Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
Our children have 5 weeks of school holidays at Christmas so we decided to take a trip together and they are studying Bahasa Indonesian so when we saw a $250 airfare from Denpasar to Sydney our minds were made up. After ordering the Lonely Planet Guide to Indonesia we realised that we can only get a 4 week visa on arrival so that sent us back to the drawing board. We seriously looked into Myanmar, even ordering the LPG and attending a book launch by a travel writer but the visa application process takes over 4 weeks and I needed my passport to travel for work (see my posts on Colombia and Ecuador under the Travel menu). We found reasonably priced fares to Pulau Penang and decided to start in Malaysia (see my posts under the Travel menu. I would link to them but my tablet refuses to allow it). We want to avoid long overland travel because our children are young and buses here don’t have toilets so from Penang we went to Ipoh and from there to Pangkor Island. We had never heard of Pulau Pangkor but we realised that it’s a popular destination for Malaysians so we were intrigued to see what it’s like.
We were delighted to discover that Pangkor Island is mostly covered by lush forest and boasts abundant wildlife and is ringed by white sandy beaches. We observed hornbills daily, monkeys in small and large groups, honey eaters, many other birds, crabs as well as dogs, roosters and goats.
Initially we were a bit disappointed by our resort due mostly to faulty plumbing, toilets, hot water, lack of bath mats, shower curtains etc, basically those things that impinge often on our comfort. However we came to appreciate the rustic charm of the bungalows and realised that it’s due to the isolation and lack of renovation that the resort appeals to us and we would hate to go to a glammed up resort strip with high rise buildings and thousands of people.
The island has problems with waste management, both solid and liquid but the recycling scheme that we saw is impressive and hopefully with time and stern leadership a whole of community change can be brought about to protect the precious ecosystems on Pulau Pangkor. When the tide was out at Teluk Nipah, the water was quite clean but the incoming tide brought awful garbage in and blighted the experience.
When around the Arab women in full black abayas with head and face veils I felt under dressed in my long sleeves and trousers with exposed hair and neck. Although I couldn’t understand why the Arab men wore tshirts instead of thobes when their wives were fully covered. The Malay women wore a spectrum of options from long clothes and hijabs, to short sleeve, tight shirts with small hijabs that didn’t cover much other than hair and throat. At our resort pool I wore a long sarong over my bikini until entering the pool and felt awkward amongst the demure women in burkinis but then a group of European women arrived who walked confidently around the resort in bikinis and sat by the pool sunning themselves, sometimes with legs widely spread, presumably to tan inner thighs and I realised that we now had the full spectrum of comfort with physique and modesty represented in one place.
I was sorry to leave Pulau Pangkor and could happily have floated at the beach for a whole week (although I’m probably kidding myself because as you’ve probably noticed I don’t sit around normally). Once the ferry delivered us to Lumut we checked the bus times and discovered that the bus we wanted was cancelled and the next wasn’t for 2 houra so we tried a taxi but after negotiating, loading into the cab etc we found that it lacked a middle seat belt so we unloaded everything, had lunch and, on the way to catch the later afternoon bus, found a very comfortable minivan taxi that took us to Kuala Lumpur, directly to our hotel for about 3 times the cost of the bus but a lot faster and saved us from the dreaded interstate bus station in KL, which is full of chaos and known to be a haunt for bag snatchers. KL seems great and we are looking forward to a comfortable stay.