We sound like cackling witches brewing over a caldron.  There’s nothing to do but laugh insanely, pray, and hold on for dear life.  Our tour has three destinations:  A monkey island, Eagle feeding, and an island beach.

Monkey Island:  Our tour guide doesn’t speak English so when we arrive, we don’t know where we are.  The first thing we see is a monkey sitting on a trashcan.  Beside him is a monkey attempting to open a beer can.  Signs inform the tourists not to take out food.  We soon learn why.  The large man walking behind us is being chased by a monkey who see his food.  Sling shots are sold to use in defense if necessary.  Down the stairs we come to an inland lake. It’s called the Pregnant Maiden’s Lake and comes with an entire folk story.

Eagle feeding was disappointing.  I guess because we got the CHEAP tour, we just watch the other boats feed.  I dread the start of the speed boat.  It doesn’t get easier with time.

Beach Island: It’s a lovely little beach.  We lie in the sun, splash in the water, and relish this freedom.

When we arrive back to the dock, I’m just happy to be alive, and glad that I didn’t sever Kyle’s arm off with my nails as we drove purposely into someone else’s wake and actually nearly capsized.

after the terrifying boat ride 

the inland lake on the island

running away from  a growling monkey

dinner on the beach

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hawaii part 3

 And the final post of the VERY BELATED Hawaii posts.  At last!

The last couple of days, we spent whale watching, going to the aquarium, shopping, a luau, and one last trip to the beach before heading home.  Let me just say that if your going to do a luau, book it before you go.  And book the "Old Lahaina" because the next highly rated one was NOT worth $100.  The food was okay, and the show was entertaining, but not spectacular.  I didn't think it was worth it, and got sick later in the night from either the cheap liquor which I couldn't drink very much of or the less than spectacular food.

The aquarium was a fun trip.

 Whale watching was probably the highlight, although we didn't get as close to any of the whales as we had when we whale watched in Equador.  Each whale watching trip is different though and the captains of the boats cannot force the whales to do anything they don't want to do, including get close to the boats.

 This little fella gave us a nice show though.
 We also went to a dinner show, it was a Christmas show by a musician by the name of Willie K.  This was way better than the luau and I would recommend one of his shows.

 Shopping in Old Lahaina was a great day trip for the whole family.

At the Banyan Tree Square, a banyan tree first planted in 1873 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the missionaries' arrival, has grown 12 new trunks and stretches over an area of 200 feet (61 m).

 We had a fun time at the Luau despite it not being worth the money, in my opinion.

 Our last day at the beach, the surf was rough.  Kyle loves to snorkle, so we used the snorkle gear from our hotel, including flippers, and snorkeled away.

Our plane ride home was dissappointing. Although we had a "window seat" there was no window.  And we had our Christmas Eve dinner in an airport, but it wasn't too bad. We were home for Christmas Day.

Overall, Hawaii was a VERY FUN trip.  It wouldn't be my first choice in destinations, mostly because I've now visited many BEAUTIFUL beaches, and most were less expensive than Hawaii's. But all in all, it wasn't too shabby and it was fabulous to get to spend so much time with our family.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hawaii 2

We went to Hawaii nearly a year ago.  I found this half finished post waiting in my drafts and decided it was time to finish this post once and for all. I find it a difficult task to write about trips.  I put it off and by the time that I actually start to work on it, I forget what we did.  So I'm going to post some pictures of our family vacation.  I'll make a few comments, but the details, well, they can be left to your imaginations.

Kyle found a coconut, and broke it apart to prove his manliness

It was suggested that we stop at a roadside to eat some of the local banana bread and snow cones. Both delicious.

He made grass stuff. It was pretty cool.

A cool black beach with a pressure cave where surf would force all the trapped air and water up through the geyser hole.

a neat cave my mom and I explored