The winter of 2012-2013 in Thailand and Borneo
- Kalimantan (Indonesia), Sabah & Sarawak (Malaysia) and Brunei

November 6, 2012 - The trek to Asia...
November 7, 2012 - Chiang Mai for the next 6 weeks
December 6, 2012 - 10 day road trip to northern Thailand
December 18, 2012 - Off to Siboya till the end of January
January 29, 2013 - Off the edge of the map... East Borneo
February 23, 2013 - Bouncing from Berau - Tarakan - KK - Brunei - Miri - Kuching
February 28, 2013 - Back in Kuching

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November 3, 2012 - The Trek To Asia...

Exiting Victoria: Our autumn Indian summer ended abruptly like a cold slap. The onset of winter was imminent so it must be time to go. We made use of the fantastic Handy Dart (handicap transport) Service to deliver Broken Bob and his trusty companion out to the Victoria airport. We arrived way early for our flight, and because of our Biz Class status we were allowed to take an earlier flight... arriving at our hotel and sitting down to dinner just before the originally booked flight was about to depart. The stars were aligned perfectly. We even got an extra hours sleep as Daylight Savings was just ending. This year we are transiting Shanghai and because the layover is 16 hours, we opted to hotel it. Strange but true, there is no transit hotel at Shanghai's airport so we've booked into a nearby Ho Jo (Howard-Johnson).

Overnight in Shanghai: So following the sign age down to the first floor to catch the hotel shuttle bus didn't work well. A friendly (surprise) security guard who spoke no English called someone ?? who came to assist. He called the hotel for us. They said the shuttle just left the Airport and the next one would be picking up in an hour. AND all of the hotel buses use the 3rd floor at door 29. Waited and hour and a half... never saw a Howard-Johnson bus. Called back to the hotel... Oh it hasn't been a Ho Jo for about 8 months, it's now a Cube Hotel... but we never saw a Qube bus either. Finally lassoed a cab, gave him the number to call for directions... 7 minute trip. The front desk seemed oblivious to our problem but because we ranted a bit they were nice and upgraded our room and include breakfast. It was quite a fab king-size room, but really only wanted to crash so didn't get to enjoy the luxury. Breakfast buffet was similar to what we had in Yangon at the Park Royal, over the top Asian style buffet.

We boarded Thai Airways for the 4.5 hours to Bangkok. Just being on the plane in the presence of Thais was soothing.

Not even one night in Bangkok: I think this is only the 2nd time since 1988 that we have not had to stay at least one night in Bangkok. Booking travel with our Aeroplan points gave the perk of flying from anywhere in Canada to anywhere in Thailand. We chose Chiang Mai.


November 7, 2012 - Chiang Mai for the next 6 weeks

So here we are ensconced in our sweet suite at The Kantary Hills Hotel. Life is going to be good for the next 4 weeks.

We did our best to keep up with the regimen of getting up early and heading down to the gym before indulging in the buffet breakfast. It was a little daunting as one tends to load up. We were pretty good at keeping it in check. We discovered many new (to us) restaurants around the Nimman area

December 6, 2012 - 10 day road trip to northern Thailand

Got our Toyota Vios (sorta like a Corolla) for 10 days and we're off to discover some new places north of Chiang Mai and also renew our visa in Burma.

Chiang Dao - First night was to be at the Rainbow Guesthouse in Chiang Dao but we when we returned from our afternoon trip to the Chiang Dao Cave we found that the beautiful rice paddy view was a choking wall of smoke as the locals were cleaning up post harvest. So... we said no thanks and went looking for something else late in the afternoon. It was slim pickin' in this neighborhood. Followed a hi-way marker down a one lane back road and to our surprise found IT was actually a "Resort" off in the woods. The Marisa Boutique Spa & Resort did have a room (a little pricey at 1500Bt including breakfast) so we enjoyed nice dinner a peaceful night of forest sounds and breakfast. Next stop Tha Ton.

Fang - As we passed through Fang, a sign caught our eye, The Fang Hot Springs... left turn. 8 Km northwest of Fang, the 50 hot springs originate from simmering granite with temperatures from 90 to 100°C. The largest spring one spews out a huge gusher every 20 minutes with a strong scent of sulphur. The grounds are very nice. A group of school children were on a field trip so we stopped for a chat. Lovely. Vendors will sell you raw eggs in little bags to hang in the various pools around the grounds. A popular thing to do. In addition to the large outdoor hot bathing pools, they also have little huts with private hot tubs. We went for a lovely hot dip before continuing on to Tha Ton.

