Singapore, The Move, Travel South East Asia

And then we came to the end…

We’re back in California now. After three weeks of being back in Los Gatos, it still hardly seems real.

So, I’m turning back to this blog to “wrap it up”.

Our final days in Singapore were wonderful, bittersweet and touching. We had numerous going away parties! We felt so loved and so lucky for the farewell from friends.

Ben's an enthusiastic party goer!  Here are some of our favorite neighbors - Brenton, Adrian, Alex, Nicholas, Pacific, Lanceton, Nicky Grigg
Ben’s an enthusiastic party goer! Here are some of our favorite neighbors – Brenton, Adrian, Alex, Nicholas, Pacific, Lanceton, Nicky Grigg

Here’s a couple of pictures of special friends:

Nicky Grigg - and Virginia - at the Ice Cream truck outside the back gate

So many afternoons and evenings and Saturdays and Sundays spent with Alex and his family.
So many afternoons and evenings and Saturdays and Sundays spent with Alex and his family.

Our dear friends Scott and Sarah had their new baby girl and we were so lucky to be able to visit her before we moved:
Dave and River Smiley

And in our last month at 26 Oakwood Grove, yet another stray cat took up residency. We were lucky to get Sarah (Alex’s mom) to adopt this kitty. They are the perfect family to take this cat from Ferrel to Family!

this is when Arlene and I capture the kitty to transfer him to Sarah's house.
this is when Arlene and I capture the kitty to transfer him to Sarah’s house.

And as Christmas approached, we watched our home get slowly packed away. It wasn’t too festive but we did our best:
Christmas 2012

The moving took over and we could only join in:
Ben, Alex and Davis getting packed away in our container!

In the end, it took a team of Malaysians to shut down our life:
Squeezing it all in!

And we haven’t seen our stuff since! I tried to tell my friend Sarah that “Home is where the Heart is”:
Home is where the Heart is.
She wasn’t the slightest bit touched by my sentimentality and quickly countered: “Home is where your Crap is”. Well, it’s been about 6 weeks since we’ve seen our Crap and we all agree whole heartedly now! We won’t feel at home until our crap gets here!

So, in the meantime, once our container took sail, we were lucky enough to be distracted by Ben’s baseball tournament in Bangkok. We all flew off to the 10 and Under baseball games being held at the International School of Bangkok. A more perfect distraction could not be had! The games were exciting and it was fun to experience the different cultural aspects between the teams. Ben pitched the opening game and the closing game:
Ben pitches

Getting ready to pitch

And after the tournament, we went up to Chiang Mai for one last Asian Adventure:
Ben at a waterfall in Chiang Mai

and Nicky at the waterfall

We ziplined on the world’s longest set of ziplines while in Chiang Mail:
Nicky on the ziplines.
...and Ben!

We went to some hot springs outside of Chiang Mai and discovered the local delicacy of “hot spring boiled eggs”!
the beautiful hotsprings...

buying our eggs...

boiling our eggs...

We took a wonderful bike ride out to a lake:
Chiang Mail Lake swim

They did the best they could with Christmas in Chiang Mai:
Ginger Bread house

Santa?

Once we returned to Singapore for our final time, we really just had to clean house and, the hardest part of all, say good by to Arlene.

Arlene helped me clean the mold off this leather jacket before taking it home to USA.  I asked her to try the jacket on.  I don't think she's ever worn so much clothing!
Arlene helped me clean the mold off this leather jacket before taking it home to USA. I asked her to try the jacket on. I don’t think she’s ever worn so much clothing!

We were all so sad to part ways. We’re staying in touch via Facebook but it’s not the same. Arlene was so much more than just a help around the house or a companion when Dave was gone. She was a friend and a good part of our household and family. We miss her everyday.

So, this chapter of our lives has come to an end. And, it is sad. Now that we’re back in CA and the trauma of making the move is over, it’s easy to put Singapore in the rear view mirror. But, we will never forget what we gained after our almost 5 years in Singapore: a love of Asia, a desire to travel more and more, and a strong connection with our family through our summer travels. We also made – most literally – a world of friends: starting with our friends and family from the USA who traveled around the world to visit us, to the friends we made in Singapore who now span the globe. Our time in Asia may have ended for now, but our world is forever enriched as a result. We have been fortunate.

