Uncle Chang The World

Don’t know what I mean by this title? That’s okay, neither do I. And there were a lot of happenings this week that I didn’t *quite* understand, but definitely appreciate. One of the great joys of travel is the element of surprise – and Uncle Chang surprised us with a live band every night, bottles of rum all around, and arguably the best dive sites on the planet.

The best surprise of all, though, was when the band cranked out their rendition of my home state’s unofficial but widely recognized anthem, “Country Roads.” They sure know how to make a girl feel at home! Other highlights of our stay with Uncle Chang include:

-Diving visibility of over 40 meters. My first dive was not ideal, as my equipment was throwing seawater down my throat with each breath, but once I got rid of the leaking regulator it was smooth sailing. One of our Sipadan dives was crystal clear, absolutely unbeatable in my book. Swimming along a rainbow of coral, we turned a corner to see the sunshine streaming in from behind an underwater cliff; easily, this was the most breathtaking image I’ve ever seen. It was, in a word, otherworldly.

-Michael has become a world-class critter spotter! In the 20+ dives we’ve had in the last several weeks, he has trained his eyes to find even the most well-camouflaged marine animal or plant. He’s identified tiny sea horses, hidden scorpion fish, and spindly lion fish. Diving with him is great, all I have to do is swim and remember to breathe.

-We were visited by what our guidebook described as Uncle Chang’s “charming family of rats.”  Although the place was clean enough, our rations were just too tempting for the resident vermin. They chewed into our peanuts, may or may not have eaten half a slice of wheat bread, and gnawed a chunk out of a mango. I will admit I was more than a little unnerved when one of them ran across my chest in the middle of the night. But hey, I didn’t say all these surprises were good! And who can blame them for stealing our food in the middle of the night … If I think I’m tired of rice, just imagine how they feel!

-Did I mention they handed out free rum every night the band played? Shouldn’t they know better than to drink and dive?

The empty bottles are definitely not ours. And I take no responsibility for the Coke, either.

-We found out that Uncle Chang does more than his share to keep the island’s kids out of trouble. The band is a collection of locals he’s taken under his wing. They have no formal training and play entirely by ear, but these kids blew me away. The girl singer knocked out Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, and gave Taylor Swift a run for her money. Uncle Chang also sponsors a basketball team, who happen to be the champions (and yes, the band played Queen in their honor), all in the name of keeping kids occupied and off drugs. He employs a slew of locals and handed out cash bonuses for them each time the band played. He is something of a local legend, from what I can tell. Once I understood what Uncle Chang was all about, I felt pretty good that we are supporting his empire.

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9 Responses to Uncle Chang The World

  1. Chris Baker says:

    Good to hear from you two! Geri mentioned that you havent gotten to write or email in a while and I am sure she was getting a little anxious…and me too. Nuff said.
    Sounds like you guys are having a great vacation. except for the much needed antibiotic. Have fun. write often as you can and be safe.

  2. Dan says:

    Let it be known that christy and I did not witness any rats while we were with the dynamic duo at Uncle Changes. Our “cleanliness” must have been an upgrade to what Brooke and Nissim have been use to for the past couple of weeks 😀

    Christy is VERY sorry she wasn’t around to enjoy your extra sleeping buddies at Uncle Changs. Though it could have been worse – that clueless polish couple could have been your roomates!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Michael says:

      Some things we keep to ourselves and do not want to bring unnecessary attention to issues not worthy of worrying about. Similarly, it was not tofu at the Filipino restaurant in KK. It was……….just kidding…

    • Brooke says:

      My order of roommate preference: #1 Dan and Christy, #2 The Charming Family of Rats, #3 The Clueless Polish Couple.

  3. Jeff says:

    wow!!! I can only imagine the dive now. Come on Brooke you know that Mike has a good eye… he did find you! haha!! (vomit) I so wish we could experience some of this with you all. I have been keeping up with the majority of the posts and love reading them. I am so happy for you guys. Continue exploring because I love reading the details.

  4. Margaret Polk says:

    Hi U 2 ! I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said already. However, I can say keep posting your experiences so we can enjoy your trip 🙂

  5. Momma Lou says:

    I am one quarter of a “charming Polish couple.” Please do tell!

    • Brooke says:

      They have become the epitome of what no traveler wants to be. They 1) forgot something on shore and we had to turn the boat around to get it; 2) the woman tried to get from the boat to the dock at an inappropriate place and ended up shoving the boat away and hanging from the side of the dock (hilarious!); 3) they didn’t register for their diving permits like they were supposed to so we, again, had to wait for them while they did this; 4) she lost her mask to the ocean floor immediately after jumping in the water, so now we’re down a mask for no good reason; 5) they took FOREVER getting on and off the boat – one time she held the boat because she had to pee, but couldn’t go in the ocean. C’mon! If you can’t go in the ocean, you must not have to go that bad, and you can hold it for 15 minutes until we get back to shore! But no…. the Polish woman makes everyone wait (again)!

      Then Michael accidentally dropped his weight belt on her toe… ouch! It slid off the bench next to where she was standing – I did feel bad for her – this must’ve hurt. But if it had to fall on anyone’s toe, at least it found the right person!

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