MY LIFE IN LUMUT

3 Nov

The day’s run together here. Truthfully we stay to rest up for future adventures. The weather wears me down. I enjoy our cooking much more than the Malaysian cuisine. They use too much dried fish and fish paste for me. I prefer the subtle spicing of Thai food. I did find some pad Thai the other day though, about four miles away across to Pangkor Island to Pangkor Town, sometimes called Pangkor City. It costs a dollar for what in Oregon would be $7 or $8. 

It was great to get away to a slightly more refreshing weather. 

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Lumut

24 Oct

Here in Malaysia life feels warm,humid, and slow. Pangkor Island kept us active with all the monkeys trying to steal our food and bugs using our bodies as a host. I lost weight there for sure. Now I wake up late, eat, relax, catching up on lost sleep. Days slip by as they did in Oregon, but with little stress. My focus leans toward cooking rather than restaurants. 

I would have taken a picture of my peanut butter cookies, but we ate them too quickly!

Since we have wifi, we enjoy Netflix and researching our next moves.  We feel no pressure to move quickly in this sauna. We awake to a gorgeous view. I feel at home. Soon we will feel like moving on again, but for now I enjoy utter contentment. 

PANGKOR ISLAND – CORAL BAY BEACH

9 Aug

On July 16 I awoke early to chickens and the chattering of birds and monkeys! I had anticipated seeing the dawn on the paradise-type island in the rain forest of Malaysia at a place called Coral Bay Beach on Pangkor island just north of Kuala Lumpur by three and a half hours. I had planned on writing about my peaceful time in Bali this month, but am too distracted by the the happenings here. I sit in my two man tent now, watching the waves as I write. 
The night before last I felt elation as we got out of the cab from the ferry that brought us from Pangkor city. This came after riding on a smallish ferry from the mainland. 
What I saw reminded me of the dream so many people have of relaxing on a tropical island when they retire, white sands, blue sky, blue-green sea in a forest facing the ocean. 
We had brought provisions for camping: a tent, water, rice, snacks, band aids, antiseptic oil, mosquito repellent, and needle and thread. 
We pitched our tent quickly on the smooth sand, just in time before the wind came, bringing with it a fairly strong tropical storm. Luckily some people had left a tarp behind that we ended up using on the top instead of over the tent! The rain pressed upon us so hard that rain came through in places we could not even see. My husband scooped and scooped out the water with his bare hands. We had expected heat to be our main problem, but no, water became our enemy. It hadn’t rained for over two months. I think I must have brought the rain from Oregon. I had read before coming that Malaysia has two seasons, dry-wet and wet-wet. We came in the dry-wet season. 
After out hot and humid night in the tent, we awoke to a beautiful dawn and swam in the warm waters of gentle waves. We returned to monkeys raiding our locked tent! We caught them eating our chocolate cream cookies. 
My husband, unfamiliar with monkeys except for the tame trained monkeys from Marrakesh, being from the desert, wanted to protect me as I collected the scattered cookies from the ground. He raised up a board that rested against a tree, ready to keep the ten or so monkeys that had encircled us away from me. 
I had sat down under the trees to enjoy some potato chips when two of them on branches above me started to pounce! These monkeys surprised us with their aggressive behavior. When we took our food inside they went away. 
The next morning, after spending the night trying to keep the rain out after an even more ferocious storm, we awoke to the waves coming up within maybe ten feet of our front door. We had to move the tent and our luggage to higher ground. 
The monkeys having eating many of our snacks, we had to find dry wood to build a fire. We are still working on that challenge. 
So, goodbye from higher ground. Thank God we woke up before the big wave came!!!!

JOGGING TO JAKARTA

21 Jul

After spending 9 nights in Istanbul, my husband and I are on our way to Jakarta. Istanbul both shocked and pleased me with the way it has progressed. The Turkish people showed us lots of good-humored friendliness and hospitality. We still laugh at the sales people who called out, “How may I help you spend your money, Madam.”

Strangely, after landing in Istanbul, we read on the net that the day before we left terrorists had targeted police cars killing 6. So we didn’t do a lot. Rested for our camping inJava. 
Things didn’t go as expected.The last two hours at the airport left me breathless!Just as we checked in we discovered that we both needed an onward ticket to someplace to show that we will travel on and leave Indonesia. So we really had to rush. Luckily Turkey had lots of airlines and some travel agents. The language barrier did exist, but we got through it. After walking about four miles to the airport with luggage, we felt exhausted. Our adrenaline flowed even after we stepped onto the plane from the long hot tunnel as we entered what seemed like a safe zone. I worried that there would be another restriction in Saudi Arabia. It took only three hours on the flight. Saudi Arabia Airlines fed us well. We had a choice of beef, chicken, or fish. We chose beef and received beef stroganoff. Just before we

left they fed us a picnic type of lunch in a box with a plastic bag to carry it. When we landed a bus picked us up, taking us miles past private airplanes and small jets. At the airport officials corralled us to a room where we were asked to go. The situation felt tense. Crowds of people waited an extra hour. 15 hours later we landed in peaceful Java. Got onto the Internet to find that there had been a 6. Something earthquake where we had planned to stay off Bali. Traveling always holds its surprises. 