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Holidays, Travel South East Asia

Melaka Malaysia

It’s summer travel time! And as seems to be the yearly tradition, we’re starting the summer off with an Asian excursion. This summer, we were lucky to take a ROAD trip (ROAD!! when you live on a 40 x 40 sq mile island – the idea of a Road Trip is pretty nice! But, you can’t take the dog 😦 ).

In fact, here are the first key shots – the Dunkin Donuts – a highlight as soon as you drive in to Malaysia – they are everywhere (unlike in Singapore), and a HILL! Singapore is FLAT so this is a refreshing sight.

First stop!  :)  Dunkin Donuts - a rarity in SG.
First stop! 🙂 Dunkin Donuts – a rarity in SG.
A hill ahead
A hill ahead

We checked into the Renaissance hotel and felt lucky to get a room there. It seems it’s a busy time for road trips as the local Singapore schools are on holiday. We had a great view of a traditional but still very active and real Malay village. The river in the view traverses through the town adding oodles of charm at every bend. It was a lovely view to have. And, for the record, our room was quite nice – far about Malaysian standards 🙂

Our hotel: a room with a view!

Our first stop after checking in was to get some lunch. We walked out the hotel and quickly found Famousa Chicken Rice Ball. Since we had read the Melaka was famous for it’s chicken rice balls, we felt this must be the place to stop. What great food and ambience! We were by far the only Western people! Luckily those Chicken Rice Balls are not traditional Chinese Creepy and infact, quite fabulous!

Melaka is famous for it's Chicken Rice balls
Melaka is famous for it’s Chicken Rice balls
Nicky can't believe how good the rice ball tastes!
Nicky can’t believe how good the rice ball tastes!
The busy local restaurant
The busy local restaurant

After lunch we walked towards the center of town – first going through Melaka’s own Little India. Melaka is famous for being a huge trading port back in the early 1700’s. Many ships from all destinations would stop at the Melaka port to trade goods. Eventually, word got out that the town was so successful that different people came to take over the town. First the Portugese claimed Melaka. A hundred or so years later, the Dutch came a long and took it over. Then the British claimed it for their own. As a result of the successful trading destination and the many countries who ran Melaka, there are many influences in the town making it a very fascinating destination today. Little India is particularly authentic here as seen in these bulk spice shops.
Melaka's Little India

Another view of the river....
Another view of the river….
Holidays, Travel South East Asia

Another Year at Padang Bai, Bali and Lombok

Back to Padang Bai and White Sands Beach
Lovely waves again this year!
Ben battles the surf!
What a battle!
More Lemon Balinese pancakes for us!
Adi prepares our tunas for lunch
Our villa at Bloo Lagoon
Boys chillin' after the beach
Volcano view
Beautiful Bloo Lagoon

And on to Lombok…a bumpy ferry ride away!

Our boat to Lombok
Our boat to Lombok

Some traffic along the way!
Some traffic along the way!
Lombok beaches are covered in shells!
Lombok beaches are covered in shells!
How you get around in Lombok - it's quite a ride!
How you get around in Lombok - it's quite a ride!
Here's our lovely villa at the Tugu Resorts - we had walls this time
Here's our lovely villa at the Tugu Resorts - we had walls this time
Another fabulous indonesian bathroom
Another fabulous indonesian bathroom
Chillin' by the temple
Chillin' by the temple
Fun hike to Gangga Waterfalls
Fun hike to Gangga Waterfalls
View from the Waterfall back to the ocean looking over the rice paddies.
View from the Waterfall back to the ocean looking over the rice paddies.
Close up taken with my new lense (Christmas present!)
Close up taken with my new lense (Christmas present!)
Tea time at Tugu
Tea time at Tugu
Tugu Tea Time Too
Tugu Tea Time Too
Lombok snow
Lombok snow
Private Team Mak Dinner at the Temple
Private Team Mak Dinner at the Temple
Buddha
Buddha
Jumping off the dragon boat
Jumping off the dragon boat
Happy New Year!!
Happy New Year!!
I must make one of these for next Christmas :)  (I have enough shells!)
I must make one of these for next Christmas 🙂 (I have enough shells!)
Travel South East Asia

Desaru!

