As write is this, sitting under a magnificent palm tree and overlooking the clearest after of waters, I contemplate the last few days that have brought us to this island paradise 1 hour off the coast of Malaysia. The boys have been wonderful travellers so far, each approaching new experiences in their own unique way. Jordan tackling it all head on - with great enthusiasm and courage, Ben being more reserved, fear dominating much of his movements. Despite what people say I have found that airplane travel is much smoother than it used to be. With web check ins and modern facilities on aircrafts, travelling with the boys has been a great experience. How can children not enjoy a constant dose of movies, TV, video games, coupled with ongoing food and drink service! I think Ben could have kept on going ... right around the world and called it his trip! So aside from awaking at 2 am for the past 5 nights and wanting to pass out in the heat of the afternoon Asian sun... it has been pretty smooth sailing logistically so far. Of course there have been moments of sheer frustration, exhaustion and the occasional tear of homesickness along the way. When we landed in Japan after close to 20 hours of travelling and checked in to our tiny, smelly airport hotel room, with a toilet we had no idea how to work, the weight of what we (and more specifically I), had taken on came crashing down. Ben must have picked up on my vibration ... he dumped his backpack on the bed, held his face in his hands and wept. My heart sank ... we were really doing this ... it had begun .
From that moment I realised that I needed to remain strong no matter what. Even if something is not ok - I need to have control over it in the minds of the children. I am all they have out here - and if I fall apart then they will too - right now anyway, until we find our travel legs. So we made our way to Kuala Lumpur the next day on a few hours sleep and spent a wonderful 3 nights in the lap of luxury - 5 star style. Here we rested and oriented ourselves towards our new reality. And this reality includes being together - ALL the time. The boys are testing this daily and there are times where I question it all. They bicker out here, just like they did at home. Why did I think it would be different? But the saying "Wherever you go - there you are" comes to mind here. So, missing home and Dad, our new family dynamic is reshaping itself as we go. We move into this new life one day at a time, all of us a little fragile right now, like new chicks right out of their shells...
We explored Kualar Lumpur and the children had their first experience with the Malaysian Monkeys. Jordan was fearless, as is his nature, Ben fought his demons the whole 292 steps up to the Batu Caves. This sacred Hindu place is also a tourist mecca and the assertive, naughty monkeys will swipe anything you may be carrying in your hands. I was aware of this and we went empty handed, but Ben was convinced that life as he knew it was over. But on we went - and yes, we survived. It was an incredible experience. We are intiated - first challenge done! Today we snorkelled in waters I have rarely seen before, even on the reefs of Australia. Water that is so crystal, so turquoise, that the words "screen saver" constantly come to mind. This is true paradise - fish every colour of the rainbow, coral every shape, texture and shade. Palm trees that hang perfectly over white sandy beaches. Raw jungle behind us, no cars, no roads. The highlight of my time here so far is snorkelling hand in hand with Jordan today, both of us finally finding the huge turtle we were told was out there. Truly incredible - an unforgettable experience! Our room opens onto a silky white sand beach and 20 metres away is the best and freshest Malasyian food there is. Bliss.
So back under the palm tree, milkshake in hand I feel refreshed and ready to continue. We have 2 more nights in paradise before we navigate boats, trains and buses again in the stiffling heat on our way to Thailand. It's difficult to think of India while here. I know travelling there will be so different. No ocean to calm frayed nerves and bring the body temperature down. I am beginnning to like it here. I know when the generator changes, how to fix my toilet and the best wi fi spot on the beach (it really is under a palm tree!). I like the reflection of the ocean as I step up to the sliding door of our beach hut. The Malaysian people are quiet, unassuming, kind and reluctantly hospitable. No one pushing for for business. Take it or leave it. Ahhhh ... island life, I could do it forever... Next: how to navigate border crossings into Thailand ... I can taste the green curry from here!