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HOME!!!

Posted by Leticia Hughes on October 30, 2008 at 11:26 PM Comments comments (0)
This afternoon I lay on one of my most favourite beaches in the world?  Whale Bay, Northland, NEW ZEALAND!!!  The sun was shining (in between those pesky clouds) and there was not a soul around ? pure, utter bliss!!!

I have been hibernating at ma and pa?s place in Maungakaramea for the last week, making my transition from travel to real life.  Tomorrow we are heading to Auckland to hopefully sort out work and an apartment.  All going well, we should be employed and housed next week, which is fantastic as I suspect the hole in the wall is going to stop giving me money real soon.

After leaving Vancouver Island in September, Marc and I have done some of the most mind-blowing travel (the pictures tell the story!).  We cruised Alaska and completed 8049km on our North America Road Trip.  We basically drove north to Canada and then back down the west coast of the United States.  The highlights were by far the National Parks ? Jasper, Glacier Bay, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon.  Generally the cities are not worth mentioning, however Seattle and San Francisco are two that I thoroughly enjoyed.  The United States absolutely surpassed my expectations and I would highly recommend to anyone to check out the National Parks ? so many wonderful walking trails and the campsites were excellent.

So we are now back in New Zealand for three months ? on the cards is the birth of my sisters second bubba, Christmas, Marc?s sister Clare is coming to visit and of course, loads of catch-ups with friends.  I am sure the three months here will fly by!!!

I guess this is officially the end of ?Chapter 1?.  Wow ? I feel elated and sad at the same time.  It has been a blast and I have a funny feeling, it is just the beginning?

Kia kaha.

HOMEWARD BOUND!!!!

Posted by Leticia Hughes on August 20, 2008 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (1)
I cannot believe another two months has gone by and what a time we have been having!!!  Two trips to Seattle, we brought a car, I played nurse when Mazza fractured his ankle, we?ve been riding our new bikes, camping on the island at every opportunity, had a number of kiwi friends visit and of course working / earning money to maintain the travel lifestyle we have become very accustomed to!!!

Seattle has definitely been a highlight for a number of reasons ? the city itself is just so picturesque with lakes, beaches, mountains and a great city vibe (the home of the best sangria and nacho?s I have had since Mexican Caf? in Auckland!!!).  Seattle is the home of our wonderful friends Dave and Melissa who we met while cycling in Cambodia.  They were such amazing hosts and I can now understand why they love their hometown so much!!!!!  Dave has also got me hooked on Margaritas?  He gave me his secret recipe and as a result, I have graduated from my Japanese Slippers!!!

Mazza and I have discovered our new favourite Canadian store ? MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op).  It has the best selection of outdoors / sports gear I have ever seen!!!  Needless to say we purchased a tent, sleeping bags and a cooker for our island camping excursions.  We have seen some absolutely stunning spots and the freedom of having a car and bikes has been just wonderful!!!  The 94 Ford Taurus we purchased only set us back $600 and it runs like a dream (touch wood!!!).

While camping and cycling, we have had a number of encounters with wild black bears - the most hair raising was when we were cycling back from Port Renfrew.  There was a mumma and baby bear in the middle of the road and when we stopped mumma did not look impressed to see us.  I had a friggin coronary and was ready to hit warp speed back down a hill but thankfully they moved on with no dramas.  While cycling past them I made a break for freedom and nearly went up the arse of Mr Hughes who was admiring the baby bear - honestly!!!


The work thing has been a little interesting?  I have come to the conclusion that working for a small business can be just as challenging / frustrating / rewarding as any large corporate.  At the end of the day work will always just be work unless you can make a living from something you are truly passionate about.  So my quest to be a photographer will continue ? one thing is for certain though, I will not be employing people as it just makes things complicated and these days all I care about is making enough money to pay for the next plane ticket!!!  I am starting to wonder it I will ever want to ?settle down?.  Maybe I will turn my back on what is expected and just keep living life to the fullest and let destiny do it's thing.  Everything happens for a reason and my life is taking me on an amazing journey?

