Monthly Archives: December 2012

Peggy and Randy Ford Authors- FOUND OUR WAY 25th Installment

Bicycling was the most common means of transportation in Malaysia. Roads were good, but most people couldn’t afford cars then. Gas alone was $2 Malaysian a gallon, which was a lot of money. Filipinos had a well-developed system of jeepneys to go around within towns or to go from town to town, but Malaysians used bicycle. Granted, not many people toured the country by bicycle, but not many people toured the country period.

We spent the whole afternoon in a bicycle shop while accessories were put on, so we didn’t get to ride until after 5:00 p.m.. At first Peggy was a little shaky, but she soon got the hang of it. We rode to a kampong (village) 2 ½ miles out of town and back again, a pretty good starter. The most difficult things were that the British system was followed there, so that we rode on the left and all bikes had hand brakes instead of coaster brakes and no gears. (A British acquaintance called them “sit-up-and-beg bicycles.”). Adapting was easier than Peggy thought it would be, but at first, at least. she kept her hand always touching the brake.

Riding bicycles meant that we’d be going much more slowly than we previously planned. Because we only had permission to stay in the country two weeks, we needed to go to Kuala Lumpur (KL) before then to apply for an extension. Assuming that we were given an extension, we planned then to spend a few days in KL before beginning the longest leg of the Malaysian part of our trip. We thought we’d go up the East Coast and eventually get back to KL, but at that point we had no idea whether it would take a month or six months. We told our families to hold off sending us mail because American Express held mail for only 30 days.

There was still talk of tension and of rumormongers who created tension by spreading rumors of new trouble. A few Chinese were killed, but by the time we were on the road talk seemed to be all there was to it. Still when we got caught out on the road after dark coming back from a kampong we talked to each other (in English) the whole way back to our hotel, so that we wouldn’t be mistaken for either Chinese or Malay. We wouldn’t know until we got to KL that there was a curfew. Maybe it was only enforced in KL.

We really enjoyed Malaysia. The people seemed even friendlier than Filipinos did (if possible), and we thought the countryside was more beautiful (possibly because the Philippines was having a bad dry season, making things not as green as in Malaysia). We enjoyed the swallows, which nested in eaves of porches … right in towns. And sitting on the inside of our hotel room while we were in Malacca was a moth with a 5-inch wing span. It just flew up onto the wall, and a house lizard … called chicha in Malay … was very interested in it. Peggy made the moth move to a safer place. Soon there were four chichas playing on the wall.

And wow! The exercise we were getting. The first day we had our bikes we rode around town and out to a Portuguese settlement, where we met some people and learned about their history. We covered a distance of some 20 miles. We suffered, but not as much as Peggy expected. The next morning we bought a big basket to carry the cooking and camping gear we collected. Then we began packing the bikes. It turned out to be quite a difficult time. We started out with the big basket on the back of Peggy’s bike, but she couldn’t keep her balance. Eventually we shifted around so that Peggy had only one bag and I had everything else. My problem with all the weight was how to keep the bike from tipping over backwards.

3. We left town (Malacca) about 1 p.m. Progress was quite slow because of the weight. We made a picnic-lunch stop and a couple of rest and water stops. We hadn’t realized it, but Malaysia was/is a hilly country. And even a slight incline posed a problem to heavily loaded bicyclists with out-of-shape legs. We walked up several hills. By 5 o’clock we made 18 miles, but we didn’t feel we could go much further. (We rode through groves of rubber trees most of the afternoon, which would’ve been pleasant had we been in shape. We sang a made-up-song: RUBBER NUTS DON’T FALL ON US. ) The small town there had no hotel, and we really began to despair. But we rode out a little ways and met some boys who said we could stay in a meeting hall. Pretty soon about 20 boys gathered around, so we had plenty of help buying some rice and sardines and getting our little stove set up.

While we were eating another boy came along and said that his grandfather’s house was empty and that we could sleep there. So the boys helped us gather up our things and move to the empty house. So, our first night was spent in a Malay house in a very friendly village. Oh, yes! Earlier we bathed at a well beside a Mosque. I learned how to use a sorong so that I could bathe where there was no shelter, but Peggy just washed her face, arms, and legs.

