Swimming with Sharks

Trip Start Jul 20, 2006
Trip End May 10, 2007

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Tuesday, May 8, 2007

It hurts...It hurts so bad...I can't decide if it is the fact that I am coming home that hurts, or if it is the tight, leathery feel my skin has taken on after one week in PURE PARADISE.
I know I have claimed to have found various paradises in the last year of gallivanting around SE Asia, but I swear I have found it this time. Leave it to me to find a place where the locals wear t-shirts that read "Do not tell anyone about P.P." I love this place so much, that I will not even disclose the name of the Island off the eastern coast of Malaysia on the internet, for hopes that it will remain untouched, ecologically friendly, and incredibly beautiful.
The sea surrounding this small island resembles a watercolor painting bleeding blue topaz into an aquamarine into a teal. Colorful fish fill the waters ranging from bright orange Nemo look a-likes, to blue striped sting rays. The most impressive fish I saw through was not really a fish, but some black tipped sharks. Ok, wait one minute you are thinking, sharks, as if Lisa has not pressed her luck and adventure to the limit enough in the past year!!! But yes friends, Sharks. I am now the proud owner of an ego big enough to boast that I have swum in the sea with black tipped sharks. Look fear in the eye was the way to overcome this phobia, just as my fear of heights was nixed by a jump off a platform with a giant rubber band tied around my ankles 9 years ago.
With visibility near to perfect, I spent a day wandering around the ocean floor with fanned out live coral reefs, clams, and sharks! On shore, the soft, white sand was the perfect place to lie out and soak up the sun with a fresh fruit shake in one hand and a cheesy, girly, novel in the other. The accommodations were bungalows a mere meter or two from the shore backed up into the lush jungle, with nightly generated electricity for a few hours, cold shared showers, squat toilets, and no air conditioning. For some people such scamp accommodations would not be considered paradise, but for this champagne backpacker, it was champagne wishes and a backpacker's dream.
I shared this almost last leg of my serious case of wanderlust with 3 British girls, 2 British blokes, and 1 American man with whom I traveled for almost two weeks
(I'm trying to slowly reintegrate myself back into America...why?!?!)
Malaysia was a great destination where I drank tea in the highlands and soaked up the sun on the islands, but I had to give in and go home sooner or later, money is running low, so I made my way from the east coast to the west coast of Malaysia via night bus, which turned into a night safari when a family of wild elephants crossed our path around 2:00 a.m. and we stopped to watch the family of 4. "Incredible!" - A word I have been using with much frequency since I landed in Malaysia two and a half weeks ago.
Back in Thailand, the hospitality is once again top notch (unlike Malaysia where accommodation is best described as higher prices with lower standards.) I was served a cup of green tea when I sat down at the internet café and offered an extra "special" massage in an unmentionable region of my body at what I thought was a respectable masseuse, though clearly it was not.
So, as I aloe up my tan in hopes it will hold out on my 15 hour flight home, I get in some last minute shopping (oh so much to buy and so little time) I gear up for some serious culture shock when I arrive at LAX to be greeted by my two best girlfriends and an In N Out burger. Look out LA, here I come - but please be nice - I'm practically Asian now.
And, in typical LA fashion...stayed tuned for the season finale of  "From World Partners to Wanderlust Associate" as Lisa the Prada Hippie ventures from Asia to Los Angeles, recounting her year in the wonderful world of wanderlust.
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