Sailing Around Langkawi – part 1

langkawi airport

The main reason for my trip to Malayasia was to go sailing round the island of Langkawi. Langkawi is actually made up of 99 islands off the northwest coast of Malaysia and very close to Thailand. It is an hour plane journey from Kuala Lumpur. Our yacht was waiting for us at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. My uncle is the sailor so he was our captain,  my aunt his skipper and my parents and I were helping hands. Sunsail provided us with a 41 foot yacht. royal langkawi yacht clubDon’t be put off by the colour of the sky, it was hot hot hot! There was no escaping the heat. Some may think that sailing is like glamping (glamorous camping) but I would tend to disagree. No aircon, no microwave, short showers, the risk of running out of water, a toilet you can’t put toilet paper in or flush with the touch of a button – you have to pump, may sound like some people’s nightmares but I loved it. The breath-taking scenery, the quiet, feeling the wind in your hair, swimming, sunshine, deserted beaches and seeing new places more than made up for the roughing it style. my home at sea

The most we stayed in one place was 2 nights and most of the time it was one night. It took us 10 days to sail leisurely clockwise round the main island. The first night we stayed in port to provision the yacht. We visited the night market and had dinner in a restaurant called Pappa Rich, which sells Malaysian food. I had rice noodles in a chicken soup with chicken. It was very tasty. night market chicken soup

The next day we set sail. The great thing about sailing is you head off in a direction and when you find a place you like you just stop and drop anchor. We found a spot to stop for lunch and a swim which was just lovely but where we stopped for the night was breath-taking. Monkey Creek was where we anchored and true to its name I could hear the monkeys. I couldn’t see them as they were a bit far away but I saw the branches of the trees moving as they jumped from one to the other. What we did see, both here and in a few places we stopped, were eagles. It was a big tourist attraction to feed the eagles. The locals throw out chicken skin which attracts them. dropping the anchor lunch spot sailing past such beautiful scenery  monkey creek

We had a small barbecue on board, attached to the railing. Half way through cooking our sausage that night it decided to try take a swim. Luckily it was unsuccessful so we did not lose our dinner, but cooking at an angle is not great. My dad and uncle were very good boy scouts and managed to set up a contraption of sorts to prevent it from happening again. See the pictures below of before and after. (not the best shots but you get the idea.)

before        after

We headed out early the next day to fit in a long sail to a snorkel spot. It was not the most successful trip for me as my wonderful snorkel that had a special part to let out water, let more water in and I ingested half the ocean. I only discovered this once we had swam from the yacht to the snorkel area (Light blue water in the picture below) so I swam back and swapped snorkels. But by the time I got back to the ‘area’ I was so scarred by the previous snorkel that every 4 breaths I thought I was going to drown when in fact it was fine. But being so focused on that meant I could not enjoy what I was meant to be doing. snorkel and dive area

It was a good few hours sail back to the main island as you are not allowed to anchor over night in this area. There was quite a bit of wind to sail but there was bad swell too and we went up and down and round and round. Sea sick pills rock. I felt fine. Another tourist attraction we visited, close to Monkey Creek, was the ‘Pregnant Maiden Lake’. This is a huge fresh water lake in the middle of an island. You have to climb up huge stairs and dodge monkeys of all shapes and sizes but it is worth it. The ocean is hot in comparison to the lake. It was so refreshing to escape the heat of the sun and take a swim. They have huge plastic floating platforms but beware that if you have a snack in your bag the monkeys will help themselves to the whole bag while you are swimming. The poor girls next to us managed to chase the monkey and retrieve their bag. You can also hire a peddalo if you wish. The walk up and down the stairs left its mark on my calves and I felt the burn for a while. yacht from a distance pregnant lady lake island entrance pregnant lady lake

Awana Port, also known as the cruise ship port was were we spent our next night. We anchored outside the port and used the dingy to travel in for dinner. The sun was just setting as we set off. It was low tide when we approached the jetty to tie up. The jetty towered over our heads and I had no idea how we were going to get up to the top. The first step was at my shoulder and it was covered in barnacles. Thank goodness my uncle made it and by standing on the side of the dingy he was able to pull each of us up. A shot taxi ride down the road took us to the best meal we had the whole trip, an Indian restaurant called Tulsi Garden. The food was delicious. We had naan, chicken tikka, samosas, aloo gobi and onion pakora. There were other dishes as well but as I have some horrid allergies I could not try them. The restaurant was actually so accommodating to my allergies, I was so impressed. I had wanted to order chicken korma but they advised against it due to my allergies. Thank goodness the tide had risen a bit when we returned, making it much easier to get back into the dingy. sunset tall jetty tulsi garden

