The Ferry Ride from Hell

Oh my. I’ve regretted a few decisions on my holiday so far, but getting the ferry to Penang from Langkawi instead of flying was a DOOZIE! I’d gone on a snorkelling tour the day before at Pulau Payar, an hour away, and since this formed the first part of the ferry ride…well, I’d already done it. Had a lovely boatride the day before. Calm blue ocean and all that.

So I was wishing I’d bought a plane ticket instead. But hey, it’s an experience, right? Hmm… Despite being at the front of the queue, when I came to board the ferry, the seat assigned to me was one of only 4 on the entire boat that had NO VIEW WHATSOEVER. That’s right. Just a freakin’ metal wall next to my face. For 3 hours! Fucken.

And then when we started, the sea was so rough I thought I was in Master and Commander. Oh lawd. I barely took a minute to try to film the rolling waves and hideous waves of heat and nausea came over me. And not just me. Everywhere on the boat people were moaning, spewing in plastic bags, kids were crying…it was hideous. (Although funny, in retrospect, I guess. You have to laugh.)

I blocked out the horror by the judicious use of earplugs and an eyepatch, and attempted to sleep. It actually worked. Whilst I could still feel the rolling motion of the boat on the ocean, as long as I couldn’t see the chaotically rolling horizon, I was ok. The beer I brought with me, most DEFINITELY stayed in the bag, let me tell you. Of course my seasickness medication was locked away in my luggage, somewhere in the hold. The day before had been calm; I didn’t think I’d need it. So I wasn’t feeling best pleased.

And then there was this loud BANG! And then the boat stopped. And the aussies near me were like “what’s happening?” Through my earplugs I heard them say some guys had gone over the side, diving with scuba gear. What the? Apparently a fishing trap had got caught in the propeller, and this was a fairly common occurrence, judging by the resigned way in which the guys went over. This happened at least twice, with a third stop not requiring diving.

So, the trip from hell, that I couldn’t wait to get over with, that was supposed to take 2 and three quarter hours, now took over FOUR. Oh joy! I promised D I’d email or skype him around 6pm,  but I didn’t get to my hotel room until 7.15. The boat had left at 2.30pm. I’d left my hotel in Langkawi at 11.30am. Long day much? Hell yeah!

However, I CAN say that the food has been great. My hotel room here has a panoramic view of the Penang skyline, despite being only 75 ringgits. There’s been lovely temples, and interesting architecture. I went boozing with some US pilots last night, and dipped my toes in the sea at Batu Ferringhi this afternoon. It’s not all doom and gloom. But jeez, sometimes ya just wish you’d chosen ‘a’, not ‘b’, don’tcha?

A lesson to you, my friends. TAKE THE PLANE.

Sunset oh sunset

Only a fuggen idiot would come to Langkawi alone. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had a fab time for much of my time here. But it’s such a couples destination, of a night I often feel like a fish out of water when dining etc.

I think I’ll miss the sunsets most.

Since Pantai Cenang and Tengah are on the western side of the island, the sunsets are some of the most sublime ever. Thursday night was the absolute best – I’ll post pics when I can. From 6.45 to 7.30 or so, the twilight zone as it were, there’s a hush all over the beach  as everyone just gazes adoringly until the last ray of sun has gone. I feel at peace and blissed out and it’s the loveliest time of the day here.

And then comes the routine of working out where to eat, what to do. Often for me, the what to do, is coming back to my original internet caf to visit Pam and have a chat, as well as catch up on mail, blogging and skype.

The one rule here I’ve made for myself is to go for a swim every day. And I have. The warmth of the water, and the blue-green colour of it, I’ll also miss. The sea is much cooler in Sydney.

I will post more about my specific visits to the islands nearby, snorkelling and so on, as well as the meals I’ve had, where I ate and what I ate. Tomorrow I board a ferry for Penang, and I’ll have 2 nights there before returning to Kuala Lumpur. I tend to feel very at home in cities, even though they don’t have the beauty of the ocean going for them. They provide anonymity and diversity. I may even hit a pub, as opposed to me having a few coldies stashed in my bar fridge, while I’m watching Malaysian soap operas and western movies of a night, which I’ve been doing here.

But for now I’m hanging onto the feeling of the twilight sunset hour. No more sunsets on Langkawi; that’s the saddest bit of all. Just as well I took all those photos and have all that video footage to remind me 🙂

Wi-fi-less in Langkawi

It’s funny how just one or 2 little things can change the way you feel about a situation. Take Langkawi, fr’instance.

When I checked into the Sunset Resort (which is lovely, see view above)  I enquired about the wifi situation, as I’d brought my laptop specifically to write my blog and skype my husband ever day or so.  For some reason Word isn’t working on my lappy, so I can’t write emails, blogs etc and upload them later (and you know about my previous troubles with pc-hogging backpackers).

