So off we set, now with three of us in tow, from Kuala Lumpur airport to find our hostel in the heart of China Town. Annoyingly, just as we left the airport, we had the first bit of rain we had seen – just in time for Lexi’s arrival and it was torrential. We arrived at the hostel which was pretty basic to say the least but we dumped our bags before dragging poor jet-lagged Lexi down Petaling Street market via a very nice looking tea shop. Soon she was flagging so we had a delicious (if excessively vegetarian) Malaysian / Chinese meal with the satay and rendang classics but minus the beef and chicken!
The next day we took it nice and gently with a quick tour of the banks trying to change travellers cheques before finding ourselves opposite the Masjid Jamek (the main mosque in KL). It was quite a sight and we stared on for a good while across the river watching the comings and goings. It was then off to the old colonial heart of the city – Merdeka Square and the old cricket pitch (complete with literally hundreds of Malaysian flags adorning every edifice – in fact it is also home to the highest flagpole in the world). We then found the Central Market where we had another incredible lunch for very little ringgit and a good mooch around the lovely stalls. After that it was temple time – we hit a couple of Hindu shrines before making a beeline for Bangsar to go and meet Bal & Abby – my step-Dad’s cousin and his wife (and their gorgeous little daughter Mishka). It had been about 10 years since I last saw them and we didn’t recognise each other at first but a coffee later – then a spot of shopping…then a mojito (or 5…) and then treating us all to an incredible Indonesian feast soon put that right and we had the most wonderful evening chatting and generally making merry. It’s definitely our turn to treat them when they’re next over in the UK.
We woke up a bit bleary eyed the next day but set off once again for a packed day of sightseeing (including a Buddhist temple which just so happened to be holding a Malaysian version of Strictly Come Dancing on site…DEFINITELY not expected but HUGE entertainment value) and then whizzing up to Little India for a stunning curry (no less than 9 dishes on my plate along all for the princely sum of £2.50). After a steamy walk around the buzzing district we found our way to the KL tower in time for a quick trip up the tallest building in KL at dusk & some tasty Japanese food before meeting Janet at Sentral [sic] station. We were all ready to surprise her but she was way ahead of us and managed to jump out at me – a great surprise indeed! And then we were four…
We had a quick drink and pancake after dropping her stuff and then a little midnight wander around the area before crashing to bed at 1am – before our 5.30 departure to the airport for our flight to the little island of Tioman.
It was a little disconcerting that the flight desk didn’t open until half an hour before the flight departed but all was easy and we were soon off on our tiny little plane to our paradise island in the South China Sea.
The view coming into the island was sensational and it’s always a good sign when you have to wait just under the hut to watch your bags be brought over by a glorified lawnmower and then they’re just handed to you. Lexi’s prior good organisation meant that our transport was ready and waiting for us and off we went on the half hour journey across the island to Juara on the east coast. After some fairly grueling hills, the scene that welcomed us was amazing – despite another torrential downpour. But no matter – it was still baking hot and the huge empty beach and our sea front bungalows were awaiting us. The sky quickly cleared and We got straight in the warm sea only for another torrent of rain (I don’t think I’ve ever been swimming in the sea while it’s raining – and enjoyed it anyway!).
We swam, sun bathed, sat, ate noodles and generally passed the time away until our pre-dinner walk when we set off for the rocks across to another beach. It was another stunning beach and all was heaven til I slipped down the rocks – I was absolutely fine until I noticed the blood washing away in the sea. I managed to leave a lovely little red trail all the way up to the bungalows where “doctor” James shot into action and got tweezing sand out and rinsing, steri-stripping and finally duct-taping up my foot and all was well again!
Unfortunately I don’t think he used a single item from our medical kits which we’ve (luckily!) barely touched the entire trip and instead borrowed everything from Jan and Lexi – in all honesty I’m not entirely sure he knew where our kits were! But that put paid to my sea-frolicking adventures for the next day at least.
The next morning was Jan’s birthday – and predictably we weren’t up in time to give her her coffee in bed as promised but we did prepare a breakfast tray full of goodies including a “bunch” of rambutan (tasty lychee like fruits), chocolate from New Zealand, shells from Tahiti and mosquito coils. Noone can say we’re not thoughtful in our present giving! Of course the birthday rule of anything-she-says-goes applied which she duly used in both frisbee, at lunch tasting all of our dishes wholeheartedly and then leading us off to the Turtle Sanctuary down the road (with tiny plants that roll their leaves up when you touch them – the source of much amusement!). That evening we had a knock up feast of incredible Chinese food on the beach and a few Tiger beers.
The next morning was an early start off to the east coast as Jan was starting her scuba dive course to get Open Water certified. She was a bit nervous and we arrived in good time to meet her dive instructor, Sammy before we left to go and have a walk through Tekek – the main town of the island. It was hot. Really hot. So the three of us spent a large amount of time over lunch and consumed rather a lot of watermelon juice. We then paddled (for those without duct-taped feet) and sunbathed for the rest of us. Jan came back later in the afternoon and had loved the diving (apart from a couple of skills – she claimed she just had too small a nose to clear a mask in one go) and we (surprise surprise) had more noodles and a quick game of humming (don’t ask).
Then the next day in all honesty is a bit of a blur. Jan set off for her diving early and we set off for the beach close to where they were doing some skills to try and get some sneaky shots of her as she came up. When Jan returned to the beach she went back to the room to change. When she returned I twigged something was up. She had apparently choked up some bloody phlegm and was finding it a bit difficult to breathe. The next thing we know, the dive centre are on the phone to the DAN dive doc and he wants her on oxygen immediately as he thought she had an aspiration on her lung. He also recommended an emergency evacuation off the island and down to Singapore to try and get the best care possible. Janet (as usual) was doing the “this is a fuss over nothing” and “do I really have to go?”. The answer was yes so we leapt into action, James and Lexi got her stuff packed up, I went in the speedboat with Jan & her oxygen tanks, and they followed with all our luggage….
[For all concerned parties, don’t worry, the story has a happy ending – James will follow shortly.]