The next morning the boys were back to help us pack and load the bicycles. We shifted some of the weight from the back of my bike to the front so that it wouldn’t keep trying to tip over backwards. We started on our way about 8:00 a.m. And oh the hills! By noon we were quite pooped! But we had a leisurely lunch and rested until the sun was a little lower. The afternoon was much easier, partly because there were fewer hills and because we were learning to pace ourselves. By 4:00 we were almost to Port Dickson … 39 miles from where we spent the night. I went for a swim in the ocean and was amazed at how easily I could float. Afterwards, we spotted a youth hostel where we spent the night before deciding to spend two additional days and nights. I had found a distraction … my writing. I was excited about starting a new play and said to Peggy writing was my profession now. Yes, it was easy to get distracted. I never finished the play.

Peggy and Randy Ford

Leave a comment

Filed under Found Our Way



also on Amazon, Fictionwise, Nook, & Smashwords


(Series Book 1)


In the Arizona Territory of 1882, Welsh immigrant Evan Jones and his brothers will do anything to get out of copper mining, but their attempts fall flat.  A mysterious Mexican healer saves Evan’s life but his bigotry drives her away.  Can he find her and learn to embrace their differences before a vicious outlaw exacts a terrible revenge?


(Series Book 2)


Evan Jones’ past comes back to haunt him like a phoenix out of forgotten ashes, threatening not only his happy marriage with Reyna, the curandera who captured his heart, but their very lives.


(Short Story)


After a violent storm blows him overboard, Lt. Edward Putney of Nelson’s Navy learns he’s trapped on a mystical isle until the next equinox.  When his rescuer turns out to be a seichie, a seal in the sea and a beautiful woman on land, he truly doubts his sanity.  Soon he must make a terrible choice: stay and be branded a deserter forever, or return to the life he once knew and abandon the seichie he loves.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books to Read



by Bonnie Willemssen

Bonnie Willemssen’s ROCKY ROAD IS NOT JUST AN ICE CREAM is a collection of columns that have been printed in newspapers in both Minnesota and Arizona.  Bonnie finds a way to make the mundane seem comical and the ordinary seem amusing.  These anecdotes on youth, middle age, and the slippery slide to elderhood are laugh-provoking tales with which so many people will identify.  You can order both the Kindle and paperback versions from AMAZON.COM.  Visit Bonnie’s blog at

Taken from THE WRITE WORD, the newsletter of The Society of Southwestern Authors  Vol. 41.  No. 6.  December 2012/January 2013

Leave a comment

Filed under Books to Read

Peggy and Randy Ford Authors- FOUND OUR WAY 24th Installment

2. We mostly took life rather easy in Singapore.  Sometimes doing nothing but riding buses, looking at the city and the beautiful countryside around the city. We went to the aquarium, but we were tired that day and it was rather disappointing after the one we saw in Honolulu. But there was a good museum where we spent several hours. We also spent one afternoon in the botanical gardens where a Rhesus monkey stole Peggy’s purse and wouldn’t give it back. Sometimes we just walked around and watched people. We also went into two Hindu temples, our first two. We’d been reading about Hinduism and considered it complex. Sunday we went to the Presbyterian Church, which had a bearded Irishman for a minister. It was good to hear a sermon by someone who didn’t have to stumble around in English. Then one evening we splurged (we allowed ourselves one evening) and ate dinner in a restaurant on a junk in the harbor. An American owned it, but I don’t remember meeting him. Then finally, for a change of air (as in Change of Air Station, places we became familiar with in Malaysia), we took the incline railway to the top of Lookout Mountain where we nearly froze off our buns and experienced fog for the first time since San Francisco.

3. It was raining cats and dogs, but it was the last day we could be in Singapore without applying for a long-term visa, so we got out of the country while the getting was good. We told our parents then that we planned to spend three weeks or so traveling by bus and train in Malaysia. We talked to a couple of Swedish people who had just spent a couple weeks in Malaysia. They were very exited about the country and said the riots wouldn’t endanger us at all. According to them any rioting that was occurring was in very limited areas. Besides no one was going to bother us, because we weren’t Malay or Chinese. We were Americans. If it appeared that we were in any danger, we’d simply move on right away.

4. Travelers must learn not to become experts too quickly. First impressions can be very misleading, giving a false coloring to what is seen thereafter. At first we thought Singapore left Malaysia because the large Chinese population wasn’t getting a fair deal. New light was shed when we found out that Singapore was kicked out because of a large Chinese population.

5. Approaching immigration official: full of apprehension. Even though everything was in order, somehow while he was looking at our papers, thoughts of international intrigues were going through the mind, so that it was kind of surprising when he finally stamped our passports and said nothing out of the ordinary. It was a special time for us, but an everyday thing for the official. Surprised to see female customs inspector. Have had no trouble so far.