The ladies who run Sunset are lovely, but each gave me a different answer at different times when I enquired.  The first one said I needed a card for wifi, and I’d have to turn left and walk to Pantai Cenang to get it – 20 or 25 minutes walk.  And the shop didn’t have a name and wasn’t easy to find. Oh good. I felt that sinking sensation.

You’d think they might buy cards for their guests, and onsell them, just to make it easier, wouldn’t you?

But no. As I was setting off later, a different lady said oh no, I could just turn right and get a card at the mini mart close by.  Really? Sounded too good to be true, but hey, I was optimistic and gullible. I went to every mini mart there, and they either didn’t have a card, or didn’t have a clue what I was talking about!

I returned to my hotel, to be told by another lady I’d have to take my laptop not just into the main beach, but the main TOWN of Kuah, to be wifi enabled.  I was sooo pissed off when I realised I wasn’t going to have wifi and be able to stay in touch, I was on the verge of tears.

Somewhere in my temple, a vein throbbed. I was beginning to lose it.

“Please”, I pleaded, “I haven’t spoken to my husband in days; I have skype on my laptop so I can talk to him”.  (OK I know a quick mail would do, and I’d sent one, but by now really I needed to talk to him).
“I need to let him know I’m OK.”
I swallowed down a lump of grief in my throat. “What can I do?”

Finally the lady with the best English said I’d better go to the Red Tomato cafe with my laptop, buy a coffee or something, and use their wfi. It was better than nothing.

I walked back to my cabana, tears in my eyes.  I had a coffee – thank you resort for having in-house coffee making facilities – to calm down, and then I started to walk to Pantai Cenang.

I’d only gone a few yards when I saw a place that said the blessed words “Internet” and “skype”.  Woohoo!!   I walked in and YES! they did have skype and I logged on. My husband answered – YAY! D had just walked in the door and had been worried about me, and we were both so happy to chat.  He hadn’t seen my email as he went straight from work to dinner, and the credit card hadn’t been used since I left – that really worried him.

It was SUCH a relief! Just then I looked up and there were 2 geckos on the wall, and it made me smile.  D and I love geckos; they seem to symbolise south east asia for us. We have 2 on our ceiling, to remind us, and they often startle visitors, as they look quite real. So, seeing my first geckos and hearing them “chup-chup” was like a good omen.

I posted a quick blog and then as I was paying, the lovely lady manager Pam said I could bring my laptop so I could skype, blog, upload pics etc- woohoo!! An expat who was there and heard about my wifilessness, gave me a card for 24 hrs use – and wouldn’t accept money for it. Aww.

I almost cried.

I walked out feeling much better. Then, I took a turn off the main drag and started walking on the beach, and the sun was setting and it was lovely. There were people everywhere, walking, laughing, swimming, paragliding. And there were all these beach barbecues and bars and I was just in the midst of LIFE.

And I had a moment – you know? When you feel really happy and remember other times when you were happy.  I felt like I did on one of the Whitsunday islands, walking along the beach at sunset when the liveaboard boat docked for dinner.  Like I did on Ko Tao, and on Ko Phangan when I saw phosphorescence.  Like in Sapa, on the most amazing trek when I looked up and saw stunningly beautiful green rice paddies and lofty mountains.

My heart swelled. I really felt I was on a tropical island, and life was going on, and the world was my lobster. It was pretty much the best feeling yet on the trip. My first day had gone from woe to yo!

And every time I hear “chup-chup-chup!”, I smile.

In Langkawi!

Well, when it comes to sun, sea and sand, Langkawi doesn’t disappoint.

As the plane started its descent, I could see the glorious blue-green ocean with a multitude of islands, and remembered the thrill of island holidays. Alright, so it started to rain the minute we touched down – literally. I didn’t let that dampen my spirits, as I know by now that it’s hot in the morning, rains around noon and then often clears up. It was still raining when I checked into the Sunset Resort, but by the time I’d unpacked, it was sunny again, and hot as you like!

Quick smart I got into my swimmers and headed for the beach. The water was sooo warm, almost like Thailand (well, Langkawi isn’t far south), The beach itself is quite pretty, although I’d read that Pantai Tengah isn’t as nice as the main beach. And it’s clean, and not at all rough, as I’d also read. It was lovely and calm, and I just floated in the water like a leaf on the breeze.

Unfortunately there’s no wi-fi as was advertised, so stuff stored on my laptop will have to stay there for now as I can only use internet cafe’s. And there’s no time for me to draft lovely prose for my posts. It’s all off-the-cuff, no time for editing, slightly bland accounts for now.

I will certainly post about my time in KL in more depth soon. For now, it’s dinner time, and I have seafood to eat (and maybe a banana pancake? Maybe a cendol or ais kechang then…) And a walk along the beach is also in order, followed by a tropical cocktail perhaps. I’ll let you know 🙂