Well, the great news is the E22 highway is OPEN!! At long last! This highway cuts the drive to Desaru in half. Once you are over the causeway and thru the city of Johor Bahru, the drive to Desaru is as short as a half hour. But, getting over the Causeway is still quite time consuming.

The bad news is our hotel – the Golden Sands – in Desaru is GONE!! Competely demolished!!!! We loved our times there and we loved being able to get a day pass to use their beach. Now we can get to Desaru quite quickly but we don’t have any place to go!

For this trip we took this weekend, it was too rainy and cold (yes, COLD!) to care too much about going to the Beach. Also, we think we are too deep into the monsoon season. The water was quite murkey and very wavey. I think it’s better to visit the east coast of Malaysia before the Monsoon has been going on too long. End of October is a good time.

We checked out a new hotel with a nice beach but they don’t do day passes. We enjoyed a warm drink there:

The Pulai Beach Resort - Desaru
The Pulai Beach Resort - Desaru

The good ole fruit farm.  No Desaru trip is complete without a stop here!
The good ole fruit farm. No Desaru trip is complete without a stop here!

Here’s a view of the bridge over the inlet that makes this shorter ride all possible:

the E22 Bridge
the E22 Bridge

Travel South East Asia

Jaipur Wedding Wonders

The trip to India was wonderful! Dave and I missed Ben and Nicky tremendously and talked about them all the time. But, it was really nice to know they were safe and sound at home and not being bored to death by long parties with nothing to eat but Indian food!

We managed to attend two wedding events – two days of four full days of wedding. We went to the night before dinner party which was held at the City Palace in Jaipur. And, then we attended the actually wedding which was held at Jaigrah Fort just outside of Jaipur.

The dinner the night before was a wonderful introduction to the world of the Indian Wedding! We had arrived earlier in the day to be chauffered from the airport to our hotel by a part of the wedding driving team. At the hotel we quickly dressed for the dinner. I was lucky to have the much needed help of the saree draping team in the bottom of the hotel.

DSCN1641

Dressed to the letter!

Dave in his kurta...
Dave in his kurta...
and me in my borrowed Saree...
and me in my borrowed Saree...

The dinner was held at the City Palace which is a main tourist site in the center of Jaipur. Here is a professional picture of the Palace during the day:

City Palace Jaipur
City Palace Jaipur

and here it is lit up at night for the dinner:

Strolling into City Palace grounds.  All lit up for the wedding pre-dinner party.
Strolling into City Palace grounds. All lit up for the wedding pre-dinner party.
City Palace at night
City Palace at night

The family did some bollywood style entertaining for the evening fun.

Family  Fun
Family Fun

They had food from every country it seemed – but it was all vegetarian! We ate and ate and ate and then went back to the hotel.

The next day we were faced with the challenge of dressing again. Per the wadrobe guide, I decided to wear this lengha:

Wedding Day Wear
Wedding Day Wear

and Dave’s wear had the addition of the turban:

building the colorful Rajasthany style turban for Dave
building the colorful Rajasthany style turban for Dave

admiring the work!
admiring the work!

All the wedding guests boarded buses that took us an hour out of the city of Jaipur to Jaigrah Fort. It was an interesting drive with lots of street life to observe along the way….

street side food sold out of the corner
street side food sold out of the corner

Our bus climbed up, up, up past Amber fort:

Amber Fort
Amber Fort

Once we arrived, we joined the procession to the wedding site. The procession started with an autorickshaw ride across the fort entrance (the autorickshaws were brought up to the fort for the wedding):

our personal autorickshaw ride into the fort
our personal autorickshaw ride into the fort

Some of the music:

Travel South East Asia

Hong Kong for 2011 Fall Break…

Hong Kong is a fun city full of transportation. On one day we arrived by plane,

In T3 - Before boarding the A380 to Hong Kong
In T3 - Before boarding the A380 to Hong Kong

took and express train from the airport to the hotel, took a taxi from the train, took a double decker tram within the city

Double Decker!
Double Decker!

and then took the mid-level outdoor escalators thru the heart of the city with great views of the city streets below…
The Mid-Level Escalators!
The Mid-Level Escalators!

