Thoughts and Considerations

Nine years ago this week, Kim and I left Malaysia after a six-week visit. It had been my first time to Malaysia, and it was a most wonderful experience.

Not only did I get to see, for the first time, the country and city where my wife had been born and grew up, I got to meet, in person for the first time, the two daughters from her side of our blended family and our grandchildren. That was so special to me.

Since then, I have been back to Malaysia four more times, in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020. Kim and I went for four weeks in 2015, in 2017 we flew over together with Kim staying four weeks and me for eleven. In 2019 I was back in Malaysia for eight weeks by myself. Kim and I traveled for six weeks in 2020 and were joined by daughter Anita and her husband Aaron for the first three weeks, allowing her to meet her sisters in person for the first time.

And then came Covid-19. And it came fast. We actually had to cut our visit short by ten days so that we could get home. Then we had to isolate for two weeks and then Kim got laid off. But that’s a story for another time.

It is now closing in on three years since we’ve been to Malaysia. And we really have no idea of when we’ll be there again. No idea of when we’ll see our daughters and grandchildren in person once more.

Now I started this blog post more than two weeks ago and walked away, leaving it uncompleted. Following that it just sat when my brain kinda went blah. Until today.

To be honest, I have been feeling great frustration within myself. I have things to do, why am I not doing them! I created this “Wee Internet Empire” thing so that I could keep myself involved in something. So what if few people seem to pay much attention.

In reality it’s more than that.

Yes, I want to be in Malaysia, see our daughters and grandkids, but even more I want Kim to get to be with them. She worries so much about them as they have struggled through Covid (most of them actually caught it at one time or another) and the economic turmoil the pandemic caused throughout Malaysia.

And still more than that.

Pre-Covid I had been placed on the list to have a complete hip replacement. As the medical system was stretched so thin during the pandemic it took quite a while to work my way through all the required tests and procedures to be ready for my surgery to be scheduled. At the end of 2021 it was. However, just prior I had developed a bit of an issue on my lower leg and the surgery was cancelled until it could be dealt with. Long story short, ten months later we are still dealing with it. Once dealt with, I’ll have to begin redoing some of the tests and procedures to prepare for surgery as they must be done within a certain time period pre-surgery.

Don’t get me wrong, all is not doom and gloom.

We have been out on the motorcycle over the summer (limited a bit by my leg condition) and have enjoyed traveling around in the Mercedes convertible. We often enjoy our regular dim sum and get together with fellow veterans on occasion. We see our daughter and husband here in Edmonton, my sister from Calgary, while our son from England and his wife came for a lovely visit.

I guess it kind of boils down to the lingering cloud of uncertainty. It seems to fluctuate between shades lighter and darker grey, never becoming black however white remains elusive.

We are trying to make some decisions. Do we hold off on traveling until all is complete, leg issues and surgery. Or do we call our travel lady and book a trip. Certainly something we are trying to work out.

Our future path remains to be seen. I am hoping though, that by sharing these thoughts with you, my readers, it will help me get back on track doing some of the other things which I should be working on.

Thanks so much for reading. Your feedback is always welcome, as is your support.

If you have not already done so, you can keep up with my “Wee Internet Empire” by subscribing to my newsletter, “Old Guy, New Tricks“.

Until next time, be well and take care of yourself.

A “New To Me” Car

So, just over a month ago I got a “new to me” car.

I wasn’t looking for another vehicle and really, didn’t need another vehicle. We already had a van that Kim drives as well as a car and a motorcycle that I drive. So, why get another vehicle? How did this happen?

Well, every morning as part of my online routine I have a look at Facebook Marketplace, mostly out of curiosity, just to see what’s there. I saw this vehicle, had a look, and moved on, as happens many times. Of course, because I had looked at it, Facebook made sure it appeared on other occasions as well. One day I noticed that the price had decreased quite a bit, so, I figured, why not check it out.

