The Island

A prime objective of the Borneo trip was to breathe in enough fresh sea air to pinken our metropolitan lungs. After a long icy night bus ride from Kota Kinabalu, we arrived in the port town of Semporna. From there, it's only a short boat trip to Pulau Mabul, a tiny island in the Celebes Sea.

Mabul and Sipadan, a sister island a kilometre away, are rated as one of the world's best dive sites. Now it should be no surprise that we prairie folk who can barely swim have never had any desire to enter the unknown world under the sea. We did, however, have the great fortune to meet Kelly, Australian divemaster and fantastic teacher, who persuaded us to take the introductory PADI course. We liked it so much we dived two more times, and saw a school of barracuda, giant grouper, crocodile fish, trumpet fish, and the coup de grace, giant sea turtles.

After diving, we spent the rest of our time on Mabul snorkelling, sitting on the beach, and enjoying cold beer as the sun set with a host of colourful characters from all over the world.


Small house with ocean view

Drawing on the experience of stretching our Kyoto trip into two months of blog posts, here's the first of many photos of Borneo. Before we left, we had high hopes of soaking up the sun, lounging in the sand, swimming with turtles, frolicking with orangutans, hiking in the National Parks, meeting interesting people, and eating fantastic food. All we anticipated came to fruition, and there's photographic evidence of much of it, so prepare yourselves...


Off the grid

The classroom has been cleaned, farewells to colleagues have been said, and the kiddies have been sent home to torture their parents for the summer. This time tomorrow will see Deanna and I lolling about Tanjung Aru beach near Kota Kinabalu. With no specific plans, just some general notions of hiking random jungle trails and relaxing on whatever bits of white sand we can find, we look forward to three weeks in Borneo.


Moving on

It's the end of an era at Rainbow School, as McCord (seen here, three up on the right from the guy in the middle paying no heed to the standard 3..2..1..Kimchi photo call) is moving on to new challenges. Rainbow will miss her greatly, and wherever she lands will be darn lucky to have her.

This farewell dinner at an ersatz Thai restaurant close to the school also served as a de facto year-end party, as we mosey today into eight weeks of studentlessness.


Rainy Day Reading

Well, I guess our perfect summer weather couldn't last, and when it went, it happened in an instant. I was wandering the city, as I do when I'm on holidays and on my own, when the sky grew dark and a thunderstorm of near-epic proportion blew through town. As I was without an umbrella (which would have proved useless anyway in the torrential downpour that followed), I took refuge in a bakery/coffee shop. Luckily, I had with me a copy of David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife, the story of Ann Eliza, one of Brigham Young's many wives. The early history of the Mormon church and Ann Eliza's story is intertwined with a contemporary murder mystery on a compound in Utah. For some reason, reading about polygamist Mormons is one of my favourite kinds of subcultural rubbernecking. If the fascination is mutual, I recommend the Ebershoff novel, Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, or if you don't feel like reading, a few episodes of Big Love.


Outdoor Yoga

Six months ago, a group of my colleagues and I started practicing yoga two or three times a week after school. Our usual space is a classroom at our school, but in celebration of summer we decided to head outside. A green, shady, secluded park proved to be a perfect locale for our sun salutations and warrior poses, and Rod's apartment proved to be the perfect place for chickpea curry and salad after we finished.