Where to begin?
Well, welcome to what is my first ‘blog’! Not sure where to begin, or where this is going, but stay with me for a bit & we might share some stories.
My Dad worked hard all his life, into his seventies and, like lots of our parents in that era (1960s on for me) they often did without so we could have more. And I suspect most of us at the time did not appreciate their sacrifices. In my professional life I have also met & worked with lots of senior executives, key players in their respective organisations. They work hard to achieve success, they come they go and life goes on. It’s a busy world we live in for sure, yet we are all dispensable and we all know friends, relations, colleagues who have passed away too early.
I didn’t want to work as long as my Dad had to, I didn’t want to be another successful ‘exec’ who never got time to enjoy retirement. I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to take early retirement. So, at the tender age of fifty five, I have taken that opportunity. Like lots of young people these days, including SeánÓg, they have the travel bug, fearless, keen to explore new countries, experiences, cultures, food and so on. So, to help make the transition to our ‘new life’ we have taken our own, belated, time out in South East Asia.
I talked about doing a blog before we hit the road at the end of January so this is where you join me – let’s see where we get to. If you like it let me know, if you don’t I can take some constructive criticism. Oh and on behalf of Mary & I, can I extend a big ‘thank you’ to all those at home; family, friends and my now former colleagues, especially SeánÓg and Noreen, who have been so supportive and helped make this adventure happen. Enough already!
So, after three years, we find ourselves back in Langkawi Island, Malaysia. A tad shy of 10,500 air kms from home in Ireland and currently 32 degrees warmer!
This is a different trip, no two weeks in the Datai Resort this time out, indeed no fancy hotel at all. This visit is part of our ‘post early retirement’extended overseas vacation which kicked off in ‘KL’ – Kuala Lumpur for those who have not been previously.
So with the aid of Airbnb, we managed to track down a beautiful, charming, old style Chinese Heritage House in the fishing village of Kuala Teriang. It really is a special house & the owners Pat & Mike have lovingly restored it over an extended period. To the front you are looking out on the Andaman sea and to the back a mini jungle.
Given the tropical climate and the jungle, wildlife is never too far away. Long tailed lemurs – grey colored cheeky monkeys who are always on the prowl in the mornings & again before sunset. They travel with family in tow. They send in the smaller guys first & while you are distracted admiring them the others will take your breakfast in the blink of an eye. The dusky monkeys on the other hand are more gentle & friendly. Black & grey squirrels, frogs, monitor lizards, hornbills, kites and eagles all abound as well as the pesky mozzies!
We have also seen other monkeys on the beaches. They regularly undertake hand stands on the water’s edge, constantly preening themselves. Others have sticks of varying lengths which they hold out in front of them and then swing them around in a circular fashion or up and down to get the best vantage point. Some even bring their sticks into the water. The males of the species are particularly persistent, showing off to the females. Well what do you expect from monkeys in the tropics – oh wait, these are not real monkeys but the selfie stick, GoPro, I’m beautiful aren’t I brigade who just cannot sit still or admire the hornbills as they do a graceful fly past. We did our best to photo bomb the lot!
The house is in a quiet secluded spot, but each evening around six thirty or so the area comes alive as the mopeds, with anywhere between one & five family on board, head down to watch the sunset or to fish off the breakwater. Shortly after sunset you can see a stream of small traditional fishing boats heading out to sea. Later the whole horizon will be speckled with emerald green lights. Most of the fishermen here fish for squid – the light attracts the squid to the surface. They seem to spend most of the night working hard to bring in the catch.
We are a bit of a curiosity as we stroll around the village, often in the mid day sun – tourists! We get glances from shy kids and some of the ‘elders’ amid mutterings of ‘Mat Sallah’ a phrase they still use for Caucasians. However, as each day passes we get a little more accepted, a few more ‘hellos’ lots more giggles and we blend in a bit more.
Like all villages, it has its characters and its rumor machine and walking around chatting to people it’s amazing what you pick up in a couple of weeks. The village was hit by the tsunami back in 2004 and some of the beaches are only beginning to recover. A few weeks back we had an unusual flurry of activity along part of the beach front & there are lots of unanswered questions as to who & what is driving this latest initiative.
The plan was to ‘crash out’ here in Langkawi (LK) for around six weeks & then head off on our further travels. One month in I have to say we have excelled at the ‘crashing out’ bit, really top class performance. But LK is that kind of place, very little rain, temperatures between 26 / 36 night / day, soft Kilkee sea breeze, good food variations, lots of water activities, jungle life, but still very easy going.
We have met lots of ‘expats’ who have made LK their home and I can understand why. LK is a duty free island, petrol is 1.75 Malaysian ringgit a litre, or about €0.38 in Euro land! Cigarettes, beer, wine all much cheaper than at home. In taking the house here for the extended period we had planned cooking at home. So we did the weekly shop, an experience in itself when all the products are in Malay and nothing looks quite the same as at home, and we did cook in the house – once so far! It’s so hot and so cheap to eat out – cooking is too much like hard work.
So first blog done – how was that? More pictures on FB; Instagram (gjdeegan); Twitter (@gjdeegan) – what did we do before social media invaded our planet! See you here again soon hopefully!