This place is on top of a hill about half an hour's drive from Mae Sai. It is built in Swiss style. Totally wood. Simply furnished but very elegant.

This villa was build for the late princess mother (mother to the present king of Thailand.). She spent a lot of time in Switzerland, thus her love for Swiss styled living.

The villa overlooks the majestic mountain ranges and the furthest range is Myanmar. Below is a valley which is landscaped into a beautiful garden with colourful flowers and nice rocks. It's opened to the public. Opium planters are encouraged to venture into plant nurseries instead of planting opium.

The villa has been opened to public after the death of the princess mother at the age of 93 in 1995. We are allowed into the hall where she received visitors. A big portrait is put in place of where she would sit and a large carpet for people who want to pay their respect. The Thais really respect their royalty; they remove their shoes, kneel and bow to the portrait.

Her kitchen, living room, bedroom etc... We could only have a peep. There is even a dental room as she was very particular about dental health.

Her marriage to a prince was a fairy tale. She was a commoner. Her father was a goatherd. The prince had to write a letter to his mother to explain why he wanted to marry this special commoner. The letter is kept in the Inspiration Hall today.

At her old age she still look very elegant and beautiful. From all that have been said about her she seemed to be well loved by her people. Building the villa in Doi Tung is an example of how she helped the people in Dai Tung to move out of poverty and find work in other fields instead of opium planting.

We enjoyed this visit very very much except for Albert who is not interested in history and anything of such kind.
There are lots of strawberries here; both in Tachilek and Mae Sai. Bought a packet this morning for 100baht; that is about rm10. I think the weather is cool n suitable for growing this fruit just like in Cameron Highland.

Definitely more expensive back home. Probably double the price.
Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam have a group of tribe known as Akha. We met Arthur (an Akha from Thailand) who is married to Deborah (an Akha from Myanmar). They run a bible college in Mae Sai.

Arthur has a coffee farm with about 10000 trees. He claims that his coffee his organic.

We visited the bible college and manged to buy a few packets of coffee powder. Most of it are coffee bean but I didn't take the beans as I don't have a grinder. Coffee bean is better as it last longer and the aroma is better.

The picture on the label is Arthur's grandma.
Today I walked from Myanmar to Thailand! Sounds so far but actually from the hotel at Tachilek(myanmar) to the hotel at Mae Sai(Thailand).

Mae Sai is the most northern tip of Thailand. Never heard of it till now. About an hour's drive from Chiangrai.

A vast difference between the two countries. Stepping into Myanmar is like going back in time. The roads are narrow, messy with potholes. The shops are disorganised. People rush all over the road on funny looking vehicles which are laden with goods.

Being in Mae Sai is like civilisation in every sense. The hotel is clean, big and like all hotels that I've been. The hotel in Tachilek is like those old rumah tumpangan that we see back home.

What makes the difference? The government.

I voiced to a Myanmar pastor that I would love to visit one of the hill tribes. He said he would love to invite us to his village but he can't because of unrest and fighting amongst tribes and drug lords. Hmmm...interesting. Never thought it is that bad.

This is the latest book that I am reading. It is massive...really thick. Six parts and each part has at least three chapters and each chapter has an average of 500 pages (I'm reading e-book using the iphone). Usually I would give up on such a thick book but this book has me glued to it almost all the time. I can't stop reading it!!

Ken Follet tells the story beautifully. Every character has depth and every scene is vividly described. This can be quite gory and I had to skip certain parts. But I guess that is how the society is those days.

It is set in the medieval time. To me the most important person is Prior Philip, a monk who fears God and strive to do what is right in God's eyes. The next person is Tom the Builder...he plays an important role in building the cathedral of Kingsbridge; where Philip is the prior. Then Jack and Aliena...(these are my favourite characters).

As in all stories, the good and the bad characters are very clear. The bad are not necessarily the commoners but many of the priests and monks are shown to be bad and greedy.

Building a cathedral is not all that simple. Elements of vengeance, romance, violence, war are all intertwined to bring about the cathedral. A power struggle between the church and the crown. Only a great story teller can make a simple story become so complex and yet at the same time keeping the interest of the reader going.

