I've been doing this travelling thing for a few years now. I've met a hazard or two. I've taken a risk or several. But at the back of my mind I've always thought, if I was really stuck, I should get to a comfortable resort, sit by a pool, and decide what to do next.
For the first time - and in Malaysia which is basically a safe country and easy to get around - I've done it. All the planning before I came, and still I stumbled up against an insurmountable or three.
Firstly, the weather. This is partly my fault: I knew it was the tail-end of the monsoon but I hoped it would have blown itself out by now. It hasn't. Winds still hammer the east coast unpredictably. The ferries to Pulau Tioman are worse than unreliable. They were running, it seemed, about one day in four. I could have gone to Mersing and waiting for the right day, in the hope of reaching my beautiful island (and then sat on the beach to have sand blown in my eyes). Who knows if there would have been a ferry to bring me back in time to catch my plane home.
Then - the Chinese New Year. The streets are decked in finery. The dragons are practising. The fireworks ready for firing. And every Chinese man and woman is taking to public transport to go home to their families. I met a couple who were unable to get a ticket on a long-distance train for three weeks. The interstate buses are frequent, but filling rapidly. I couldn't rely on turning up at a bus station and buying a ticket. I came across the same problem in Vietnam a few years ago and had to take night bus with blocked toilet and people sleeping on the floor. It was funny the first time, stupid to do it again. I needed to be somewhere I could stay for a few days before the razzmatazz really set in.
Then - a big political trial in KL was reaching its conclusion. The Leader of the Opposition was appealing his conviction for sodomy. If upheld (which it was), then he would be imprisoned for five years. I had no way of knowing how this would play out. I had several conversations with students, mostly young waiters, but we talked about their studies and I didn't feel I could drop the odd question about sodomy into those conversations. I don't know KL well enough to make sure I could stay out of the way of any demonstrations. So it seemed like a good plan to stay well south of the city given that I was flying home from Singapore.
It felt as if all three were conspiring to limit my choices.
So I've come to a resort on Sentosa, the island just south of Singapore. The pool is fed by spring water and fringed by palm trees. I can swim and read and read and swim. And eat. There are, I admit, worse solutions.
But one day I shall have to come back - and not in February - and catch the ferry to Pulau Tioman, to sit on the beach with the monkeys and monitor lizards.