I contacted the seller and arranged to have a look at it. It was an older vehicle and appeared to be in excellent shape with very few flaws. The owner stated his bottom line for the vehicle. Okay. I made no commitment, and that evening mentioned it to Kim, showing her the posted ad. She said she would like to see it in person.

So, an appointment was made, and we went over to have a look, taking it for a test drive as well. When we returned, I was looking over the vehicle, checking things out and Kim was talking to the owner. As I joined them, he said that he would take an amount that was a fair bit lower than his “bottom line”. Kim seems to have this ability with people.

The end result was that we drove home the proud possessors of a new to us vehicle.

So, what is this vehicle you ask.

It is a 1999 Merecedes SLK 230 Hardtop Convertible, a two-seater sports car. Twenty-three years old and only 73,500 kilometres. Oh, and I should mention, because it was originally from Japan, it is right-hand drive and talks to us in Japanese on startup.

It was so nice to get back into a convertible, having had three at various times previously, and it being a true sports car was a bonus. It runs as good as it looks and we are enjoying it as much as possible before the ground turns white, at which time both the Mercedes and the motorcycle will buddy up in the garage until Spring.

Well, now it seems that I have become another old guy who drives around in a Mercedes.

However, we are realizing more and more that we need to do more of the things that we enjoy while we are able to. Of course, it will be different experiences for different people. Our health and financial aspects will differ, but the principle remains the same.

We certainly have our ups and downs, however as long as life continues, we’ll do our best to live it from a positive perspective.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy this blog post and the rest of what I share on my Wee Internet Empire. By all means subscribe to my newsletter and keep up with what’s happening.

Itchy Boots Visits Haida Gwaii

During my military career, I had a tour in Masset, Queen Charlotte Islands, from 1977 to 1981. On June 3, 2010, the group of nearly 400 islands was renamed Haida Gwaii by the Haida Gwaii Reconciliation Act as part of the Kunst’aa guu – Kunst’aaa Reconciliation Protocol between British Columbia and the Haida people.

I very much enjoyed my time in “the Charlottes”, as we knew it then, and as well, son Colin was born there.

Unfortunately, I have not had an opportunity to return since, although it is on my hope to do list.

As I develop my “Wee Internet Empire” I try to follow quite a few different people as they do different things on social media.

One of those people is a lady named Noraly, from the Netherlands, who goes by the online handle of Itchy Boots. She is a real adventurer and travels around the globe, solo on her motorcycle, documenting her journey on her website, blog and YouTube channel.

Recently her travels had her traveling through Canada, and this took her to Haida Gwaii, making me even more interested in her adventures.

I really liked the four videos which make up this section of her journey. They brought back many memories and, as well, provided information that I was not aware of. In my opinion they can provide people with a really good idea of what Haida Gwaii is like.

Here, in order, are the links to the four videos.

I thought these videos were very interesting, in addition to being well done. I hope you found them to be as well.

Itchy Boots is just one of many folks I follow online. Here I will provide for you her website, and YouTube channel should you like to know more about her.

As well, I invite you to have a look at my “Wee Internet Empire” and check out the different platforms like my blog, podcast, videos and photos. You can also subscribe to my newsletter to be kept up to date on what is being posted and where.

Thanks much for reading. If you like what I do, please share it.

I always appreciate any feedback. Should you have comments, like something, don’t like something, please do let me know.

Melaka Morning Memory

Today I am trying something just a bit different as I experiment more during the building of my wee Internet Empire. I am using this blog to show you a couple of videos and using the audio from them on my podcast. Both will be referenced in my newsletter. We’ll see how it goes.

Three years ago I traveled to our place in Melaka, Malaysia, this time for a three month stay. This morning, up popped one of my memories of awakening on my first day there. I had taken a couple of videos during my early morning coffee, and they were quite poignant considering how the world has been the last couple of years.

Of course, not being able to travel to Malaysia and spend time with our daughters, grandchildren and friends, due to Covid, provides the type of unhappiness that millions of people around the globe are feeling.