Every time I read the book, I'm transported into the middle ages. A must read book for adults but teenagers....can wait till adulthood as there are lots of gory scenes.

After finishing such a thick book, I feel lost. Now I need to look for more of Ken Follet's books.
I am a great fan of books related to the Amish. Infact I wrote a review on a set of Amish books which I purchased for Lyn two years ago. They are fantastic.

In the recent book hunt, I bought another set of books about the Amish people written by Beth Wiseman...a series of four books in the Daughters of the Promise novel. Excellent writer whose characters are so alive and real and she has a lot of biblical lessons in her stories.

I learnt quite a few lessons from her books : a. simplicity in life
b. don't question God's the Amish it's a strong words
c. to worry is sin because it means that one doesn't trust I ponder on it, I realise how small my faith is...

Anyway, I started to look for more of such books and found this video on youtube. Pretty interesting documentary on the Amish culture and how two young adults are struggling with some of the rules in their culture. They have a set of rules (which is not the Bible) known as ordnung; it is both written and unwrittenrules; passed down from generation to generation. The church leaders especially the bishop has a very strong hold and influence on their society. No human is perfect and these people are far from perfect. Very interesting and educational documentary.

If ever I were to visit the US, I would like to visit the Amish community in Pennsylvania. If they have homestay, I think I don't mind staying a while to experience a life that is electricity, tv, telephone etc.
In this two weeks, we have eaten durians three times. This is all for brother's sake. He had been asking about durian since he returned from Vancouver; so we have to make sure he eats till he is so muak with it before returning to Vancouver on Saturday.

The first time, I bought from Pagoh; on the way back from Sibu Island. D24; RM16 perkg. Bought four for a hundred ringgit.

The second time, KC and brother went out to buy and they spent close to a hundred ringgit again but there were like 8 durians. So it was not too bad. Between RM 8 pkg and RM12 per kg.

Today, we bought again hopefully for the last time this month. Same lorryman near SPI but the price went up. It was 10,15 and 20. 15 was D24. We bargained till 14 (not much difference). So brother bought 4 for RM80. Still cheaper than the first time.
D24...the taste is standard and guaranteed good. All four durians were good especially one particular durian...extra bitter. I only eat bitter durian.

The four precious durians. Everybody in the house enjoys durians except Lyn who can eat but has no craving for it. Dan used to dislike durian but he loves it now.

No more durians for the rest of the year. It's too rich and fattening.

Yesterday was Raya Qurban. Woke up bright and early (5.15am) to get ready to hike Broga Hill for the second time this year. Ing's best friend, LN came all the way from Singapore to visit Ma. So this was one of the activity Ing wanted to do with her. I invited Dr Lim and Siew Khim as they are hill climbing kakis like us.

The seven of us jumped into one car after Dr Lim parked his car at CMH. Took us about 50minutes to reach the foot of the hill. We used Mantin way; easier as it's not so winding. This picture was taken after the hike; all of us still look fresh and good.

On our way down we met this family....Wong Kam Fook and Chua Siew Khim. They came from Shah Alam. It's interesting how we bump into each other. The last time was when Doulos came to Port Klang. This time is at Broga. KF, CSK, KC and I went to USM together. The guys were housemates and CSK and I were also housemates. KF is from Mambau; a little town off Seremban. CSK is from Ayer Tawar; a little town off Sitiawan. Wierd!!

The four of us were the first in the group to reach the peak. We had to climb three small hills to get to the peak. Doc and Siew Khim were fast actually, we slowed down to wait for the rest. At the first hill, the wait was so long that I got worried. Thought Ing fainted or whatever. But it was her bff who had to do some business....

This time I climbed up the stone to take a picture next to the signboard. It's easy to climb from the back. KC jumped off the stone but the picture didn't come out at all. Should had jumped slow motion.

When we came down from the peak, we saw the three stooges making their way up loudly. As usual when Ing get together with her bff, they just make lots of noises and get lots of attention. Here is the difficult part where you have to use the rope to hoist yourself up...we skipped this and found another route up but went down using this rope...faster.