With the Canadian winter looming (summer has never really arrived!!!) we are gearing up to move on.  We have handed our notice into the cidery and our last day will be September 11th.  We then have a cruise in Alaska (oh bring it on!!!) and then we are doing a ?roadie? through the United States making our way South to LA.  We plan to fly home by the end of October, which means I should make it home for the birth of my sister?s second bubba.  

So that is right folks ? we are coming HOME!!!!  We will be in NZ till about February and we will look at working for a few months before heading off to Thailand again.  We have scored an internship to do our Dive Masters on Koh Tao Island ? yip it?s gunna be hell ? NOT!!!  After Thailand will be Oz for a bit of work / travel and then we will head to Central and South America.  So get those bubbles chilled as I plan to party with all my fantastic kiwi buddies over Christmas ? get in training and wash those party pants ? it?s gunna be messy!!!!  I cannot begin to describe at how excited I am to see everyone.  Plus I get to change out my travel wardrobe ? I am so over wearing the same two t-shirts (they have even developed noticeable holes).  I am all class I tell ya!!!  I need to clean myself up a bit before our cruise or they may not let me play with the other passengers!!!

So that about covers it all for now?  I am looking forward to going photo mad in Alaska and the USA!!!!

I hope all those folks in the southern hemisphere have all survived winter and you will no doubt be looking forward to Spring.  For the record ? Northland and Auckland have at times been warmer in winter than BC in summer?  I will never whinge about the cold in Auckland again!!!

Big hugs to you all and don?t forget to chill those bubbles and beer : ))

Luv Tecia xox

PS: You have no idea how excited I am about indulging in vegemite, vogels, monteiths beer and FATIMA'S!!!!!!!!!!

Time Flies!

Posted by Leticia Hughes on June 16, 2008 at 9:16 PM Comments comments (0)
Can you believe it? two months has passed since my last update.  Bet ya missed me : P

Well I hate to admit it, but so far NZ winter is warmer than Canadian summer ? bugger.  They are apparently having an ?endless winter? and June is now referred to as "Junuary".  I kinda think karma is biting me in the arse after showing off about the endless Asian summer.  I vow never to show off about being hot again!!!!  These days anything over 20 degrees feels tropical.  Am hoping that July brings some warmth as my poor thermals are getting hammered!!!

Enough about the weather, more about me : )

Well good news on the sponsorship front?  The boss had a call from Human Resources Development last week and it looks like they are going to approve my sponsorship ? WAHHOOO!!!  Should have a letter from them this week and then we can apply for a work permit.  I tell ya it is quite the process!!!  Once I have that work permit and my first pay check, it will be verve cliquot for Milli!!!

The boy is now back in and spending most of his time on the tractor on the farm.  He can also be found most days ?helping? the Cellar Manager with tasting the new ciders.  It is wonderful having him back and we have not killed each other (yet) despite the confined living space : )

This weekend we hired a car (AHHHH THE FREEDOM!) and headed Upper Island to Tofino and Ucluelet.  Was a fantastic wee excursion and the camera got a great workout.  The rugged West Coast reminded me a lot of home?  We had hoped to surf but the water was 10 degrees and the surf was kaka, so we opted out.  We did however see FOUR wild bears (one with cubs) - I was having a coronary photographing them!!!  So awesome!!!

Next weekend we are heading to Seattle to stay with friends who we know from when we cycled in Cambodia.  Can?t wait to see them and have my first experience in good ole USA.  Hopefully they let me back in Canada or else I could be coming home early!!!  

Other than a little bit of play, I have been working pretty damn hard.  Had to slap myself with a wet fish last week as I was starting to ?stress? about stuff.  Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in your own world and forget about the big picture.  Nothing that a fantastic glass of cider can?t fix!!!

That is about it from moi ? until next time!!!

Tecia xox

Slight Change of Plans

Posted by Leticia Hughes on March 26, 2008 at 10:23 PM Comments comments (1)
When I first arrived in Canada, I thought I would be going with what I know applying for a big corporate position ? basically I just needed a job and I did not care what I did.  That was before I worked at Sea Cider?

Readers digest version of the last few weeks ? I have declined the big bucks with BC Hydro and have accepted a full time Business Manager / Photographer position with Sea Cider.  Basically I am continuing to live my dream!!!!  I get to work in an amazing environment and further develop my skills in relation to running a small business ? I will get exposure to everything from finance, marketing, events and business development.  Plus I get to continue with photography passion through events at the cidery and I may potentially get images published in local media.

