I had my second cataract operation yesterday, two years after the first. After 10 hours of tests the day before, the actual operation only took 15 minutes, and 2 hours later they said I could go home! They had initially talked about an overnight stay, so to be home so quickly was a big bonus and hopefully a sign that the operation went very well.
As ever in these situations, Jiajia was a star - taking me from test to test, explaining what I had to do and giving me an arm if I felt dizzy!
JD was keen to learn how to scuba dive this holiday - something JiaJia and I enjoy doing when we can. So we arranged for a Dive Shop to give him an hour of training. Scuba trainer Aaron gave JD an onshore briefing before practicing "Mask clearing" and "Regulator/BCD management" in the shallows. Then they headed 6m/20ft down to the coral beds to explore while I looked down on them, floating up on the surface. JD loved it and Aaron said JD was "fearless" and a "natural"!
We took a boat to Long Beach today, around the other side of Redang Island. We'll be staying in Paradise Resort for our last few days here. The hotel is only a little better quality than our last one but the beach is literally outside our room and there's no Mosque to wake us up!
There are also new areas to explore, including a beach full of shells.
We decided to have a rest day today. JD has a dozen nasty bites on his legs and back ("sand flies", the doctor says), while I have gout and sunburned ankles (from a kayaking trip with JD!). So we wandered (hobbled!) into the local village for some "real" Malaysian life.
One thing we weren't expecting was to stumble on five 2.5-meter (8ft) long water monitor lizards! These huge monsters are a common and protected species in East Malaysia. Scared the life out of us at first.
Local Malaysian food is a lot cheaper than the touristy dishes in the hotel. We had three meals and three drinks in a roadside cafe for the same price as one meal in our hotel! Just as tasty, too.
Well, "Turtle Beach" is just amazing! We swam out from shore to interact with huge (1m/3ft) sea turtles. Or there are closer coral reefs just begging to be snorkelled, with hundreds of fish such as clownfish ("Nemo"), zebrafish, neons, sea cucumbers, parrotfish, angelfish, sea snakes etc. The water is crystal clear and the sand is white. The beach is public, but somewhat out of the way and therefore nearly deserted at times. We had a blast!
We flew to Terengganu today. We had planned to jump on a ferry there to our island destination but, on doing more in-country research, we realised that the "3 ferries a day" in our guidebook had now been cut down to one a day - and our flight arrived after it left.
We visited Kuala Lumpur's aquarium today. It gave us a taster for our diving later in the holiday, especially the glass tunnel underneath a huge tank of sharks, skates, stingrays and sea turtles.
In the evening, we found the city's night market for some local food. Jiajia was on the lookout for exotic fruit to buy, while JD tracked down some model aircraft as souvenirs of his travel. Once back at our apartment we had a cooling evening swim in our rooftop pool.
JiaJia, JD and I flew off to Malaysia today for a fortnight's holiday in Kuala Lumpur and Redang Island. The only direct flight from Kunming to KL is with AirAsia - a budget airline. So a cheap and cheerful four hour flight.
JD is something of a plane buff and seemed more excited about the thought of air travel than the holiday itself. We spent most of the journey listening to him regale us with various facts about the Airbus A320!
JD has been working really hard these last few months. The pressure to do well (from the Chinese education system, and from his very competitive class teacher) has been immense. A typical evening has seen him (and Jiajia) working until 10-11pm to finish his homework. JD's Chinese has always been his weakness. Unlike his classmates, he operates in a world where language is split - whilst his schoolwork and homework is all in Chinese, his home life and entertainment tends to be in English. Tough.
After recent grades in mock Chinese exams of 44% and 65%, we were simply hoping for something over 70% for his final exam. But, to our surprise, he managed to get 84% in Chinese, and then 93% in Maths. Finally, a much needed reward for all his hard work. Well done, son!
Past blog entries