Wednesday, December 26, 2012


"It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season—like all the other seasons—is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them." Lemony Snicket, The Lump of Coal

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

It's been eleven days since we landed at PDX and surprised our friends and family by showing up on their doorsteps.  I have been too busy soaking it all in to write much here, but there are posts in the works from our time in Thailand and our time so far in the states.  The last week and a half has been a bit of a whirlwind, but with Christmas upon us it's finally setting in that we are home.  Tonight I'll go to sleep on Christmas Eve in the house where I've slept every Christmas Eve (aside from the last two years in Korea) since I was born.  That is something special.  

Here's hoping your holiday is filled with happiness and love.
{photo by the amazing Jill and Aaron of Aaron Nicholas Photography}

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy 60th mom!


How lucky I am to be home in time for this special day.
You might even think I planned it that way! :)

Mom and I had high tea at an adorable tea house this afternoon.
{For some reason I look a little bit like a giant compared to the birthday girl...}

Later Ryan and I shared in the unveiling of a collage my dad created for mom in honor of the milestone.  

What a wonderful life you've had so far.

I love you mommy.  
Happy 60th birthday!

Monday, December 17, 2012


** We're back from sixteen months in Asia, just in time for the holidays! **
The expressions on the faces of our family and friends when they saw us were complete shock and surprise.  
Priceless :) 

We are so happy to be home!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Malaysia Part Three: The Island of Penang

Penang, also known as the Pearl of the Orient, is a beautiful place. 

Georgetown, the largest city is a blend of Malay, Indian and Chinese cultures, each with their own religion, food and history.   
Outside of the main city the island is home to small beach communities, first class resorts, and a beautiful national park.

During our days in Georgetown we went for walks around Chinatown, Little India, downtown and along the sea.

We continued to eat delicious Indian, Chinese, and Malaysian specialties.
 I even learned to how to make satay :)

And we finally tried durian.   

{Video to come}
Our review: a mix of onion, garlic and creamy fruit.  
Basically: Ewww.
Although it's known as the "king of fruit," durian is so strong and potent that it's not allowed in airports, train stations and many hotels in Southeast Asia.  
We prefer the delicious "queen of fruit" for sure.

A friendly fellow traveler we'd met in Indonesia turned out to be from Malaysia and was kind enough to show us around the city's less touristy markets and coffee shops.

We spent a sweaty day at Penang's National Park where our sweet new friend led us on a hike through the jungle and out to a pretty beach.

There we saw the biggest ants ever and wild monkeys in the trees including this one, eating durian (impressive enough) with only his feet.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but he was a hand-less monkey.

  As we left the area we’d been hiking in we noticed a sign blocking off the path we had just come from.  It stated that that part of the park was closed as it was being investigated for disease.


Don't worry... I'm happy to report that we still seem to be disease-free and loving life in Thailand!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Malaysia Part Two: Cooling off in the Highlands

Sawasdee (hello) from Chiang Mai!

We are loving this city and its gorgeous old temples and cute cafes.  
Tomorrow is the King's birthday in Thailand and we feel so lucky that we're here to partake in the festivities.

We are putting the finishing touches on our plans in Thailand for the next few weeks before we arrive home on the second of January!

It is certain we are spending Christmas here and we could not be more excited to get back to the beach :)

For now back to our time in Malaysia:


As soon as I read about the Cameron Highlands last spring I was convinced we couldn't miss it.  Mystic mountains, cozy guesthouses, and tea farms with homemade pastries and fresh brewed tea?  I was sold.

 We booked a hotel in the small town of Tanah Rata and made the five hour bus ride from busy Kuala Lumpur into the peaceful Highlands.

The first thing we noticed upon arrival: 1) it was cold 2) it was rainy.  
Freezing in my shorts, I later realized it was above 60 degrees. 
 {Don't ask me how I'm going to handle going back to a cold and wet Portland because I don't know.}

We strolled from the bus station to our guesthouse, admiring the old hotels, quaint tea shops and pretty natural scenery. 

When we got to the road our guesthouse was on however, we noticed a slight problem. The recent rain had completely flooded the street leading to the place we'd booked.  

Luckily another guesthouse with the same owner offered us their nearby place to drop our things as we explored the city (and waited for the flood water to be pumped out of the way).  

When the road still wasn't cleared later that night we ended up bargaining for a (better) room at the second guesthouse.  
We dried out around a bonfire and traded travel stories with other guests.


Over the next two days we stuffed ourselves with delicious Indian food.  
We couldn't get enough!  
Tandoori chicken, cheese naan (how have I never had that before?) and our new favorites: sweet roti canai and savory tosai.

We also tried Chinese "Steamboat," a selection of veggies, seafood and noodles cooked in fiery tom yum and chicken broths on our tabletop.  Like all the local food we ate in Malaysia, it was amazing!

But we did more than just eat.

One day we took a scenic hike to the nearest tea plantation where we had fresh mint tea and scones with strawberry and cream.

We also tried the cutest dessert place for fresh mango sorbet with fruit, ice, jelly and cornflakes.  Sounds strange, tasted delicious.

Ok, so maybe all we did was eat....

It was hard to say goodbye to the sweet little mountain town, but we adored Penang, our last stop in Malaysia.  More on that trip later this week!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Malaysia Part One: The Streets of Kuala Lumpur

 Hello from Sukothai.

We made it into Thailand last night and spent a truly beautiful day here in the country's ancient capital.  Tomorrow we are heading north for some time in Chiang Mai and we could not be more excited!  It's hard to believe that we've been traveling for two months already and that we're on the last leg of our trip.  One month to go!

Now here's an update on our time in Malaysia.


We took the latest bus we could from Singapore into Malaysia in an effort to save time and money on accommodation.  It departed at midnight and was advertised to take six to seven hours, meaning we'd arrive early the next morning.   

Oh, we arrived early.   
There we were dropped off at 4 am in Kuala Lumpur's main square, exhausted and disoriented from lack of sleep.  We watched as department store associates scrambled around to set up enormous Christmas trees and life-size nutracker statues and contemplated our next move.  We decided to make our way to the hotel we’d booked and see if they’d let us check in early.   

Ten hours early. 
One long wait, too much money for early check-in and a refreshing nap later we awoke and set out to explore.

First things first, a traditional Malaysian breakfast of toast sandwiches with sweet butter and coconut jam, soft boiled eggs (neither of us was a fan of these) and creamy coffee.

We walked through the markets of Little India and the busy streets of Chinatown where we tried to the local soup, laksa.  We didn't try controversial durian.

We strolled through the beautiful downtown and through the lovely Lake Gardens.

Then spent an evening atop the Menara Tower looking out on the KL skyline and its famous towers.

The Batu Caves made for a nice day trip. 
 Quite a few stairs (272 to be exact) later we made it to the cave.
Some monkey friends kept us entertained along the way.  Even more waited at the top.
In honor of Thanksgiving we enjoyed a dinner consisting of too much food and too much beer.  
{After all, we are still Americans.  :)}

We chose various skewers and had them cooked up and accompanied by sweet and spicy peanut chili sauce. 

Missing Malaysia and its delicious food already!