Friday, 1 August 2008

Oh Redang in the sun. . .

Tioman 1977

It has been years since we visited the islands of the east coast of Malaysia.

The ori band of brothers - Fareeda, Haris, Dollah & Fadzil

A band of brothers, after final medical exams in UM, decided to head on to Mersing to catch a fishing trawler to Tioman, the island featured in the 50's Hollywood blockbuster Bali Hai. What better way to R & R before a life-long career in medicine?

The eighties found us driving down to Port Dickson with religious zeal every Sunday for a day of windsurfing. Once you got the hang of it, (one full day of hoisting sail, losing balance and belly-flopping back into the water does it), it literally was a breeze. Feeling the wind in your face and all muscles working to keep balance was a most pleasurable feeling of power and freedom I could imagine at that time.

We continued these weekend forays with the windsurfing gang for almost three years. The beaches of PD then were actually oil slick-free, and camping overnight was MAINS-free (the JAIS of Negri Sembilan lah!). Then Rastam came along and enjoyed the beachy lifestyle with other water babies. I liken Rastam's birth (a 2-hour labour) to him windsurfing out into the world. You see, I had windsurfed four months into my pregnancy. I guess he had early exposure to the sport. (Look out for photos which will be posted if and when retrieved from dusty archives.)

Environs of Aryani Resort

The six-hour drive from KL, not including stops for meals and leaks, was basically sleep-time for the passengers allowing space for the driver to do his thing. Driving up and down the Merang road in search of Aryani Resort, our destination for the night, was hampered by faded signage and worn memory. Fifteen years of monsoons had taken its toll. No face lift, no maintenance and no pride seems to be the hallmark of our culture. Albeit the natural environs being rustic was fodder for a photographer.

Redang Laguna Resort 2008

Redang in 2008 turned out to be a different experience. The original band of brothers were three in number this time with Dollah's partner Sandra making up the foursome. Two new brothers joined our pack in Redang. Eddie, the batik designer and his hunky son, Nick, a chemist who puts his knowledge of OH chemicals to good use when the lights are low.

Jumping onto the ferry to Redang Laguna Resort was no walk in the park either. I can come up with a new ethnic joke: How do you get 300 mainland Chinese tourists, 10 French, 4 Czechs and 6 Malaysians into 3 fishing boats? . . . with a cacophony of noise and it's not funny. That's why God invented the MP3 player.

A waiting game. . . Food at last!

Next came the dreaded check-in rush. Those averse to endless loud jabbering thought the smart thing to do was to have lunch first. Lo and behold, the queue had beaten you to it again. Kiasu ma!

You would think that one could find refuge underwater, snorkeling. Wrong, even with a breathing apparatus applied to ones' mouth, some human beings still manage to talk and shout.

This aging hippie with the coral

So if you can ignore the homosapiens, Redang still retains its allure of pristine white sand, crystal clear blue water, coral reefs and tropical fish. I never woke early enough to catch the sunrise but even at 0720 hours it was mystifying.

Sunrise at 0720 Hrs

So my friends, all you need for an island holiday these days is a high tolerance for noisy people, a trusty MP3 player and a strong ability to shut out an annoying outside world.

But that's what its all about these days isn't it? You pick up the newspaper and read about corruption in Proton Perdana maintenance, sodomy and convenient resignations. Thoughts of migration start resurfacing, writing letters to the newspapers or the next best thing in ones control - blogging.

Wall of ikan bilis

But thinking of the colourful fishes in the sea inspires me to start batik painting instead and block out the crazy world we live in.

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