Posted by: savayla | January 3, 2010

A look at 2009 –

We named this our Year of Discovery and it has certainly lived up to that name.  Life is so full of choices.  It is also full of surprises.  Which means that no matter how well you have made your plans, they can often go awry or shoot off into another , completely unthought of at that time, direction.  I guess that is what makes life  so unpredictable.  The only known certainty in life is death.  It is the time and manner which is unknown.

2009 has been a good one.  We left our unfinished yacht, our families and friends and decided to see where we wanted to settle.  Thailand was our main destination.  The 2 months we spent there  were wonderful and we fell in love with Northern Thailand, but what we also discovered, was that the unpredictable government and its ever changing immigration laws made it too difficult for a family to stay without continuous visa runs and never knowing if you would be allowed back in.   And, we would not be able to get the girls a new passport.

New thoughts, new direction.  Where to next ?  We decided to have a go in Sabah, Borneo, which is an island on East Malaysia.  We had never been there.  Our main reason was our Kadazan friends whom worked for us when we ran the restaurant in Kuala Lumpur 13 years ago.  I had still kept in touch with a few of them.  Off to Borneo.

We ended up spending 3 months there.   The beginning did not start out well, with Ayla getting extremely sick and us being stuck 5km out of the city centre as one of our friends had hijacked us at the airport and wouldn’t let us stay at our booked backpackers.  We rented a huge apartment on the beachfront, Marina Court Resort , and  it was here that we did most of our thinking about Asia.  Living in the city, on the flightpath of the aeroplanes, a jackhammer going next door for 3 months, friends whose kids were always doing extra tuition so could not play, friends who were either in church or taking their kids to extra tuition, hot, sticky, dirty, smelly.  Yes, that is city living.  We found beautiful places, like Kinarut, where you can get properties that edge right onto the beach.  But it was in the middle of nothing.  Somehow, it just didn’t work out for us, although our friends were wonderful.    We drew up a  pros and cons list on a very large piece of paper .  It was between South East Asia , Australia and New Zealand .  We left it up and whenever we walked past, one of us would stare at it, and then add something to the growing columns. We knew that we  were close to our discovery.

Kyle came home one day and said that we should immigrate to Australia.  I think I screamed and then would not talk about it for two whole days.  It felt like I had just discovered him kissing my best friend.  How could he be so traitorous.

Well, he slowly worked me around and we got excited.  We made our plans, the first to leave Sabah and go to Langkawi, a small island off the West Coast of Malaysia.  We had last been there 16 years ago, arriving by yacht.  We decided that we needed to get out of the city.

Next step.  Living in Langkawi.  We have been here for 9 months, loving it.  It has its downsides such as no bookshop, but we simply order from KL or from Amazon .  It is a beautiful island, a large kampong (malay village ) with forested mountains towering over rice padi fields with their resident water buffaloes, beaches with swaying palm trees, waterfalls, and it is very , very  quiet.  There is no traffic to speak of, the food is cheap and good, the people friendly.  We have made good friends with a few of the expats who live here, and have a very good, relaxed life.  It is so easy to stay, we simply do a visa run every 3 months , staying out for 72 hours.  No questions, lots of  smiles.  There are easier options than Thailand to get a 10 year renewable residents visa or to establish a company if we decided to stay.

We started the immigration process to Australia by getting all the necessary papers together. One night, I found a cheap flight to Australia, and we booked it.  Must have been the wine !!  The ticket paid for, we decided to stay in New Zealand for 6-9 months while waiting .  But, life has a strange way of doing things.  Whilst researching a house to rent in New Zealand, we fell in love with the country all over again.  So, now we are pretty undecided about which country we will immigrate to.  Because of this, we will only decide after we have been to Australia, and then spent a month or so in New Zealand.  It is a huge, life changing decision and it must be the right one.

So we pack up our life here and  leave in March for Australia and New Zealand.  Yes, life is easy here, but we want something different.  We are very excited about our new adventure for 2010.  We have even managed to get a one week Wwoofing job in Australia.  (Wwoof means  Willing workers on organic farms.  You get free accomodation and food in turn for helping on a farm ).  We have  booked our house in New Zealand for 6-9 months, and I am busy planning our two week camping trip which will have us starting from Whangerai in the upper North, down the east coast of the North , across the Cooks Straights to  the top of the South Island, down the East Coast, staying near Invercargill with family for a few days, then back up the West Coast of the South Island to our house in Nelson.

It has been an amazing year, full of adventure, doubts, stress, love, laughter.  Ayla turned 7, a big milestone for her, and Savannah 9.  They have both shot up.  We started our new homeschooling curriculum, Enki, which has changed all our lives.  We start school again on the 7th and when I told the girls, they jumped up and down singing.    The girls got to know their cousins Takita and Kaemon, which makes us happy.  It is good to be friends with  your extended family.  I am in contact will 9 of my 11 cousins from South Africa / Zimbabwe, and 2 of my cousins in Iceland.

We would have loved to have travelled to Vietnam and to Laos, but that will have to be for another time in our lives.

That is our 2009 in a nutshell.  Our Year of Discovery was this.  We discovered that we do not want to live in Asia permanently.  We discovered that we still love New Zealand but that Australia can be an option.  We discovered that our kids still love travelling and do not see colour.

Happy 2010, may all your dreams and wishes come true.



  1. Hi there, just read this post out to Scott as we make our breakfast toast in the kitchen… it’s nice to know that there are others out there LIVING and taking chances. The only certainty in life IS death so for us we must live in a way that makes us happy and if that means travelling around, seeing how things fit and taking chances – so be it 🙂

    Wishing you a 2010 filled with lots of great things and good times x

  2. Thanks Alice !! I used to think we were the only “crazy ” ones out there. Until I “met” you. The more people I read about, the more I realise how sane we all are, and how mad and insane what is termed “normal” society is. I always find something in every piece that I read, that makes me think, and often challenges me.

    2010 will indeed by an adventure, heres hoping we can continue to make margaritas with those lemons that are handed us !!!

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