So while I have made this step, there is still a long way to go?  Sea Cider will apply to the Federal Government to sponsor me and this will take a further 6-8 weeks to process.  Once I have a work permit I can then apply for residency.  She?s a long road of red tape but I am sure it will all be worth it.

I still love Canada and of course all the people continue to astound me with their generosity.  Over the Easter weekend, Jo took me to dinner on Mayne Island.  Colleen, a friend of Jo?s, cooked an amazing meal and I enjoyed my very first roast turkey experience.  When we left, my belly was nearly exploding with food!!!

I also found some time on Easter Monday to explore Victoria and have some posted some pic?s.  I still think my new hometown Saanichton kicks butt ? small and so sweet!!!

The boy is still in the UK and hating every minute of it.  I am looking forward to his return but have no idea when that will be.  In the meantime I am keeping myself busy.  I meet a guy who plays squash at Easter dinner so I am hoping to get some games soon with some local lads at the rec centre.  Yay!!!  While I am enjoying my running (am back up to 10km runs now!!) it just doesn?t compare to smacking that black ball around!!!

Hope everyone had a great Easter!!!  Until next time?

Tecia

Spring In My Step

Posted by Leticia Hughes on March 6, 2008 at 10:46 PM Comments comments (1)
Humbled.  That is how I feel right now, this very second.  Over the last month I have been forced to do some serious soul searching and along the way, I have learnt some valuable lessons and met some of the most amazing people who have honestly changed my life.

Kristen, Bruce, Joanne, Jo, Candace, Amy, Annelise, Dirk, Nancy, Anna, Henry, Elizabeth, Jacqui and Jen.  These will just sound like names to you, but to me, these are just some of the people who have shown me kindness and generosity like I have never experienced before.  Without these people I would not have survived the last month in Canada and I hope that one day I can return their good will.  They have all offered me so much, in fact the list is endless with the little gestures they do.  It appears that Vancouver Island is full of people willing to help each other and there is a true sense of community that just isn't found in big cities.  Ask yourself, when was the last time you did something for someone else without expecting anything in return, just because you can?

Life on the cider farm continues for me and I have never been happier in a job. One day I can be bottling cider, the next running pH tests and tasting, the next cleaning toilets, the next helping to run the business.  Sea Cider has helped me to realise that job satisfaction has very little to do with the money and more to do with feeling like you are making a valuable contribution and that your efforts are appreciated.  These days I also have a weekend job for a local family where I do gardening, cleaning and cooking ? I love it (although I do worry the kids won?t eat what I cook!!!).  It takes me an hour to cycle each way along the magnificent Lochside track (an old railway line) to this weekend job so I am forced to get some great exercise at the same time.  The cash work now means I have enough money to buy some very cheap wine in a cardboard box : ))

On the paid work front, BC Hydro has offered me a Business Operations Manager position in Vernon and I will also go through their Manager In Training induction programme.  They are currently writing the business case for the Federal Government and completing my background checks to make sure I have not killed anyone or sold drugs to teenagers.  I am loathed to celebrate until I have my work permit and residency visa in hand but things are looking positive so far.  Vernon will be an amazing place to be as it is one BIG playground, however, in saying this, I will be very sad to leave Vancouver Island.

Marc is currently back in the UK for a few months as he unfortunately had to return to deal with a family crisis.  We had some fantastic time together in Vernon and Mayne Island before he left.  He was also wwoofing at the cidery for a week.  Needless to say, it was very hard saying goodbye when he left.  Good news is, he is hoping to be back in Canada before my birthday in June : )))

Spring is just around the corner and the local fields are overflowing with daffodils that are ready to burst into magnificent yellow blooms.  The temperature is hitting the double figures during the day now on Vancouver Island and I have even removed one blanket from my bed, which was an extremely monumental moment!!!  I am out running or cycling most days and my snot is not freezing so that is a good sign the temperature is above minus 1.

