Friday, April 17, 2009

My Trip to the Duty Free Pulau

(from November 2008 archive)

My so-called adventure started on a wrong note very, very early on a Saturday morning.

Ha ha myself. Apparently I set the alarm wrongly. Instead of 5:45 am, I was woken up at the ungodly hour of 4:15 am.

Great. And coz I was still half asleep, only after I changed then I realised how bloody dark it still was outside. Looked at the clock and saw it was 4:30 am.

Anyway, caught the express bus at 6:30 am (RM14) and got to Menumbok safely after 2 1/2 hours, it was quite comfortable and smooth. Then got onboard the speedboat for a quick zip across. I kinda liked that trip - I can imagine the wind blowing your hair had it been an open boat. 
Arrived early enough to have my breakfast at the coffeeshop, then set about looking for this hostel place I had called some time back. Again, me so clever didn't write the address down. Only got the handphone number which was unreachable. Asked some people, they had no idea. After a leisurely search, I decided to check on the net again to find the address. Again, no one had any idea where the address was. What? This is impossible - how can I not find an address in this small town?

I ended up asking two gentlemen in a coffeeshop; who couldn't help. Set foot to search again, and finally someone told me to check this staircase entrance across the road from where I started my search. Found it !! I actually passed by at least 3 times. Duh. Went up to check the condition. Er, didn't quite impress me at all and the fact that it had a peculiar smell made me think twice. Told the guy working there I'll come back later if I decide to stay there.

Went down and bumped into the two guys, one of them offered to help me check out his friend's place a few streets away. The place didn't impress me either - and some smell put me off too. Told him the same thing, thanked him for his help and set off to search for other places. I must have circled the few blocks at least 5 times. Well, at least it helped my bearings and saw familiar landmarks.

Finally found one that had a reasonably priced room with attached bathroom, and clean. Next to shops as well so in case I need anything, it's convenient. Paid my rates, left my bag in the room and went out, ready to check out if there's anything new since the last time I was there. Went round, nothing much to see so I decided to walk to the Financial Park, the only 'shopping complex' in town. What a hot, hot day ! I forgot to slap on some sunblock, so I knew I was gonna get roasted and look like a steamed lobster. Took some pictures of the memorial headstone from pre-Merdeka colonial days under the shady trees by the museum.
Reaching FP I texted Saf, who said he'll come by in an about hour's time. Spent time going around and almost bought this backpack from a travel gear shop. Almost. Met up with Saf and we walked around before going for a short tour of the town. Not that there's much to see; we stopped by the beach area near Tiara to chat a bit and took some pics. Then went back to FP for lunch. Stopped by SkyPark to buy duty free stuff - got a bottle of JD and some chocs and sweets.
It was really a hot day and poor Saf was still a bit unwell, having just recuperated from a bad bout of high fever. By late afternoon I was feeling rather tired and sleepy, so I decided to go back to the hotel for a nap and rest, dinner will be later.

At about 7 pm we went to dinner at Mawilla Yatch Club, a nice place with a great night view of the bay where Petronas refineries were, all lighted - pretty sight. And the sound of the waves breaking were refreshing - long time no hear. Good crowd for dinner, apparently it's the place to go since in town area there's only the usual coffeeshops. Pity the pics I took weren't so good coz it was so dark. Had a nice simple dinner of ikan panggang, squids, veg and crab meat soup, then for dessert we went to locate the Lychee Kang place near FP, found out it's called Medan Selera. Chatted some more, then called it a day at around 10 pm. I was a little bit sleepy, so put on the TV and continued reading my Deepak Chopra.

Woke up early Sunday, checked the weather, it was bright and sunny outside. Got showered and walked around to see the morning stirring. There was a small scale pasar tani nearby selling the usual stuff. Decided to go back in the morning but I wasn't sure what time the bus and boats were. Saf came later and got me to the bus ticket counter (RM15.50), alas, the morning bus was only at 9:30 am so looks like I have to leave earlier. Luckily I have packed and checked out. Went to the terminal and got a speedboat ticket (RM15) which would leave at any time once the load was full - 12 passengers.

Breakfast had to be superquick then so we walked across to a kopitiam and true enough in less than 10 mins I could hear faintly the announcement for something. Did you know they have proper announcements like in the airport? Quickly grabbed my bag and rushed across, to hear the last call for my ride LM04. Ran to the departure hall, quickly bade farewell to Saf and went to the door to enter .... and it didn't open? Stupid. Ha ha. Saf quickly pointed me to the correct side door, and as I entered the terminal officer on duty said "I've been waiting for you!". And I recognised him as the guy who helped to look for the hostel yesterday. I laughed and thanked him and he quickly asked me to scan my bags through the scanning machine. 

Then I rushed to go out toward the jetty, ....and again ended up at a wrong locked door! Ha ha. This was getting to be really funny. I made a quick u-turn and found the correct door, and just to be sure called out to one guy to make sure I was at the right place. Phew. Thank God I made it by the skin of my teeth and as soon as I sat my bum on the boat seat the boat was off towards Menumbok. Now I know how it feels being in the Amazing Race! Ha ha. All this happened in like 2 minutes or so. 
On the boat, caught my breath and enjoyed the morning sun and breeze, apart from the occasional thump-thump of the boat on choppy bits of waves. Got to Menumbok, found my blue bus and plonked myself happily. There were many people around already, coming from and returning to the island. Waited a bit which I didn't mind as I spent time reading the newspapers.

The bus left around 9:45 am, and we reached KK at about 12:15 pm. Along the way I finished my book, and slept for an hour or more. Took the bus home and was home by about 1 pm. And it was still very,very hot. 

So that was my weekend in a nutshell. Wished for gloriumptious weather and got more than that coz it was great weather, only too hot!

What I found out : 

I need to remember to bring sunblock.
I still need to learn to travel light.
I am 'sensitive' to peculiar smells in lodging facilities.

Let's see what the next few weekends will bring !

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