The problem with reality is it just isn’t as good as fantasy.
We had paid a small fortune (£120) to travel by speed boat from Koh Mok to Langkawi, this involved 2 speed boats with a 3 hour break in between boats which gave us time for the international border crossing and for that we gain an extra hour in our lives. As we had paid a lot we had visions of James Bond type boats quickly and efficiently getting us to where we wanted and arriving in Malaysia after a days travelling with flashpacker freshness.
We ordered breakfast (which was also going to be lunch) of one last Pad Thai and iced coffee. There were no noodles in the kitchen so we had stir fried rice, bland until we doused it in chilli, which had the unfortunate effect of reminding our stomachs of last night’s spicy yellow curry. Still we had a couple of hours to clear our stomachs before speed boat relay started.
We waited near the beach for the boat to arrive. It was supposed to arrive at 11.20. 11.20 came and went, 11.45 too, by 12.00 we were concerned. A few phone calls later and it was confirmed it would be here at 12.20. It arrived at 12.30. We still had a 2 hour turnaround so were unpurturbed at this slight delay.
Getting on the boat everyone seemed quite quiet and sober. Wierd, but then I though they are probably all on their way home so I could understand that. Not many backpackers would pay this price for the journey.
We had 30 mins to go to the next island to pick up more passengers, the speed boat bounced along the waves, lurching in that irregular fashion they do. Hummmm……I remembered the afternoon rains the past couple of days, that were accompanied by a slight breeze, which had been cooling on the beach. Maybe we would avoid them?
Pick up done and we were settled in seats across the aisle near the back of the boat. Bags piled up at the back of the boat. Plenty more tourists at the back of the boat.
The speedboat bounced along the waves, still juddering in its usual fashion. Clouds were gathering, blue skies were replaced by plump, grey clouds. People were looking around nervously, the boat started to bounce more, we were both thinking this is ok, nothing is as bad as the ferry to Taiwan. No Chinese are on board so we should avoid copious vomiting and over flowing sick bags.
Then the wind picked up and the waves started to lash through the back half of the boat, within 10 mins we were drenched right through our skimpy outfits, having dressed for 35 degree heat, not a water park ride. Salt water stung our eyes, hands and feet wrinkled like we had been in a hot bath for an hour.
Our fellow passengers in the front half, or shall we call it the dry half of the boat, all looked on amused and took photos whilst we at the back end of the boat, got a through brining. It was funny, you put on a brave face and laughed, we only had another hour and we should be there.
Looking to the back of the boat, the bags were drenched in sea water, which if you have a fancy Dry Sac like Guy is fine. If you have a 18 year old canvas bag with everything in plastic bags you begin to wonder if the bags are big enough to ensure nothing gets wet. Nothing you can do about it now though. Just soak up the spray and keep smiling at the cameras.
The boat bounced along, buffered by the increasing winds, the crew had the look of Thai drug runners, all about 18 years old and laughing at the farang getting scared and soaked.
About 2 hours into the journey it was clear we were no where near our destination. We did a mid sea transfer of more farang on and off the boat, the clean, dry Russian and Chinese tourist came on and sat at the back of the boat.
Just when you think it can’t get any worse, the heavens opened, the rain intensified and the thunder and lightning began. The temperature dropped, I was shaking, and just a fleeting thought of a warm, centrally heated office in Redditch passed through my head.
Chinese tourists filled sick bags, Russians braved it and laughed along, even the lasses false eyelashes didn’t bat an eyelid. Stereotypes are created for a reason.
Another hour of this and we eventually arrive in Koh Lipi a full 10 mins before we our next ferry leaves. The Thai drug runners shout ‘Langkawi, Langkawi’ and us and another couple are bundled off the boat, through the thigh high warm waters (bliss) dragging my salt water drenched rucksack and hand luggage up the sandy beach to immigration. My passport is drenched, I am drenched, I have never been through passport control looking like a drowned rat, but we get through, only partially able to fill out the departure cards as we are shaking from the cold so much.
Next boat takes us and our passports, separately, to the ferry, which has waited for us to arrive. We have a brief bit of heat before getting shepherded into a cold, air conditioned cabin. Just what I needed when soaked to the skin.
Immigration is the oddest yet, an elderly Malaysian is clutching about 30 passports. He shouts out the nationality of the passport and somehow this matches the owner, usually. We get ours near the end of this lottery, the last one isn’t even announced, it is given to the person remaining. He does check ‘Has everyone got a passport?’. I am not sure if it matters if it is the right one…… he has done his job and retires.
My teeth are chattering, body shaking, Guy lends me his shirt, I pull it on, it is soaking in seconds. We watch a Steven Siegal movie. It is a long trip, not bouncy, just long and air conditioned.
Finally, at 18.45 Malaysian time, we are in Langkawi, the sun is still out, just and we emerge into the sun shine. Bliss. Then onto the air conditioned immigration hall. Cold. The customs woman is bemused at both my passport and my appearance. I explain it was soaked on the ferry.
The customs guy is checking everyone’s rucksacks, I put mine on the desk with a loud squelch. He touches it, prods it, says it wet, I concur. He says he doesn’t want to check it. Result!
Guys Dry Sac is checked. Ha ha!
We finally get to the outside warmth of the ferry terminal and an ATM. We have been offered 40 Ringitt for our taxi to Cenang Tengang (£8), seems steep. Move on and the next guy says 38 Ringitt (50p) saving, not quite what I was expecting. Once he realises we are not going to hire a car or scooter from him (why would we, do we have a death wish???) he lets us go to the taxi queue and get a taxi for 30 Ringitt. Odd procedure, but we get the price we wanted.
Taxi driver asks if we want air con, we shiver and gasp No, and he opens the windows to the warm, evening breeze and we try not to drip or soak our salt water into his spotless upholstery.
We have an enthusiastic welcome from our French host at The Crowded House guesthouse, get our room, I unceremoniously dump everything out of my back onto the clean, new white tiled floor. Each corner of each plastic bag failed to prevent sogginess. I get some soggy trousers and a matching soggy top out of the bag, hope they dry as we step out for something to eat.
Just as we step out the heavens opened, again!!! I am thinking, if I get wet, at least it is rain that can wash off the sea water. Guy who is dry, is not keen on a rain shower.
Our host waves 2 umbrellas at us, bless him, and we trudge off to Fat Mums for a huge bowl of delicous, soothing laksa, and a less exciting beef rendang.
Obviously this is all my view of the day, to report back from Guy the best part of today was realising Malaysia had same plugs as UK….. English colonialistion has its advantages. He was so thrilled he made the comment ‘it is just as Phil Collins nearly sang, No Adapter Required’ …..(one for Di there xx)