I am also a constant sense of amusement for the locals ? riding my bike on the wrong side of the road without realising, wearing copious layers of clothing when they are just wearing a light jacket, trying to balance my bags of groceries on my handle bars, spilling icing sugar all over the road while cycling and of course the language barrier.  Sometimes I think I am speaking another language when they look at me blankly.  In fact the other week I had to play charades with the nice chap in the supermarket trying to buy smoked chicken?  Honestly some people just don?t understand my kiwi drawl!!!  Do I really sound that bad!?!?

So overall the spring has been added back to my step over the last month in so many ways.  One of my biggest lessons for month is that I will never take money or work for granted again and after all the kindness I have had bestowed upon me recently, I feel like I have a whole lot of giving back I need to do.  Canadians really do rock ? or as they love to say over here ?RIGHT ON?!!!

Kia kaha.  Never give up on your dreams because if you try hard enough they will come true.

Tecia

SOMETIMES LIFE AIN?T EASY

Posted by Leticia Hughes on January 27, 2008 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)
Well sometimes life can be challenging and over the last 3 weeks I can honestly say I felt like coming home.  However I am a headstrong lass, so I sucked it in and told myself not to give up on my dream.  Allow me to share my world since my last Asian blog?

Arriving in Canada was a culture shock in so many ways.  Unfortunately for us our accommodation when we first arrived in Vancouver was not far from East Hastings St and this is where all the homeless, drugged out prostitutes hang out.  I can honestly say I have NEVER seen so many scary people in one place!!!  While locals say they are harmless as they are mostly a danger to themselves, I still tried to avoid walking through the area.  Anyone who thinks drugs is a good idea should come get a dose of reality in East Vancouver.  I wanted to take photos of the people and area but decided to choose life.  Our first taste of the Western world was such a stark contrast to the peaceful Asian countries!!!

In addition to our delightful neighbourhood our initial accommodation had no heating.  Yes that?s right ? no heating in zero degrees is enough to send any Northlander running and screaming back to Kiwi Land for summer!!!  We guts out the Pender Lodge for a week and then headed to another backpackers called C & N on Main Street.  While the area of town was still very average, it was warm and pretty clean.  The only downfall in this place was all the dropouts living there!!!  Backpackers are typically full of tourists but unfortunately C & N choose to house people who want cheap rent.  Ick ick ick.  These days I am on Vancouver Island but I will go into that in my more detail in a moment?  While in Vancouver we did manage to do some cheap site seeing and I have posted some of the pic?s.  On a fine day and out of the city centre, Vancouver is really very stunning.

On the work front, things are looking quite promising with the major utility company in British Columbia called BC Hydro.  I have had two interviews and they have indicated that there is a ?manager in training? position available in their operations department in a town called Vernon.  I am really excited about this opportunity as Vernon has a small community of less than 40,000, which would mean I could get out of the city!!!!!  This week BC Hydro will fly me to Vernon to meet the team and ensure I like the area.  So all going well, they will offer me a position and kick off the visa/sponsorship process.  Unfortunately this means at least two more months of unemployment so I have decided to WWOOF in the meantime!!!

Now you may ask ? what the hell is WWOOF?ing?  It is an acronym for Willing Worked On Organic Farms.  As of tomorrow I will be working 4 days a week on a cider farm on Vancouver Island - check it out at http://www.seacider.ca/. It is a magical spot and in exchange for working, I get food and board.  To say the least I am broke and this is the only legal way I can ?work?.  I do not want to do anything that may impact my sponsorship so I am being a good Kiwi.

Marc is currently snowboarding ? I am too poor to participate, so he is doing his own thing for a while.  He is also contemplating returning to NZ but we?ll see what happens there.  

Thankfully tonight is a little warmer ? only minus 1 instead of minus 5.  I am just grateful that I am on Vancouver Island because in other areas of Canada it is minus 40!!!  Now I cannot even begin to imagine how hideous that must be!!!

I have joined the local recreation centre today.  It has a pool, gym, aerobic classes, ice rink, tennis and SQUASH!!!  The centre is 15 minutes away on my bike, so my only obstacle is telling myself how much I love riding in zero degrees to get there.

