Malaysia/Australia Journal 2015


Last year I was sent to Australia for work and at the time I realized it was a ridiculous thing as I was really only there for six days with four those actually working. Travelling that kind of distance from London is really only realistic for at least two weeks so I felt I had short-changed the place. True, I had actually visited previously but that was FIFTEEN years ago and, of course, things change and, indeed, I have changed a lot since then. To add to the reasons for our visit my wife Mel has never visited Australia or, for that matter, even the southern hemisphere so it would be good to show her a bit of what was there and perhaps even think about whether we would be interested in living there at some point in the future given that I see the place as very similarly culturally to Canada, where we are from, and the UK, where we live now. It would be relatively easy for us to adapt to a life in Australia. Anyway, at the end of all this thinking we decided to make it our big “trip of the year”.

Once the decision was made the rest was simply a matter of logistics.

During my time in Africa I became friends with a number of other volunteers one of which is a paediatrician who lives and works in Malaysia or, more specifically, the Borneo part of Malaysia. The part most people think of when they hear of “Malaysia” is the island with Kuala Lumpur on the east and Singapore on the southern tip but Borneo is the big island to the east of this shaped like a sausage that has another area of Malaysia on the northern half and Indonesia on the southern half. Sian lives in the capital of the Sarawak region of Malaysia, Kuching. We have always meant to visit her so a stopover in Malaysia was easy enough to arrange with local flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching for a few days to catch up and for her to show us around. We really know nothing about the area at all and Sian has been very willing to not only take the time off of work to show us around but also has offered us a room in her house and she has also come up with what looks like a pretty full itinerary.

Believe it or not the more complicated arrangements have been those in Australia. After our trip to see Sian we will be flying to Sydney where we will stay for a few days then pick up a car to drive along the coast via Canberra to Melbourne. We have arranged hotels in the big cities but otherwise we will have to find accommodation along the way. There is a big highway between Sydney and Melbourne which is about 900 km but we are most definitely taking the long way around, something like at least double that distance. This is the reverse trip that my mother and I took back in 1999 so I am reasonably familiar with the drive so we should be able to hit a lot of the highlights along the way but still have time to find our own highlights.

So, we had to now decide when to visit. Knowing that the seasons are opposite to those we experience in the UK and Canada we decided to visit in November which is the rainy season in Malaysia and just going into summer in Australia. This means that in both places it will not be as hot as it is normally but still warm enough, hopefully, to enjoy a swim in the ocean or some sunshine in our travels. A trip in November also breaks up a series of months where there are no national holidays.

We only have two weeks for this trip as that is all that Mel and I have left for the year. I think these weeks will be very busy…

>> Thursday, November 5th