23 November 2012


Do you ever have moments when you just feel blessed? Moments when you know you are doing something amazing that no one else you know has done? Do you ever feel guilty for having opportunities that other people do not have, opportunities that you want to tell someone but you don’t want to sound like you are boasting?

I have had the opportunity to experience some pretty amazing things in my 30 years. Taking the trip with Paul was just another day that I felt completely blessed. I have a great husband who I completely respect. He makes me laugh a lot and makes me feel frustrated sometimes. Though we have been together for 10 years and married for three I did not realize until last year that having a pilot for a husband is not such a great idea.

Yes, the job has its perks – in the U.S., we were able to fly for practically no cost and he was gone five to six days a week so I did not have to worry about being home at a certain time or making a normal dinner. The job also had its downsides – he was gone five or six days a week so I sometimes felt that if I did not spend time with him the days he was home, I would be abandoning him. Working longer than anticipated nearly drove us apart.

The other bummer – one I only truly understood last year – is that someone who flies in planes and stays in hotels as part of his job is not likely to be someone who wants to sit in airports and stay in hotels when he is not working. I did not really think that through before that whole “I do” thing.

When we moved to Asia, I was thrilled to be in a new environment and explore so many areas that were once so far away. Today, I can be in Bali, Indonesia, and Phuket, Thailand in about two hours for about S$200, I travelled to Sydney, Australia, over the summer in the time it would take me to go from New York to LA and it cost about S$600. It seems almost crazy to think that within a few hours and for the cost of a Southwest ticket, I could be in someone’s version of paradise. Then again, at one point in my life sitting by a lake in New England in October seemed like paradise.

My point is that my husband is not a fan of travel – at least not Asian travel. Maybe it’s because a lot of places in Asia are not nearly as modern as Singapore; maybe it’s because no one’s version of English is as good as it is in Columbus, Ohio. For the record, I picked Columbus because of the nearly perfect “American” accent that cannot be found anywhere south of Kentucky or east of Pennsylvania. Maybe Paul doesn’t like to travel in America because he doesn’t understand Asian food.

Whatever the reason, it is a bit difficult to get him to agree on an island swap. For his birthday, I went ahead a booked a trip and told him about it way after the fact. He did admit that he was a bit unsure about the trip at one point but he did say that he had a great time once the day was complete. He liked being back in the cockpit of a small plane and he enjoyed actually looking at the scenery all around him while he puttered along.

Pulau Tioman is an island off of mainland Malaysia’s east coast. Though there are a number of archipelagos popping out of the water, Tioman stood strong and mighty. The island was exactly what I pictured the South Pacific to be, though Paul reminded me that we weren’t actually in the South Pacific.

Trees stood tall all over untouched mountains. The island’s peaks stood above the clouds as the fog blanketed the mountainsides. Palm trees stood tall and plentiful. The water crashed into the beaches. The population was sparse. The villages were only along the coastline; water taxis were available to take tourists from one side of the island to the other because roads are not common. The best-made roads look like concrete sidewalks.

We had some time to wander around before our flight back to Johor Bahru but we did not wander very far. We walked through the village with our guide and co-captain, Boon, and ate at a local restaurant where the cats greeted us and feasted on any plates left behind. There were no fancy resorts and just one or two touristy shops where we were, and we were surprised to see so many Caucasian people wandering around.

Paul and I walked along the beach for a bit and sat by the water. I took some time to take it all in, and then, I celebrated as I realized that I was standing in the South China Sea. Go ahead, look it up on a map – the South China Sea! Who do I know who has done that? No one!

Paul and I headed back to the plane and learned that the afternoon storms were starting to develop in the area. Paul started telling me about how he could see storm cells developing and how easy it is to fly around thunderstorms in this part of the world.

We flew back just as we came. All in all, we had a great day. Thank you so much to everyone who made Paul's Birthday Flying Adventure a reality. We could not have had this experience without you. 

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