Hong Kong city street
Hong Kong city street

Then we took a tram up to the top of Victoria peak and back down. And, finally, one last taxi back to our hotel.

The next day we took the MTR and then a cable car up to the world’s largest bronze, seated, outdoor Buddha,

Glass Bottom Cable Car to Buddha
Glass Bottom Cable Car to Buddha

Big Buddha - and one off in the distance too :)
Big Buddha - and one off in the distance too 🙂

an island bus to a fishing village
Fishing Village
Fishing Village

and a ferry boat
Bunny Ears are the new new thing
Bunny Ears are the new new thing

back to the tram
Back on the double decker
Back on the double decker

back to our hotel!
Relaxing Ritz Style
Relaxing Ritz Style

In 2008 we went to Hong Kong for our Fall Break. Here we are again! Back then, I remember being afraid to even leave the hotel with my little four year old and six year old boys while Dave was working. This time, on Dave’s work day, we managed to go to Ocean Park Amusement Park on our own.

A cable car takes you along the mountains edge into the heart of the Ocean Park
A cable car takes you along the mountains edge into the heart of the Ocean Park
Stunning views from every angle at Ocean Park!
Stunning views from every angle at Ocean Park!
And great rides too!  There's still upgrading going on as you can see here...I'd like to go back in a year!
And great rides too! There's still upgrading going on as you can see here...I'd like to go back in a year!
The Dragon Roller Coaster
The Dragon Roller Coaster
The rides are a bit scary because they all seem to pitch out over the ever-present ocean!
The rides are a bit scary because they all seem to pitch out over the ever-present ocean!

No trip to Hong Kong is complete without some pictures of the sky line! We got to see it from every angle.
There were wonderful views coming back on the ferry from Lantau Island (home of the big buddha):

Sparkly day!
Sparkly day!

Hong Kong skyline
Hong Kong skyline

Here’s a view of the newly finished ICC building on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong – we stayed in the Ritz Carlton in this hotel – we were on the 107th floor and we swam in the pool on the 118th floor!
The ICC Building - Kowloon
The ICC Building - Kowloon

Here’s the city from the 118th floor (with the tunnel that leads from Kowloon to Hong Kong in the foreground):
Skyline in the Industrial Haze of Hong Kong
Skyline in the Industrial Haze of Hong Kong

And finally, the Ritz was such a treat – here’s some memories from the amazing hotel pool:

That's video in the back ground on the left and Nicky's looking out the window on the right!
That's video in the back ground on the left and Nicky's looking out the window on the right!

Doing the cold plunge!!:
Ben jumps first!  Then runs to the nearby hot tub, then Nicky and then....
Ben jumps first! Then runs to the nearby hot tub, then Nicky and then....

Cold!!
Cold!!

Travel South East Asia

Finally fittings for India

We are just days away from leaving on our India trip.

And, first, in the event that we leave South East Asia for good any time soon, I want to take this moment to reflect on how incredibly fortunate we are. We have taken utmost advantage of this region and all the travel opportunities that exist here. We’re so lucky that Dave has made this all possible for us. Just this fall we have been in Phnom Penh in August, Saigon in September, Hong Kong in October and now Delhi in November! What lucky people we are!

As we prepare to go to India we’re in the midst of gathering our last bits of jewels and accessories. We picked up our outfits from the world’s most expensive Saree shop today….Dave looks handsome!

Handsome!
Handsome!

The Suit
The Suit

and me – although this is a bad picture taken when I was realizing they hadn’t done the adjusting on my dress and it was looking like I was going to have to make another trip to the dress shop….

"I have to come back???"
"I have to come back???"

And for matters of contrast, here’s a nice picture of Singpaore’s Little India. I like the old shop houses below the modern housing flats.

Little India, Singapore
Little India, Singapore