Pulau Singa Besar was our next stop where we found our own beach to spend the morning. Although Malaysia is very beautiful there is lots of pollution in the water, mainly plastic bottles with get blown off boats or beaches. So you find yourself on a beautiful beach, completely deserted except for hundreds of plastic bottles washed up. They are not on the beach, those are clear, but they are in the bushes. our beach for the morningI spy bottles

That night we moored at the Rebak Island Marina which also has a resort attached to it. We were able to use the resort too. The pool was lovely with its palm trees and sea views. We had drinks at the beach bar  which were lovely and then dinner at the restaurant too. The only down side was the mosquitos in the harbour that night. I got eaten alive. I was so itchy the next day and every time I moved anything in the cabin a mosquito flew out. I even found some pressed in my books, shocking. I did enjoy lying by the beach and drinking a cool milkshake while reading my book, such luxury. the pool restaurant by the poolhammock by the beach bar cocktails palms milkshake pool/beachside

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Breakfast at the Shangri La

doughnuts

The breakfast at the Shangri La in KL was so amazing that it had to have a post all on its own. I have never seen anything like it. What ever you could imagine or want for breakfast they had. Eggs, cereal, toast, waffles, french toast, pastries and fruit is what you would expect but they had, curries, noodle, dim sum, sushi, an omelette bar, smoothies and so much more as well. What I did not expect were the two chocolate fountains pouring out milk and white chocolate for you to dip fruit in.

chocolate fountain

I was overwhelmed. Where do you even begin? I was thrilled to see guava juice. Guava juice is my favourite but here it was green. I am use to pink. Green or pink, it tasted like guava. After walking round and round the dining area looking at all the food choice numerous times, I decided to start with something healthy. I had an omelette made for me with turkey, tomatoes and mushrooms. It was delicious! Then I went off and tried loads of the eastern delights.

sushi dim sumomelette bar

The photos were snapped quickly on my phone so they are not the best quality but I am sure you get the idea. I finished my meal with a few pastries, my favourite being the custard one. The coffee also came with a chocolate ‘S’ dusted on the top. It was a memorable meal where you wish you had a second stomach to enjoy so much more. s is for shangri la coffee pastries

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Malaysia – Kuala Lampur

relaxing by the pool

So my journey in Malaysia started in Kuala Lumpur. But the adventure started in the air above Doha in Qatar. I had to change planes in Doha. They announced that we would be landing shortly and we all placed our tray tables away and our seats in the upright position. The screens showed the plane coming into Doha and there were 10 minutes till we landed. After a while I looked up and the screen still said 10 minutes. How was that possible? Did I just make time stand still? And if I did why this moment on a plane, when all I really wanted to do was get off? Then I noticed, thanks to the satellite map, that we were circling. Round and round we went, for ages. So we landed late. I didn’t have long to make my connection. But Economy has to wait. And wait! Then its a bus ride to the terminal. We stop. The doors don’t open. Come on!!!!! I’m in a rush here! The doors open. I bolt out the bus and into the terminal. Which gate? Quick check the boards. Great! Off I go. Up the escalator. And then I realised that my gate is right on the other side of the airport and everyone seems to have all the time in the world. So there I am trying to dodge people but I kept getting stuck behind Sunday walkers. Finally at the gate. Phew! So If it was a close call for me I never thought about how close it might be for my luggage…

famous kl towers

I arrived in KL and was super excited to see my family, who had already arrived and as I only had a few hours in KL before we flew on, I wanted to make the most of it. I was off the plane and through passport control really quickly. But then the wait at the baggage carousel began. Slowly less bags came out and fewer people were standing around. I saw some people talking to an official looking man so I headed in that direction. That’s when I discovered their luggage wasn’t there either. The nice man told me my bag was still in Doha and would be arriving tonight and to please go to Lost and Found. That was slightly irritating as there seemed to only be one desk open yet lots of people hanging round. Thank goodness I was 2nd in the queue. It took about an hour to sort out and they assured me that my suitcase would be at the hotel by midnight. So off I went in search of a taxi.

I tried to smile when the taxi driver said, ‘No luggage Miss?’

