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Lego-lisiousness in Legoland!

Sol 86

As I sit up on my 9th story perch in Ho Chi Mihn City

HCMC Writing Spot

 

I am reflecting on our time in Malaysia. There is so much to write about here in Vietnam and I will get to that but, first want to revisit our adventures at Legoland in Southern Malaysia and Singapore.

Going to a theme park was not part of our original plan but, the opportunity came up, our kids LOVE Legos and the boys were struggling with a bit of homesickness.

The Lobby of Legoland Hotel

Now, do we run off to a theme park every time we are sad…no but, it sure doesn’t hurt to go that extra kilometer (see what I did there with the metric system reference?) to soothe ourselves a bit.

LEGOLAND HOTEL

Legoland Malaysia was pretty sweet. I haven’t been to Disneyland since I was a teenager but, I imagine it is like the ‘happiest place on earth’. We decided to stay at the Legoland Hotel which has themed rooms with scavenger hunts, Lego characters walking around, life-size Lego mini figures, characters walking around and LEGOS everywhere to play with. Big blocks and little blocks.

There are daily building contests and workshops as well as a character parade in the lobby. It was so sweet to see joy on so many faces. Not just ours but, the plenitude of families from all over. There were families there from India, China, and all over SE Asia. We were definitely the minority as we would nod hello to another ‘Western” family from time to time.

Breakfast and dinner buffets were a cultural lesson in itself. So many options of food from standard Western choices to a plethora of Eastern ones too. Did you want Dim Sum with your pancakes? Or French Pastries with Chinese Congee porridge with dried fish on top? Or a traditionally poured spiced chai, watermelon juice, white coffee or full cream milk?

Out in the park, did you want to swim in your hijib or swimsuit or use the body dryer (like a giant hair dryer for your whole body) after getting wet on a ride? Did you want to pray when the call to prayer happened or have a dragon fruit smoothie?

Prayer Spot in Park

All of this while being surrounded by Lego figures?

Our room was the Adventure theme which the boys picked out. It seemed very appropriate for our current journey. Maps and decor from an Egyptian papyrus abound.

Huge ‘Body Dryers’ and all the teens getting dry.

Because we are family half filled with introverts we spent plenty of time in the room. While it was our first place without a kitchen during our travels we did order room service which, amazingly didn’t cost more than the restaurant and the delivery folks refused tips only wanting you to put in a good word at the ‘opinion kiosks’ around the place.

A scooter accident portrayed at Mini-land

THE PARKS

The rides were fine. Oakley tried his first roller coaster and was thrilled. The most impressive areas to me were the Minilands where replicas of iconic places around Asia are constructed to impressive, minute detail. Even the scooter accidents with media and police presence on the street. I could have spent hours here. It was super hot so, we melted as we perused even with the welcome mister machines nearby.

The Star Wars exhibit was stunning with a room dedicated to each episode including the TV Clone Wars. We are Star Wars family so, we loved this geeked out to our hearts content.

They have a water park as well and it was also fine. A lazy river bobbing with big legos you can attach to your floating device. A ‘Build a Raft” float as it were.

In any case, it was lovely to have a big family time in what felt like a big playground. I heard ‘Everything is Awesome’ more times than I care to count but, it was worth it. We did let the boys get a few, small Lego sets to take with us on the road as nothing beats the blues like a couple of hours of Lego play.

A BALANCE OF TRAVEL AND FAMILY

Our travel journey is of where we are going but, it is also richly in the details of our relationships with our kids and between my husband and I. We are a collection of varying personalities and we all need different things to fill our batteries. We discover that more and more as we move along.

Family outings are my favorite and seeing the world whiz by in my window really fills my cup but, I know Oakley and Kelvin need more down time. Canyon too at times. I do too in my own way. Writing is actually very, very helpful for me to sort my head.

I get worried about the things we are doing or not doing and if we are keeping the kids on track in school. Do we communicate enough with family and friends. How do we sort out the time differences and make connections.

