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Malaysia: From Riches to Rags

19th March 2011

At 9:00am this morning seven adults and two babies boarded a tiny speed boat. Our luggage was piled at the front of the boat and we squeezed together at the back. How is it that seven educated adults make the decision to load our very precious selves into a small unmarked power boat manned by a boy barely older than seventeen; in the hope that we will be gently and safely transported to some island; where we will hopefully find accommodation; but we may not? I often think this when travelling. At times I think it’s all part of the experience and at other times I just think, what exactly is the earthly point?
Our pre-pubescent captain slammed the speed up and we hurtled over the water, smashing down onto wave after wave with such shuddering bangs that I imagined the boat breaking in twain at any moment. After 40 mins a boat load of wet, relieved tourists with mild whiplash and a few punctured spleens, arrive at a Pulau Perhentian island. Our saving grace may have been the babies as I suspect the driver was easing off the steam a little for their sake.
We’re going to have to find some babies for the return journey or I may loose an internal organ.

After a brief walk across the island during which time I thought I was going to expire due to getting both fat and monstrously unfit whilst travelling, we arrived at the main tourist beach. The monsoon season had only just finished and winds still whipped around the white sanded bay bringing with them crashing blue waves. Grotty shacks in various stages of repair and disrepair form a border between the jungle and the beach, it’s not exactly inspiring.

On our first night, I lay there in our tiny cubicle room with stained semi-permeable walls, listening to the toe-clenchingly horrific wailing coming from a nearby beach bar and contemplated our harsh thud back to reality. Was our week in divine paradise just a dream? Perhaps someone will put the shameless karaoke singer out of his misery and tiny elves will transform our room into a luxuriant boudoir…

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