As well, another aspect of being at our place in Melaka is that I miss the mornings, having my coffee, watching the sun rise, and listening to the sounds.

That is the memory which I am highlighting today.

This first video is taken about 5:50am, it is still dark and you can hear the frogs, crickets and the praying at the local mosque. As a country boy at heart, I really enjoy these sounds.

Melaka Apartment Pre-Dawn

The second video is taken just after 7:30am, the sun is just above the horizon and you can hear the birds as their activities increase.

Melaka Apartment – Sun Rise

Thank you for allowing me to share these memories with you today. It is my hope that soon we will all be able to once again actually experience these types of moments instead of simply reviewing memories of them.

Want to follow me on my journey as I develop my wee Internet Empire? You can do so by subscribing to my newsletter, Old Guy, New Tricks, and be notified of new posts and updated on what’s happening. You will find the link to today’s podcast there.

Your comments are always welcome. Please have a safe and healthy day.

Melaka Home – High Waters

As I spoke about in my podcast earlier this evening (link here), our second home is in Melaka, Malaysia. I am retired and my wife is close to retirement, but still, since 2015 we have been spending part of each winter there, except for the last two years (thanks to Covid). With children and grandchildren in Malaysia, it is a natural place for us to go, not to mention all our friends, and oh yes, the food. This photo is a selfie of me standing on our balcony in 2020. Behind you can see the small farm I talked about and in the distance are the buildings of downtown Melaka.

Recently, Melaka, along with much of Malaysia, has been receiving a great deal of rain, very much more than they have seen for many years, particularly when one considers that January is typically one of the driest months of the year, whereas November can be one of the wettest.

What I have done here is to provide you with a number of photos taken around Melaka and posted on the Melaka Facebook Page, so that you can see the impact that the flooding has had.

While many in Canada or the US would typically experience vicious storm conditions associated with flooding, that is not always the case here. The flooding comes from a large amount of rain, causing the rivers to overflow their banks. As well, Melaka is a coastal community, hence ocean tides can have an impact also. The lunar new year is approaching, and generally this is the time of the year’s highest tides.

Regardless of whether the water comes from a storm surge or constantly rising levels, it manages to do a considerable amount of damage and create many issues. The photos in the gallery below will certainly give you an idea of that.

I know a number of the areas shown very well, and am hopeful that our family and friends will not be greatly affected.

With Covid still playing it’s games, we have no idea when we will be able to return to our second home, however we have been assured by our daughter that all is well there up to this point.

Thanks for reading this blog post. I do appreciate any thoughts or comments you may have, so please do share them. I also invite you to visit my web page and check out some to the other sites that I share.

2019 – Almost Done

Well, here we are, approaching the beginning of 2020 and as often happens, folks say it is time for reflection and review of the soon to end year.

2019 has been an interesting year for me. It’s the first year I have been officially retired and unemployed. During the year I marked my 70th birthday, spent two months in Malaysia, met the Governor General of Canada, logged about 7000km on motorcycles, participated in Kiwanis activities in two countries, didn’t win the lottery, and lost several good friends.

On the family side of things, Kim and I celebrated twenty years of marriage, son Colin became engaged to Amy, daughter Anita and her husband Aaron had their 10th anniversary, daughter Jaclyn and son Colin both had their 40th birthdays, oldest grandchild Valen became eighteen, Kim’s brother Philip passed away in November and her brother Jimmy overcame a serious health issue about the same time.

Overall though, it was my year, the year that I experienced, having both highs and lows.

Losing friends is a difficult part of our existance, a part which is never easy. This year I lost five good friends, one being family, and the latest happened while I was developing this post. Each person was very special in their own way, and each is an important part of my year.

Just after mid January I headed off to Malaysia for two months. My home base is Melaka and I traveled several times to Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur. The intercity bus service was excellent and travel was quite comfortable. I also got some wind therapy in Melaka by putting in almost 1000 km on a rented scooter. Visiting with family and friends, along with a number of Kiwanis functions, kept me quite busy most of the time. Oh, and as always, I thoroughly enjoyed the food. Missing the coldest February and March to hit Edmonton in years was a bonus.