Accepting that we can be doing a once in a lifetime thing and still feel rather lonely and miss down time tucked in our oversized duvet back in Oregon.

It is all a balance. And we are working on it day by day. Okay, okay….enough about our inner-psyche.

Next, we headed to Singapore for a couple of days before heading to Vietnam. More on that in our next blog.

As always, thanks for reading and following!

I’m still in love with my Chef Husband but, it was nice to met Lego Chef!

The Deathstar!

The bathrooms at Legoland

Mini-Legoland

Ha! Love the sense of humor!

Fresh Seafood at Legoland?

 

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Malaysia on My Mind

Sol 74 

We are on week two in Malaysia and just left Kuala Lumpur for the south. We came  to be near a big city to find some Halloween experiences for our sometimes homesick boys, buy some supplies and to make some plans. 

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Halloween party at Jump Street

IMG_7256It has been a delightful place to see albeit a bit further removed from our more hands on experience in Bali. A bit of an adjustment after Bali as we are on the 16th floor of a shiny apartment and not even a third of the scooters we have been used to seeing whizzing past.

We have been introduced to a large, multicultural city which is predominately Muslim and full of dining, entertainment choices and other big city options. We have spent some time planning our next weeks as well as taking care of some tasks. Kuala Lumpur is known for ‘medical tourism’ and I decided to try it out.

I have hypothyroidism for 10 years and have been managing this by getting blood tests every couple months and taking an appropriate dose of daily medication to balance it. When I left Portland, I had a three month supply of my medication and our last prescription plan wouldn’t let me have anymore. Which is not usual, but annoying. So, I knew I would need to get a new supply from the road. 

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Check out the hours. He is almost always here.


So, I went to a doctor here in Kuala Lumpur. The host of our Airbnb helped me find one and my experience was pretty interesting, at least from the point of view of an American used to our complicated medical/insurance institutions.

The Doctor, Dr. Anthony Samy, was everything I needed including kind and no-nonsense.

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Dr. Anthony

I had to show up and wait (no appointments allowed) but, only waited about 30 minutes. He chatted with me, asked what I needed and took a blood sample. His assistants spent a lot time calculating prices of medications and we got it all sorted out.

Two days later I came back for the results, another consult and then was given four months of medications. My only concern was that the sense of privacy is different there.

They took me in a room to be weighed and there was the doctor at his desk talking to another patient.

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Paying for my medications.

“Oh, excuse me!” I said, but, they were indifferent, shrugged their shoulders and went back to their conversation.

The medical office also takes you on without a lot of information. My script has my first name only on it. It reminded me of Dr. Fleishman in Northern Exposure when Marilyn would just number the people in the waiting room.

While I was a bit worried about the process, it turned out fine. In the entire process with two doctors visits, blood sample, lab work/results and four months medication the total cost was $61. Wow…

In Kuala Lumpur we also visited the tallest twin buildings in the world. The Petronas Twin Towers  and  KL Bird Park an amazing bird park with an outdoor aviary several acres big. We also visited the National Mosque of Malaysia and they proudly told us that Obama had visited there just last year.IMG_7392

fullsizeoutput_9dc8In our world-schooling lesson we had a long lesson on mosques and Islam. It is always fascinating for Kelvin and I to see things and think they are a big deal and then have the boys just accept all as ‘normal’. People doing their everyday tasks, working as a nurse, checkout person at the grocery store, kids jumping on trampolines or on school trip at the park – all in their hijibs. So many colorful varieties.

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The other Twin Tower and I

Normalizing plurality. Always a good world-school lesson.

We are in Malaysia for one more week then are heading to Vietnam with a two day visit in Singapore. We made to Johur yesterday via bus from Kuala Lumpur. From our current place we can see across the river into Singapore and the kids love being able to say. “Hey, I can see into another country over there!” and then they collapse in a pile of giggles.

As usual, thanks for following.

