I was kept awake until 02:00 by an extremely loud, noisy, door slamming group of men which I assumed to be local and they appeared to be bearing some tools, certainly something constructed of metal. I was actually quite frightened. They were immensely inconsiderate to other guests in Hotel Nan and the corresponding transport was equally noisy outside. As a result I awoke tired and in need of more sleep. Ian hadn't noticed any disturbance in the night.
We ate a breakfast out the front of the hotel then joined the European crowd outside the ferry office to await our 09:30 slow boat crossing to Pulau Perhentian Besar. Whilst waiting I completed the book I exchanged in Kuala Lumpur which meant I was now all out of reading material.
At 09:45 we boarded a smallish boat which was evidently of a fair age. Given the lack of space and seating we perched at the stern where we could guard our backpacks and unfortunately we were beside the makeshift toilet. The toilet was a box made of three panels of wood with a fourth balancing as a door. The floor consisted of some planks of wood that were positioned in such a way that the gap formed in between them by removing one plank represented a toilet bowl, allowing wastage to fall straight into the South China Sea. Hmm.
At 09:55 we departed the harbour and my nightmare began. Our boat was probably accommodating twenty people and their luggage. I had hoped that this would be beneficial to us as the weight would be in our favour out at sea by reducing the effect of the waves tossing us about. Whether or not that was indeed the case I will never know. However, as our boat reached the harbour entrance and was made to face the wall of the incoming waves, a scene from 'A Perfect Storm' would best describe the sight. The boat had no option but to rise over the waves to get beyond the wall, but I hadn't quite expected it to stand almost vertically in doing so! A wave of fear washed over me as we rode the rollercoaster of the bow of the boat as it reestablished contact with the sea. A few more of these waves and I had confronted the reality that the next 60 minutes of our journey would not be dissimilar.
I then managed to bravely open my eyes but maintain a firm grip on Ian's arm. I was glad I had taken my prenultimate motion sickness pill. Although it doesn't alleviate my feelings of fear at least I don't feel sick! The boat continued to be thrown about in the 1 to 1.5 metre swells and my thoughts returned to those of Tonga as the Deep Blue I was tossed about in the waves on our voyage to 'Eua. I decided that that journey must be what has created the fear I now feel in such conditions.
Soon after we departed and faced the wall of waves the toilet door was released from its last grip on the hinges and slumped into the toilet box.
A second boat was following us across the South China Sea and we watched it being tossed around too. I guess the visual image must look worse than it was. For 2 hours we travelled this way, watching our backpacks getting soggy with the saltwater that was being thrown onboard by the waves, until we finally approached Pulau Perhentian Besar and were collected by a small resort boat and placed onshore at Coral View Island Resort.
We opted for the cheapest air conditioned room, checked in then wandered about searching for dive operators. There is certainly no shortage of them. There's at least three resorts and three dive operators on the one beach alone! We spoke to all of them and they all seemed honest enough, each of them telling us that the conditions at the moment were far from favourable, which is disappointing. Equally, there won't be a diving trip to Pulau Redang until April so that is a disppointment too.
We had lunch at the resort restaurant by the sea at the point where we came ashore.
Ian tried his underwater camera housing unit and I began to read his book. Then I joined him in the water and watched a boat, not dissimilar to our ferry, dock and unload three horses onto the jetty of the neighbouring resort. The horses appeared to be used to such irregularities.
I also spent an hour browsing through the resort shop where they had a fairly good selection of books available to rent. I eventually managed to convince the chap to exchange three of my novels for two from his shelf. Ian thought it was a bit of a rough deal.
We dined by the sea again, listening to the gently waves rolling ashore. Through the evening we read our books, having inspected the neighbouring jetty for sharky, who sadly failed to make an appearance.
There were ants in our bed and a spider on the wall which I noticed as I was getting ready to sleep.
Copyright 2003 Helen Fuller. All rights reserved.