Tha Ton - We had pre-booked one night at OldTreesHouse but on arrival immediately added another night. This a great little guesthouse in the (Tha Ton) the middle of nowhere. Paulo the French owner and Thai wife Nid run a very nice place. They only have 6 rooms and they are very busy in the season. Good reason. Gracious hosts, attention to detail, swimming/dipping pool, free beer and soda in the room fridge and Nid serves great Thai dinners (arrange in advance).

On our lay over day we took an side excursion up into the hills around Tha Ton. A fellow traveller we met at Old Trees House, Zain (Singaporean) came along. The well maintained back road tends to go straight up into the hills. Hill tribes here we come. First stop was a Thai army outpost. These guys were sooo friendly, answering questions and pointing out how close we were to the Burmese border. By the looks of all the bunkers and gun installations, you could see that back in the days, this was where the action was.

The villages all hug the ridges of the hills. Houses are built so that the front door is on the road and the back door is a very long drop. Everyone was very animated and happy to greet us. Lots of citrus fruits orchards on the sides of the hills. The tend and harvesting of all the crops are so labour intensive.

Mae Salong - The road from Tha Ton follows the beautiful Mae Nam Kok river valley to the north east. It was definitely getting cooler, cool enough to prompt Joann to request a stop at the next general store we came across. After a little Thai speech and pantomime, she had her socks (15Bt = $.50). Happy cosy feet. At the police box the road turned north into the very pointy hills skirting Burma... running along the tops of the ridges for miles. Fantastic scenery. We had hoped to spend 2 or 3 days up in the Mae Salong area. Unfortunately the village was totally booked out because of the (unknown to us) 3 day Thai holiday. Our exhaustive search around the village did yield our choice for next year. Yunnan style food for lunch with a delicious cup of oolong tea and next stop was Mae Sai.

Mae Salong was settled by remnants of the former Nationalist (Kuomintang) Chinese Army 93rd Division who moved from Burma to Thai territory in 1961, after the Communist Party under Mao Zedong consolidated its hold on China. Originally a military base biding its time for an attack back, funding its arms purchases with opium production — notorious warlord Khun Sa lived a few kilometers away in Ban Hin Taek — in the 1970s the Thai government struck a deal with the renegades: the battle-hardened KMT would help them fight Thailand's own Communist insurgents, and would be granted citizenship in exchange. As part of the integration process, opium production was successfully substituted with mountain produce like mushrooms and above all oolong tea, which is now Mae Salong's main product.

Some guidebooks wax lyrical about today's Mae Salong as a miniature Yunnanese Shangri-la, but if you come with this image in mind you may be a little disappointed: at first glance, Mae Salong looks much like the little Thai town it is. However, the crisp climate, the lingering Chinese influence, delicious native Yunnanese dishes and small hotels and guest houses catering to visitors still make this a popular getaway, accessible even on a hurried day trip but worth stopping in overnight.

Mae Sai - We arrived at Mae Sai in time to book into the Paiporn Hotel. The walk the 700M to the Burmese boarder. Even though it was as busy as usual, we still were able to stamp out of Thailand, cross over to Burma, stamp in and out with one official and 500Bt/P, buy 2L of Absolute at the duty free and be stamped back into Thailand in 15 minutes. Piece of cake.

Golden Triangle - Now we're off into new areas (for us) of northern Thailand. The road east from Mae Sai comes to "The Golden Triangle" where the Ruak River that flows into the Mekong River. These rivers form a natural boundary between the three countries Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. Historically the Golden Triangle has been an area well-known for the growing of opium, and the name comes from a US State Department memo on the practice. These days, the place lives on the cultivation of tourists, and this is undoubtedly the largest tourist trap in northern Thailand.

Chiang Khong - Another hour of paralleling the Mekong to the south took us through Chiang Saen (not much happening here) and on to Chiang Khong. We checked into The Nam Khong River Resort. Our room had an expansive view of the all the boat traffic on the Mekong. Chiang Khong is the border point across the river from Huay Xia in Laos. This is the entry point for any container cargo coming in from China. The road is only 228Km to the Chinese border, but semis take 8-10 hours to traverse the horrendous number of switchbacks en route. A barge ferry is used to bring 4 units at a time across the river. River freighters head down river to points in Laos and come back to Thailand empty. Our stay here was very relaxing, we will be back.

