The Perhentians symbolized the beginning of the end of our year long trip. It would be our last island get away; our last chance to dive in warm, tropical water; our last chance to get a tan; our last meal of authentic curry; and our last chance to blow the budget.
But most important, it was our last overnight bus ride and it was perfect. "Perfect" and "bus ride" don't typically occur in the same sentence. With sore knees, aching backs and kinks in the neck and a good nights sleep on swaying, bumpy bus is hard to come by. But this overnight ride was made special by the Malay man chatting up Jarrod.
Friends on the Bus
He's sitting across the isle from Jarrod and in his early 30s, balding slightly and a little belly is stretching his white golf shirt. He's texting away, another cell phone is attached to his belt and the glare from his laptop lights up his face. He was friendly, chatty and this is the conversation that ensued:
Malay Man: Where are you going? Jarrod: Perhentians
MM: Ah, beautiful islands. First time to Malaysia? Jarrod: Yes, first time.
MM: How long
you been here? Jarrod: Over a month. We have one week left.
MM: Ooohhhh, long holiday. How long you gone for? Jarrod: Almost one year. August will be one year.
MM: Wow! Where you from? Jarrod: Canada. Near Vancouver.
MM: Is that your wife? (Points and leans towards Carol) Jarrod: Yes.
MM: How long you been married? Jarrod: Four years.
MM: Do you have kids? Jarrod: No, not yet.
MM: Is there something wrong? (Likely hinting towards sperm count. Carol bites her tongue trying not to laugh) Jarrod: No, we're traveling, buy a house, THEN have kids. It's hard to travel with kids.
MM: I have five kids. Two 8-year olds, two 5-year olds, and one 1-month old. Jarrod: You're really lucky to have twins Twice!
MM: hahaha! No, I have two wives! Jarrod: Ooohhhhhhh... that would explain it. (Pause) Do they live together?
MM: HAHAHAHAH! No, Waaay to much stress!
Which leads to an explanation for the Asian obsession with cell phones. It's not uncommon to have more than one mobile and people are constantly pressing buttons staring at the little two inch screen instead of talking to the people they're with. But, of course, you're going to need
a cell phone for each wife or girlfriend!
Besar was definitely the paradise we were looking for. Along the beach there were pine trees and palm trees and hidden amongst them were individual cottages. Velvet white sand, clear blue water and only the sounds of the water lapping the shore and me turning the page of my book. Ideal.
We did take time out of the busy beach schedule to go diving and our favorite spot was the Vietnamese wreck with stunning soft coral, tube worms, crazy purple nudibranchs, barracuda, puffer fish and porcupine fish.
Three nights wasn't long enough, but we're on a tight schedule now with less than a week before arriving home and plenty of shopping to get done! Another overnight bus ride back to Kuala Lumpur, a day of shopping there where we only covered one floor of a five floor mall, flight to Bangkok and more shopping at MBK mall. "Do you take Visa?" came out of our mouth more often than "How much is this?" and we ended up with two more suitcases than we left home with.
We did a brief, four day stop-over
Our baby: a year older, a year fatter
in Tokyo which was enough time to visit a sushi bar, linger over Starbucks, navigate the subway system and stare at Harajuku girls with outrageous outfits and rocker guys belting it out on the sidewalk waiting to be the next Japanese pop star.
Beautiful British Columbia
We're now back in BC and it's a bittersweet return. Its a new stage in our life. The no money, no job, no home stage. If only we had money we could continue the travel adventures in BC. But now to get money we need a job and that means little holiday time for travel adventures. I'm sure many of you sitting behind your work desk know the story. Jarrod's keen to get a job, his first "real" job at age 29, but I'm not so eager. We're happy to be reunited with Reggie, our kitty, and we're making steps to put roots down and move into the "settled" stage of our life. Wish us luck!
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