Sunday, 15 February 2015

When travelling plans to awry ...

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.

14 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear that you haven't reached your dream destination, but your alternative sounds pretty good in the circumstances. But I always think that when things go awry, you always have more to write about! So wait for my upcoming blog about the sunset cruise on an old Burmese junk .....

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    1. Oh I'm looking forward to your Burmese junk! Sounds much more of an adventure than my solution!

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  2. Was getting really worried about you as I read through this post then when I got to the end I was relieved. This is my kind of solution to a problem! Relax, enjoy and return home ready to face our biting March winds 😃

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    1. Brrr - thanks for the warning, Ros!

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  3. Have a great relax!! You have earned it..and you can use the time to plan your next book!

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    1. Planning might wait till I get home - all this sitting about can addle the brain a bit! But I'll be up and writing when I get back!

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  4. As the hippies used to say, Hang loose. Enjoy the rest of your week.

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  5. Sounds as if you made the right decision. And while you're swimming and reading and eating, I bet you'll meet some interesting people to fill your next book. :)

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  6. Wow, Jo, I would not be complaining! sounds fabulous. I mean you could always come back to the UK and sit in the rain if you really object to it! :)

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  7. Still, of course it is frustrating but in a way it is also part of the experience of being there. Malaysia is just as complex as anywhere else.

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  8. Still, of course it is frustrating but in a way it is also part of the experience of being there. Malaysia is just as complex as anywhere else.

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  9. Wow, Jo, I would not be complaining! sounds fabulous. I mean you could always come back to the UK and sit in the rain if you really object to it! :)

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  10. You did the right thing Jo and I'm sure your daughters will be thinking the same thing,after all a little bit of luxury never hurt anyone.

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  11. I hear you and you know what? It reminds me of my latest trip to KL almost five years ago. We planned to go to Thailand but the riots broke out and that put paid to our travel plans. Then, the volcanic ash cloud struck and we had to stay for an extra week. Still, like you, we managed to make the best o four stay there, especially as we were staying with my wife's brother and his family and they had a large house with a swimming pool. Not bad, huh? :-)

    Greetings from London.

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