 

Eating In Morocco

25 May

When you first come to Morocco you will most likely go to the Grand Cafe Central in the middle of the medina in the petit souk. Little shops surround it, a tiny convenience store selling chocolates and nuts, water, and other necessities. Other stores overlook Cafe Central like a shop selling argon oil and offering massages to women on daily tourist buses. Leather and carpet shops also line the little streets, along with brass, copper, and jewelry boutiques. I watch the bustling crowds and enjoy the lack of traffic. I’m losing track of the relaxed days I’ve spent here smelling hashish and spices in the streets. Tonight we enjoy beef livers and a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, purple onions. Traditional bread accompanies every meal. As an American I crave butter with the fresh unpreserved bread. At breakfast that’s always my request. Later in the day I satisfy my palate with olive oil. 

It’s so nice at breakfast having olives and such flavorful olive oil to sprinkle on fried eggs and to sop it up with the bread. which they pan fry, usually small flat rounds a bit like a hamburger bun. Sometimes they’re wheat, sometimes white or with cornbread. 
Tonight we will walk along the the shore and enjoy the sunset. After all, we are honeymooning.  

Tales of Tata

18 Mar

MARCH 17, 2016KAY’S KILOMETERS
Morocco could be said to assault all of the senses, however, I prefer to think of all of the sights, smells, and sounds as music: colorful, sensations of aromas from musky perfumes and spices to urine in the narrow cobblestone alleys. 
Men, women, and children wear every color combinations of orange, green, yellow, red and purples, sometimes all together. 
Many villages miles apart comprise Tata. I live in the middle village. It’s the largest city in Morocco. Some of its villages are 60 miles apart with only sand and mountains between. 
Adorned with sunglasses and hat, I’m experiencing the opposite of Oregon and the shade of the big maple tree in front of my home. I can still hear the sound of the rain and the river. I’m sitting in a coffee shop where almost every one enjoys their little glass of fine expresso, while I have half coffee and half hot water with steamed milk on the side. The slow pace of Tata suits me. The owner charges my IPhone as I write in my notebook. Most people here take advantage of the free wifi in a handful of coffee shops. Most use smart phones. I see the occasional computer. 
For so many years I have driven instead of walked. Here I can go all over the town and really use my legs. Bicycles stand in front of many shops and don’t need locks! Portlanders would be envious. When people return to their bikes, they are still there! Many people use motorbikes. Some, by far a minority, use cars. What I love seeing is the donkeys pulling a flatbed made of wooden planks with a man holding the reigns. 
Last night I had such fresh chicken for dinner. It came from a chicken store. When I went in the clerk held the legs of a chicken, weighing it while it was still alive. I hadn’t tasted such good chicken since I was a child. Eating vegetables without pesticides reminds me of times past as well. 
Life here makes me think about convenience verses inconvenience and its trade offs, living in America verses traveling. Right now I love my traveling life. Enjoy your conveniences and the beautiful refreshing rain in the forest while I experience the wonders of desert living. 

JAVA TO SINGAPORE

28 Oct

In last month’s article I skipped ahead to Malaysia to illustrate what happened with the censorship of the commercial my friends and I made in Bali. My husband and I had decided to stay places we loved a maximum of six weeks, then to move on unless we found work. After being so totally spoiled by the food in Bali, we took a train to Jogjakarta, Java. We didn’t care for the food as much in Java and felt bombarded by all of the noise. We stayed only three days. We did a little shopping for brass statues. Then we found out that we could get to Singapore very cheaply on a tramp steamer. I remember it being $50. They offered first class and “other”. We opted for “other”. We had been warned by fellow travelers that we would be packed up against each other. People suggested that we get onto the boat as early as possible in order to stake out an area where we would have room to spread our sleeping bags out and sleep. We heeded all of their suggestions except for one. “Never carry money in your back pocket”. So, it ended up that a pick-pocket took my husband’s loose cash. Fortunately, the bulk of our money stayed in our moneybelts under our clothes. As we embarked onto the ship, crowds of seemingly poor people, all crowded together around us, pushed and pushed toward it. The crowd lifted us as we proceeded on, at times our feet not touching the ground. I’m sure a lot of money changed hands that day without all of the people realizing it.
When we finally got onto the huge human raft, we decided to try to roll our sleeping bags out side-by-side. This took some doing. Soon after we lay down, a large bully of a man came up to my husband and said, “I cut your throat while you sleep!” He made a graphic gesture with his finger as if cutting his own throat. After that my husband couldn’t sleep. We made it through two nights. We ate rice from a large container that looked like a garbage can. They served us tea out of another large container just by dipping a cup into it.
The next morning brought it’s own form of excitement. I really could not believe what I saw. All of us began to disembark, again with much unnecessary shoving. We felt like animals all pressed together headed for a long swinging ladder. It went from our ship to dozens of tiny rowboats coming to pick us up. They took all 500 or so of us to larger powerboats. At first I felt afraid, but swinging down the ladder felt exhilarating and really got my adrenaline pumping. Since the only food the people on the tramp steamer ate was rice, I felt grateful to receive fish heads on this new vessel. I had not realized how delicious they could taste! To think I would never have tried them if I hadn’t been on such a limited diet. Yum yum!
Next stop – Singapore. . .