So that about covers it?  Now due to my situation, i.e. freezing temperatures, no money and currently living / working on my own while waiting for a real job ? I would LOVE loads of emails jam packed with news from home.  I have to say thanks to a few of my girley friends who have emailed me recently ? their support and news has been the one thing that has kept me going!!!  While life is not a box of fluffies right now, I am positive things will start to look better real soon.

Take care and keep enjoying the summer for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere!!!

Tecia

ASIA ? IT?S A WRAP

Posted by Leticia Hughes on January 6, 2008 at 4:54 AM Comments comments (2)

For the last few weeks I have been diving, sleeping, eating, diving, reading, drinking, swimming, diving and sleeping?  to say the least, it has been bliss and a fantastic way to end our time in Thailand.

 

Our Asian Adventure has come to an end and I would like to share some of the new skills I have acquired a long the way.  I can now:

 

1.      Easily pack 30kgs of luggage into a 65L pack.

2.      Brush my teeth without water.

3.      Squat on an Asian toilet without wetting my feet.

4.      Use no toilet paper when going to number 2?s (water is the substitute!).

5.      Sleep on public transport (my parents will appreciate the enormity of this!).

6.      Travel for 8 hours and deem this as a ?short trip?.

7.      Wear the same clothes for a week.

8.      Go without a shower for days?

9.      Shower with cold water in the freezing cold (Nepal was the winner here).

10.  Wear no makeup and not do my hair for 6 months!!!

11.  Play scrabble anywhere, however I have developed a disease called ?scrabble turrets? ? playing Marc is nothing short of infuriating, especially when I lose!!!

12.  Confirm that Asian drivers are no better in their homeland.

13.  Eat soup with chopsticks.

14.  Say hello in 7 Asian languages.

15.  Not kill my boyfriend after living in each other pockets for 6 1/2 months!!!

 

Tomorrow we have a 26 hour journey to Canada.  We stop off in Taiwan for 12 hours so will embark on a whirlwind city tour.  While I am looking forward to Canadian supermarkets, coffee, cooking and doing my own washing, I must admit the somewhat freezing temperatures will be a challenge for this Northland gal.  Hmmm going from 35 to 5 degrees will be ffffrrrrreeeaaakkkkin cold!!!

 

I am fast running out of cash ? so my main focus for the next month will be all about finding a job and adjusting to life back in the real world.  The hole in the wall will stop giving me money soon?  If the Canada plan does not come to fruition, we will make our way to Western Australia to bum off the Aussies for a year or so.

 

Hope everyone has had a fabulous holiday and 2008 is rocking along.

 

Next stop Canada ? until then!!!

 

Tecia

ONLY 2 SLEEPS UNTIL SANTA!!!

Posted by Leticia Hughes on December 22, 2007 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)
OK I am seriously having a moment of ?WHERE HAS THE LAST 6 1/2 MONTHS GONE!!!?  Words cannot really describe the elation I feel after traveling through Asia, it has been by far the most amazing time of my life - man it has gone so quickly.  The good news is my adventure does not end here ? I still have America, India and Europe / UK to go!!!!

For the last few weeks we have been back in the land of Pad Thai, sticky heat and of course awesome diving.  Our first stop in Thailand involved 5 nights on Phi Phi and unfortunately we were really disappointed?  Phi Phi has become over developed and is full of young tourists who are more interested in getting pissed and laid than anything else.  They wander around in dick togs and string bikinis and are constantly sussing out any competition and of course any potential shags.  Needless to say while there was some eye candy for Mazza and I, we were glad to leave the island and return to civilisation where it is OK to have a fat roll when you sit down!!!!

While Phi Phi has become a tourist flea-pit, it is actually a lovely island and we did have some great dives plus a cool snorkeling / kayaking trip to Monkey Bay where explored the coastline and crystal clear waters.

Our next stop after Phi Phi was Samui and this island was also more developed than I expected.  Sex seems to be the name of the game in this tropical paradise?  Most middle age Europeans have a stunning Thai girl hanging off their arm and often the odd couples are spotted at various ATM machines.  This is also the place to come if you want ?happy ending? and pole dancing.  So if you are fat and ugly and can?t score, just head to Samui!!!

