Tuesday, April 21, 2009

19 April – Turtle Sanctuary, Malaysia

We visited a turtle sanctuary and learnt about the large turtles which come to this beach to lay eggs. Our children were very happy when they were allowed to help baby turtles to the sea and release them there.

13-16 April – Pulau Perhentian Besar, Malaysia

We wanted to do some snorkeling, so we went further up the coast and took a boat to the island Perhentian Besar. We chose a resort very close to the coral reef.
Upon arrival, we rushed to the beach, donned our new masks and snorkels, and plunged into the crystal clear water. Wow! On the picture below, Disa can be seen in action.

8-18 April – East coast, Malaysia

After the high pace of Singapore, it was time for some seriously lazy days on the beach. We drove along the east coast, seeing some lovely traditional Malay villages along the way.
We found the perfect spot in Cherating, halfway up the east coast. We camped on the beach, enjoying the breeze, the clean water and soft sand.

3-7 April – Singapore

We enjoyed Singapore very much. The people are friendly and cosmopolitan. Everything is clean and organized. There is a lot to see and do, not least for families. And we actually managed to camp in Singapore, much to our own surprise.
We spent our first day in the busy West Coast Park, watching the local kids enjoying the weekend. Our children had a lot of fun at the giant Adventure Playground, meeting new friends from all over the world.
The next day we went to the Singapore Zoo, which is world class. Our children loved to see all the animals (and their parents had a good time as well!). Towards the end of the day the kids played in the KidzWorld water playground, cooling off after a long, hot day.
One day we took the super modern Metro to Orchard Road and felt like poor bums when walking through the temple-like malls with their chic boutiques.
We continued to Raffles Hotel where we had the mandatory Singapore Sling in the Long Bar. We enjoyed our drinks, the kids munched copious amounts of peanuts, and we soaked up the atmosphere together with a few dozen other tourists before continuing to Chinatown.
We spent several nights camping in the Sembawang Park on the northeastern tip of Singapore Island. Several people from the neighbourhood came to talk to us, and we met some great new friends.

Thank you Kate and Petter Thome for inviting us to your home, to your pool and treating us to both local and IKEA-Swedish delicacies!
Thank you Martha Chaudhry for spending a morning with us, portraying this odd family with itchy feet.

Thank you Michael Fiebrich for the lovely Hop-A-Long DVD. The children loved all the episodes and songs. They send their hugs!

2 April – Melaka, Malaysia

It felt great to be on the road again, in our travel companion Alhambra. We drove south, on a perfect highway, through never ending oil palm plantations.
Our first stop was Melaka, once a very important colonial town in the region. We strolled around and looked at the buildings from different time periods. Dutch church, Portuguese fort, English mansion, Chinese shop, Malay fishing hut. Melaka is a pleasant place to spend a few days.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

1 April – Port Klang, Malaysia

Temba and Ola went to Port Klang to pick up the car. It was a smooth process. We are pleasantly surprised by how easy the whole shipping process has been. Our shipping agents in both Chennai (Interfreight) and Port Klang (Jets Express) have been very professional and fast.
Now we are ready to hit the road again. We plan to go south to Singapore before heading north through Malaysia and Thailand.

25-31 March – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Coming to Kuala Lumpur was like stepping into the modern world again. It is truly a modern cosmopolitan melting pot. People from all over the world are gathering here, and the city is very modern and forward looking.
We are enjoying the sights and activities of KL, while waiting for the car to arrive. We are walking around in the historical districts, enjoying the night market in Chinatown, drinking Starbuck’s coffee in the large mega malls, and we are trying a lot of new food in the food stalls on the street.
We are admiring the 500m high Petronas Towers, and have found real playgrounds and even a public swimming pool for kids. KL is a great place to be while waiting for our car!

20-24 March – Chennai, India

The city of Chennai (formerly Madras) has 5-10 million inhabitants. It is a major port with a lot of container traffic from/to Southeast Asia.
While organizing the shipping of the car, we did some sightseeing and enjoyed the food of southern India.
We managed to squeeze the car into a standard 20 foot container, and after some serious Indian bureaucracy the container was sealed and on its way to Malaysia.
We boarded a plane from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur. We are staring the next phase of our travels.

13-19 March – Kathmandu to Chennai

We left Kathmandu and headed south across the mountains. The road had been blocked by a landslide, so we managed to drive through the ravine and across the river in order to circumference the blocked section of the road. It was very challenging driving. Nina walked ahead to scout the river bottom and the position of holes and large boulders. After an hour we were through and could continue towards India.
Our luck did not last very long however. A 30 km section of the main road between Kathmandu and India was completely blocked, with one massive road block every kilometer. Thousands of young, idle, frustrated, angry men were manning the barricades and refused to let trucks, buses or cars pass. This anarchy started nine days ago and the authorities did nothing to stop the madness. The whole situation felt very threatening. We smiled, waved, and showed that we had children in the car. Miraculously, we were allowed to pass through the road blocks, one after the other. Now we know how Moses must have felt when the Red Sea suddenly parted to offer him and his followers a passage through an impossible terrain.
We arrived safely to India, but the Indian Immigration had gone home nine days ago. Nobody was passing the border anyway. We were the first tourists passing this main border since anarchy started in Nepal nine days ago. So, we entered India without entry stamps and decided to worry about that later.

We had a long way to go through India. We stopped in Bodhgaya to see where Prince Siddhartha Gautama meditated his way to Nirvana some 26 centuries ago. Pilgrims, beggars and hawkers were swarming around the temple area.
Driving through India on a so called highway is a truly interesting experience. We actually managed to drive all the 2626 km to Chennai without a single accident. Considering all the goats, cows, pedestrians, bicycles, rickshaws and beggars on the highway, this is quite a miracle. And considering all the parked trucks, crazy speeding buses, and the many vehicles driving in the wrong direction on the highway, it is more than a miracle. We suppose that this is what a highway experience is like when you are in a country where most people cannot wait until they get a chance to be reincarnated...