Phayao - Checked into the Overlook Hotel (not really) for one night. It is a very big monolithic Chinese soulless structure. After driving around town for 30 minutes we finally found it... no English signage at all. It was pretty basic but clean enough for one night. One of the features was the prominently located (just 1 machine in hall way rather than 1 in each washroom) condom vending machine.

Phayao city is a compact little university town on the edge of Phayao lake. (Kwan Phayao is an artificial lake that covers an area of 2.3 km². The lake has a mean depth of 1.7 m. The town Phayao is located on the southeast corner of the lake. 22 species of fish are recorded for the lake, also 47 bird species were found at the lake in a survey in 1982. The lake was created in 1939 to improve irrigation in the area.)

The city boasts a great lake side path to stroll along. And the lake road is where you will find most of the touristy restaurants and bars. We were told about a real good pizza place... The Brick Oven Pizza and it was true... the best pizza ever in all of SEAsia.

I joined in on a dance/exercise class on the waterfront. Just humiliated myself in front of about 30 women with my Thai dance moves but I just kept laughing along with them and enjoyed myself.

Phrae - Second to last stop on our road tour of northern Thailand was Phrae, a small city that is reported to be reminiscent of Luang Prabang. Yes it was an old walled city, yes it was on the bank of a river, but we didn't find it that interesting. So one night was just right.

Traveling through Lampang and Lampung back to Chiang Mai - We decides to drive the 230K all the way back to Chiang Mai. As we passed through Lampang, it looked like it might warrant more study for a return visit. As we continued, a stop at the Elephant Conservation Center seemed like it might be interesting. It was packed with tourists of all kinds. More of a tourist attraction than a conservation thing. Didn't stay long.

On to Lampung via the back roads... quick stop for a Padang lunch... back on our way. The road (route 106) from Lampung all the way to Chiang Mai takes you along a lovely country road lined all the way with 200 year old giant gum trees that provided great shade. A lovely way to return to the city.

Last night was dinner with Saeng and Byron at the old standard... Thais That Bind. Great restaurant with views of a huge teak temple across the street.

December 18, 2012 - Off to Siboya till the end of January

Lot's of stories to fill in here... Christmas, New Years, Thai Children's day, sunsets, the ever so great Thai food, meeting up with friends from around the world and make new ones. Our times on Siboya are always moments to cherish... we never know just how long the magic will last. Every year we drink it in and count our good fortune.

January 29, 2013 - Off the edge of the map... East Borneo

The plan was... Krabi to Kuala Lumpur for one night at the airport Tune Hotel then off with AirAsia to Balikpapan on the east coast of Borneo for one night then a quick 45 minute flight to Berau (an inland mining town up river). From here we would be met by private car for the 2 hour drive to Tanjung Batu on the coast. Next was the 30 minute scary speed boat ride to Derawan and check into the Derawan Dive Lodge.

The best laid plans...

Tune Hotel room was tiny but we knew that. First thing Bob did was try to get into the wrong room. The guy that came to the door was unimpressed. Lots of new restaurants in the KL terminal so feasted on really good vegetarian Indian food, ah chapatis!

In Balikpapan (Kalimantan, Indonesia) we checked into the Gajah Mada Hotel. At first glance we thought we were back in Chennai, India. The halls looked dim and the chandeliers were unlit but as we walked down the hallways the gloom softened… we saw lovely Dayak art on the walls and at the end of the hall the great sea views and patio unfolded before us. We walked up to the 2nd floor passing by a very small aquarium attached to the wall where we were appalled to see 2 faded Clown fish (Nemo) protecting some artificial greenery... how awful for them. The sea view was very Indonesian... downtown seashore with the ubiquitous plastic bags and debris on the tide line and the twinkling lights of dozens of oil rigs all along the horizon. The hotels location was perfect, right next door to the brand new very upscale Plaza and adjacent older plaza complete with 24hr MacDonalds, KFC and Dunk'n Donuts. Hate the first world eateries. Looking out along the seashore the other direction, all along the waterfront we could see lots of small shanty shacks and small restaurants.

We headed off in that direction. Lovely walk. All the little local restaurants were painted in shades of lime green, blues, yellows and pinks. Very simple foods like rice dishes and soups. We followed the waterfront a bit further and came across Ocean's Resto. They had a most impressive selection of fresh seafood on ice to choose by the kilo and have cooked as you like. But they also were renowned for their Indian food and since we were going to be spending 2 weeks in the middle of the Celebes sea on Derawan we opted for the Indian. Fabbo! Very enjoyable under the stars on the waterfront.

