March 2003 – Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia
Hello. After a longer pause than usual here is this issue of JAB. Our recent travels have reminded us that travelling and working are not always compatible; we’ve either been without power sockets to plug in Mr Benn (the name for our laptop) or Internet access has been a boat and bus ride away from our accommodation.
The closed Thai-Cambodian border led us to change our plans and head south to Ko Samui. Staying in a quiet part of the island, Mae Nam, we loafed about on the beach and hared around on a moped. I haven’t been on a bike for years: the first and last time I was on two wheels, in Ibiza, I crashed into a stationary milk float within seconds of mounting the bike and later nearly broke both wrists after going over the handlebars.
Older and wiser the bike rides were more successful this time and we made it around the island unscathed apart from an unintentional wheelie flinging Dee onto the floor and the bike into the air, and a brief but interesting excursion up a one way street (“These people are very friendly, look they’re waving at us.”)
After two weeks of sun, sand and shifty salesmen we moved on to welcoming and hassle free Malaysia, to Penang. In that culturally diverse city we did the tourist thing before crossing to Sumatra.
First stop Bukit Lewang, famous for orangutans, magic mushrooms and tubing down the river. All great fun. Lewang should be the sort of place that is tucked up in bed by 8pm but this one horse town is livelier than some capital cities. Pulau Samosir, positioned in a lake formed by a collapsed volcano, is a more sedate place with nothing much to do but sit, stare, swim and chat to cat eating descendants of cannibal converts to Christianity. The stores are staffed by six year old children and you can hail boats like taxis.
We are presently back in Malaysia, in Malacca, trying to finish JAB before heading to Singapore tomorrow. Taking advantage of some of the sleepy places we’ve been at in the last five or six weeks we’ve put some photographs of our trip online and have finally completed a new issue of The Working Traveller. This issue of JAB is also accompanied by a repeat of the Travel Security Supplement from last year. The next issue of JAB hopefully will be sent to you in a couple of weeks as I want to get it out of the way before (if) we head to Cambodia and we don’t intend to go with Mr Benn.
Lastly, apologies if you’ve got in touch with us and we haven’t got back to you. Our email backlog has got completely out of hand and I don’t expect to catch up until we get home in a few months.