Shortly after my return to Canada, son Colin and his lady, Amy, came to visit from “Jolly Old”. Not only did he celebrate his birthday during the visit, he proposed to Amy while spending time in Kananaskis Country (she said yes). A short time later it was back to England for them. Quite a successful visit for sure.

Will You – Yes I Will

Less than two weeks later, Kim and I were off to Ottawa for a very special occasion. I was to be presented with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers by Her Excellency Governor General Julie Payette. It was a great honour as well as an amazing event.

After our return to Edmonton, lo and behold, it was summer. Our local Veterans UN/NATO Canada crews put on a successful fundraising event at the Kipnes Centre for Veterans. Shortly after Kim and I celebrated our 20th anniversary, and then came the Kiwanis Club of South Edmonton Annual Summer Picnic. I helped provide communications for the annual Edmonton Heritage Festival, and a week later we were attending the Kiwanis Western Canada District Convention. During all this, I managed to get in about 6000 km on my motorcycle, albeit mostly local around Edmonton.

Late September saw a number of our Veterans Crew head down to Red Deer to honour one of our members, Terry Turner, who had passed away in the spring. We sponsored a flag and plaque in his memory for the annual Flags of Remembrance ceremony. The flags and plaques were on display for two months (until Remembrance Day). When they were taken down, there was another ceremony where they were presented back to the sponsors or family. Kim and I took Terry’s wife Wendy to Red Deer and she received his flag and plaque.

Wrapping up the last quarter of the year were a number of Kiwanis activities along with our Veterans Group Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Well, there you go, a bit of an overview of my year. A sampling, as it were. There were, of course, many more happenings and events, however those included here are key memory items for me.

In a few days, a new year of happenings, events, and memories will commence. Bring it on 2020, lets see what you’ve got.

Spring Has Sprung

The spring is sprung, the grass is riz.

I wonder where the boidie is.

They say the boidie’s on the wing.

But that’s absoid. The wing is on the bird.

I remember this “Spring is Sprung Rhyme” by Anonymous, from my youth. It was always a signal that, hopefully, winter was pretty much done and we could get on with the primary season of the year – construction. Well not really, however that’s the way it seems. At least spring, summer and fall can be described as three sections of construction season.

This year, Edmonton had a pretty tough and nasty time from January to late March. Fortunately I didn’t get to experience it as I spent that time in our second home, Malaysia. A good friend commented on Facebook that I had missed the snow. I replied to her, “no, I didn’t miss it, I just wasn’t here for it”.

I really considered doing some blogging from Malaysia, but I was working almost exclusively on my phone, and my thumbs are not very accurate for more than fairly short messages, allowing autocorrect to drive me slightly bonkers. So here we are, attempting to make up for it.

Now to go back and provide a little background.

As the end of 2018 approached I was not really planning to go to Malaysia in 2019. I had not gone in 2018, due to some extent because of my high activity levels with my Kiwanis Club (I am the President), feeling that I needed to work hard in that area. Kim had gone to see her family in the spring for about a month however.

Then, as life would have it, there came a death and a serious illness in my circle of acquaintances. Adding to that were, in retrospect, wise words from Kim and a couple of good friends, telling me that I needed to go, see family and friends, and enjoy the weather because, as they pointed out, we never know what the future holds.

As a result, following an interesting thought process, at the end of December, a decision was made, and flights were booked. I would be going to Malaysia for two months.

Departure day came, January 22, WestJet to Vancouver, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and Cathay Dragon to Kuala Lumpur. There had been some concern as my arthritic hip can be an issue, however my travel arranger Stephanie had done a fine job and I was treated very well the entire trip. Every trip I’ve made, my experience with Cathay Pacific/Dragon has been outstanding. Upon arriving in Kuala Lumpur, it turned out that one of my checked bags had grown an attachment to Hong Kong and decided to stay a while longer. The KLIA folks did an awesome job tracking it down and it was delivered to me in Melaka the next day.