Next morning we taxied to the airport early. The checker at the gate looked at our ticket and said something in Indonesian, looked sad and dragged her finger across her throat which we thought to mean "flight cancelled". Bata-Via Air had declared bankruptcy 2 days ago. So we kissed 2 tickets each goodbye and scrambled to get a different flight and contact our pickup to say we wouldn't be there as planned. Love'n Indonesia!! We really just handled it with no stress at all which was good. As we had arrived late the previous day and were supposed to leave early the next morning I said to Bob that it was too bad that we didn't have more time to spend in the city. Be careful what you wish for.

Back we went to the same hotel room. Be careful what you wish for... I had said that I wished we had more time to explore Balikpapan, so here we were with an extra day. We toured the city in a cab and walked around and the people were really friendly and warm. Checked out a shopping area that was reported to be the go to place for batik and other crafts. NOT! Just a friendly local market who never saw foreigners.

The extra time also allowed us to explore the seaside restaurants a little more thoroughly. Walking along an area of many small cafes they were full of locals enjoying simple seaside fare like soup and rice dishes. The camera loved it and the people were thrilled to have their picture taken with us. Lots of Indonesian families out for dinner with their little kids dressed up in their Sunday best… little girls here wear dresses that look like the ones I used to wear in the 1950's. Little boys in small hats with Muslim style pyjama outfits. Young boys busking, playing guitars in front of the modest cafes for a few Rupiah… really great atmosphere.

Lots of people fishing off the pier as the gorgeous sunset appeared. Lots of wee children with friendly smiles loving to get their pictures taken too. Soon we came to the local market. Very poor. As they were finishing for the day, all the walkways were heaped with discarded old fruit and vegetables. All of which were dumped over the seawall onto the beach. Well... you could see the rats scurrying everywhere. I guess I know they are there but I really don't want to see them. They tend to be a bit creepy. "Rats!" as my friend Paula used to say.

We sat outside the main Mosque in town to listen to the Friday evening call to prayer. Always an exotic sound. On Siboya in Thailand we often have teenage boys singing and it's so funny when their voices crack in mid song. We love to hear the call to prayer as it's a song of peace and the tune is so melodic.

Then it was back to the strip of bars and Resto's for a couple of Bintang beers and dinner to celebrate Bob's 66th at the Lotus Resto. Strings of little coloured lights overhead with candles on the table and great Indian food. Our waiter was so sweet. Watched the super red sunset and sat under the stars feeling fine and happy, what more could you ask for?

Next day was a leisurely start and an afternoon flight. Cute little airport. Can you believe it, a Starbucks with internet! Our next flight even upgraded us to business class… karma I guess.

Our ride was waiting with sign at Berau airport... into the van for 2 hour drive to TJ Batu (the pier at Tanjung Batu). Unfortunately it turned into 3 hours plus by the time we were standing on the wharf. Rats. So here we are in total black darkness, climbing into a 14 foot fibre glass ski boat and heading out into the night to go 30 Km out to Derawan at high speed. My thoughts... hey they do this all the time right? And at least it wasn't raining and the wind wasn't too bad either. Even so, I thought that this might be the end of the Patchett's... if we hit something in the dark and were thrown into the sea no one would even know. I just gripped the dash of the toy boat and tried to be brave. Looking up into the starry night and enjoying the beauty of it all. Our boat driver had a toy flashlight strapped to his forehead which illuminated about a foot from the bow!!!! He was even texting someone during the trip... OMG! or oh my Buddha! We later talked to some folks who came from Tarakan island (150 Km north of here). They had spent 5 hours in heavy seas in exactly the same type of speed boat to get here and they had to stop part way as the torrential rains were too intense. They were crazy to attempt that boat trip. Safety first! Wild ride and one that I NEVER want to take again at least not in the dark.

What a relief to finally get here and jump from our toy boat over the pounding surf and on to a gorgeous beach. There were many thousands/millions of 4 inch crabs scouring at the edge of the sea for as far as we could see. They almost looked like spiders and as I had been reading a science fiction book with aliens that looked like insects you can only guess at my weird nightmarish dreams that night. Things that go bump in the night.

Our accommodations are really so nice. We have a great room right on the edge of the ocean and at high tide logs bump into the under carriage of the house and the surf washes under our room. On our first morning I walked along the wharf for about 1 minute before I spotted my first giant Green Turtle… how thrilling. Saw 3 on my first day. The village is all painted in pretty South Beach colours with small kids everywhere. Most folks here have oodles of kids so little ones are everywhere and oh so cute wanting to hi-5 and have their picture taken.