1. Johore. Side trip from Johore Bahru: almost got left behind because we didn’t expect the bus to leave on time. First Malaysia rainstorm- very short – put windows up and then down. Area for buses- open, with fruit and food stalls around. Most busses have very short runs. Johore is Pineapple State. When first in country, guarding, guarding, guarding. In Johore, asked for passports when bus stopped at police checkpoint … the only time the whole trip so far. Fascinated by evidence all around of Sultan: zoo, homes, palace, and dedications. Johor Bharu: continual noise and activity of swifts (which we thought were swallows at the time)- under eaves. Amazed that people had time for us … took us places, helped us find hotel and order lunch. Left Peggy in hotel room to go buy a pencil when a woman in a second story window signaled for me to come over to her. Assumed she was a prostitute. Saw another man take my place.

2. Malacca. We had be thinking for some time of buying bicycles for our traveling around. The idea of traveling around after Peace Corps actually was suggested to us months before this when we were vacationing in the Sulus (the southern most islands of the Philippines). We spent a week on a boat going from island to island, and on Bongao we met a British fellow who had just hiked across Borneo. Because of the political situation, he entered the country illegally, ended up in jail, but after his release, he came by our place in Manila. Hearing about his adventures inspired us (or at least me). So it was in Malacca that we took the big step and became proud owners of two British-made, Malaysia assembled, lightweight 21” bicycles. We thought that this would make us more independent, allowing us to stop whenever and wherever we wanted. It also would help us get closer to people since we could choose our own stopping places. And in the long run it would save us considerable money, or so we thought, since bus fares really would begin to add up after a while.

Peggy and Randy Ford

Leave a comment

Filed under Found Our Way

Stephen Dau Author- THE BOOK OF JONAS


by Stephen Dau

Beautifully told with underlying themes of war, family, and survival, THE BOOK OF JONAS slowly reveals Jonas’ past and his present assimilation into a new life in the United States.  Jonas is originally from an unnamed Muslim country where a military operation has destroyed his home and family.  We know we will learn Jonas’ secrets as we get to know him and it is his search for his memory and for his survival that carry us breathlessly through his narrative.

It is also the story of an American soldier and his mother, who searches for the truth about her son as she tries to put a life together without him.  Secrets are slowly revealed and closure comes with the hope of peace … in a beautifully written debut. -tlg

blue rider press,  $24.95

Mysterious Galaxy Books


Leave a comment

Filed under Books to Read

Ken Follett Author- FALL OF GIANTS


by Ken Follett

From the #! NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of WORLD WITHOUT END and THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH.

“(Ken Follett) is masterly in conveying so much drama and historical information so vividly … Grippingly told.”- New York Times Book Review

From the danger of a Welsh coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a Russian palace, and from the boardrooms of powers to the bedroom of the aristocracy, FALL OF GIANTS takes readers into the entangled fates of five families – and into a century we thought we knew, but that will never seem the same again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books to Read

Peggy and Randy Ford Authors- FOUND OUR WAY 23rd Installment

61. Many people hate good-byes. Often it’s sad, particularly when you know you probably will never see the person or the place again. As Ray Huberner boarded a plane at Manila International Airport, he told Peggy and me that he probably wouldn’t see us again. That turned out to be far from the truth. When Lino Brocka saw us off at the same airport, we suspected that we would never be back and never see him again, and it turned out to be true. The night before Lino treated us to a feast at a restaurant, and I remember enjoying Sinigang (Tamarind) fish soup. To this day it is one of my favorite soups. Thanks to Lino I learned to eat and like the marrow out of chicken bones and steamed bean spouts.

1. We had letters from home waiting for us at the American Express Office in Singapore. I acted as if I didn’t care about mail, but I read each letter several times. At unsettle times, like arriving in a new country, something settled and secure … like letters from home … was more important than ever.

We really enjoyed the multi-racial city-state of Singapore. (It’s an independent country. It’s an island that is 224 square miles … or was then … with a maximum width from north to south of 14 miles and a maximum length from east to west of 27 miles.) The city and its suburbs took up a great part of the island then, but there were still a few areas of virgin forest left. We spent part of an afternoon walking through one of these areas, with thickly growing trees and vines. We saw lots and lots of butterflies and saw a few very small squirrels. We heard birds but didn’t see any.

