Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pangkor Island

Sometimes the only thing you want to do is to lie on the beach and soak in the sunshine, running in the sea just to get a bit of fresh water, and coming back to your towel to finish reading the 1000 pages novel you bought just 2 days ago - and which will only last until the next evening, if you keep reading non-stop like this.
Well yes, sometimes the only thing you need is that. This is how I usually spend my holidays when with my family, reading thick novels and playing cards with my brother, sleeping in the sunbed and getting the best suntan I can think of - we're talking of my pale northern skin. But this time no, it wasn't for me. I packed my rucksack and went all the way to Malaysia. I walked and dived and bundled my way through this lively country, loved the pace and heat, the noise and the smells, it all reminded me so much of China, without being China at the same time. I guess it's the travelling I missed...
But then, at some point, I needed the time off. Put the rucksack down, walk in flipflops and sit in the sunshine. So I found a spot in my Lonely Plat which said: Pangkor island - beautiful small island (Pangkor means beautiful in Malay) - fishermen village - long white beaches - not too touristy - not too far from KL - can cycle around the island in 2 hours... This was all I needed.
small fishing boat and the fishermen village right behind

I didn't stop for long though, just one night. But it was worth a stopover. Jamaican style hostel with hammocks hanging outside, beach within walking distance and good fresh food too.
I must admit I was worried, it was the almost only stretch of my trip when I was on my own, and although I like it from times to times, I wanted to visit the island and if possible to share it with people. This is where speaking Chinese helps, as I noticed four women my age speaking Mandarin where I was having lunch. They looked just as much on holidays as I was, and where planning their day trip. I introduced myself in Chinese and we hit it off straight away! They were energetic and curious ladies, and offered for me to go on the boat trip 5 minutes after we met. So we went for a short boat trip in the bay...
Chinese friends from China
and Malaysian Chinese friends
...and then for some snorkelling in the shallow water. Lots of fish and a few sea cucumbers. Unfortunately it seems I'm the only one with another of the Chinese who can swim confidently enough to enjoy the snorkelling, but the other three stand on the shore and can see the fish too, so we all have a good time in the end.

In the evening, after the required shower to take the salt out of the skin, dinner-time! And we're having fresh fish in hot pot, which they call steamboat over there (for those who like hot pot / huoguo / fondue chinoise / steamboat, I've got the best of addresses here in Paris, just ask). Enjoyed the food that we topped with banana and honey pancakes. Not the most Malay dinner ever, but then, when in Rome...

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