Everything is as neat as a pin along the packed sand street, very idyllic until you walk inland and see the garbage. The islanders main income is tourism and the village beach looks like a garbage pile. How unfortunate. One of our snorkel trips to Maratura Island, showed us nothing but dead coral where they still use dynamite to fish and we had to snorkel through a current of plastic! Yuck and more yuck! Large turtles eat Jellyfish and so they get confused and eat plastic bags and die!

We did have a thrilling/scary drift snorkel where Bob and I held hands and flew along at an incredible 10 Knots. So exhilarating! If we hadn't held hands we would have been separated in seconds. We felt like we were on a roller coaster ride. We heard one dynamite blast in the distance and they still use Cyanide to poison the fish in some areas. Shocking. In Manado, Sulawesi near the awesome Bunaken Islands (one of our favourite snorkel sites) they still back up the garbage trucks from the city and dump ALL the garbage. The Indonesian government doesn't care about any pollution and so it goes everywhere. Feeling sad that it never stops and so we really are thinking twice about ever coming back to snorkel in Indonesia. Some of the dive shops go into the schools to educate the children and have been doing this for years but to no avail. Our Indonesian friends here at Derawan Dive Resort feel helpless.

Anyway, we had many a lunch at Nur's Resto, a small village warung and enjoyed tempeh, vegetables and squid for $5.00. The island itself is tres jolie with palm trees, white sand and beautiful greenery. Our flight north from Balikpapan en route to Berau was over the most amazingly dense rainforest. Amazing green. It's being eaten up by open pit mines and Palm Oil plantations and the Orangutans are paying the price along with all the other displaced creatures. Borneo is for sale big time. It has/had the oldest rainforest on the planet. Brunei (small oil rich country in Borneo) is the only place that has it's original rainforest.

We took a snorkel trip to Kakaban Island. Jumping off the boat and splashing into the sea was like falling into a gorgeous colourful garden. A little like Alice in Wonderland falling down the hole into a different world. Zillions of fish and brightly neon corals in amazing shapes and sizes. Such a different world when you stick your head under water (like the Earth has 2 dimensions). Kept looking ahead to spy sharks or Manta rays but didn't manage to see any. Our diver friends who were along the same abyss but down 20 M saw quite a few.

Then we went inland to Kakaban lake for an out of world experience (only 2 places on earth that have this phenomena). The lake has developed over time from an atoll and now has stingless jellyfish. It once was part of the open sea. Hundred of thousands of jellyfish you can swim with and touch. Really so very, very unreal. 2 kinds of jellies there with a few small fish. Super Natural experience. We were thrilled and excited to finally be there after looking forward to it for so long! Turtles and Jellyfish!!! Whoopee!

We have been meeting lots of divers here and it's fun to live vicariously through them. We are the hanger's on their dive trips. The water is a little cooler here so I have been using a wet-suit. It's like putting on a giant girdle. Makes me look quite trim too! (smiles). We have been out in their boat called "Torpedo" which is long and skinny with virtually no keel and is scary (again) in big waves. Safety first… 2 life vests for 8 people.

Unlike Thailand the little kids here frolic in the sea like crazy. They plunge off the wharf and hope that you are taking their pictures... even the little girls are involved. At sunset there are 20 kids screaming with joy and leaping off the pier. So much fun to watch that you find yourself smiling non stop.

We've been here for 12 days so everyone in the village knows us, we were invited to a wedding one evening. So generous of them to include us. It was an expensive wedding costing $2,000.00 dollars. The wedding couple sat on a stage on white couches dressed in gorgeous gold coloured costumes. They brought in music from the mainland. Quite surprisingly the women singers looked like they had stepped out of a modern racy music video. Very short skirts, high high heels, textured nylons, loads of make-up and jewelry and wild music. We were given a glass of water along with a box-lunch of fried rice. No alcohol. We are on a Muslim island so if you buy beer at one of the wee village stores they wrap it in black plastic bags… everyone knows what's in the bag of course! Kinda like the brown paper bags that we use when we want to hide a bottle.

They also had a "hair cutting" ceremony with a music/food celebration. A Muslim coming of age ceremony. There are two Mosques on the island one is quite modest and the other is bright green and yellow.