This is taken from the third hill, where we can see the second and first hill. The first hill has the widest top/peak where most people take a long break. Some people give up after the second hill (I almost gave up the first time). The third hill is the one where we have to use the rope to get up or use an alternative route which is longer and also very steep. Next to it is the final hill.

Lots of stones/rocks like this.

Going up the hills are easy but coming down is quite challenging. This one has rope to help but the rope doesn't reach to the end of the steps. I was slightly lower down waiting for the three stooges when I heard a familiar cry, more rope!!!! I quickly asked KC to go up and help her down. Like I say, she is always so loud and dramatic. Everybody stopped to look at her!!!

We ended the trip with breakfast at Broga Village. We sat at a kopitiam that faces the hill. Had delicious coffee, toast and eggs!!!

I enjoyed this trip very much. The company makes a difference. Looking forward to another hike up this hill again.

Christmas is round the corner. Siew Khim and family just returned from England. Gave me a box of mince pies.

First tasted it in Windermere. I love it...think I'm the only one in the family who love sweet pies. Bought a few boxes home. I remembered the horror when I dropped a box and the pies were crushed. Had to share them with jackie.

Looking forward to Christmas preparations....
This is the last weekend kor is spending with us. Next week this time he'll be flying back to Vancouver.

We went to my favourite shop for kopi kiam c, wholemeal toasts and soft boiled eggs.

Then marketing for the week. Mil coming for dinner, ing n LN visiting tomorrow. Need to buy extra.

When we returned, all three of us washed, vacuum and wax (kc's car) two cars. Very fruitful morning.

If it doesn't rain we will go up kepayng hill later. Then cook bakuteh for mil.

That's how a Saturday is like in this house.
This sibu story is taking too long. Getting tired of it. So let me conclude.

I will never ever ride in a speed boat again and if can I want to fly to whatever island I go next time or take a ship. The boatboy sped all the way back to Tanjung Leman again though Kiki reminded him not to speed.

Water splashed onto my face so many times. I was totally terrified after the first experience. Kept praying that I would reach land safely. Then we passed another speed boat which was going at a steady pace. Only then did I realise that the ride need not be so frightening.

All in all we paid RM200 for the ride to and fro which was about 20 minutes. I never believe in paying to have fun that will shorten my life like a roller coaster ride. And I just did that!!!

Hopefully when both kids go for camps next year, we will be able to take time off on our own like this again.
Everywhere we walked around Sibu Island (except at SP), we saw cowdung. Quite puzzling as there was not a single cow in sight. It was only on the second day when we hiked further into the village that we saw cows roaming everywhere.

The dung was just all over the place. The road, the fields, the beach.....I spent most of the time with my eyes on the road unlike KC who had his eyes all over the place. So I was shouting to him all the time, Watch Out!!

Unfortunately there was this one time when I was too late in warning him and he stepped right into a fresh one. Yucks!!!!

This is a field near a village. Nice field and good place for kids to kick a ball but it is spotted with cowdung.
We saw this near the beach next to the village. Somebody must have cleaned up the dung near his/her place and just dump it by the beach. KC went into a discourse on how these people should harvest the dung and turn it into some energy heap like what the Indians in India do.

I counted up to about 50 cows. They are pretty skinny animals. Just roam around freely, chewing on grass. Quite suspicous of us when we walked by and I have phobia of cows. Was attacked by one when I was a kid in Stwn Estate.

We walked to the village twice...on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. On Saturday we did not venture far. Managed to have dinner before returning to SP.

We were braver on Sunday. We walked from 9am to 12pm. I was exhausted from the heat. Had only a cap to protect me and am very tanned on top of my already tanned complexion.

Most energetic as we started off.

Quite a long list of kampungs here but I think we probably passed only three. The villages are not big at all. Maybe about 10-20 houses. The people are very friendly. Whenever they pass by us on the motorbike, the men will definitely tabik and the women will give their broadest smile. This is so unlike us living in the city/town where I am guilty of ignoring people.

The road is hilly. It is cemented all the way. Not very wide. Enough for a motorbike to pass.

We passed the Twin Beach Resort which is closed. It has a nice beach facing the South China Sea and the jetty is on the other side facing the mainland; just like SP. I guess that is why it is called Twin Beach. Quite a nice place; very neat but not luxurious like SP.