Having arrived in Malaysia, methinks I will wrap up this post and over the next while perhaps generate a couple more about some of my experiences. There is also an event I am currently involved in, which is very exciting, however I cannot share with you as yet, keeping you in suspenders for a while.

Until next time, thank you for reading and I appreciate any comments you may have.

A Home From Home

There is a British expression I very much like. It is “a home from home”. To me it feels much more inclusive than the American equivalent “a home away from home”.

My “home from home” is 12,980 kilometres from my usual residence, in the city of Malacca, Malaysia, on the southwest coast of the Malay Peninsula.

Originally founded in 1396, Malacca became a prominent location for traders from across Asia, notably India, Arabia and China. In 1511, Malacca was conquered by the Portuguese who ruled until the city was captured by the Dutch in 1641. They were not that interested in developing the area and ceded it to the British in 1824. Under the British the city became a Crown Colony, which was dissolved in 1946 as Malacca and Penang became part of the Malayan Union, then the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and transitioning to an independent Malaya in 1957. Finally, in 1963, Malaysia was formed with the merger of Malaya with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.

A colourful history indeed. So much so that Malacca was declared a historical city in 1989, and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Located in Malacca are three significant religious facilities. The Kampung Kling Mosque is close to the oldest functioning mosque in Malaysia, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is the oldest functioning Buddhist temple in Malaysia, and St Peter’s Church is the oldest functioning Catholic Church in Malaysia. One last item of interest. The Bukit China Cemetery in Malacca is reputedly the oldest, and largest, remaining traditional Chinese burial ground outside China with over 12,500 graves.

Today, Malacca (often referred to as Melaka, the name of the state) is a city of just under 875,000, located midway between Kuala Lumpur (160 km to the north) and Johor Bahru (210 km to the south). The city is 2.2 degrees (244 km) north of the equator, with typical temperatures in the area of 24C at night and 33C during the day, and typically has 6-9 days of rain per month. The sun rises at 7:24am and sets at 7:24pm (within a couple of minutes) each day.

So why Malacca, for that matter, why Malaysia. A number of reasons actually. Malacca is where Kim grew up, where she lived most of her life. Currently we have two daughters and seven grandchildren living there, to say nothing about other extended family members and a great many friends. Some other main considerations are the economy, which is very advantageous to those of us from Canada; the people, who are so very friendly pretty much right across the board; the ease of travel, not only throughout Malaysia but across Asia as well; the history, so many interesting places to visit; and oh yes, the climate.

Okay, now back to the “home from home”. So what prompted me to begin this blog post anyway. Last year I spent three months at our place in Malacca, and for various reasons, am not able to do the same thing this year so I have been feeling a bit down in the dumps and depressed about that. A temporary situation for sure and I know I’ll be back there within the next year.

Our place in Malacca is not fancy, not on the beach, not on the 47th floor, not in a rich area of town. It is a comfortable three bedroom apartment/condo on the fourth floor of a fairly large, very diverse, complex with regular working class neighbours. It is in the middle of the city, however it has a country view which I absolutely love. We have a 2017-04-04 07.40.13small clam-shell balcony, facing east, upon which one or two can stand, but none can sit (it is good for drying clothes though).

 

My routine, pretty much every morning when in Malacca, is that I get up sometime between 5am and 6am, get my cup of coffee, and sit in the living room watching, listening, and enjoying as the world wakes up outside and the sun rises. Here are two videos, both taken the same day from our balcony, the first about 5:00am and the second at 7:30am. In the first you can hear the crickets and frogs, so loud they even overpowered the praying from the local mosque. In the second, the birds have taken over along with the occasional human and traffic noise.

To me, the photo and videos above illustrate a big part of my attachment to our “home from home”. There are many other things which contribute as well of course, and I will share many of these with you in the future.

For now, thanks for reading. I would appreciate any comments you may have, feedback is always welcome.