Return to Turtle Island and some Dust busting

Trip Start Sep 19, 2012
Trip End Jul 22, 2014

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Flag of Malaysia  , Terengganu,
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

9 July 2013

After my hectic trip back from Thailand where I had to meet Leigh to pick up solar panels and buy some food stocks , another 2 bus rides and missing the boat and having to spend an expensive night in Merang, I eventually got back to Lang Tengah and the turtle watch.

In my absence 3 volunteers from the UK had arrived. They were all students from Cambridge University.They were all keen and motivated to help and it wasn't long before we had a new table and benches. One of the things they had bought with them was a water purifier which made a huge difference as we didn't have to hike all the way to the resort to collect fresh water and now that we had solar power we could charge batteries and have a light at night time.

Nuar, the Malaysian volunteer has decided to leave and I think he is fed up with the UK volunteers. I really couldn't blame him. If Cambridge is supposed to be one of the finest institutions of learning in the world I was shocked at how naive (Read Stupid) these students were. They could not make a decision about anything.Their spoken English was pathetic with ever sentence full of 'like ... you know what I mean like....' No I fucking don't Just explain yourself and use proper words. The highlight was when one of the girls, after watching the kettle heat up on a fire asked " How do you tell when its boiled?' I had to walk away before I punched her. I couldn't believe their lack of common sense and practical knowledge.

14 July 2013

I have had enough of these inane conversations and these students are driving me mad. Maybe I'm just a grumpy old man and they invaded my special sanctuary. There are another 8 students arriving tomorrow so I have decided to leave the island and head off to Perhention Islands where I have been offered a job renovating a house. I am very sad to leave this special place and have been amazed by the sight of these creatures lumbering up the beach to lay their eggs and then eventually watching the tiny hatchlings returning to the sea.

Arrived back on Perhentian Islands and meet Leigh whom I first met back in April when I got my eye infection. I have been offered a job renovation a house and am actually looking forward to doing some manual labour and earning some money. The house is a traditional Local house built in the 1940s. It was dismantled piece by piece and transported all the way from the East Coast overland and then transported to the island by boat. It must have been a mammoth and expensive operation. The main structure is complete and most of the work will entail sanding, scrapping and preparing surfaces for painting. There are 3 Chinese builders who can not speak any English, Leigh from Australia who can speak a little Malay, Lang, from Malaysia who only speaks Malay and me who doesn't understand what is going on. Some how we all get by and most times everybody just ends up laughing.

The work is pretty tedious as it involves a lot of paint stripping. Usually there are at least 5 or 6 layers and the last layer is bitumen, a real bugger to get off. We have meters and meters  of wooden beams to prepare and some days we are lucky if we complete a few meters. I eventually found an angle grinder with some sanding discs so once again I was back in the Dust Busting Business.

We have an agreement with one of the local restaurants. Belinda the owner/chef cooks us lunch for which we pay about R15 SA. The meals are great and always freshly cooked. Crabs, fish, prawns, chicken,squid and always with a couple of vegetable side dishes.The masticating, slurping, spitting and sucking is sometimes quiet horrendous with the Chinese guys, especially with the crab. After 2 weeks I went to pay Belinda for my meals and she refused to accept any money and said that "I am an old man and if I need to find a wife I need fattening up". Free meals I am happy. Most evenings I eat with the Chines guys and again have some amazing meals. Ao Seong , who does the cooking is very good. Sometimes I am eating things that I have no idea what they are but all taste good. Anything from Fish Heads (very tasty) to trotters and of course a huge variety of locally caught fish, squid, cockles and even sting ray and cuttlefish. The 3 Chinese guys help out at Belinda's restaurant in the evenings. When she is very busy I help out as well but it is very confusing. The diners place there orders at the counter. Most of them are from Europe and English is not their first language, So orders are translated, then given to the Chinese guy who writes it in Thai (so the chefs can understand) and then once the food is ready I take it to the tables. I usually have no idea what is being served to which table as the tables don't have numbers and I have to walk around shouting out for the right table. Fortunately every one is in holiday mood so they don't stress too much. Most times orders do not come out together and people at the same table can wait for all their food to arrive. I was even roped in to do some basic cooking and plating. All good fun and as no one understands each ocher we just smile and laugh.

After a few weeks I told the Chinese guys that i would cook a western style dinner for them. I caught the boat to the main land and stocked up on fresh supplies. That evening I made a delicious chicken and mushroom stew with fresh vegetables. Even though I say so myself it tasted bloody good. When I served it, Wong took one look and stormed off to the restaurant, The others served it into bowls and said it was "nice soup". Leigh and I thoroughly enjoyed but the Chinese were not impressed. At last I don't have to cook any more.

I have met a great couple that own one of the resorts, Rashidah and Kadar. They have invited to me join them for Hari Raya, which is the celebration for the end of Ramadan. Ramadan is the holy month for Muslims when the fast or at least abstain from food, drink and sex between sunrise and sunset. Hari Raya usually entails lots of feasting with all members of the family. There are traditional meals served the main one being a Redang Curry and Bamboo rice. The curry takes ages to cook as it is quite dry and the rice take about 4 hours. The rice is mixed with coconut milk and packed into bamboo tubes lined with banana leaves and then placed on racks over any open fire. They are then rotated for the next four hours and once the rice is cooked it is pulled out of the tubes and then cut into slices. Very tasty. The feast that was prepared was held on the beach with masses of food, including chicken curry, fresh tuna curry, satay sticks various other rice dishes plus snacks, cakes and biscuits. Anyone passing by was welcomed to come and join in and we gorged ourselves for about 5 hours. A great time with awesome food.

A couple of days later, Rashidah and Kadar invited me to join them on a boat trip to some of the smaller islands. There were about 7 of us and we all bits and pieces to make up a picnic. At each island we jumped into crystal clear water and snorkeled. Some beautiful coral, amazing fish and unbelievably warm clear water. A truly fantastic day as each island was completely different to the others.

The work on the house continues and I have enjoyed it. Sometimes the sanding and scrapping gets a bit monotonous but I did get the chance to build a little wooden structure to house the solar power units. It was rather a challenge as it was built on rocks so there was no level base and supports had to be wedged into the rocks. Also we have no power tools so everything had to be cut and sawed by hand. Exhausting in the heat but eventually came up with a solid structure. 

After being here for nearly 7 weeks the volunteers at Turtle Beach are leaving so I am heading back to look after things. At least I have earned some money and there is a good chance that I may be back early next year to do the floors. It has been great project to work on and to have some basic comforts like running water, flushing toilets, a proper kitchen and comfortable beds have been appreciated. I will miss these back on Turtle Beach. One thing I will not miss is the smell of drying squid. Most days the Chinese guys catch squid and then hang them on a rack to dry. The smell is awful and these squid are usually covered in flies. The worst thing is that they insist on hanging them right by where we sit and eat. Even if we ask them to move they are back the next day.

Looking forward to heading back and seeing what the volunteers have accomplished on my little island  
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Rachelle Hosking on

Wow you are really having a ball by the look of things. Rawa looks awesome. Kee[ up your posts - so look forward to them xoxoxoxo David and Roachie

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