Along the beach we saw quite a few skeleton boats like this. I wonder is there any other way of getting rid of old boats without creating an eye sore?

One of the villages...The center building is a restaurant. We wanted to eat there on Sunday but it was not open. Neither was the other shop which we had dinner on Saturday open. So hungry me had to walk 25minutes back to the resort for lunch. Despite all the walking, I didn't lose an ounce but gained a kg!

We met an old lady sitting on the beach opening clams. Another lady was collecting it from the beach (tide was low so she could walk quite far out). This clam (forgotten the name she gave) is huge. It has to be cleaned well or else it will cause food poisoning.

This is kerang/clam...those which are found is kari laksa. It is also huge. The ones we normally see in the market is half or less of this size.

This village is closer to SP. It is made up of a few poor looking houses. KC says it is better to look poor and get subsidy from the government.

One lonely primary school here. I was on the phone talking to Lyn. Actually the whole time I was here, I missed the kids terribly especially in the evenings. I felt so bad for not bringing them with me.

Life here is so slow paced compared to our lives that KC and I teased each other that we should just retire and live on the island. I can teach English here and he can be a cowherd. (There are lots of cows in this village).

KC's dream house. This is one of the better looking houses and it is quite big. Set KC dreaming of what it would be like to live here. I think we will soon be bored.

Walking around the village reminded me a lot of Sitiawan Estate and the malay kampung nearby. The smell of cowdung is everywhere. We didn't see any cows on the first day but we saw and smell the dung everywhere.

The village is here more picturesque than than kampung back in Sitiawan. I think its near the beach and the grass don't seem to grow long. So it looks quite neat. Wonder when we will do this again....just walk through a village for the fun of it.

We came across four other resort while exploring Sibu Island. The Twin Beach Resort was closed; probably because of the monsoon. The Gypsy seems to have many guests...maybe the rate is lower. It is made up of wooden chalets. Two resorts are abandoned. One of it was burnt to the ground. Quite an ugly sight.

This is one of the abandoned resort.

The bridge leading to it is broken.

It has a watchtower built to a coconut tree.

Looks like tourism business can be quite challenging too. It's a pity that abandoned buildings like this spoil the beautiful sight around the island. Why can't we take care of what God has given us and preserve the beauty around us for others to enjoy?

As any other places in Malaysia, the beaches are littered with plastic bottles and rubbish. A real eyesore. In terms of cleanliness, Malaysia and Malaysians definitely reflect the third world mentality.

The boatman informed us that we were the only guests at the resort for the weekend. So when we met Kiki and she told us again that we were the only guests, we were a little worried but quite pleased too. The thought of having a whole resort to ourselves was really wonderful but at the same time we were apprehensive about the something wrong with it that it has no guests?

We were upgraded from garden view chalet to seaview chalet; a difference of about RM200. Our chalet was located away from the clubhouse with a wonderful view of the sea. It was good as it gave us lots of privacy.

The resort is on both sides of the island; where the chalets are face the South China Sea. The whole beach belongs to the resort; so we literally had the beach all to ourselves. The sea here is rougher. The other side is where we came faces the mainland. The sea is calmer here and there is mongrove all along the beach. A beautiful piece of property.

This is the jetty where the boat stopped us. When the tide goes down, the water gets real low at the end of the jetty.

We were greeted by this sign. When we walked through the gates, it was like walking through an eco-resort. There are fruit trees all over before the clubhouse finally came to view.

The chalet has a king sized bed which is rather high up; I guess we are pretty short people.

The view from the bed is fantastic. The sea is just in front and there is an island within our is Pulau Tinggi.

To add to this luxury is the toilet which is four times bigger than my toilet. It has a jacuzzi. It has a sun roof which makes it real bright. Very luxurious toilet and I love the concept.

The swimming pool....for just the two of us again.

Poolside bar...pretty lonely and empty without activity.

The entrance into the clubhouse and office.

We passed by the office one afternoon and saw it locked up with a chain.

The chalet which we stayed in.