We did have one good night on Samui ? we met a couple of great English lads and after trading stories about Nepal, we hit these nasty green drinks that made me dance the night away.  I spent the whole night dragging unsuspecting tourists up to dance? cringe?  at least I will never see them again!!!  The next day was a shocker as I was sooooooo sick and had to catch a ferry to Koh Tao.  Never, ever, ever will I do that again!!!!  I swear I was going to die.  Hmmm trying to be 20 again hurts. 

So here we are on Koh Tao and it is just perfect!!!!!  It is still quite developed but this island has kept its Thai charm.  We are staying in a small bungalow in a quiet part of town and we are just loving it.  Lots of diving is also on the cards.  Yesterday was spent in the water and we are also diving on Christmas Day.  Lots of restaurants on the island are also putting on a full Christmas dinner so I plan to indulge!!!

Well it is down to the last 2 weeks now of our ?Asian Adventure? and then we go from 34 degrees to 4.  Eeekkkk!!!!  While I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my man in Thailand, I must say I miss my family and friends ? a lot.  Take care and enjoy the holidays!!!!  I will have a drink or two for you all?

Tecia

IT DOESN?T GET ANY BETTER!!!!!!

Posted by Leticia Hughes on December 10, 2007 at 1:24 AM Comments comments (1)
Well for the last two weeks, I have visited remote islands and seen turtles, orangutans, swam with sharks and in general had the time of my life!!!  

Our first stop after Kotu Kinabalu in Borneo was the small town of Sandakan.  Here we stayed in the night in the lush jungle and the following day, packed ourselves up and headed over some pretty rough waters to Turtle Island.

This remote little paradise is where mumma turtles come to dig large holes in the sand and lay their eggs on the beach.  The island is a conservation area, so the eggs are collected by the local rangers and safely buried in the islands hatchling area.  The night we were there, we saw a turtle lay her eggs, plus we got to see baby turtles make their way out to sea ? SOOOO cute as their efforts are so uncoordinated!!!!  The island is really well managed and the rangers are making good progress in restoring the turtle population.

Once we returned from Turtle Island, we made our way to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.  This little organisation is doing wonderful things for the Orangutan population as they are teaching the abandoned and sick how to survive in the wild again.  A wonderful experience and I so loved the babies?  it is incredible how human they are.

After Sepilok we ventured down towards Semporna ? now this is where the fun really began?   We went diving for 4 days and saw turtles, sharks, massive schools of barracuda, sea snakes and so much reef life.  I was in heaven!!!!  My amateur underwater photos do not do it justice!!!!  I did not think it could happen, but this experience was as amazing as Nepal?

Swimming with sharks was just wicked.  I thought I would be in full panic mode having kittens in the water, but they are such majestic, mesmerizing creatures that I was remarkably calm.  In one photo you will see two reef sharks following a giant trevally ? I will be honest ? at this point I was on my own and I was glad the sharks were more interested in hunting the fish than me!!!!

We are in Kuala Lumpur today and it is raining so we have taken the opportunity to do some emails and Christmas shopping (dolly is loving the retail therapy!!!).  We are looking forward to more diving in Thailand and have our fingers crossed in regards to seeing whale sharks and manta rays.

I hope ya all have a fantastic Christmas and New Year!!!!  My mobile number while in Thailand is +66850677503.

Take care,
Tecia


REFLECTIONS...

Posted by Leticia Hughes on November 30, 2007 at 8:02 AM Comments comments (1)

I have just spent the last half an hour getting my photos prepared for my website in a small caf? in Kotu Kinabalu, Borneo.  While I have been sipping on my iced coffee and looking at my photos, I have been reminded how easy it is for us to take for granted what we have in front of us.

For the last month we have been in Malaysia and there have been times over the last few weeks when I can honestly say I have been over traveling.  For example, living out of my rucksack, squat toilets, sickness, no decent coffee or low fat milk ? I even miss washing and cooking!!!  Coming up to Christmas, it is very hard for me to be away from my friends and family, however after reviewing my photos, it reminds me how lucky we are to be doing what we are?  So while I have had a few ?moments? lately (yes Marc has survived) ? it just part of traveling and we sometimes just need to take a step back and appreciate what we have in ?the now?.  It does not matter where we are, or what we are doing, we just need to be enjoying life and making the most of what we have.

