Summer 2000 vacation
Hello everyone. School came to a close a little late this
After it ended I drove immediately to Tobermory to dive some wrecks
my dive club, the Superturtles, including the Niagara II. The
was cold - 41 degrees at depth on one dive, but it was fun. Thank
goodness I had a wet suit that could deal with that kind of temperature.
Right after my return from that weekend, we flew to Singapore.
We visited Deborah's
Geoff and his kids Joseph and Kymberly, and Christie Maria ("Yaya").
for one day, but then she had to go to work at her job as hostess with
Cathay Pacific. She'd just finished a holiday here in Canada with
(me with Kymberly and Joseph)
(Deborah with Kymberly)
We visited the Singapore Zoo to have breakfast with an orangutan.
We also saw the penguin and polar bear feeding (in glass tanks), an
show and lots of well-kept animals in open enclosures, not behind
We went to a botanical garden and saw acres of orchids, and to a bird
where we watched shows by many different kinds of birds - hawks and
parrots and macaws, and many others.
a day in Sentosa island, taking in the underwater world, Fort Siloso,
butterfly farm and a show called Images of Singapore. All in all,
Singapore is a hot, humid, clean, modern city much like Toronto but
no debt and somewhat better architecture. The cost of living is
like Toronto, too; cars and houses are more expensive, but food is
especially when you're eating out, which Singaporeans seem to do much
than we do.
We toured the city, saw Little India, Chinatown, etc, and ate all kinds
of great foods in the hawker stalls. We took a "bumboat" ride on
the river and photographed the Merlion.
a side trip to an island called Pulau Dayang, which means "pregnant
island" because that's what it looks like from the sea. It is on
the east coast of west Malaysia. We stayed in a rustic, primitive
resort in cabins with bunkbeds and meals served buffet style on the
and I did six dives including a night dive; Deborah did four or five,
completed her open water certification - so she's now an official scuba
diver. The beach was lovely, with tan coloured sand as soft as
sugar, and I really enjoyed several of my dives.
Bali is a
vacation destination. Like Hawaii, but poorer economically and
times richer culturally. The Hindu customs and religion run very
that we went to Bali, where we did two more dives at Menjangan Island,
and toured lots of interesting places. We saw Tanah Lot, the
by the sea, where I pet one of the holy snakes - a very dramatic temple
site, by the way. We went to Kintamani to see the volcano and
rhesus monkeys in the Monkey Forest temple, toured lots of craft
went to several other temples including the ancient ruin of a Ganesh
temple where I had to wear a sarong to cover up my legs. This is
the carved stone doorway to the cave.
to a drink of fresh coconut juice on the way out. You can't get
any fresher than this.
The craft ability and artistry of the people is awesome, from painting
to stone sculpture, and including papermaking, silverwork,
and many other skills. The people are very nice, once you get
the ones trying to peddle stuff to you at every junction, but we did
up with a pickpocket. We foiled him, but fell victim to a theft
cash ($250!) right out of our safety deposit box in the three star
we were staying in, where we'd already paid too much to stay. I'd
read a warning about that...too bad I didn't take it seriously enough.
You might imagine this flight of stairs lead to a home, but it actually
leads to a family shrine, a place where the family who runs the
on this property leaves offerings of fruit, beautifully bound flowers,
cigarettes and beverages every morning to ancestors and spirits of
There are shrines in every home, every business, every village, every
and river...there are literally more shrines than houses in Bali.
think how much time and expense is spent in daily offerings, but of
that's their business, not mine.
The cost of a vacation in Bali doesn't have to be much, though.
can eat very cheaply, and you can stay in perfectly clean two and three
star hotels for $20-$25 a night, or even in smaller local hotels called
"losmen" for around $7.
One can enjoy
on Kuta beach, where the waves are perfect for beginners and the sandy
bottom is gorgeous, perfectly sloped and devoid of rocks or even sharp
shells; and you can go sailing, farther up the coast. There are
dive sites in the region; although the visibility isn't much different
than the Carribean, the marine life is rich and there are many Pacific
species there that you won't see on this side of the world.
|July was kite
took seven guys to carry down the street, and hundreds of smaller ones
for sale to tourists - butterflies, birds, dragons, and bats.
Then we went on a
day side trip to Yogyakarta (pronounced and sometimes spelled
where we saw the ancient Buddhist temple Borobudur, the ancient Hindu
of Prambanan, the Sultan's Palace and an earlier Sultan's Water Castle,
bought some batiks, and generally enjoyed ourselves.
Bali we went to Jakarta and stayed at Kelly and David's house for a few
days. This is Kelly with Deborah, of course, not David. He
wasn't home when we got the camera out. They took us out to a
dinner the first night, and on another day to a movie.
one of the
seven ancient wonders of the world. It is an enormous temple
served (and still serves) as a method of study and contemplation of the
life and significance of the Buddha. Here is a superb website
you can lose yourself in for hours which describes and explains this
12th Century achievement:
leaving Java, we went to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, where we
with Larry Shuett and his wife Jee, and daughters Angela and
We visited the temple at Doi Suthep - lots of gold leaf - and an
training camp where we went for a half-hour ride in the jungle. I
actually got to sit on the elephant's head and steer her, but you'll
to see my videotape for that. I don't have a photo of it.
We also visited a
complex of Hindu
You can learn about
the net too, at http://www.emp.pdx.edu/
Inside each temple is
of its deity - in this case Vishnu, if my memory is accurate.
the people in Thailand, including our hardworking tour guide. We
had a pretty good trip, all in all. We flew home on August 2nd, a
25 hour trip on three planes. We actually rode on thirteen different
in the four weeks we were away, plus a couple of overnight trains and a
lot of minivans. So it was a bit fatiguing, as well.
day we drove
north, took a ride in a "long-tailed" speed boat in the Golden Triangle
on the Mei Kong river to an island in Laos (more of a tourist trap than
anything else, mind you), and stopped at the border of Myanmar (Burma).
return, I went to Brockville right away for three more days of scuba
Heavy current, exhausting, with my jet lag and all going on, but very
to see some of the wrecks in that area, and the water was a balmy 70
from surface all the way to the bottom. I finally completed my
plus" PADI certification, which is a goal I'd begun working on
around last January.
Now Deb and I are doing lots
of home maintenance chores on both houses, following up on basement
caused by all the rain they had in Toronto through July, reshingling my
garage roof, doing the windows in the other house, moving all Deb's
to her new school...and lots of painting and sanding and floor
and stuff waiting to be done after that. In between the chores
finding time to play tennis and go sailing, and we'll try to see a
or two before school starts again.
We hope this letter finds
Best wishes everyone,
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