Marina RatsSince arriving into the Labuan Marina in Sarawak, Malaysia, one topic has continuously come up in conversations with other cruisers - beware of the rats.  Rats?  Yes, rats.  Immediately my mind envisions a yellow-toothed rodent nibbling on the apples in our fruit basket, scurrying across our countertops, and chewing the rubber coating off the wires behind the ship’s control panel.  Rats are not welcomed aboard Field Trip.  Hospitality ends here.  Up until this point, the varmints have kept their scrubby paws off our boat, but the sheer number of rats estimated to be roaming the docks here has me thinking that the chances of a furry stowaway are inevitable.  In the first day we’re here, we see two roaming rodents.  It is time to fortify Field Trip before the enemies can invade. 

How will they get aboard?  Where do we start?With acrobatic ease, rats can balance on mooring lines and scamper right from the docks up onto the boat.  Like a network of bridges over the water, the v…

Brunei - Lessons in Luxury

BRUNEI - Lessons in Luxury

Brunei has a tiny land mass, but a big bank account.  It is smaller than the state of Delaware, but boasts billions in petroleum revenue.  This conservative Muslim country has had its share of controversy recently, but we wanted to see the place for ourselves and learn what we could while we were traveling along the west coast of Borneo.  Turns out, the learning was as plentiful as the oil reserves, and we left knowing much more than when we’d arrived.   
ABSOLUTE MONARCHY The school kids here don’t have to memorize the names of this country’s numerous past presidents.  Every four to eight years there’s not a new guy in office.  Brunei is a sultanate, ruled by a Muslim king who’s title is passed down through generations.  In fact, it’s been the same sultan here in Brunei for the last 50+ years.  Kids in school here don’t get off too easy, though, because they are required to memorize the sultan’s entire name (which, turns out, is about as hard as memorizing the…

Our Field Trip to Mulu National Park

Our Field Trip to Mulu National Park Diary entry by ElizabethWe packed up and got ready for our adventure the day before our plane ride. Our whole family had to fit the clothing and miscellaneous things in Mom’s roller bag and Dad’s backpack. I folded Michael’s, Dad’s, and my clothes the ‘travel way’ that I’d learned from a few how-to Youtube videos. This let us bring more things like all of the camelbaks (Mom’s fanny-pack, Michael’s small backpack, and my large one). I am glad that we brought these because we used them every day for water and storage. Dad also brought his drone and camera bag (with the Nikon inside) and Mom brought her purse. 
When we got to the airport the next day, I was nervous because Dad said the plane was going to be a twin prop! The whole clear in and security check, I was picturing the scene from Hatchet(when the boy was in a single prop plane and crashed)! When I saw the plane, I sighed in relief! It was just like a normal plane but smaller and with two huge…

Miri - A Myriad of Mines

From Kuching, we island-hopped up to the city of Miri, still in Malaysia, but just next to the border of Brunei.  It was here in Miri, where we started seeing huge oil platforms constructed in the waters just offshore.  Our learning about hydrocarbons in chemistry happened to coincide with this part of our journey.  (I wish I could say I planned it that way, but we just ‘struck oil’ on timing!)  During a field trip to the Miri Petroleum Museum, we gained a deeper understanding of the various uses of petroleum, life on the oil platforms, and the processes involved in locating, drilling, transporting, and refining oil.  Suddenly, sailing past these mini cities on stilts became fascinating.  Who’d have thought that oil would be so interesting??

The kids were especially surprised to learn that plastic products are made from petroleum.  Years ago, we had listened to a speech about the devastating effects of single-use plastics, and Elizabeth had wondered what plastics are made of and que…

Kings, Cakes, and Cats

Kuching, Sarawak White Rajah

Our travels along the coast of Malaysian Borneo bring us to the capital city of the state of Sarawak.  Long ago, this land was part of the Bruneian Empire, ruled first by the sultan of Brunei, then ceded to an Englishman named James Brooke as a gift of gratitude for helping the sultan crush a rebellion.  James Brooke later was given the title ‘White Rajah’ due to all he did for the people of Sarawak.  During his reign, he suppressed piracy throughout the area and protected the peaceful, indigenous Dayak tribe from their head-hunting enemies.  Charles Brooke, his successor and nephew, continued developing Sarawak by promoting trade, extending its borders, improving sanitation systems, building hospitals and establishing prisons.  A daytime ride down the river offers glimpses of Kuching’s eventful past, with remnants of the White Rajah’s reign everywhere.

'Kucing' is the Malay word for 'cat', and this city takes its name seriously!  Cat statu…