It was about a 45 minute taxi ride into central KL. I was meeting my family at the Shangri La Hotel.  Wow what a stunning hotel. I wish I could have had more time to experience more of it. I went up and met my Dad in the room. He also asked, ‘Where is your luggage?’ To which I responded, ‘In Doha.’ He laughed and said, ‘I’m sure they are bringing it up for you right now.’ ‘No really it’s in Doha.’ My Dad thought I was joking I had to explain that really it was in Doha and it did not make the connection. Suddenly it was not so funny and what was I going to do if it didn’t arrive before we had to leave tomorrow. I told him not to worry, they assured me it would arrive. Now my Mum has always told me the story of my grandparents loosing their luggage and not being able to swim in the pool in a hot climate. That is why you should always travel with your bathing suit in your hand luggage. Which I always do after that story… except this time round as my hand luggage wasn’t big enough for added extras. Blast! So off I went with my Dad to find my mum by the pool and all I could do was put my feet in the water. At least I was wearing fairly summery clothes as it had been a warm day in London when I left. Otherwise I would really have suffered. Did I mention that it is very hot and humid in KL?

shangri la fish pond

Now I only had an evening in KL instead of a morning. So we hurried off to see the sights. My parents had to take me past the amazing cake shop in the hotel and show me the cakes. Sadly I had missed out on the delicious tea they had had there that afternoon.cakes macaroons

I was able to visit the Petronas Towers, which are the famous twin towers of KL. Inside is a huge shopping centre with every shop you can imagine from M&S to Louis Vuitton. You can also go up and walk along the sky bridge but this didn’t cross my mind at all while we were actually there.  My Mum spotted the Kinokuniya book shop straight away. I have visited this book shop in Sydney and Singapore and now KL. Its huge and great if you love books, which I do. My friends keep telling me I have too many books and that I should get a Kindle but I love books! So we were very happy to spend some time there.

tower lit up

Due to the heat we had to go in search of a cold drink. There were lots of little bars between the Shangri La and the Towers. But the one that had the most life, people and atmosphere just happened to be the Irish pub. So funny having come all the way from England to Malaysia to sit in an Irish pub. But it was lovely to sit outside and watch the people go by, feel the heat on your skin and have an ice cold drink in your hand. We decided to find somewhere else for dinner as we all wanted something for traditional to eat. We headed off to the markets close to China Town. markets

We found a Thai restaurant and had delicious food. I was too hungry to remember to take a photo but my favourite dish was garlic prawns and fried rice. They were really good. We strolled around the markets afterwards and then headed home. Luckily the markets were walking distance from the hotel. Unfortunately we caught a taxi there and with the one way systems, we got a little disoriented. But my Mum had a map and said we just needed to follow the monorail. Pity there was more than one monorail and we ended up miles from the hotel. There was a big tower next to the hotel and when we started walking away from it I knew we were going in the wrong direction. So I took the map and steered us home. The problem was that the map was a tourist map so it didn’t have all the roads or names of roads on it so it was a little confusing. A nice hour detour in the humidity isn’t too bad…we definitely walked the supper off. Thank goodness for air conditioning!

I managed to stay awake until 11:30 but sadly no suitcase had yet arrived. I closed my eyes and hoped it would be there when I opened them the next morning. A good first day of adventures.

 

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4 Continents – 8 Weeks

oceans to cross

4 Continents in 8 weeks. 7 Counties(if you count airport stop overs and plane changes), 14 flights and a whole lot of adventure. My life is about to become very different as I jet set across the world. There will be goodbyes to say and warm welcomes to make. Watch this space to see my journey.

adventureContinent number one is Asia! Malaysia here I come!

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Mugswap 2013

my mug

I came across A Cuppa Kim‘s Mugswap last year on instagram. I loved taking part in it and could not wait for her third annual swap to take place. I met two lovely ladies through the swap last year. It has been so lovely to follow them on instagram and peek into their lives. So I was really looking forward to meeting two new ladies this year.

mugswap

Last year I sent a mug from Australia to America and this year I sent a mug from the UK to Thailand. I loved going from store to store trying to find the perfect mug and accessories. I could not wait to get my mug swap buddy info from Kim. No really I could not wait, I started making the mug rug the day I signed up. I just experienced so much joy putting my parcel together. I was sad when I was finished and wished I could have more than one partner. There is just something so exciting putting a parcel together for someone across the world who you have never met, wondering and hoping that they will like it. This ice cream mug called out to me to buy it and from there the parcel just came together.

mug for my partner mug rug other side of the mug

mug full of goodies

chocolate stash

I filled the mug with different hot chocolates as well as a chocolate stirring spoon. I also included a felt rose ring I had made as I like to share a little of myself with my swap partner. Just incase my swap partner wasn’t a chocolate fan – oh dear – I included a ‘keep calm and drink tea’ badge. The parcel was wrapped up safely and sent off and then the wait began. The wait for it to arrive at its destination and the wait for my mug to get to me. I didn’t have to wait long for one of those.

