Our Malaysian "Vacation" (written by Shelley)

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Monday, October 7, 2002

We were so excited to hit Malaysia! This port tended to be the "spring break" stop for most of the shipboard community, and with our busy schedules the last several weeks, we were not complaining about joining the "R&R" club! As usual, we were up late the night before, so we took this opportunity to sleep in a little. After hearing several recommendations, Brian booked a room for us at the Shangri-La Golden Sands Resort, which was just about 30 minutes from where the ship docked in Georgetown on Penang Island. Many of our friends would be joining us there. We had lunch on the ship and then headed out to find a taxi. As we've found in every port, finding transportation was not difficult at all. In fact, most people find you before you find them! We had been advised to settle on the rate before getting into the taxi and to make sure the taxi driver knew to take you directly to your destination. Again, as we've found in our last ports, cyclo/bike/taxi drivers all continually try to persuade you into numerous stops and all day ventures. We've definitely learned to be firm! We arrived at the resort around 2pm. Just as the Shangri-La hotel we stayed at in Hong Kong, the resort and hotel room was gorgeous and very well maintained! These are also the only two hotels that we have actually had a queen/king size bed, rather than two singles! We knew our friends were already checked-in, so we quickly unpacked and set out to find them. Julia was the only one staying both Monday and Tuesday night, like ourselves. Sunny and Bill would only be staying tonight and Julie, Michelle, Anne and her husband, Steve, would join us for tomorrow night. A few others just came for the "day trip", such as Meloni. Of course, we found everyone down by the beach. The sand was a gorgeous white and the water l ooked extremely blue, but not nearly as clear as the Caribbean. The first thing we experienced was Bill's "attack of the killer jellyfish" ordeal. He had ventured out into the ocean for some swimming, but unfortunately, had also encountered a large jellyfish. We had been warned that jellyfish were pretty common, yet hadn't realized just how true this was! Bill really was stung pretty bad. He had been stung all over his chest and many places on his arms and legs. Surprisingly, he seemed ok, but I know was feeling the exact opposite. After about 20 minutes of the pain, he headed inside. The locals had sprayed vinegar on his rashes (no, he didn't have to get anyone to pee on him!), but his body still seemed to be going into a mild shock. Unfortunately, he ended up in bed for the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, there were some local guys on the beach running a parasailing venture. For only $17 US, you could get strapped to a parachute being pulled by a boat for about 10 minutes or so. Most of us decided this was definitely worth the $17, so we all took turns "sailing" down the beach. We all definitely enjoyed our rides!! The rest of the day was extremely relaxing. After Bill's incident with the jellyfish, none of us were interested in swimming in the ocean, yet the resort had plenty of refreshing pools for our use. So, we pretty much spent the rest of the day, until nearly 8pm, relaxing in the sun, swimming in the pool, walking down the beach and watching the beautiful sunset. Ahhh…what an amazing day! We were so excited to be doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I just love the way my sister put it…we were "finally doing something they would do!" ha ha :)

At around 8pm, Brian and I decided to head in and shower. Julia was heading in for the night, but Sunny and Bill decided to join us for dinner since Bill had started to feel a little better. We decided not to venture far…the resort's restaurant sounded appetizing, so we headed past the swimming pools for dinner. The restaurant had kind of a Mexican theme, so instead of the "local" cuisine, we went with Mexican entrees. I think Brian and I fared better than Sunny and Bill when our dinners were served, but I know we all enjoyed dinner and especially the company!! Bill and Sunny recently began dating (Bill being the only real eligible staff/faculty "bachelor" on board had quite a few options before this relationship started!), and since we get along so great with both of them and think the world of them already, the four of us found it very easy to have an awesome evening by the beach! Everyone was tired after dinner…so we called it a night.

