The Lady wasn't there, as the cast of characters on this journey was a novel one for me in SE Asia. I was rolling with the 'rents. My Dad (Tom) and his wife (June) were there, plus Alli's parents too (Ken and Barb). I had scooped them all up at the Singapore airport about 12 hours before. After not seeing anyone from home for almost a year and a half, since late July my Mom has visited along with everyone else above getting here in late August. It was all pretty surreal. But first I had to make it through that damn bus ordeal with the four of 'em.
|Raft up! Bout to get down on the Ayung River north of Ubud, Bali, Indoneisa. *** All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.***|
If you're lucky you can catch the ferry the same day of your bus journey, if not then a night in pleasant Mersing will do (remember: they do have bomb tiramasu), and the boat will shove off in the morning. The ferry terminal is a shining example of incompetence, complete with late ferries and the most asinine boarding process I've ever seen. Whew, I'm beat from just writing all that. There's a few more cogs to the whole machine, but I think you get the point. It can take more than an entire day to rock this slog. Yup, it sucks. And for some reason we thought it was a good idea to have our parents experience all this.
|Above two photos: Having fun in the downpour at Asah Waterfall, on the south end of Tioman. Notice my Dad's snazzy hairdo.|
Anyway, that means we're usually roaming around on the cheap. Buses here and there; hotels/guesthouses/homestays with shared bathrooms, maybe even a wee bit of mold and water damage; sweat-stained sheets; you know the usual trappings. And when you gotta carry it all on your back, in a region that loves sunshine and endless humidity, you like your bag light too.
|Buchanan Christmas card maybe? Kayaking Juara Bay.|
And the cherry on top? People in SE Asia really don't like to wait in orderly lines. To put it lightly, people will cut the hell out a line. Usually lines become amorphous blobs reminiscent of cramped rock 'n' roll shows once the band hits the stage. I've had everyone from young punks to elderly ladies butt in front of me, even whole families. So if you're living here then you gotta buy into the practice. Cut, butt, do whatever. If you don't, you're gonna get left behind.
|Might be my favorite photo. Ken enjoying this strange sight: the king of candy characters in the West, meeting the king of fruits in the East. Singapore airport, always full of surprises.|
|Yeah, the day we went to Asah Waterfall it rained a little bit. Maybe an understatement.|
Ken and Barb stuck around SE Asia much longer, visiting KL and two locales in Indonesia: Gili Meno for scuba diving (Ken was so relaxed on holiday that for the first time in his diving career he forgot to put on his dive computer before heading underwater) and the rare opportunity to visit somewhere in SE Asia where motorized land transportation doesn't occur, and Ubud for Balinese culture, kick-ass rafting, and at least for me, the crispy duck. Barb even got to have a Singapore Sling at the bar that invented the drink on her birthday.
|Ken and Barb in an ox cart on Gili Meno, Lombock, Indonesia. No motorized transportation exists on the Gili's, so the only way to get around is on your feet, by bicycle or ox cart.|
|Sadly the only photo of my Mom and I the whole trip. In an office in Mersing. At least we got one of us! It's cause she's always taking incredible photos. Click the Hari Raya link above to see for yourself.|
To be honest, I was quite nervous having to host family, but I'd do it again, no questions asked. Just a few things would be different. Did I mention Pulau Tioman has an airport? All four were surely thinking of it at some point on our overland journey to Juara. But all along part of me new that bus/ferry route was gonna be a doozy, so that's why my Dad, June and I flew off the island when we left (a first for me). As my Dad said after landing in Singapore: "If I ever come back, we're flying. We're old and we like doing things the easy way. And that was easy." Fair enough.
More photos below:
|Somewhere there's a Barb in that helmet and PFD combo.|
|Our raft guide photo bombing like a G.|
|The Buchanan ladies aren't having any fun at all.|
|The always lovely waiting hall for the ferry.|
|Ken, looking ever so regal, in front of the Bushman, their home for a few nights in Juara.|
|We got dumped on. And what can I say? SE Asia has made me a wuss with the cold.|
|Trying all kinds of new weird foods. I'm sure there's some weeds in there as Ken would say.|
|Celebrating Merdeka Day (Malaysian Independence Day) right, in front of a giant Malaysia One made up of pineapples and small flags.|
|The three Gilis on our flight in. We went to the one in the middle.|
|Scuba logbook/happy hour time.|
|The Buchanan's home for the week.|
|Lots of both Hawksbill and Green turtles in the Gilis.|
|Bout to head on down.|
|Barb and I conducting a very serious buddy check before getting into the water.|