Everyone slept in this morning. It was my payback waking everyone up at 9am! Dacey drew a Christmas tree on a piece of paper and stuck it up on the wall at Adina Motel near the wooden table. We placed the girls’ Santa presents on the table – one present each and a group card with a gift voucher of a 30-minute jet ski ride to occur on Christmas Day. We then handed out each KK gift which made it feel more like Christmas at home. It was a lovely morning, with Dacey running around with the Australian flag (which we bought along as a symbol of home) tied around her neck (she’s definitely the patriotic one).
We then went straight to the Breakfast Bar (you guessed it) for brunch and then to Starbucks to try and get the bloody Indian railway tickets booked. We booked them successfully but then Moses told us we are on a wait list (WL) along with 93 other people for that train. WTH? So not so great. With 93 people ahead of us, it was highly unlikely we would get the six of us on that train. We are thinking of travelling either side of 29th December but they also have wait lists, albeit shorter ones! India already is an interesting country to deal with.
I went shopping today for a dress to wear out for Christmas Day and returned to Adina Motel with a little something for all my girls, except Ash. I bought Billie and Dacey a nice summery dress, Charlie a bright coloured loose knitted top, and a dress for me. Feeling very accomplished for an unlikely shopper (I usually hate shopping, but enjoyed this experience). Now to get Ash to buy something new for our Christmas dinner – she was a hard one to crack. Ash and I walked out to the street together and she did try some dresses on, but she just didn’t like them enough. Then we went to another shop and she liked some black pants with gold decorative pattern on them and a pair of sunglasses. Yes! We were now set for Christmas.
We all walked down to the beach, with our good (unpacker-like) Xmas clothes folded into a small backpack to change into after our jet ski ride. The jet ski ride was awesome! Me with Steve, Dace with Ash, and Billie with Charlie. We rode out towards the setting sun, into an unending horizon. The clouds were scattered into a soft haze across the sky. It was truly a magnificent time together out on the water and so very peaceful. The bay of Cenang Beach is guarded by smaller islands with white beaches and green foliage. Half an hour on those jet skis went fairly quickly, but we all had a great time out there. The girls jumped into the water out into the ocean, unfortunately Dacey got scared that Ash was leaving her, so there were some tears but not for long. Steve and I stalled the jet ski and couldn’t restart it for a while. So we were bobbing out in the ocean for 5 minutes getting instructions from the girls to do this and do that. All that was wrong was the angle on the key. A rescue jet ski was sent out to us, who parked up beside our jet ski and fiddled with the key (and the angle) and it started.
We hired the jet skis for 130 Ringgit each (x3 = 390R / $130) for half an hour off Malay Joe and his water sports interested in our teen girls beach crew. They have been very nice to our family while we’ve been here, and we’ve been able to get good rates for the rides we’ve been on.
After the Christmas Day jet ski ride, we made our way up the beach to the Yellow Café to change out of our bathers and into our new-unbackpack-like clothes to start our Christmas Day dinner at dusk. It was our lucky day…the beach side long table we had been eyeing off was free, so Steve sat at it while we all changed.
We sat at the table watching the sun set and enjoyed a bit of fun with taking selfies on our phones. Pizzas were enjoyed too…salmon, vegetarian, Hawaiian, and chicken. After dinner we walked along the breach, and were attracted to a pair of bright search lights beaming up into the deep night sky. It was the place we had been to a few days prior after a night out for dinner and we found this place with hundreds of bean bags placed out on the sand. It was a beach cocktail bar where I enjoyed a glass of Baileys and Steve a scotch. This time there was a large group of foreigners standing around and seated on the extra-large bean bags smoking shisha (glass bottomed water pipe with fruit flavoured tobacco) and talking. It reminded Steve and me of the good ole days of backpacking and catching up with people from all around the world. We ordered two drinks and the bags were puffed up and set up around a small table so the 6 of us could sit around it as a group. But not long into us sitting down, a woman from New Zealand and man from Byron Bay approached Charlie and Ash and started talking with them about where they were from and where they were going and told the girls they should travel to Vietnam. It did appear they were quite intoxicated, but nonetheless harmless. It was Christmas Night after all, about 11pm. The conversation was entertaining to say the least:
NZ teacher: “You guys have got to travel to Vietnam”
Charlie: “Yes we’ve been already in 2012!”
NZ teacher: “Well you really should go to Myanmar (Burma) then.”
Charlie: “We’ve travelled there too in 2013.”
NZ teacher: “Have you been to Cambodia, you gotta go there.”
Charlie: “Yes it’s great, we travelled there too with my aunt and cousin in 2015!”
NZ teacher: “Then you should go to Thailand”
Charlie and Ash are laughing now. The NZ teacher is running out of countries in South East Asia.
NZ teacher: “What about Laos?”
Charlie: “I really want to visit Laos, I haven’t been there yet!”
The woman was an International Teacher working in KL, who was talking to the girls about the pros and more cons of going to uni and getting a university degree plus a large debt. Her advice was “travel, take a gap year, don’t go to uni.”
The NZ teacher’s response at the end of their short conversation was, “Well you should go there when you’re older!” Charlie and Ash explained that the family was taking the year off from regular work-school-home life in Australia to travel around the world. We were heralded the best parents of all time by the drunk bunch, but it did start up an interesting conversation about the drunk young Byron Bay man’s journey with his friends. We met them all – three young lads in their mid to late 20s (an Australian, an English, and a Scottish) on an epic sailing adventure with no set end date all living and sailing in a boat to Phuket to find work as a chef. Their boat was docked just 50 metres from the shore we sat in front on. They had also picked up a dog along the way, one which was nearly dying but they had brought it back to health.
The blokes were well and truly intoxicated, but fun to be around. We enjoyed a couple of happy hour shots that were being handed out freely (even to 11 year olds!) – a combo of vodka and something orange. Charlie had tried one (or five according to her younger sisters). Steve and I ordered two drinks: gin and tonic plus scotch and coke but this time they seemed to be overly generous double shots filled to the brim of the glass! The guys kept saying, ”You’re definitely a family living off the grid!” It reminded Steve and me of our backpacking days, but this time with extras. I often wonder what sort of life we would have created and lived if we had of decided to not return from our 8-week backpacking honeymoon back in May 1999. It’s a crazy thought to contemplate, and one that we will never know.
Extra: Background Story
The young man from Byron Bay had renovated his boat over 4 years. He is a chef by trade and was going to Phuket looking for chef work to earn some money from Langkawi. The English guy was called Chris – very charming (reminding me of Leonardo DiCaprio in a movie about a boat) and a bit older than the others at 28. He seemed to have more money than the other two and carried with him a very nice DSLR Nikon camera (Charlie was in love and wants a Nikon camera now…lol). The third guy reminded me of a boy – small and young and completely drunk. I have unfortunately forgotten the dog’s name, but we met her too, after her guarding the dingy was no longer required. They were a very intriguing triad…and very off the grid themselves. We left them on the beach, in the middle of the bean bags, searching for a lost wallet with all the Byron Bay man’s credit cards in them and a waiter chasing him around with the longest bar tab I had seen. We were invited to board the boat and have a look, but decided we should really get going, and let them work out their backpacking dilemmas by themselves.