The coffeehouse where we dined. Just the two of us. The prices of food is pretty steep. Can't get food we have to eat here. Can eat in the village (about 25minutes walk away) but the shop is not open on Sundays.

So...for the first time in our lives, we had a beautiful, luxurious resort with its own beach all to ourselves. The privacy was bumping into other souls. There are many workers around but they somehow know how to be invisible and visible again whenever we need them.

A great place to get reconnected to God, each other and nature.

We saw people getting off speedboats and slightly bigger boats; all wearing floats. Where is the ferry? Don't tell me, I'm going to get on one of such boats...

Indeed...that's the boat I went on. A little boat with three row of seats. One for the boatman and the other two for the passengers. KC and I took the middle row. We were the only passengers.

I held on for dear life to the side. I know I looked real tensed but it was quite enjoyable at first. The boat was going real fast (I thought it was normal). It was cutting through the waves real hard and it was like jumping up and down the sea and tilted upwards like rempit.

The sky was cloudy but the sea wasn't that rough. But to be in the middle of the sea in a speedboat that was rushing to cut through all the heart was beating real fast. I tried to relax and enjoy the ride; which was not that bad.

Then we saw the kelong....Sibu Island is just at the back. Told KC used to see kelong near Lumut/Pangkor sea too. Suddenly the boat spun around; swayed from side to side before it stopped. I screamed in fright (who wouldn't...ok I was the only female on board). I thought that I would be thrown into the sea, rolled over by the boat and drown.

The boatman was trying to avoid a log which floated away from the kelong. He was most upset and said the people on the kelong is always throwing logs into the sea. The kelong belongs to Singaporeans. Sure irresponsible of these people....the boat could have capsized and we could have been thrown into the sea and make headlines in the paper.

Thankfully, after the initial shock, I was quite calm and actually laughed over the whole incident. It was terrifying but I know God was taking care of us.

How am I going to take the same boat ride back on Monday? I didn't want to think about it. I was on holiday and was determined to enjoy every minute of it. We agreed that I would not pout and we would not get upset with each other.

HOLIDAY!!!!!!!! (no work, no kids, no worries....)

We left Kluang about 8am. We wanted to reach Tanjung Leman by 9.30am to catch the 10.00am ferry. We were informed that there were only two trips to Sibu Island; 10am and 2pm. If we miss any of this ferries, we have to pay RM250 per person to get a special ride to the island. That was the reason we put up a night at Kluang; so that we can reach the jetty on time. Estimated time needed was one and a half hour.

Using the ipad again to navigate our travel. I keyed in Jemaluang. Showed to KC the map and he got an idea where he was headed for. The road took us through Felda oil palm estates and also jungles. We saw signs showing Taman Negara, Endau Rompin but no clear sign to show where to turn to Endau Rompin. Most of the time the map is blank; indicating no villages/towns around; just oil palm estates and unnamed jungles. Very quiet road that morning. We even saw a signage showing elephant crossing.

It was winding and narrow all the way till we reach Jemaluang. The road was wider and easier to travel. We had to pass through Felda estates to reach the jetty at 9.45am. I jumped off the car first to get the tickets as we were afraid we might miss the ferry.

The scene around the jetty. Pretty busy as many people with fishing gears were going off fishing somewhere. There were lots of people around. At the ticketing booth (paid RM5 each for what I don't know), we were told that the boatman from Sari Pacifica will look for us. Puzzling....waited and waited; nobody called our names. So KC decided to call the KL office and told the person in charge we had been waiting for quite a while and there is no ferry in sight!!

There was some sort of Regetta going on....a sailing competition of some sort. Saw many people wearing t-shirts indicating the regetta. I saw two Malay ladies with lots of stuff and one of it was a pair of wierd looking shoes. I took a picture of it and a Mat Salleh came up....the shoes are his. Those girls and him were involved in the regetta. Boats were stopped from coming in the jetty by noon and none were allowed to sail in to Tanjung Leman till Sunday evening after the competition was over. The Sultan of Johor was there to grace to competition.

KC with his annoyed look and the Sari Pacifica envelope. It was held that way on purpose so that the boatman could identify us easily. It was almost an hour later before a young Malay youth came up and asked if we were going to Sari Pacifica. What a relief....