Weekends are for shopping and visiting doctors!

It feels like my entire life is either spent working, taking my family grocery shopping (or some other type of shopping), or sitting in the waiting room at some doctor’s office.  I don’t like this scenario…

Things were a tad easier several months ago when all the grocery shopping was usually handled during the week.  Our nanny would take Jean and the girls shopping while I was at work, but she got pregnant and hasn’t been at work in over a month and was only coming once or twice a month for quite some time before that.  Understandably, she’s pregnant and we didn’t expect that she’d work as long as she did while pregnant.  Carolyn and the girls adore Elizabeth, but without her my few precious free moments each week are consumed by being stuck in traffic while going to JUSCO, Cold Storage or some other place for groceries, cleaning supplies or something else we need.  We also end up needing to visit a doctor for something at least 1 or 2 weekend days a month and those appointments are always in Singapore, so that means hours in the car on those days as we trudge across the border at Woodlands.

I wish Carolyn had her own car.  It would make things better for everyone.  She’d be free to get the things she needs as soon as she needs them instead of waiting for when I have time (I don’t get home from work until 7-10pm almost every night, and I’m gone from home sometime between 5-7am each morning).  For the girls it would be good because they’d get out of the house more frequently, and for me I’d have some free time that didn’t involve running errands.  The freedom that having two cars in a family brings can’t be expressed enough, and we had no idea about how hard it would be having never experienced it.

We did decide to change some things around for next weekend.  Carolyn and I both have doctor appointments in Singapore next weekend, so we decided to spend the entire weekend over there so we aren’t doing two border crossings in a single day.

In another 4 weeks we take off for Sri Lanka!  We finally finished making all of our reservations, so we’re pretty excited about this trip.  We hope it lives up to our expectations.  I’m looking forward to some beautiful scenery, an amazing train ride with Zobug, some fun trips through the countryside in tuk-tuks, and enjoying tea the way it was meant to be enjoyed — sipped from a cup in the highlands of some exotic island at the plantation where the leaves were actually plucked.

A month after that we will be heading back to Borneo to visit the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu.  We previously visited the other Malaysian state on Borneo, Sarawak when we stayed in the capital, Kuching, and we also visited the micro-nation of Brunei on Borneo.  Just two nights ago we decided to spend a weekend in Sabah since we can fly out of JB for peanuts and we’ve never been there.  We’re hoping this time to see some wild orangutans!

One more month after that, August, we will be heading to Lombok for a weekend of relaxation.  We’re looking forward to doing nothing but swimming with Zoe and Logan, and maybe some spa time or a cooking lesson.

We also plan on getting together the details for our next trip to the US before too much longer.  We still aren’t sure if we will return in September/October, or just wait for December to return.  We would like to make up our minds before the end of July so we can plan everything, so hopefully that’ll be the next trip we plan for.  Other than that, the only other place we really want to go this year is to Burma.  We plan on taking an 8-10 day trip to Burma, but that’ll depend on when we return to the US so we aren’t that close to planning it yet.

Here are some photos from the past couple of weeks, such as some recent grocery shopping trips, Logan’s first pair of shoes, visiting a doctor in Singapore last weekend, endless motorcycles at Woodlands checkpoint, a smashed up truck creating a jam on the Pasir Gudang highway one day this past week, and several of our girls:

By far the best part of life…

My girls are the best thing that ever happened to me.  It is impossible to imagine the joy that children bring to your life before you’ve experienced them.  I had no idea…

I laugh out loud at something Zoe and Logan do or say every single day.  I also get sad every single day thinking about the hardships they’ll face in life and the possibility of me not being there to stand beside them through it.  I love them both more than I can express, and I’m so thankful to have had a chance to experience this magnificent part of the human experience; having children is easily the best part of my entire life, I just wished I’d started earlier.

Enough of the sappy stuff!  The past few weeks we’ve been busy running around JB and Singapore.  Just this Saturday we woke up early, picked up a guy I work with who is over here from the US for a couple of months (Mark), and we spent the day in Singapore.  He was excited about visiting some of his favorite US spots such as the Harley Davidson dealership, a Hooters and the Marina Bay Sands casino.  We had a fun day.

Here are some photos I’ve taken from my phone (mostly of my girls) over the past 2 weeks:

Something new

Well, we’ve begun to plan our next two trips.  We bought some airline tickets to go to Sri Lanka in June and then to Lombok in August.  We are pretty stoked because the Lombok flight was just added by AirAsia at the JB airport, so we can fly out on a Friday evening and come back late on Sunday for a weekend getaway.