The ladies in the kitchen here at Derawan Dive Lodge go out of their way to give us little treats and make sure we are happy. As I eat only fish/veggies they often fry up a little "special" fish for me. Our cook is pregnant with her 6th child. When I recently toured the cemetery I saw a small grave site with a baby bottle stuck in the earth. Medical care is extremely limited. Our second cook has lost a child. We always have reality checks when we travel and try to be as generous as we can to our new friends who seem to care so much for our well being.

So today we are off on a new adventure, back to Berau (Kalimantan Indonesia), packing up and hoping our speedboat trip is a dry one! It sure rains a lot here, hence the incredible rainforest.

February 23, 2013 - Bouncing from Berau - Tarakan - KK - Brunei - Miri - Kuching

A recap of the the last week started with our exit from Berau. You kinda' know you are off the grid when your plane has to stop on the runway to give right of way to a 5 foot monitor lizard to cross over. The residents of Berau were just so friendly and approachable. Way more Mosques that restaurants. At the end of the work day many, many people gathered at small street coffee venders all along the river bank. It was nice to see everyone enjoying their own city.

Tarakan, Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia. We were glad to be back in civilization. Malaysia is a big step up from Kalimantan. Our nice hotel had a nice roof top bar-grill. Smooth jazz, a pitcher of Carlsberg and a plate of fresh BBQ'd cuttle fish. Mmmm! Our one night was just right.

Kota Kinabalu (KK - the capital of Sabah over on the west coast). We allotted 3 nights here in KK the capital of Sabah. A very compact, affluent city with a big Chinese community. That meant good dim sum was to be found. We were still inside the 15 day celebration of Chinese new year so lot's of Chinese tourists from all around SEAsia, especially Singapore and Hong Kong. They love to come here to gorge on the very abundant fresh seafood. It was enjoyable getting back to civilization after Kalimantan. Our budget hotel, Eden54 was right next door to a western style grocery store with anything a western palate might be missing. How do you spell Hagen daaz? The prices reflected the selections availability as well... California fresh strawberries, US$25 per pound.

The seafood cooked on the waterfront at the night market was amazing. From the very many choices of just off the boat fresh fish, we chose cuttle fish and prawns. You pick'em and they'll flash cook them any way your heart desires. Both of our selections were CA$1.75/100g. Our very delicious meal was under CA$20. All the restaurants on the wharf were packed with not just tourists but hordes of locals enjoying their city.

Brunei and it's capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan (or BSB as the locals say) was a complete unknown. Researching for our time wasn't easy; there isn't a lot of tourist info out there. We had allotted 4 nights but it soon became obvious that even that was too long. We had booked into a fairly reasonably priced hotel, but it quickly became obvious that we needed to be downtown. The buses stop running at 6pm and get this... the entire country of Brunei (Area: 5,765 km2 - Population: 408,786) has only 42 taxis. Even in the heart of downtown they roll up the sidewalks very early and after dark there are virtually no restaurants around.

One of the "must see/do" things is to take the speedboat/ water taxi from the downtown waterfront for a 45 minute blast through the winding river up to Bangar. It wasn't as zoom zoom as advertised but still a fun way to spend time. The number of open water taxis in the downtown area is amazing. Hundreds of them. You only need to glance there way and the drivers go into super salesmans mode. They're not just for tourists, they are for the people who live in Kampong Ayer, the world's largest stilt village (a meld of 42 different villages housing 39,000 people in 30,000 houses) and commute in and out of town daily.

February 28, 2013 - Back in Kuching

We checked into the Kuching Pullman, 17th floor for the next 15 days. Spectacular views. Loved watching the intense weather changes. Talk about your tropical rain storm, wow!

We love Kuching. Modern amenities, great restaurants, easily walked in the downtown area. And, having our daily quota of fun with Nelson. ( Picked up every day about 11 in the Rolls, have tea in the antique shop, then head out for a leisurely lunch.

March 11, 2013 - Changi Airport, Singapore

For the last leg in Asia, we flew from Kuching to Johor Bahru, the southern most city in Malaysia for one night before going to Changi for the last night. It's cheaper to fly into and stay in Johor Bahru than Singapore. We thought it might be an interesting stop as well. Our hotel was attached to a Lego theme park and a large mall. Next was a leasurly one and a half hour drive to Changi Airport. Spent the rest of the day and eveningin the biz lounge before retiring to the transit hotel. Next morning was Singapore to Hong Kong, wait 7 hours, then 12 hours to Vancouver. Transfer right onto a prop job for the 12 minute flight to Victoria. Home in the afternoon of the same day we flew out of Singapore.