Singapore had a strange combination of people: Malays, Indians, Chinese, and the British were the most dominating. And they lived together on generally harmonious terms. There was an Arab part of town and a Chinese part, but not all of either of these people lived in these areas. So most public signs were written in English, Malay, Arabic, and Chinese; and many businesses had their signs in English and Chinese. English was usually the common language by which the different people communicated, but we ran into quite a large number who spoke only one of the Chinese dialects. But Malay was the official national language. (Malay is much like Tagalog. In fact, some of the words are the same. We knew a few phases and hoped to pick up more as we traveled through Malaysia)

Being in a country that was influenced by the British (instead of Americans) was interesting to us. The Chinese and Malays who spoke English did so with a British accent, and we heard a lot of words and expressions than what we were used to. One of the first things that struck us was that people drove on the left and the steering wheel was on the right side of the car. This led to signs like “Keep Left.” All seats in movies were reserved and the audience could enter only between shows, which we assumed was the British influence. A traffic circle was a “circus.”

Singapore had/has socialized medicine (although there were still private doctors). A couple of days after we got to Singapore Peggy needed to go to the doctor because she had a sore throat and to make sure that the amebic dysentery that showed up during her last medical in Manila was cleared up. Peggy called up the American Embassy, and they referred her to the outpatient clinic of a particular private hospital. But she couldn’t get an appointment there that day so she decided to take her luck at the General Hospital, which tourist information said was very good. When we got to the hospital, it turned out to be for emergencies only, but someone was able to direct us to a nearby outpatient clinic.

At the clinic Peggy got in line to “register.” We had to wait a while because it was during the lunch break. While waiting we noticed that everyone around us had a little card in his or her hand. We were the only Anglos in a room full of Chinese and Indians. That was when we realized that we were in a government clinic and that Peggy probably couldn’t get treatment since she wasn’t a resident of Singapore.

When we got to the first window … where there was a sign reading: “Pay 80 cents,” Peggy showed the man her Peace Corps form authorizing her to be checked at U.S. Government expense. He then simply filled out a card for her, gave her a number, took her 80 cents, and told her to wait upstairs outside door #6. Peggy’s number was 4 … the nurse was calling out the numbers in Chinese but she switched to English when no one responded to her 4. The doctor inside of #6 was an Indian lady. She was very nice and gave Peggy a container for a stool sample to find out about the amebic. She then sent Peggy downstairs where she was given two kinds of pills and a gargle. The next day Peggy went back, paid her 80 cents, and went to a lab and then saw the doctor who said that Peggy seemed to be clear of the amebic. And in a couple of days her sore throat went away … and it only cost us $1.60 Singapore.

While in Singapore we saw many men in bermuda shorts. It seemed to be a common denominator … that and cricket and polo … while the many different faces meant that many kinds of food were available. Chinese food was everywhere, but even it was quite varied depending upon what part of China it originated from. We ate quite a bit of Chinese food since it was easy to find and was often very cheap. We also enjoyed Malaysian “satay,” tenderized spiced chicken or mutton or pork barbecued over hot charcoal and eaten with a spicy peanut sauce. Sometimes we also ate in Muslim Indian restaurants. Most of this food was also hot. Peggy enjoyed murtaba, which reminded her somewhat of tacos, although the bread wasn’t so crisp. I really enjoyed/ enjoy hot spicy food, but she hadn’t developed a very great appreciation for it. Every now and then she enjoyed going into a Western place and getting a good ol’ ham sandwich!

At night many of the streets blossomed with little stalls selling food. Some of them had Chinese food, but our favorites were fruit stalls. At that time of year there were about 20 varieties of fruit available at these stalls, some of them … apples, oranges, pears, plums, grapes, watermelon … found in the states, but others were strictly tropical fruits.

We stayed in a fairly cheap Chinese hotel where communal toilets and showers were at the end of the hall. There were two kinds of toilets: a standard Western toilet; the other an Eastern toilet, consisting of a tiled hole, over which a person squatted. The Eastern one was really more sanitary because no part of the body touched the toilet. I learned how to navigate this one and preferred it because the Western one didn’t flush properly. We enjoyed warm showers … a rarity in the Philippines … by mixing hot and cold water in a barrel, then using a dipper to pour warm water over our bodies. It was actually a very pleasant way to bathe.

A welcome change from the Philippines was the absence of hordes of very poor. The government of Singapore built many huge high-rise complexes, with business establishments on the bottom floors and apartments on the upper floors. We didn’t know the arrangement, but we supposed the resident rented the apartment, but we knew however that there were no slums and very few beggars.

Peggy and Randy Ford

Leave a comment

Filed under Found Our Way