Saturday, March 15, 2008
The trip home was uneventful, a flight to Seoul, then around an hour to change to the 747 that would make the 14 hour flight to Washington Dulles. If you fly Korean Air, make sure you try the Korean dishes they offer, like bibimbap.
I took off from Kuala Lumpur around 1:00 AM, and landed at 11:00 AM the same day at Dulles. Not bad for a 24 hour flight. I made it through immigration and customs quickly, and then caught a cab to home. The driver, a very proud Parsi from India, was a pleasant, chatty fellow, glad to tell me about his home and eager to hear about my trip. He helped me get my large suitcases to my door, earning his tip.
I opened up the house, found no disasters, then headed out immediately to get the dog from the kennel. She was very glad to see me after being in the doggie health spa for 2 1/2 weeks, and wallered in the back seat of our Subaru as we headed home. I crashed out and napped for a few hours, then headed back to Dulles to pick up Barbara who had a six hour layover in Doha. We were glad to see each other again, and very glad to be home. I had been away for 3 1/2 weeks, the longest time I had been out of the country since my semester abroad in college.
I gave up cigarettes again as soon as I got back home. It may be fun to smoke on vacation, but Barbara would kill me before the cigarettes if I kept smoking. (Sometime this summer, I even gave up smoking cigars. They're expensive, and just not that much fun anymore.)
Barbara and I recall our trip fondly. We've had a heck of a summer and fall with a lot of chaos in our lives. So, we find ourselves thinking "I'd rather be back in Kuching," or "These orchids aren't as pretty as Singapore," and sigh to ourselves.
I do know that we will go back. Barbara forgot to change her ringgits back into dollars, so I've got close to $70 worth of them in my desk, and I need to spend them. We've got two trips in mind. One would fly into KL, and travel up through the northern parts of the Malay peninsula, hit some of the islands off the east coast, visit some of the more traditional Malay areas, and go to Penang, which has beautiful beaches and possibly the best food in Malaysia.
Another idea for a trip will be going in through Kota Kinabalu and traveling through Borneo, visiting orangutans, snorkeling off the coast there, maybe climbing Mt. Kinabalu (OK, that will be me while Barbara visits some museums), traveling through the Sultanate of Brunei and going back to Sarawak and Kuching. Oh, and then we'll bring back some Sarawak laksa paste.
One thing that will be included will be beach time. We stayed so busy on this trip, we didn't really take much time to relax. Our time in Melaka was relaxing for me because I had been there for a week already, but Barbara was still coming down from jet lag and dealing with a bit of culture shock. Then we started the whirlwind tour and neither of us took much time for ourselves.
The only thing that keeps us from doing this sooner is the length of time it takes to get there (24 hours plus getting over jet lag), and the cost of the airplane ticket.
Malaysia and Singapore were beautiful countries. There is a lot of history, both Asian and European, and beautiful scenery. The people were the best, though. They were very kind to the traveler from halfway around the world. Especially in Melaka and Kuching, people would stop on the street and say "Hello, welcome to Malaysia!" usually followed by "Is this your first trip here?" Or "You're looking very smart today, sir." Wow.
And don't forget the food. The merging of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and other cuisines turns this into a wonderfully tasty place. There were many favories: the fresh fish in Kuching, the Peranakan food in Melaka, the food hawker centers of Singapore, and the availability of all kinds of food in Kuala Lumpur.
So, keep an eye out for Malaysia Trip 2010(?). Until then, thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoyed it. To the folks who search Google and find this, I hope it helps your travel planning.