Lombok is the island right beside Bali and everyone we’ve talked to describes it as Bali 30 years ago.  Lombok hasn’t developed for tourism as quickly as Bali, so it isn’t built up and has retained some of the small Indonesian village (kampung) feel to it in many places.  You can take a ferry between Bali and Lombok that takes only something like 2 hours, but since we’ve visited Bali twice in the past year we decided that it was time to see Lombok, especially since we can go directly from JB now.

We’ve already booked our accommodations for Lombok, so we’re pretty much all set for that trip.  I’m excited about it because our trips to Bali have been fantastic, with relaxing in the pool being my main focus, and other than that we’ve pretty much just taken in the scenery.  We did more cultural and entertainment outings when we visited Yogyakarta on the island of Java, but Bali was all about relaxation, and Lombok will be the same.  I’d still like to visit more of Java, somewhere in Sumatra, and possibly Komodo island to see the infamous dragons.

Our other trip won’t just be a weekend getaway because the flight is a little longer, so we decided to spend 5 nights instead of just 2.  We’re flying from KL to Colombo, Sri Lanka in a month.  We were pretty happy to hear that we no longer have to slog through the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) at the KL airport since just this last week they finally opened the KLIA2 terminal.  We’re actually excited about traveling through this brand spanking new terminal.  We hated the LCCT, mostly the parking and the long queues to get through customs, immigration and security.

We haven’t finalized anything for Sri Lanka because 5 days simply isn’t enough to put a dent into a whole country.  We’ve spent probably 20+ nights in Singapore and maybe a total of 30-40 days in Singapore during our 19 months living in Malaysia, but we think we’ve probably explored only about 25-30% of the tiny city-state.  Sri Lanka is a huge island compared to Singapore, with much more to see and do, but we have to pick a highlight or two and if we like it a lot we can always go back for more.

Right now we’re leaning towards a night or two somewhere near Haputale, which sounds like a hill station similar to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.  The British loved hill stations in their tropical colonial outposts because the altitude allowed them to escape the oppressive heat in the majority of these tropical locales, like Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka.  Another thing the British liked about hill stations was that the climate proved to be perfect for tea production.

We drove through the Boh tea plantation near Cameron Highlands, but while we’re in Sri Lanka we plan on visiting the tea plantation started by Sir Thomas Lipton.  I drank plenty of my mother’s sweet tea growing up, and as best as I can remember it was always started by steeping a bag or two of Lipton tea leaves in hot water.  I’d put money on it that Lipton is the most famous tea brand in the US, so it’ll be interesting to see where Mr. Lipton setup shop.  At the time when he owned the tea plantation the country was called Ceylon, not Sri Lanka, but that’s about all I really know about Sri Lankan history and tea cultivation.  I need to let my ADD take over and flip through Google for a day or two, just reading everything I can about Ceylon, tea and the British Empire.

The other place we’re thinking about visiting is Kandy, but we aren’t sold 100% on it yet because the only thing you can apparently see there is one of the Buddha’s teeth, which may or may not be on display.  The main reason for me to want to visit Kandy is because the 5-6 hour train ride between Haputale (Lipton’s tea plantation) and Kandy is supposedly one of the top things to do in Sri Lanka.

Hopefully by the end of this next weekend we will have some more concrete plans in place for Sri Lanka.  Either way I’m really excited about both of these upcoming trips and can’t wait for Zobug to get to ride a train.  She has been on subways in Singapore and on those train/subways that some airports have to get you to other terminals, but she hasn’t been on a train like this one.  I think it’ll be like the train we took into the Copper Canyon in Mexico about a decade ago.  I’ve taken many fantastic train rides, and that bumpy trip in Mexico remains my favorite — more than the overnight from Tangiers to Marrakesh, more than the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto, more than the overnight from Cairo to Aswan, more than the overnight from Bombay to Goa, more than the trains I’ve taken in Europe, and way more than any of the Amtrak rides I took across the Southern US back in college.  If this Haputale to Kandy ride is even close to the Copper Canyon ride it’ll be a classic.

Well, I need to hit the sack because it’s almost 11pm and I’m sitting here dreaming about traveling with my daughters, taking them to all sorts of amazing places…