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National Mosque

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School on the Bus to Johur.

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Our Bali Excursion is Winding Down, Our Life Long Love Affair is Just Beginning

Sol 61: Coming up on three weeks in Bali. We’ve had some highs and some lows. The awe at the constant beauty around us has not waned. It seems every time I look up I see something unique, amazing, delightful or a bit different and quirky.

The bargaining never stops.

New Kite Flying Friends

My husband is tallying a list of ‘things I have seen being carried on a scooter’ and it just about contains everything possible. I’ve seen tiny, tiny babies nestled between ma and pa, panes of glass being held aloft, piles of branches, sticks and grass, complete mini-stores where one might make a meal or sell you a plethora of snacks. All of this wheeling by you.

Dewi makes the best meals!

The places we have stayed have been varied from an estate/villa such as the place we are at now to a house in the middle of a more tattered neighborhood where our point woman was amazing. She arranged for our boys to fly kites with her sons and made the best Nasi Goreng.

Emade, our amazing driver from Ubud. Email him for driving at nyoman.wati72@gmail.com

We ended up leaving early though as we found a dead bird under our bed and a bird nest above our son’s bed in the thatched roof that was less than sanitary. Bird poo on your sheets and pillows? We had to draw the line somewhere. The host (whom we never met) told us by email ‘that is nature’ and I am inclined to think it is but, it doesn’t have to be on my son’s head.

Dinner on Jimbaran Beach.

We are getting more adaptive in the heat. I wouldn’t say more used to it. You can see why people have plunge pools to dip into and wash off the heat of the day.

Monkey back rubs at the Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

We can see Mt. Agung from our current house and she is still resting. We are grateful for this but, also are acutely aware that there are several thousand people still living away from their homes out of the evacuation zone in refugee camps. This is heart breaking and a struggle.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Our boys have adjusted to mom and dad being the guides/teachers for the interim.

They are adjusting and we are soaking up our last week here as Friday, we head to Malaysia

There are very typical Bali experiences I am committing to memory. I share 10 of them with you here.

  • the sweeping up of all the flowers that fell overnight with a broom made of palm leaves.
  • the sweet smell of incense and tiny offerings that show up before most doors or walkways.
  • the low, guttural mooing of the cows with giant bells around their necks.
  • the assortment of flying bugs some bedazzling with colorful, sparkling wings and others just larger than I have ever seen before.
  • houses with open walls that get transformed in the evening to a closed in space with the pull of a curtain.
  • the frogs that take up residence in the bathrooms or guarding the end of  our bed.
  • the offer of a 100 cab, scooter rides if you are merely standing on the side of the road.
  • the vibrant color of fruit smoothies that rival any modern painting
  • the intricate carvings in wood and stone that are done with a hammer by the roadside
  • the absolute kindness of most people who wish to see you well.

Canyon warning the rabbits they may become pets or someone’s dinner.

Nothing like seeing a structure that is over 600 years old when your own country’s european settlement history started after this temple was built.

My new favorite Pringles flavor?

Doorway to our current bedroom.

Boys paying respects by wearing a sarong and really looking good while doing it!

Night food market.

Grilling the meat and using the fan to bring in the customers as well as spread the smoke.

Kelvin in his element with the cutest photo bomber in the back!

Tenenungan Waterfalls

Reading Kindles while waiting for a ride.

 

Family photo

A huge shout out to our friends Robyn and Mark who hosted us a couple times in Australia. We want them to know we so appreciate them!! Happy Wedding next month!

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3 Cats, 3 Dogs, 3 Chickens, 1 boy who turned 10 and a Volcano Watch.

Sol 42: We are in our last week in OZ! I didn’t know was the nick name for this wonderful country as every time I hear that I think of a prison drama on HBO but, never you mind.

Last week, we went a different direction by splurging on passes to the amusement park of Dream World and White Water World .  This is out of the ordinary for us but, one turning 10 is a pretty big deal too.

