Langkawi: The Mangrove 

It was our second day in Langkawi and our driver suggested we go on a boat trip through the mangrove. A friend had gone on one when she was there and she also recommended it.

It was raining off and on as we made our way to the location. We weren’t too worried because the skies usually cleared up quickly. And by the time we reached the docking point, it had stopped. My husband paid for the boat and we were on our way. We headed off into the mangrove. It was nice to sit and feel the wind as we zipped through the water. IMG_0468 We were taking it all in and I was snapping away. It’s always about the photo opp. And why shouldn’t it be? I was in a new place with new surroundings and needed documentation. We saw monkeys, lots of monkeys, as well as eagles. We went through a little cave and saw bats, too. That was exciting because I had never seen one up close in real life. I took a couple shots but all I ended up with were black blobs which no one would ever believe were bats. I really enjoyed seeing the monkeys, the bold little creatures they are. We were fasting so we weren’t carrying anything even remotely edible. But, people on other boats did have food. We watched a monkey hop into another boat to grab something to snack on. It was so cute. Though, truth be told, I probably would have freaked out had it jumped into our boat. I’m grateful for photo opportunities, but I am not one to get too close to monkeys or any other furry, feathery creatures. I like some distance between us. All in all the we loved the whole experience. It was peaceful, serene, relaxing. Part of trip was supposed to include going out to the Andaman Sea, but rough waters prevented us from doing so. That wasn’t a problem because I had seen it before and I knew we’d have another chance to see the sea. We headed back and it started raining. At first it was a little and then it was a lot. The rain felt cold. We looked around us as the sky got darker and darker.

I kept snapping, but had to put my camera away because it was coming down pretty hard. I couldn’t and still can’t afford to have my camera damaged like that.

I will admit that I was definitely enjoying the rain. We hadn’t seen any in a good while. We live in the desert after all.

As lovely as it seemed to me, I was getting a little worried. I wondered how soon we’d get back. We moved back by our guide. Supposedly this would protect us from the rain more. You know what? It didn’t. I was getting hit on all sides by the rain and I was afraid I’d lose my scarf. By the time we arrived back, the mountains you see to the right were no longer visible. Interestingly enough, a dry spot on my clothes was no longer visible either. I was drenched and I was dripping. But it was exhilarating. I’d be happy to do it again.


Just a Day in the Life…

Thursday, July 9, 2015. I had been waiting for that day for what seemed like an eternity. We would begin our long journey that day, the ninth. But, no vacation would be complete without a little stress to make you remember why it is you need one to begin with.

And this type of stress is all part of the whole experience, the whole package.

Wednesday, I got an SMS from the bank about “prohibited” countries. My first thought was, “What the heck does that mean?” I continued reading the message which stated that, “If you plan to travel to Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Thailand and Macao, your ATM card will not work.” It then said something about contacting the bank to activate your card so that you can use it in previously mentioned countries. I looked at the message again and again. Why on earth would a bank block your ATM card? Who cares where you travel? It’s your money! And then I had a flashback. When I was in Thailand a couple years back, my ATM didn’t work. I had no idea why and I was fortunate enough to have some other currency I could exchange. The bank wasn’t so “courteous” at that time, so I didn’t receive the nice SMS.

I called the bank. I was told my card would be activated. I called the next day to make sure. I didn’t trust the situation, so I withdrew cash and exchanged money in the airport. And it’s a good thing I did because when I tried to use my ATM in the airport in Kuala Lumpur, it didn’t work. When I read, “Declined for insufficient funds” I nearly had a heart attack. What kind of trip was it going to be?

We hopped on a plane to Langkawi. An hour later we were getting our bags and looking for our transport service to the villa. I tried the ATM machine. And guess what? My card didn’t work. I was slowly coming to a boil. Not only did I have to worry about being able to access cash, I also had to make an international call while roaming. It was Friday night which meant I would have to wait until Sunday to call the bank.

