… which is why this last post from our trip last year never got posted. I am posting the final story of our trip last summer (july 2014), so that I can post the new stories from our trip this summer. Yes, I am a little behind….

After two months of schlepping ourselves through buses, trains and airplanes in the UAE, Singapore, China and Malaysia – along with temple-visiting and monument-viewing – we were ready to do some serious chilling before ending this epic summer adventure. Tioman Island on the east coast of Malaysia was our chosen chill-spot.

It took some final schlepping to get there – 1-hour flight to Johor Bahru, 2-hour bus ride to the coast, then wait several hours for the ferry, then take the 1.5 hour gut-wrenching ferry, followed by a 15-minute baby boat ride. Paradise is only paradise when it’s hard to get to.

We were originally booked at a place called “Bushman” on the east coast of the island, which sounded like paradise – but Mike got a last minute panic-attack about the biting flies which allegedly plague the beach on that side of the island (big baby if you ask me, what’s wrong with a few biting flies?). So we changed our booking to spend a few days at the Tunamaya Beach Resort and then move to a different resort for the last few days, just for a change of scenery.

Something you have to realize as an American traveling in Asia is that you need to adjust your expectations of service – A LOT! Sitting down at a restaurant, it is not uncommon to wait 15 minutes before getting waited on, unheard of in the states. The food at Tunamaya was “OKAY”, nothing special, but edible. We were not there for the food though. We came to Tioman because the snorkeling is supposed to be some of the best in Malaysia. It didn’t disappoint. The four of us spent 60% of our waking hours looking through glass at the underwater garden. We went after breakfast, after lunch and before dinner – every day. Kailani has fallen in love – she couldn’t get enough and even started learning how to dive down to get a better look at the fish. Soleil, with her 1% bodyfat, got cold even with the 74 degree water temp. But she still did it, exploring far out on the reef with the rest of us.

We saw it all – parrot fish, rainbow fish, sharks, barracudas, stingrays – but what was even more spectacular was the intact coral in all colors and sizes – truly an underwater garden. We even took a few boat rides to the outer reefs.

After a few days we moved to Paya Beach Resort. More snorkeling. More mediocre food. I can’t say the beach was paradise, but the underwater explorations with the kids were priceless. I hope those ocean adventure will instill in them a love and curiosity of the sea that lasts them a lifetime. When we were all snorkeled out after 8 days, we braved the ferry ride back to Malaysia and motored back to Singapore for one more night and day in Asia. We ate curry for breakfast, and stopped at every hawker center we stumbled upon to stuff ourselves silly with Singaporean hawker delights. Our last night was spent at “Hotel Kai”, a hotel that specializes in everything tiny, the rooms were postage stamp sized, and absolutely adorable. We also discovered a love of Hainanese chicken rice, which we vowed to learn how to make when we get back home. (we still haven’t made it, 1 year later!)

26 airplane hours later and we were back in the Bay Area. Comfy, cozy, warm and back in the world of the known. No more sights to see. No more hotels to book. No more towns to explore.

So Why Travel?

Upon our return in August, we were quickly swept up into house projects and getting the kids back in school. We had remodeled the upstairs of our house while we were away, so painting and moving furniture took up the better part of a month or so. Slowly, we’ve started looking for jobs and falling back into the daily grind. I’ve taken some long bike rides and reflected on the epic summer, and explored in my mind the questions that come up on that reflection… mostly this one: “Why travel?”

I hate sightseeing. I can’t stand touristy spots. Souvenir stands? Forget about it.

So then, why do it? Why drag yourself and your children through airports, dirty train depots and filthy bus stops? Why argue with taxis, getting lost in unknown cities, why struggle in foreign languages trying to ask for the simplest thing like a glass of water?

I’m an addict. Plain and simple.

The rush of the road less traveled, not knowing what’s behind the next bend. The joy of not knowing where to go, how to get there or what it will be like. The thrill of a new experience. The adventure. I just can’t get enough.

There is a side benefit which I am only now becoming more tuned in to. The new found love I have for my home. The first four weeks being back, I felt like I was in a trance. Everything in San Francisco seemed new, different, exciting and beautiful. Was that coffee shop always there? Did the neighbor re-do the plants in their garden? Was that house always that color? Long bike rides always felt glorious, but the first one back was the best. Riding over the Golden Gate Bridge, up into the headlands, looking down on the most beautiful city in the world and realizing that I live here? Magical. I couldn’t stop smiling.

So if you need to shake it up, get out there. Not only will you learn about the world, but you’ll find energy you didn’t know you had and fall in love with your own part of the world all over again. Happy trails.

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