Tuesday, October 8, 2002

As you probably expected, this day turned into another day of R&R! We pretty much rolled out of bed mid-morning, had a feast of a breakfast and then meandered on over to the beach. During the middle of the afternoon, we did head over to the Internet café at the "sister" hotel next door though. It was nice to catch up on some emails and even send a few. Sunny and Bill left late morning, but we were then joined by Julie and Michelle. There were also a few students wandering around the resort, but to our relief, not many! It was nice to spend a little bit of time with Chelsea Galano though. It is really a small world sometimes, as Chelsea is our friend Nate's cousin! We realized our connection the first week on the ship when Chelsea stopped by my office and told me that Nate's mom and her mom are sisters. She had heard two of Nate's friends would be on the voyage, so she searched us out. Chelsea is literally one of the sweetest students on the ship! I am so glad we've been able to get to know her! It has also been fun swapping Nate stories…and even talking about Nate & Julie's upcoming wedding (October 13th!) which, unfortunately, we are all three missing. :(

Again, we stayed out on the beach until around 8 pm. We headed in to get changed and then a group of us (Michelle, Anne, Steve, Brian and myself) caught a taxi to a recommended Indian restaurant. The restaurant was awesome…the dining room was open to the outside, the food tasted great (different though as, surprisingly, I've never really eaten Indian food before) and the musical entertainment was awesome! Unfortunately, as we got a late start to dinner, the night market (which we had wanted to see) was closed by the time we walked back to the hotel. Brian and I decided to take a stroll down the beach. The evening temperature was almost perfect (the daytime temp had been in the mid to high 80's) and coupled with the breeze, the white sands and the spectacular views; it was hard not to stay out there all night! We did finally retire though. Unfortunately, since my stomach is not quite used to Indian food, I did get a little sick in the middle of the night, but all in all, we both slept extremely well!

Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Our morning was very similar to the previous morning. We rose fairly early again, had another feast of a breakfast and then headed to the beach for a short stay. We were so extremely sad that we had to leave the resort today. I kept trying to think of ways to catch the ship at a later point in time…it was just so nice to have the true R&R, our bodies didn't want to leave! We made some time to call our parents before heading back to the ship a little after 12:30 pm. As the long distance charges have been so costly, our conversations with our family has been kept to a minimum. This has proven to be tough on both of us as we miss feeling connected to what and especially how everyone is doing back home!!! We arrived back at the ship just in enough time to change our backpack for our service visit we had this afternoon. We had brought many coloring books, crayons, candy and such for the kids, and wanted to make sure we didn't forget anything.

Around 25 of us headed out by bus at 2pm to visit the Salvation Army Home. Upon arriving at the home, we were immediately surrounded by many boys of all ages. One of the caretakers (a total of 9 employees plus additional volunteers work at the home) led us through the home to a large meeting area where she told us about the Salvation Army home. We didn't know this at first, but the Salvation Army is home to 38 boys (Chinese, Malay and Indian), ranging from 5 to 18 years old. All but one boy has a family (not orphans), yet these family situations are either bad enough or poor enough to require the boys to live at the S. Army home. The families are still encouraged to be an integral part of the boys lives and the children tend to go home during holidays, however, as we could see during our visit, despite the fact that the Salvation Army's goal is to eventually reunite the boys with their families…home to these boys were definitely at "home". A review board determines the eligibility of the child on a case-by-case basis, but many of the boys tend to move into the home at an early age and thus grow up there.

We had about two hours to spend at the home, which was just about right. The boys were extremely hyper, which was hard to adjust to at first. I know we were all very interested in sitting down with the boys and using our box of supplies we had brought with us, but the boys seemed much more interested in being photographed and taking pictures from our digital cameras. They loved to see themselves on film (or videotape) and were constantly either asking you to take their picture or begging you to "borrow" your camera to take their friend's picture. This was all fun, but definitely exhausting! I know Brian and I both really enjoyed the visit, but wished we would have had more "valuable" time with the boys. Eventually, we said our goodbye's and headed back to the ship.

We had made plans to head out to dinner with the Pizzi's. Bill and Leslie are from Boulder (both are lawyers, yet Bill teaches at CU's law school) and have quickly become friends of ours. Bill is heading up the "Core" class on the ship as well as teaching a law class on board, while Leslie is definitely enjoying her "spouse" role! I believe Brian and I are both quite jealous of her free time…ha! The Pizzi's are very good friends with Fenton's parents (the student who gave Brian the "opportunity" to visit a Chinese hospital while on our Beijing trip), so I think their invitation to treat us to dinner was partially brought on by our Fenton "situation", yet I know we had all been meaning to get together anyway, so it was a lot of fun. They had found an awesome Chinese restaurant on the water their first night in Malaysia, so they took us back there for dinner. Both the dinner and the company were fantastic!! It is so nice to meet such wonderful people on this voyage…especially people like the Pizzi's who are from back home!!

Back to the ship, just in time to make our 8 pm "on-ship time"! We should set sail later tonight some time.