We have never been to Disneyland but, this may count as a good alternative. Kelvin and I have not been to any Disney park since the 1980s so, we don’t have a lot to compare it to.

It was fun, some crazy rides and loads of old school favorites. Also, not so crowded so all introverts in the family adjusted well. We packed our lunches and easily headed to the car to eat or carried what we needed with us.
For an eight year old and newly minted ten-year old it was the ‘bees knees’. My words, not theirs. Theirs included ‘This is sick!’ and ‘What the ‘bleep’ (yes, they say actual word bleep).

These sound bites don’t sound so good in print. It felt good to be in a place with a bunch of other kids too.

There are few amusement parks where you can see Kangaroos, Dingoes, Bilbys, and lizards that are all over the place. They might even visit your picnic lunch (the lizards, not the Dingoes!).

Oakley’s favorite place was the Lego Store as you walked in. This sounds like the ‘liquor store’ when spoken by a native Aussie so, my confusion was apparent. And disappointed to having no wine with the Legos. But, alas.

Canyon starting his Chauffeur career.

Canyon, our ever-present water hound, was pleased with all the water slides and joyous drops from up high. He even learned to drive a little.

Kelvin took a lot of photos (you should check out his blog at Degrees of Kelvin to see some of his perspective on this trip.

He always shows us sides of the trip we hadn’t seen and close-ups with all the birds and animals. All of us had a great time, we had a couple of day pass that we felt was very affordable.

Which was good as Oakley had a fever the first day and he and I hung out at the house with the dogs for the day while Kelvin and Canyon adventured.

Canyon bringing Mossimo back as Oakley looks down from the bedroom.

The dog and chicken sit is going well. There are three dogs with varying personalities and one is blind so, we carry him down the stairs to wee/poo. The house is called a Queenslander so, it basically built on stilts.

It is a single level for living but, the bottom is like an open spaced garage/washroom/storage room. Fresh eggs every morning is a plus as well.

We also have been getting in our last swims in the Australian seas as well as trips to the pharmacies, book stores and other supply places we might not so easily access on our next leg.

We have been finding our way with the world-schooling. It is a rhythm that we are all trying to balance. Kelvin and I take turns ‘teaching’ or ‘guiding’ as in the Montessori way.

We did Skype with the classroom and that was helpful for the boys to see some of their friends and realize that they are far behind or missing big events.

Yes, there are doing cool things in school but, it’s not like the boys are left out. As they check in with their reporting of their adventures. This helps with the home/friend-sickness that comes up from time to time.

Did I mention that volcano? The last couple weeks there is has been a lot in the news about Mt.Agung’s volcano activity.

List to report to the class.

We have talked with ex-pats that are there and contacted several places and we are getting the go ahead to proceed.

Even the Balinese Tourism Chief asked folks to not change their plans and to still come to Bali. We are not planning on being in place near the Mt.Agung so we are going.

We don’t currently have flight plans to leave which is for the best as we can pick and choose when and where we go next.

We have accommodations for nearly three weeks and will keep a keen eye on what is happening.

The last couple days are connections with long time friends. Staying in their wonderfully comfy, clean house warm with lively conversation, tasty meals and, as Oakley ferreted out, more Legos.

We did tip our hat to OZ at Sky Point , one of the tallest buildings in the Southern Hemisphere. It was a great way to get some perspective when getting ready to leave an area.

The views were unsurprising and there were many, many pods of Humpback Whales breaching, slapping and altogether frolicking out in the ocean. Oz is truly friendly, beautiful and ginormous. We will have to come back.

I think this just might be Kelvin and I in Lego form.

Kody helping Kelvin even though he is blind and deaf he knows good food when he smells it. So do the Geckos that climbed in the window to peek at the activity.

On the job, walking the dogs.

Canyon is trying three new things in each country and it was Sushi for his birthday. A new love for him (and a delight for me!).