Sunday morning, KSA time, I started my the phone call game. I must’ve made about 10 to 15 calls that day. Not only did I have to navigate through the silly phone menus to speak to a human, but I also had the misfortune of my calls being dropped or the person on the other end couldn’t hear me. I did finally get through and I was told that it would be working in 24 hours. And of course, I had my doubts.

Twenty-four hours later, we went to town with a driver and stopped to use an ATM. I tried one machine but it apparently hadn’t yet awakened from its slumber. It must’ve been a rough night for that machine. A bank worker then directed us to a different machine. I waited patiently for the card not to work. I told myself that if it didn’t work, the first thing I’d do one back in KSA would be to change banks. Thankfully it did work and we both breathed a sigh of relief. For one, we knew we could get cash if we needed it and two I wouldn’t have to endure the pain of trying to close my bank account. If I ever do, one post won’t be enough to tell the story.


Mosquitoes and Geckos and Frogs! Oh My!

During the wee hours of the morning on July 10th, my husband and I were on a plane to Malaysia. It would be the first trip to Malaysia, and hopefully it won’t be the last. We went to Langkawi where we would spend a week. I was excited to see the villa we’d be staying in because the pictures I had seen were beautiful.

It had a very open floor plan which I don’t believe I fully understood when we booked it. This meant that the living room and kitchen were open to the great outdoors. There were vinyl curtains and blinds which could be used when it was raining. As a result, we saw and heard geckos inside every day and night. We could also see them outside on the glass at night. And every night seemed to be a feast as they covered the window. That of course is a slight exaggeration. Slight. We watched geckos fighting which was disgusting by the way. In my opinion. But there’s something worse than seeing geckos fight. Seeing them mate! Eww eww eww. Have they no shame? Wasn’t it enough that I had to see them every day? By now I’m sure you’ve guessed that I am NOT a fan of geckos. The only one I like is the one in the Geico commercials for car insurance back home. Whenever I complained about them, my husband reminded me that we were guests in their home. As if. And I still believe they were laughing at me.

Anyway, one night it started raining and didn’t let up. I left the enclosed bedroom and walked to the living room. As I was walking, I saw something dark jump. I thought it was a cricket. It was not. But I wouldn’t see it again for a little while. I made my way to the living room and sat while looking for something to watch on TV. Suddenly, I thought I saw something out the corner of my eye or the back of my head. Either way, I turned around and there it was, the dark thing I saw jumping earlier. It was a frog. My first thought was, “Where the heck did a frog come from?” Well, it came from outside. He jumped and jumped. He made his way behind the front window curtains and he made his way out. He hopped on the coffee table and hopped off.

When my husband returned, I told him about the frog. He asked how he got into the living room and I told him like it was. He hopped up the stairs to the kitchen and made his way to the living room. The last place I saw him was near a magazine rack. Silly frog. Why did he come inside when he belongs outside? I didn’t see him the next morning, so I hope he made his way back out into the “wilderness” where he belonged.

And now the mosquitoes. Oh the mosquitoes. Let me tell you something, mosquitoes in Malaysia are no joke. We had done well for the most part. We kept the bedroom door closed and did our best not to let critters of any kind inside. We also slept with the net every night. But one night, apparently one rode in on one of us and even got inside of the net. I woke up in the middle of the night with sizeable bites all over my right arm. I couldn’t sleep because I was itching like mad. I went to the living room to get the spray we were provided with. I went to the bathroom to apply toothpaste. That’s right, toothpaste. It helps a lot with the itching. While I was doing that my husband sprayed. We waited a little while before attempting to sleep again.

Those were the mosquitoes in Langkawi. A mosquito I encountered in Kuala Lumpur would prove to be even worse. We got there on July 17th. I was bitten on my hands, six bites on the right and one on the left. Nearly two weeks later, they still itch like crazy. What’s a girl to do if mosquitoes find her so tasty? No really, what can I do?

In any case, if you’re planning to be in Malaysia, watch out for the mosquitoes, geckos and frogs.

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