Indonesia and Malaysia

After almost 7 months on a house sit in the Caribbean, it is time for catching up with friends and having a holiday. We had a fabulous week in Boston, now lets head to South East Asia.

We are going to Jakarta to visit with a friend we met 5 years ago, while in between house sits, on Pangkor Island, Malaysia.  Pangkor is predominantly Muslim, and we were finding it difficult to find beer. The strip of restaurants had entrances on the roadside but they also had entrances from straight from the beach, they went right through. You could sit at the tables on the sand out the back, very cool. We had just walked into this one place, to find, yet again – no beer. We pretended to look at the beach and then, as we turned to leave, a voice came out of the shadows, “hey bro, you can get beer at the shop over there” What? Who was that? And how did he know what we were looking for? We had a good laugh about this and arranged to meet him later at the beach for a few beers (bought from that 1 shop). We ended up having dinner together and Chris and Nitin have remained good friends ever since. We have tried a few times in the last five years to catch up again but one thing and another got in the way – COVID was one rather large thing. But here we are flying 14.5 hours from Boston to Tokyo, change planes and another 8 hours to Jakarta. Arriving at midnight, Nitin was there, bouncing with excitement, and so were we! So good to be here!

We had a wonderful week catching up on the last five years… We ate so much wonderful food – oh how we have missed Asian food! AND we didn’t have any problems finding beer! Nitin looked after us so well, took us to amazing restaurants, we met his parents and girlfriend and felt like part of the family. Nitin’s Mum taught us how to make Chapati and I showed her how to make the bread like I had learnt on Vieques. We followed this “sharing of knowledge” with a wonderful family meal. We had six days of great laughs and loads of fun!

We are very sad to leave but so thankful, yet again, for these wonderful people coming into our lives in the most unexpected ways!

Now up to Penang, Malaysia for a week of rest.

We are staying in a little place called the Rassa Motel, at Batu Ferringhi Beach. Very basic but at $30NZD a night we cannot complain. One street back from the beach. We have stayed here before and know the location is perfect. AND, it is just around the corner from the best Roti restaurant in Malaysia – according to the “Donna and Chris research group”. So, every morning we would walk around the corner and see the Roti maker and enjoy our favourite breakfast with thick dark coffee with a splash of condensed milk – match made in heaven!.

We went for a walk up to a waterfall one morning after our Roti. The track got smaller and smaller, but we were confident that we would find our way and maybe even join up with a walk along the aqueduct, which we did last time we were in Penang. Well it did, but not until we passed through a hole in a padlocked gate. What could possibly go wrong? It was a lovely walk, and we end up in the area that we recognise. Cute buildings periodically along the trail. An Aqueduct will move water by gravity flow alone and this one is still channelling raw water to a treatment plant in Tanjung Bungah.

But we were not meant to be there-apparently! So that was what the lock on the gate meant…. A car of 4 guards drove by and stopped and asked where we were from……..

New Zealand!

No, where have you come from, you shouldn’t be here!

Oh OK.

Leave now!

Yes sir!

We reached the entrance after 17000 steps to be met by a police officer who gestured for us to go back, go back the way you came! Really? Sending us back into a restricted area for another hour and a half? You cannot come out this way! He relented in the end and let us out, whoops! Our host at the hotel said that it has been closed since COVID. We really did think there for a minute that we were going to have to walk another 17000 steps, but thankfully that was not the case – it was a great walk!

After 6 nights at Batu Ferringhi we took the hair raising bus trip to Georgetown for 1 night before we take the ferry to the mainland to get the overnight train to Thailand. A walk around the old town of Georgetown is a must not miss! The street art and old buildings are fantastic. Great markets and food halls and very safe.

As we check out we bump into a man from Pakistan. He was checking out too. He said “are you going to Langkawi?” we said no, we are going to Thailand. He said “oh, we want to go to Thailand, we will follow you!” Then him and is 3 friends did indeed, follow us to the ferry. It was all a bit confusing about where they were trying to get to, but they liked the idea of Krabi (Thailand) – but they kept saying they were going to Langkawi (Malaysia) Oh well, they were big boys. They were so funny and casual about where they were going to end up. They came on the ferry with us and then, after a 4 hour wait at the train station, came on the Komuter train to the Thai border, that is where we lost them. I would love to know where they ended up. Chris asked them if they liked beer – if they were going to Langkawi, it is a dutyfree town. Oh no, we don’t drink! Then one of the guys sidled up to Chris and whispered….. “I like alcohol” he said he had half a bottle of vodka in his suitcase, would he be able to take it with him across the border? Poor man! Oh we laughed at this for days.

The Malaysia – Thailand border at Padang Besar is interesting. You line up and go through passport control to exit Malaysia, then walk around the back of the offices and line up again to go through another passport control, in the opposite direction, back into the same hall, to enter Thailand. There is a fence between that you cannot get through, but it is right there, it’s all in the same space. The guy who stamped our passport leaving Malaysia had forgotten to change the date on his stamp so had us leaving the day before. We got escorted, bags and all, back around the offices, back to the immigration officer for a correction in our passport. Meanwhile, the train was sitting there ready to leave and the conductors were being told there are 2 more passengers, don’t go without them! This has been the most bazar trip!

Finally on our way to Thailand!

We are on our own now, no family or friends with us and we spend a lot of time talking and thinking of all the wonderful people in our lives. We are grateful to the friends we are making during this adventure, and the friends we can reconnect with while travelling. We also take the time to think about and feel so thankful for the ones at home. Our wonderful friends up and down New Zealand and Australia, our families who love and support us in these, sometime crazy adventures. We miss you so much and so appreciate your love and understanding that we are not in your lives day to day. Some of our friends and family are struggling with illness, loss and other things that life sometimes throws at you. We don’t forget this and hope that we can help out, as best we can, when or if the time is right. The world has become a smaller place with the ease of communication, and although we keep in touch via messages, facebook, emails and calls, we understand that it is not the same as being there. xxxx

Thank you for reading our story!