Our time on this beautiful island was rapidly coming to an end. We have had many adventures and met many fantastic people, some new friends, some from our time here in past years.
April was our next to last day and a very special one. Firstly there was a swimathon arranged from the island to the mainland, a distance of 6.5 kms. Due to the currents it’s not for the faint hearted The normally quiet sleepy island was suddenly overrun with visitors. Every bed available was taken and several tents erected too to accommodate everyone.
We were up bright and early to watch the start of the race and cheer the KBC crew on. At 7.30am a whistle blew and three hundred competitors jumped into the sea, all wearing red swimming caps. Kayan was one of the last to enter the water along with one of the guests staying at KBC who had no arms. Unlike the rest he was wearing a yellow swimming cap. It was amazing to see him shoot off through the waves using only leg power!
Most swimmers were out of sight by 8am, boldly heading
Minutes before the race began
for the mainland. As we were up so early we decided to do the jungle trek again and look for shark in the bay on the other side of the island returning before the heat of the day became unbearable around midday. Three of us had seen a baby shark there a few days earlier so we were quite hopeful.
By the time we got back most of the swimmers were returning from the mainland by boat. The man with no arms had completed the swim in just under four hours. What an achievement! For the remainder of the afternoon people were flaked out under the shade of the tree or celebrating the fact that they'd completed the swim succesfully.
Suddenly around 5pm the wind whipped up and grey clouds gathered. Within ten minutes the rain came and everyone retreated to their chalets. For two hours the rain poured relentlessly and thunder and lightening crashed above us. We were particularly disappointed as today was our 40th
wedding anniversary. Alcohol is very expensive in Malaysia so for much of our time on the island we’d been content to drink water or fruit juice. Tonight we’d
planned to push the boat out, have a sunset beer and two or three with our meal. Instead we were stuck in our tiny chalet. Around 7.30 the rain slackened off and people began making their way over to the restaurant. For a while it was a pretty dismal sight, Most of the tables and chairs had been pushed together as close to the back wall as possible to escape the rain. Mai was busy trying to dry them off. As guests arrived in the restaurant we all found ourselves around the one big table and very soon there was a fantastic atmosphere, everyone getting to know everyone else if they didn't already. All the beer had been drunk earlier in the day but more supplies were expected when Zak arrived on the last boat. However, due to the storm the 6.30pm boat had not arrived – so no beer!
We ordered dinner and sat chatting to everyone else and enjoying the rum and coke that Kayan had given us, he’d also found two beers lurking in the back of the fridge so saved them for us. Things were beginning to look up!
Matt, the Australian chef, brought our food he also plonked an ice bucket in front of us with a bottle of white wine in it and shouted “Happy Anniversary”. We were so surprised, we had let the fact that it was our Ruby Wedding that day slip out to the odd person but didn’t expect this. Everyone around joined in the celebrations and the next thing we knew Zak, the boatman appeared, dripping wet and badly windswept. He’s made a special effort to come from the mainland with the beer order and the next thing we knew a large cake was put in front of us with four candles and our names iced in red and greetings for our Wedding Anniversary. We were totally overwhelmed. Apparently he would never have come over from the mainland in such rough conditions but our cake had been ordered and he wanted to deliver it. Before we knew it the party was in full swing and a good time was had by all.
Next morning nobody surfaced much before 10am and the big drying out process began and clearing away the mess from last night’s storm and party. Matt, Dan and
Mai eventually managed to get the restaurant back to normality.
This island really feels like home, everyone sat around drinking coffee and eating a leisurely breakfast and nursing sore heads just as you would after a big house party!
This was our last day on the island. By 5pm we’d had our last swim, packed our backpacks and were waiting for the boat to take us to the island to get the overnight bus to Penang. As we left a large group of guests and staff were there to wave us off and we vowed we would be back again very soon.
What a wonderful way to end a long trip! Now all we had to do was make our way up to Bangkok for our flight home on the 9th
Update: Well we eventually made it to Bangkok but it ended up being a mammoth journey, three different buses with long waits at various bus stations in between until we finally arrived in Bangkok 36 hours later!
When we arrived at the front desk of our favourite hotel around
6am we must have looked a terrible sight but fortunately they didn't send us away mistaking us for homeless vagrants and they had an empty room so we were able to get straight in, sleep, shower and finally go for breakfast around 11.30am.
And that’s it! A couple of days to recover, shop and sit by the rooftop pool, before embarking on the next mammoth journey - back to Manchester and the cold weather!
All good things come to an end. On a plus note though it will be great to catch up with family and friends and also rediscover my culinary skills. Not to mention clean clothes!!
Due to the stormy weather on our Anniversary night we didn't take the camera out with us so we have no photos of the occasion. If anyone out there reading this has any I would love it if you could email them to us.
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