Dinner with Deb, our first Trusted Housesitter host and a friend for life now. She has also offered Canyon an opportunity to come back when older to sit again.

 

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The Golden Coast of Australia is Magical.

Sol 14 for the Gurrs currently on the Gold Coast in Australia. We have gone through some ups and downs over the last days. All good in the life of adjusting to being location independent and living our dream of round the world travel/living. 

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Canyon staring down the pesky birds at Surfer’s Paradise

The time travel time warp of travel from Hawaii was a doozy. The journey to the airport was a mess of traffic at 4:45am. At one point, we even had chickens that were strutting by us faster than we were moving. But, we made it and our host the rented us their car from Turo was a complete angel by meeting us at location near the airport and dropping us off. We couldn’t have done it without him.

He and his family was amazing to us in Hawaii. Meeting us on his day off and hosting a wonderful afternoon at the beach. Never undermine the binding power of families loving travel. We have already been helped out a couple of times that is amazing and I count that in my gratitude list every night!

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Pretty good for a 4am wake up and harrowing trek to the airport!

Australia is 20 hours ahead in time so, we lost a whole day but, I thought we might be okay with the time of day being only four hours different from Hawaii. However, it took a bit of an adjustment for all of us. We are still ironing out the sleeping and eating. Little Oakley had such a hard time of it he got sick the first night and vomited all over without even knowing it, waking only when he had a bloody nose. Poor lad. Whew!

On Sunday, Kelvin got to have his second Father’s Day this year and we celebrated by wandering around the local mall to get first day supplies….sim cards, groceries, adapters, notebooks for schooling and a tasty lunch.

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Kangaroo Patties anyone?

The children helped us shop in the local grocery store as we searched for staples while eyeing some unique options, like Kangaroo patties (we passed this time).

We have been sorting out our world-schooling schedule with the boys. We touch on: Math, Writing, Journaling, Free-Draw, Research on a Local Subject and, what’s that? Lego building? Well, some things need to have special billing in order to stave off homesickness.
Canyon researched the Red Kangaroo and now we are all hoping to find one hopping nearby. However, they don’t really live near here due to their penchant for drier climates which we learned from the research. All is good in a day’s work!

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Oakley during Free Draw in Hawaii

Both boys have talked a lot about what they miss now that they know their friends are back in school. We had one FaceTime with a couple of dear friends and that helped. We are currently planning the Skype with the class. I sprung out the secret stash of Legos I had for such a homesick occasion and now furrowed brows are relaxed. At least for this moment.

House and Pet sitting is going wonderfully. I can’t say enough about the magic connector of Trusted Housesitters . We are currently on a house/pet sit taking care of three furry kitties of various temperaments. One lets us love him all day, the second on occasion and the third has come out only at night and being jet black makes for a ghostly encounter. We love being able to be in a home, cooking our meals, bathing when we need, feeling relaxed and having space to write, study and rest.

Today, Kelvin had is first stage at a local butchery. He worked alongside some local folks breaking down lamb and beef. You can follow his own process on his blog at Degrees of Kelvin. It is a great way for chefs to make friends and contacts. Also, he got paid in meat product so, that is a great bonus as well!

We are figuring out our schedule as we not just traveling around. We are trying to ‘live’ each place we are at. We go out to explore but, also setting time for learning, living in house and playing. We realize that finding playgrounds is an important part of our plan. IMG_4064Yesterday, we found the giant bouncy pillow and it rocked! Also, made quick friends with  a local lad on the zip-line. These are playground toys that would likely be inaccessible in the US due to our litigious culture. It was fun to watch the boys bouncing all over the place.

The surprise of everything thing feeling ‘normal’ for familiar then trying to drive a manual transmission on the ‘other’ or left side of the road, drinking some tea outside and then hearing the most amazing bird calls. It’s early days for us here and so far. Magic.

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Surfer’s Paradise

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Oakley having lost the plot at the airport as we sort transportation.

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Loco Moco in Oahu!

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