… Danga bay. A weird and mystical marina full of fairy lights and carousels that you can’t pay for because there’s no one working there. In fact when we got there nothing was open because Malaysia had won a football match the day before and the country had a day off in honour (I would say take note England, but there wouldn’t be much point I suppose).
Anyway there was a restaurant and bar there that did the most wonderful meal deal and everyday we all religiously binged. One spectacular night out where we were all possibly the drunkest humans on the planet. After swerving a very polite if odd young chap trying to sell us ketamine when we got out the cab at a giant mall, everyone seemed to branch off a bit. Me and Nate ended up in a big sort of bar way up at the top of the mall that only sold towers of beer. We squidged on to a table with about 5 locals who were very keen to meet and chat to us. We naturally ordered a tower and when it came over the guy that we’d been speaking to for around 10 minutes absolutely insisted on paying for it, which was delightful. Soon the others turned up, the beer was flowing, I ended up on a different table with more locals taking a million selfies, and we did what we do best. I don’t think anyone remembers the taxi ride back but by the time we descended on the little bar at the marina, things were wild, Paul (who hadn’t joined us) sat watching in disbelief and apparently there was attempts at salsa dancing involved and crashing into the stage with the singer on it. Woke up with a shopping trolley next to the boat.
The next day our Ghostbusters (Caz and Dusty) put in a stonking effort and spent a miserable day going to Singapore to get us a new autopilot. Apparently there was hours and hours on busses, getting dropped off at the wrong places and taking hours to get back to where they started, racing smug little guys with briefcases in giant queues and beating him only to find out they hadn’t filled out their arrival cards at the desk and having to go all the way to the back to use a pen, Caz getting eyed up by a big troglodyte ladyboy, waiting three hours for beer that didnt turn up and paying $30 for two sat in the back of a dingy bar. Ask Dusty about it and the language becomes colourful to say the least, ask Caz and you’ll simply get “it was awful”.
The Ghostbusters struck again in the erm, acquiring of Lorraine. A large abandoned wooden dingy had been spotted, and as you may remember we were still in need of one. On our last night it was all very cloak and dagger as the boys crept into the dark water and untied the little boat. Keeping their heads just above the water they slowly swam her back to ours through the filthy water trying not to be seen. Of course they managed it and we were soon sailing away complete with anew dingy which we called Lorraine in honour of a woman we’d met at the bar who’s husband died last year and is sailing the world on her own. It was only later we met a guy who used to live in Danga Bay and when we told him the story his eyes widened in horror and he confirmed everything that had happened, before asking us did we know that those waters are infested with crocodiles and are we mad!? No. We didn’t know those waters are infested with crocodiles, and we probably are, yes.
After that it was on to the beautiful Tioman islands. Really probably one of the most beautiful places on earth, and creepily empty. The fishing was unreal, with the boys catching more fish then we could ever eat, to the point me and Chaz were being “fish taxi”, floating around on the kayak near them and collecting all of the little beauts they were getting. This was ringing bells with us at this point, and sure enough we found out that its a marine reserve and fishing is prohibited within two miles. Oh well. Lots of guest houses and 4 little bars that are probably busy during high season but eerily deserted at this point apart from a few divers and backpackers in one of the bars, as we discovered after rowing Lorraine in for her maiden voyage one night (she did make it, but we were having to bail out the water coming in through one of her many holes lol). We of course made it a good night anyway, although we got in trouble at the end when Nate went all Bear Grylls on us, scaled a palm tree (casual like) and threw some coconuts down, and then a little local guy turned up and sort of said sadly ‘why are you taking those coconuts?’ We were of course mortified, said all the right things and left the coconuts alone (bummer).
We were also there for CANADA DAY!! And as luck would have it the islands are duty free. Combine this with having Dusty on the boat and you can just imagine. For the Three Musamigos (me, Chaz and Dusty) it all booted off at 9am. By lunchtime we were all seated on the floor outside the duty free shop being outrageous. By mid afternoon Chaz was doing penguin dives off the pier and, getting thoroughly overexcited I tried to join in which of course ended up with me doing 2 spectacular face plants in after her hurting my nose, and all of my body really much to the amusement of Caz who was sat on the boat watching. The sea jacuzzi came out, things started getting ridiculous and deserted beaches were thoroughly explored. By night time Chaz managed to get her whole leg wedged in between the boat and the back stairs and was completely stuck (the second person ever in the history of the Shangri-La!) Dennis was called, washing up liquid came out and after a mild panic she was free. At the end it was me, Chaz, Dusty, Nate and Paul left. The tequila came out, everything I’d eaten and drunk that day came out on the side of the boat (ahem) and Canada Day was well and truly celebrated.
