We bought a Lonely Planet book while in KL, and spent hours reading up on Malaysia. We were tired of the city, and wanted to get out to a more relaxing, cheaper place where the kids could play outside. The place we chose was Port Dickson, which was the nearest beach — two hours away by public bus. The guide book said that during the week-days, it’s deserted, but on the weekend, packed with city folk getting out of KL.

We stayed at a place called Hotel Kong Ming – which was only 40 Rm a night (about 13 dollars). It must have been built by the British around the same time that Selborne was built — high ceilings, thick walls, huge windows, no AC. There was plenty of room for the kids to play, a walled in area with tables and shade, a huge lawn to play in, free filtered water . . . and . .oh yes: a shared (but clean) squatty down the hall. Perfect for us.

Right across a quiet road was the beach. There were no waves, and the water was full of seaweed, and there was a bit of rubbish on the sand . .. but really, it was just perfect. We had many happy days digging in the sand and playing in the water. Elias discovered motor boats, banana boats, snails, crabs, life-jackets . . . lots of new things to talk about and see.

Since Rajshahi is full of un-walled ponds, we have warned Elias to no end about the risk of drowning. I guess we warned too much, as he would only go into the water holding on to our hands. We spent a happy hour singing, “Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous” — which gave him the encouragement he needed to go get water in his bucket by himself! Maia was the opposite. She would trot right into the water without even looking for her Momma.