August 2014

Miles and Hazel had a pretty exciting school concert in August.  They got all dolled up and shook it!

And, if you want to see the show (for the grandparents):


It had been three years since our last trip to Peninsular Malaysia’s East Coast, but it was always a place I wanted to return to.  Here we were, Raya weekend again, and a driving trip seemed perfect for my parents’ visit.  It also kept up my 32 year streak of never having been on an airplane with them.  Interesting!  Tim was away, so it was the 5 of us crammed into the Civic at 4am leaving Penang for Lang Tengah ferry docks.

In truth, Lang Tengah wasn’t even on my radar when I went to book this trip. I was thinking a return to Perhentians, for the gorgeous blue sea and laid back atmosphere.  A month from the biggest holiday for Muslims in Malaysia, and everything was chocker block booked.  No beds anywhere!  A glance at a map and a recommendation from a friend and I located this tiny island just a bit south of the one I was searching for.  Same water, and it had availability.  Done!

Right, 6 hour drive from Penang.  I won’t lie – it was harrowing.  For three hours I glued my light sensitive newly lasered eyes to the striping on the road every time another car drove past.  The drive was silent with kids sleeping and my iron grip on the steering wheel.  Thank goodness for Audible & books on tape!  We made it in time for the ferry and we were off.  It was an impressive boat, and full of holiday-makers.  We landed at Lang Tengah 45 minutes later, and I took in the gorgeous water I had been hoping for.  Double bonus, the sand was pure white and powder soft.  Exhale.


First step: nap. It was an exhausting journey! Also, Hazel picking up the tradition of sleeping in a bathing suit to minimize the bed-to-sand time. I did this all the time as a kid.  The room (and hotel in general) was pretty basic.  The food was served buffet-style and was standard cafeteria fare, save for a few outstanding curries that popped up once in a while.  We’d packed our own booze, but turned out the resort had Carlsburg, too.


Step 2: Sand!  We rarely got beyond this step.  It was perfect.  The kids could play in it all day.  They did in fact.  Best beach toys include laundry soap scoops, yogurt buckets, and any rock/coral/shell we could find on the beach.  There was no trash washing into the bay, and the extra coral was raked up each morning by the hotel staff.  The 100ft of shore was just right.


And then?  Snorkel!  Can you find Miles and Grandpa Bob out exploring the rocks and reef right in front of the hotel?  This was a perfect spot for a new snorkeler (Miles!)  Tons of fish, pretty shallow, and some great rocks to explore.  We did end up using water shoes or chacos to get out past the rocky shallows at low tide.


Step 4 (not shown): Ice Cream.  Maybe a gin on the rocks.  Hot afternoons need a treat.


Then back to the beach!20140801-IMG_1247

Our resort ran a snorkeling trip every afternoon.  We decided to try it out on our second day.  Unfortunately, so did 50 other people.  And there were 3ft waves coming off the mainland where a storm was brewing.  I got a bit spooked by the boat bucking near the docks, so we decided to postpone a day.  We went back to the beach, and had more ice cream.  When we did go the next day, it was perfectly clear and the reef we visited was amazing!  Miles described it perfectly – it was an underwater garden.  I could have paddled around all day.  We saw some special stuff;  Mom saw a stingray and I spied a shark!  Miles spent the whole time feeding the little fish bread from his fist.  So fun, and truly a highlight.20140801-IMG_1248

We milked our holiday for as much as it was worth, even extending an extra half day from our planned departure.  Whoops, Saturday after Hari Raya traffic.  It took 8 hours to get home.  Thank you again for audiobooks!  We also stopped at a road side Oblong Burger stand.  I’d never been to one, pretty good stuff actually!  The kids did so well in the car, sleeping most of the way home and never whining or complaining at all.  I’m ready to sign up for more road trips!


Once home, what do we do?  Sort!  I got laundry while Miles sorted shells.  A wonderful and memorable trip, thank you Grandma Valerie & Grandpa Bob!!


Our 10 weeks of visitors this summer finished Tuesday with the departure of Grandma Valerie and Grandpa Bob.  We had a blast!  Do I always say that?  We did have a pretty good time.


We visited daddio’s work office, and Grandma Valerie enjoyed the manufacturing floor tour.


They brought the kids markers. Even with “ultra washable” on the box, I was having heart palpitations.


Double Dosai!


Grandpa Bob’s first time. Lot of trust going on here…


Visiting the wet market, this is my favorite shot. 🙂

And we went to an island together…more on that later.


What did we do when we got home from the beach? Went to the beach of course! A day at Hard Rock Hotel in Penang.




Farewell Penang, from the Moongate!

One of the great things about our apartment block is the garden.  It’s really a yard, a shared green space, but for all the foodstuffs that come out of it, we’ll go ahead with the local terminology and call it a garden.  So convenient and satisfying to go down to ride bikes and go up ready to spice up our dinner.  Most of these plants are hidden behind decorative ones in the landscaping – not sure if it’s for aesthetics or to keep the secret of free ingredients!


Kaffir Lime Leaf. Delicious in curries, soups and even steeped in cold water for a refreshing drink.


Chilis. These little dudes are spicy!


Kalamansi limes. Limey, but orange inside and a little sweet. Makes great limeade, salsa and as a “sour” component in any sweet-sour-spicy-salty combo.


Banana leaf. Although we don’t eat them, they can be used to wrap items to steam, or as a makeshift placemat, adding fragrance to the dish.


Curry leaves. These make Indian dishes taste amazing. Fried with cabbage, green beans or folded into dahl or curry, this is my favorite local flavor.


Pandan leaves. From the coconut family, pandan imparts a similar flavor. Try it crushed or knotted into a pot of coconut rice for nasi lemak, or blended and strained to color nyonya kueh.


Edible flowers. A friend served these knotted with spring onion around a tiny Vietnamese appetizer or pork and prawns.


Coconut. The trees in our garden deliver fresh, young coconut. Just ask the gardener to pull out his perang, and we’ve got an afternoon treat.

It was picture day at school and I’ll tell ya, I don’t envy that photographer.  Getting these two kids to sit still for a snap was hard enough!  I’ll give you the winner first.






Weeks of training culminated in the most orchestrated junior-Olympic event at the kids’ school last month.  Here’s the sportscast, play by play:


The kids filed in. This must have taken some practice. Amazing how everyone is in the right spot!


And – Everyone following the group warm up! Totally in sync! Not a child out of place!


…with the exception of one. A skeptical child, the youngest of the group, stands out. Up. Out.


Yet, when it comes time for action, she delivers!


Leading her team to the silver medal (of 2 teams)!


Victory! is: a chocolate muffin on mom’s lap.


The next event, executed with precision and skill, begins with the elephant walk.


Next ball roll with lightness of touch and agility.




Yeah, baby. That’s gold.


Yours looks brighter than mine! But did you get a chocolate muffin? Me thinks not.


And as they do, the event dragged on to an indeterminate finish. Time to go home.