recipe mug

Two days later I found a ‘sorry you were out’ card in my post box. This really frustrated me as I was not out and knew I had missed my mug arriving. I had to wait 24 hours to visit the postoffice and the anticipation was killing me. Last year my mug travelled from Canada and this year it came from a little closer, Ireland. Kelly Ann knew I had a love for baking and sent me a special mug with a brownie recipe on it. I love that the mug has measurements inside. The list of ingredients is printed on the outside along with a picture of a chocolatey brownie. I think drinking out of this mug without a brownie to accompany my hot drink would just be wrong.

inside

My baking brownie mug was also accompanied by a card and message from Kelly Ann. The card was just what I needed to hear – everything is going to be ok! It was just what I needed as it was a very chaotic week packing up my life and shipping it to the other side of the world.

everything is going to be ok

Thank you Kelly Ann for my  baking brownie mug and the kind words you wrote in the card. I hope that you got a great mug too. The great thing about the mug swap is that every time you use the mug you received you think about the wonderful person that sent it to you.

Mug Swap!
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2nd Whole30

lemon waer

Another Whole30 done and dusted! Feels Awesome! I decided to do a 2nd one as I started to feel really tired and sluggish after my first, as I ate a few things I shouldn’t have. I knew I needed the energy to keep me going through the hectic time that lay ahead of me so I started up again! (Lemon water is great for digestion, I drink it every morning)

breakfast

Doing the Whole30 a second time was so much easier than the first time. Again I had so much energy and felt great. I also experienced great weight loss. I really wanted to introduce more exercise this time around so I started running. It felt great to be outdoors in the early hours of the morning.

early morning run

I learnt some tricks this time round. The weather here got super hot, summer had finally arrived and I was thrilled. But everyone was eating ice cream! To get me through this I made my own version of ice cream, dairy and sugar-free. I used frozen berries and a banana and then a teaspoon of nut butter and whizzed them all together. The end result was totally delicious!

dairy free icecream

I also bought a kitchen gadget that makes zoodles – zucchini noodles. This was a great purchase as the zoodles cook quickly making them a fast and filling meal when you add protein.  chicken zoodle stir fry

kitchen gadget

I also got better with ordering food out. I have learnt to make sensible choices and ask for them to change things. This salad below was delicious. I just ignored the bread. salad

tea time

I have had many bun-less burgers and they have been very tasty. This one I made from scratch as most shop bought ones contain wheat or dairy. burger salad

And with summer comes the most amazing fruit. I must say I find it hard to only eat 2 portions! melon fruit cherries

There are many reasons why I will recommend the whole30 to everyone:

1) The energy

2) Feeling great

3) Learning not to emotionally eat

4) Loosing cravings

5) Weight loss – my clothes are fitting better, some are too big even.

6) Sleeping well and waking up naturally

7) Personally my tummy is the happiest it has been in years!

8) I also sometime had joint pain, not since I’ve said goodbye to gluten.

I know that I will be doing another Whole30 again soon, but for now I’m heading to Paleo and seeing how that goes. For me, as soon as I start to feel tired I know it comes down to my diet and then its time to become strict again. Also I’m on a good journey, I don’t really want to turn around and go backwards.

whole foods

How is your whole30 journey going?

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Make, Bake & Eat Cake – From The Garden

browniesFrom the garden is a great theme as you can bake anything with an ingredient found in the garden. Rosemary, basil, sage, lavender, lemon, apple, berries, and so much more. Having just completed my Whole30 challenge I was looking to make a Paleo bake and I had my eye on these unusual brownies. Why were they unusual you ask? Because they were made with Avocado! The ingredients were mostly natural, coconut oil, coconut flour, maple syrup and avocado. Of course there was some very dark chocolate and cocoa in there too. The result was lovely moist chocolatey brownies which were a hit!

brownies

avo

IMG_8864

Roz baked a Lemon, sage and blueberry cake which was delicious. She wanted to use herbs in her bake and just googled herb cakes to find a recipe that she liked.lemon sage blueberry cakeHannah baked using rhubarb from her new garden. She baked a rhubarb custard cake. I am a fan of custard so I enjoyed this bake too. rhubarb custard cakeJenny baked lemon meringue cupcakes. Lemon meringue pie is my favourite and a friend of mine has made these before and I know what a hit they can be. Jenny did so well with her choice of ingredient. Making meringue was new for her and she did well. Lemon is one of my all time favourite ingredients. lemon meringue cupcakes

Sadly this was the last Cake Club for a while and possible the last one I host in the UK. But who knows what the future will bring.

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