Sunday, May 27, 2012

How to Swim Backstroke without Burning your Retinas

I've been coaching/teaching A LOT of swimming these past few months!  I started my own, very small, off-season training program with the kids at Dalat and have been teaching private lessons at our pool almost daily.  It has been fun and rewarding and I have a great tan!

Last week, I planned on teaching a backstroke clinic to my swimmers.  Unfortunately, the sun decided that it needed to give us all our monthly dose of Vitamin D instead.  It was so bright out that it was borderline blinding. 
We tried to swim the practice as planned, the majority of the sets had the swimmers on their backs starring right into the fireball in the sky.  After doing a few demos and realizing that the kids complaints about their eyes burning were actually justified, I attempted to engineer a "sun shade" that would shield the sun and allow them to work on their backstroke.  I tried sticking hand paddles under swim caps or tying them to goggles, just for some relief from the sun.  Nothing seemed to work...until I looked over at our youngest swimmer who had borrowed her mom's sunglasses and was happily swimming backstroke down the pool sporting large bug eyes and a wide mouth smile!

 Problem solved.  When the sun is too bright, find some sun glasses and tuck them into your cap and off you go!!  I will be adding sunglasses to next year's gear list.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Five Years

Five years ago today, Eric and I were married in front of our family and friends in Ann Arbor.  It is hard to believe it's been that long ago. Wow! Happy Anniversary Eric.  I love you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dear Langkawi...We LOVE you!

Last weekend we made our 3rd trip in 10 months to our favorite quick and easy island vacation spot.   Now, I bet I know what you are thinking, why are Jenn & Eric going to Langkawi again?  Don't they live on an island and isn't there several thousand other islands they could explore?  Here is our response: 1. Our visits to Langkawi are fun, memorable and we discover something new each time we visit.  2. When I was a kid, our family had a cabin "up north" in Michigan, which we would visit nearly every month.  I think it's fair to say that Langkawi is our "up north" in Malaysia.  3.  Langkawi is a duty free island, meaning you can have $1 Tiger beer and stock the liquor cabinet.  4.  The beaches are clean and the resorts are very nice.  5.  The island has not been ruined by tourism and still remains connected to nature.  6. You can fly from Penang to Langkawi direct in 25 minutes.  I could go on and on, but instead I'll tell you about how awesome our weekend was.

We joined Nikki & Leon and Lou, Mia & Eric for a weekend away.  Our friends share our love for Langkawi and we all could use some downtime at the pool after a busy couple of weeks.  Eric and I decided to stay at a different resort than our friends, as we were celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary (a weekend early). When we checked into our resort, we were immediately upgraded from Temple Tree to the more private and intimate Bon Ton resort next door.  We loved our stay at Bon Ton.  We felt pampered in our traditional Malay house on stilts, that was complete with an air conditioner, two person wood bathtub (!!), ceiling shower that drained through the floor, great breakfast, complementary wine tasting, a surprise anniversary cake and french pressed coffee!  So good!!
Our traditional Malay house at Bon Ton
Check out our bathtub! 
The view that accompanied our breakfast
We also went on an excellent mangrove tour.  We were able to see an abundance of wildlife and we had a very knowledgeable guide.  At the end of our day, we each planted a new mangrove tree, which was a great touch to the eco-friendly tour.
Gorgeous Mangroves

Can you see the snake?
Yellow King Fisher waiting for the right moment for lunch
Sea Eagle
A large monitor lizard that we almost hit with our boat
Spitting Fish
Apart from our tour, we took it easy for the rest of the weekend, spending time at the pool and eating great meals with our friends.

After this trip to Langkawi, I have decided that the connection that I feel to this island is what I thought I would find in Bali.

Who knew that our Bali, would be so close.  Peaceful, beautiful and a place for us to connect with each other and with nature.  Langkawi, we will be back...probably next month!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cinco de Mayo, Buddha's Birthday and a Super Moon

We had a very busy May 5th!  Not only was it Cinco do Mayo but it was also Wesek Day -- the celebration of Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death.  To top the day off, we also experienced a "super moon" which was the biggest and brightest moon of the year and was 14% larger than an average full moon!  To celebrate this auspicious conglomeration of multicultural holidays and events, we hosted a drinks and tapas party/potluck.  Eric and I spent most (all) of Saturday prepping for festivities which included making a mountain of quesadillas, a vat 'o pico de gallo, mixing margaritas, stocking our coolers with good beer, finding good Mexican/Latin music and lighting candles for Buddha. 

We had over 50 people join us for the festivities. 
 There were A LOT of shoes at our front door

Some of us, young and old ventured down to watch the Wesek Day parade near our house.
Can you identify the instruments these kids are playing?

The floats were pulled by people...
and followed by their generators...
Those who did not make their way down to the parade, watched from our back balcony.
Can you see them??

After the sunset, it was time for the super moon to take center stage.  Unfortunately, it was a cloudy evening.  We were able to catch a quick glimpse of the moon as it rose over the bay.
We wrapped up the night with good friends, good food and good drinks!  Our first party was a success!  Both balconies were used, our house was full and people left happy!
I wonder when the next Hartner get together will be....

The Sunrise

This morning's sunrise was particularly beautiful.  A quiet and clear morning and the start of another amazing day in wonderful Penang. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Polis

It was bound to happen and last Tuesday it did.  I had my first "hit and run" with a Malaysian motorbike, aka plastic.  Everyone and everything is fine, but I had to report my accident to the po-po.  Apparently in Malaysia, you must make a police report whenever there is an accident, even though the damage to our car was minimal and the biker took off.  So Eric and I spent several hours recounting my story at the local police department, where I was questioned about what happened and several inefficient steps later, it was determined that the accident was not my fault. Let's hope that was our one and only visit to the Polis.