Well, it is hard to believe that a month has passed since my last update ? where has the time gone!!!  After Nepal our first stop was Thailand.  To cut a long story short, we were meant have a 6 hour flight via Varanasi, India (transit only) to Bangkok.  We ended up having an unplanned trip to Delhi, visa issues and ended up at our destination 19 hours later.  Can laugh about this now?   The major issue was poor Marc was sooooo sick.  He ended up with a gastro bug and on our first night in Bangkok the poor lad ended up lying on the bathroom floor with issues occurring from both ends.  Nurse Milligan was on hand and luckily he stopped excreting bad smelling stuff the day next.  We spent a week in Bangkok recovering from Nepal ? we were pretty exhausted and it was so refreshing to get back in a country where there were some Western comforts like fruit, clean streets and hot showers!!! 

After Bangkok we left by train for Butterworth, which is just across the water from Penang Island.  We caught a ferry to Penang and spent a few days on the island eating loads of yummy curries and exploring the colourful city on foot and motorcycle.  Penang is a classic example of the very cosmopolitan Malaysia ? Hindus (Indian decent), Buddhists (Chinese decent) and Muslims (Indonesian decent) are all present.  It makes for great cuisine and a resulting pot gut!!!  I must confess, I am still getting my head around why all the Muslim women cover up completely (they wear head scarves).  They even swim at the beach fully clothed while their men laze around half naked.  I am a constant sense of amusement for them with my Western ways.  The short shorts are a goodie and the bikini on the beach is also a showstopper!!!  In saying this, Malaysia is pretty relaxed ? there are a lot of foreigners wandering around scantily clothed, so I don?t feel too bad about my ignorance.

After Penang, we took another ferry to the infamous Langkawi Island.  For me personally, while it was lush and very beautiful, the wank factor was pretty high.  The island is full of wealthy, ignorant tourists who spend two weeks just lying on the beach working on their tans.  We had a good look around but were disappointed, as the diving conditions were less than desirable.  We spent most of our time playing with our new underwater cameras in the shallows and we also explored the island on an extremely uncomfortable moto.

After some serious sun in Langkawi we took a train to Kuala Lumpur.  This was the train journey from hell as neither of us got any sleep due to the constant noise and uncomfortable movement (Marc even tried vodka as a sedative!!).  Normally the trains are a great way t o travel, so it was surprising that the Malaysian trains are not up to standard.  In the end, we arrived in KL exhausted, hunted down our hotel for some serious sleep and the next day we flew out to Borneo.  On the way back to Thailand we have 3 nights in KL so we plan to see more than just our hotel!!!

Now we are in Borneo - I was expecting this backward place, but man it has it going on!!!  Beautiful islands where we have spent the last two days snorkeling, massive shopping centres (I even found the Body Shop and Dermilogica!!) and the hotels are pretty swish.  Last night we had a few drinkees and challenged the locals at Karaoke!!!  They loved our rendition of ?I Got You Babe? and I even got a round of applause for my version of ?Dreams? by the Cranberries (I think the applause was because I stopped!!!).

Tomorrow we fly North to the Orangutan Park in Sepilok and following that, we head to the world famous dive location Sipadan.  After Malaysia we then make our way back to Thailand for 4 weeks at Phi Phi and Koh Tao Islands before we leave for Canada on January 7th.

And while you may be thinking I am dreading the cold winter, I can?t wait to snowboard, cook, shop in a real supermarket, live in our own place and last but not least, I am actually looking forward to using my brain again for work!!!  I also think most importantly, we now need time to reflect?  When you are submersed in an experience, at times it can be difficult to fully appreciate what you are learning and enjoying.  Asia has been an amazing experience ? the traditions and way of life has changed my perspective on their cultures in so many ways.  

Well that is about all for now?  I will probably do another update before Christmas.  For all those in the Southern hemisphere, I hope the first day of summer tomorrow is a good one!!!!

And finally, for those that are interested, I can reveal the following inside information regarding our future travel plans.  We would like to stay in Canada for approx one year working before starting stage two of the world tour, which will involve some serious surf action in South America, then we will move onto India, Europe / UK and hopefully a small slice of Africa.

Take care and big hugs to you all.

Tecia 


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