Chasing Sharks

Trip Start Mar 25, 2008
Trip End Jul 23, 2008

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Where I stayed
Bintang View Chalet

Flag of Malaysia  ,
Saturday, April 5, 2008

Just emerged from paradise. There probably won't be too many times on this journey I'll be able to say that. After leaving the jungle it took a day of minibus and the fastest "fast" boat trip I've ever experienced to arrive on Pulau Perhentian Cecil. Green undeveloped jungle, white sandy beaches, clear water. And tourists but it's not commercial if that makes any sense. Overall that's why I chose this island and stayed longer instead of island hopping somewhere in South Thailand. I'm sure it's lovely there, but from what I've heard I made the right choice. I enrolled in scuba school and finished my open water certification course in 4 days with Lloyd, a crazy Dutchman and Patty, our English, tattooed instructor. You can't beat a 2 person class I think. Having never been scuba diving or even very comfortable snorkelling before, I was always open to the possibility scuba was not going to work out for me but still something I had to try. Fortunately I took to it and it's one of the most exhilirating things I've done yet. I stayed an extra day to dive on a wreck - a sunken cargo ship with immense amounts of sea life growing everywhere. It was like you were in national geographic or living in an aquarium. It's not scary either, maybe because there is an instructor or maybe b/c things are usually either ignoring you or swimming away from you.

That said, I found it interesting that at the age of 26, having spent all other ocean experiences somewhat in fear of the chance shark attack, I suddenly found myself hiring a boat man to find sharks (black tips) to snorkel with. It went something like:
Boatman: Shark Shark, Jump in jump in.
Me: Jumping in and swimming as hard as I could to keep up, taking video and pictures, and thinking this is nuts...I'm chasing jaws.

Many things about the island life were similar to Vanuatu. The Malay culture is widely muslim but it's an interesting blend. Malaysia was much more developed than expected and after just a week, I decided to head to Thailand. The cool things to see in Malaysia are pretty touristy but not over commercial, which is relaxing but still doesn't give you a good exposure to Malay culture or life. So on to Bangkok I went...
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