Tag Archives: malaysia

Our World School: An End of Year Report

30 Dec

A living room with chequered tiles set up on the ceiling, at Scienceworks, Melbourne

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]

For anyone planning longterm travel with kids, anyone who would like to travel and is delaying having kids to do so, or any parents who would love to travel but feel they can’t because of the kids, probably the single biggest concern is what sort of education a child will get on the road.

This is also a major source of anxiety for other family members, particularly grandparents.

Honestly? Education, once you get the hang of it, is one of the easiest things about travelling as a family. I’ve posted before about the wonders of unschooling, a child-led approach to learning. I’ve also posted about the sheer hell of imposing a school-y structure on travelling, AKA death by long division.

Most of Z’s learning is hands-on, supplemented by almost entirely self-directed reading. We spend very little time on more formal learning, though I’ve had to learn a lot myself to keep up with his questions on the places we visit.

Here’s the end of year report card on my now-ten-year-old son’s roadschooling. I’m hoping travelling parents, prospective travelling parents and, for that matter, others considering alternatives to the school system, will find it useful. Continue reading

6 Signs That Say You’re a Long Way from Home

29 Aug

Sign in Indonesian airport toilet, showing users not to squat on the toilet, throw food, utensils or bottles into the toilet, or flush the toilet using a hose.
1: Instructions on how to use the toilet. [tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]

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Makassar airport, Indonesia, caters both to Westerners and locals on, perhaps, their first flight ever. Which is why the Western-style thrones have these handy instructions on the side of the cubicle.

For safety reasons all weapons must be kept by air crew during flight.
2: Weapons? Just leave them with the cabin crew. Continue reading

Welcome to Indonesia!

19 Aug

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]We left Tawau, the port in north-eastern (Malaysian) Borneo, this morning. For Tarakan, on the Indonesian side of Borneo.

The boat was late. Terminally late. Clearly an hour or more late, rather than a few minutes late.

So I was relaxed when I got off it to buy snacks at the port side, leaving Z perusing 1066 and All That in the cabin.

Rather less relaxed when I turned round, in the throes of making change, to see the boat pulling out to sea. Continue reading

Mr. Confidence

15 Aug

Z, grinning, coming off slide with rubber ring. Poring Hot Springs, Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Sometimes, something happens which makes you look at your child with new eyes.

This morning, Z and I were at Poring Hot Springs, the sulphurous waters which seethe out of the jungly lowlands in the shadow of Mount Kinabalu. They function, if not as a panacea, at least as a salve for muscles recovering from ascending 800-plus metres of said mountain then descending more than 2 kilometres of it.

In a single day.

After a 2am start. Continue reading

Climbing Mount Kinabalu

14 Aug

Low's Peak casts a shadow and refracts the sunrise, Mount Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia.[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Dali would have loved the summit of Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak between the Himalayas and New Guinea.

Granite towers, horns and cowslicks protrude improbably from a landscape of fractured moraines and curvaceous drops, polished clean by Pleistocene glaciers and decked with gleaming waterfalls.

And watching the rising sun refract around these surrealist sculptures and illuminate Low’s Gully, which falls dark and sheer for over a kilometre, is a memory that will last forever.

Unlike the thigh and calf pain, which I am told should be gone within the week. Continue reading

Ulp. It’s an Alp.

10 Aug

The flag of Sabah state, with Mount Kinabalu shaded in blue on the top left.[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]When a mountain makes it onto the state flag, you know it’s a big old mountain. And Mount Kinabalu, which stands over 4000m above Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, is certainly that.

The nine year old and I will be climbing it on Wednesday and Thursday. (Well, hiking, technically, albeit with the odd bit of rope and head-torch action.)

And every time I see the bloody thing looming up, I wonder whether this is a good idea. Particularly since one part of Z’s incentive package for the summit climb is that I am giving up smoking.

Not for the first time, it has to be said, but hopefully for the last. Continue reading

Of Canopies and Caves

9 Aug

Green leaves explode from the lower canopy, above clusters of tree tops. Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Borneo.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]This is the view down over the lower storey of the rainforest canopy, in Mulu National Park, Sarawak, from the longest canopy skywalk in the world. Nigh-on 500m of suspension bridge rattles and sways above the tops of the lowest trees, pinned to the sleek trunks of emergent giants.

It’s a place where I discovered that the nine year old’s theory of repeated exposure curing vertigo holds some force. And the nine year old, in turn, discovered a fear of heights.

Well, not so much heights, exactly. His objection, to be precise, was to the skywalk, and in particular the plastic packing tape which held the creaking boards together. Continue reading

From Hunter-Gatherers to Human Zoo

8 Aug View from a low-flying prop plane over Mulu National Park and the Mulu River. Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Leaving Mulu National Park on a little propeller plane, with rivers unspieling below us, a scattered handful of logging tracks carving their way across the hilltops, and merciful expanses of untouched forest before the gridded tracts of oil palms, it’s easy to see how remote the interior of Borneo once was.

In the days when the Brooke dynasty ruled Sarawak — even during the heady couple of years when Sarawak had an airforce (two seaplanes, one of which broke soon after arrival) — the trip would have taken weeks, if not months.

And nomadic tribes like the Penan could live their life untouched, as they had for untold centuries. Continue reading

Three Million Bats

6 Aug

Stream of bats swirl across the twilit sky. Deer Cave, Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Borneo.[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Deer Cave, at Mulu National Park, is one of the largest cave chambers in the world, and home to as many as three million bats. Towards twilight, on evenings when it’s not raining, they swarm out to hunt in the forest around, consuming as many as fifteen tonnes of insects every evening.

They follow a crazy, spiralling, swirling route, fizzing up in a stream of smoke, more like hornets, locusts or bees than mammals. The aim? To frustrate the hawks, which hover above the limestone crags which mark the cave entrance, diving into the morass in search of prey. For video, Continue reading

So Long and Thanks to (All) the Fish

5 Aug Z in orange lifejacket in longboat en route to Mulu National Park with his grandparents.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Yesterday was a rite of passage for the nine year old. And one that I can, with hand on heart, say that I am glad to have missed.

He caught… Drum roll… His first fish!

And who was there to share the precious moment? The triumph of the successful bite? The joy as the catch is, finally, reeled in? The squirm-inducing process of torture by which one rips the hook from the soft palate of a living, suffocating, flopping creature, exterminates the last vestiges of consciousness and transfers it to a receptacle to await its ultimate fate?

Granny and Grandpa! Continue reading