We spent a glorious few days in paradise, sunbathing, exploring and eating our own body weight in fish. I gutted my first one (absolutely vile, and I was literally screaming the whole time especially when you’re actually ripping their little hearts out but here is no place to be squeamish I suppose) under the supervision of Paul whose irritatingly calm in those situations. Anyway next was America day! Which all of us apart from the only American on the boat celebrated (poor effort Nate, poor effort). Either way we partied for him, Lorraine came out and in we went. It was abit of a strange one really with pregnant cats around and lots of crazy lesbians. Every girl there that wasn’t a lesbian was immediately all over Caz and Paul like rashes, but they weren’t really having any of it and went off to watch the football. Me and Chaz spent the night dancing away, getting tequila bought for us by these two mad french guys and taking selfies with cats.
On the way out we stopped off at a delightful little island called Pulau Aur, where we were definitely the only westerners. We had a beautiful day there doing jungle exploring, with the ever knowledgable Aeg pulling different fruits and bits for us to eat out of trees and stuff along the way. The island was also home to lots of lovely little Komodo lizards, which I’d been wanting to see but kept missing by a whisker everytime one was around. Caz being the champion that he is decided that today was the day I would see one so we went off in search. And sure enough after a few minutes we found one scrabbling around in some garbage. He was gorgeous and I was absolutely over the moon. For about 5 minutes. Because on the way back we had the misfortune to bump into the local police who then asked the boys if they “want to hunt, bang bang” complete with gun gestures. My pleas fell on deaf ears as I ran round the outside of Nate and Caz trying to get anyone to listen to me, but I didn’t stand a chance. Sure enough guns came out and the hunt was on. I trailed miserably behind torn between knowing that I didn’t agree with this, and knowing that there was nothing I could say or do to get them to stop so I might aswell see what happened. After a while of fruitless searching (and a selfie with the gun of course) I was feeling a little better as it looked like they couldn’t find one and we started to head back. I’d perked up considerably and was just going to buy a nice cold coke when I heard the first gun shot of three ringing out up ahead. Before I knew what I was doing my feet were flying towards the sound, and I arrived at the grisly scene of the grievously wounded Komodo being pulled out the water by Caz by its tail, the police man still aiming the gun at it. My last memory before taking a serious time out was screaming at Nate to just finish it off quickly. I had a moment, and didn’t feel calmer at all after Nate tried to make me feel better by telling me that he knows some kind of mountain cows with big brown eyes and wet noses that come up and touch you and then you have to kill them aswell or some such awfulness and that Komodos are pests anyway 😐. Regardless we took the poor little guy back to the boat minus his head (I was expressionless by this point) and Paul skinned, sorted out and cooked him for dinner. Of course nobody liked it coz it’s gross but I forced myself to eat as much as possible so he hadn’t died completely in vain.
On to nicer things. After leaving there we arrived at the dreamlike Pengileh Marina. An odd little haven no where in particular it reminded me of that scene out of Pirates of the Caribbean where Jack Sparrow is in a weird white desert with the boat and lots of crabs. We didn’t know it but it was to become our home for nearly two weeks. There’s really not much to do there unless you get a cab into the enchanting little town, which we did many times. Especially in preparation for Aegs birthday, which also coincided with his last night. We headed into town, bought some chicken as a treat and found a wonderful little stall where you could buy three of any of the local little cake things for 1 ringgit, which is about 20p. I bought one of everything (abit hit and miss like but worth it) and made him a card. A storm hit that night, and we could see lots of tall thin tornado things in the distance. There was lots of drinking and singing and the next day with a colossal hangover we said bye to our good friend Aeg. It was an absolute pleasure and a privelege to have got to spend as much time as we did with him, and we all still miss him swinging around in his hammock and being the delight he is. A few days after that we said bye to Nate who was going home for his sisters wedding (Elisa, you looked absolutely beautiful by the way serious dress envy going on this end ☺) and then we were six. But not for long.