Day 147: Turtle Heading

What a day. We spent the whole day out in the sun. Something in particular I hadn’t done for a while, and by the end of the blog you’ll understand why. We went snorkelling, and ate amazing food around our island. At one point we even encountered a viper. So please ladies and gentlemen, come join me as I recount the days event.

• It was 9:30am before we got up. The previous evening Sarah and I had a small debate over wether the alarm should be set for 7:30 or 8am. As I predicted, when the alarm initially rang at 7:30, Sarah opened her sleepy eyes, and in an exhausted voice, she muttered the sentence “put it on snooze”. Typical. The alarm continued to ring a couple more times before we gave up with it altogether.

• When the girls had showered, we grabbed our bags and made our way over to our new home. I checked us in, paying the full 160 ringgit for two nights in full. It would have cost an additional 40 for an extra bed, but when we saw the size of the bed in our room, there was no need for it. It had to have been at least 6 feet wide.

• The buildings were semi detached huts. They were all built into a hill, meaning each row was higher than the one in front. In total there were 3 rows, and our hut happened to be the one at the back. The highest row. We paid for an a/c room – which later turned out to be a god send, but other than that one feature the rooms were pretty basic. It had plastic laminate flooring, a set of plastic drawers, wooden shutters on the windows, and an en suite bathroom. However, because of the electric power situation, the room was very dark and hot. The huts key feature though was its view. The view was amazing, making the £16 we were paying all the more worth it. From the balcony we could see all of the beach, the surrounding jungle, and overhanging large palm trees that looked like beach equivalent street lights.

• The time was getting on for 10:30am by the time we had moved in, and the long day snorkelling tour was scheduled to leave at 11am. We had to decide if we wanted breakfast or to go on the trip, as we definitely didn’t have time for both. After speaking with the guys running the trips they said they’d wait for us if we wanted. We told them to go on, as there were people who were more organised than us already waiting to go. Fortunately they offered a different day trip, a short day snorkelling trip. Seeing as nobody was booked on that one, they allowed us time to go have breakfast first.

• While walking along the beach we ran into Dick Dastard… I mean Phillip, again. He told us that our accommodation sold good breakfast, so we followed his advice and ate there. We ordered the largest of the four breakfast sets, it was just the right size. Unfortunately it was also quite expensive, 15 ringgit (£3). It doesn’t sound like a lot but it was nearly a seventh of our daily budget. When we had finished our eggs, toast, sausage and beans, we returned to the snorkelling guys.

• For 30 ringgit (£6) the short day trip would see us visiting three dive locations. Coral Point. Shark Point. Turtle Point. All of which were fantastic. We did them in that order too. The equipment we were given was a snorkel and flippers (or fins for the divers amongst you). We had to make a quick stop to another island on the way to Coral point, as they didn’t have my size fins before we set off. Dam these thirteens of mine. While our small boat’s captain ran into the building to grab my larger sized footwear, we waited on the beach. Having not exercised in a while I began doing press ups. The girls asked me to perform thirty like a muscle bound show pony. Seeing as that’s exactly what I am (YEAH RIGHT) I began the sexy show. It was then that the physiotherapist amongst us noticed I had a weakness. My right shoulder blade. Apparently my left one was a lot stronger, and was performing a lot better than its lackadaisical twin. Later on that day I was shown a few exercises to help develop and strengthen the minor muscles.

• Our boat was no bigger than a traditional rowing boat, yet had an engine on the back all the same. I noticed there was an oar tucked away just in case it ran out of fuel. Each of the stops were relatively close to one another, and we had two and a half hours in which time to do them all. Our first stop took us all of 5 fast, bumpy minutes to reach.

Coral Point: This one definitely had the most fish, and the richest coloured coral. The second we jumped in we were surrounded by fish. It was an aquatic ambush. Various sized fish in different coloured clothing all around us. If we stopped for too long the smaller fish grew braver. One even nibbled my leg and Sarah’s belly button scar, causing it to bleed. Try as I might, I still couldn’t touch one because they were too quick. The coral was the best bit. It was home to sea urchin and fish alike. Many bigger fish like the parrot fish for example, were sucking up nutrients from the deeper parts. With Sarah worried about her fish attacker still roaming the seas as a free fish, we returned to the boat.

Shark Point: It’s always intimidating getting into the sea, knowing full well there might be sharks in there with you. It seems like you’re forcing yourself to go against the safety alarms in your head.
“Uh Ben, just thought you’d like to know, there is a good chance there will be sharks in the deep blue water there. In case you didn’t know, they have big sharp teeth, an incredible sense of smell, and in short, they are the world best hunters!!! Everything about them helps them find and kill their prey with ease. By getting in that water you’ll officially be in their kingdom, and they’ll be the apex predator!”
“I know all this brain, but did you know that more people are killed each year by a falling vending machine? And that they’re more scared of us than we are of them?”
“No I didn’t, as you were!”

It took a while for us to locate any sharks. When we first jumped in all we could see were fish, and damaged coral. In the shallower sections most of it was white. It wasn’t until our boat driver got in with us and signalled us over that we saw the large black tips. They were beautiful, and fairly big in size. I’d say they were around 3 foot long. When I first went to swim over I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was thinking I wouldn’t see one until I got closer to him, but when I put my mask under the water and began to swim full pelt, I nearly hit into one. I only saw it briefly before it darted off, but it was the biggest one of the trip. How big, I don’t know, it moved too quickly. After we saw one they all came out. I think we most have seen 3 or 4 altogether before returning to the boat. It was there that Sarah managed to get her hair stuck in the snorkel. Rachael soon got her free, then we headed off to the last point.

Turtle Point: Our driver had to steer us around for a while before he spotted the solemn turtle. He must have saw its head when it surfaced for air. When I turned around all I could see was the dark shadow swimming back to the seabed. To begin with we were the only ones with the beautiful sea creature. We immediately put on our masks and dived in with it. It looked so peaceful as it swam up and down. It was chewing on the sandy grass at the bottom, and had two long fish swimming underneath its shell trying to eat any debris the turtle may kick up. It was a lot of fun to swim below with the large 4 foot animal, he didn’t seem bothered by our presents. He’d only turn his eyes to look at us as we’d pass him. It was quite murky compared to the last two locations, so we couldn’t make out what colour it was. That was until it swam to the surface to breath.

His little head popped out from the water and it made an incredibly funny sound. Like someone who had been holding their breath for too long, and was now taking their first breath. It was then we noticed the turtles colour. It was a majestic yellow with orange spots, and had the biggest blackest eyes I’d ever seen. It repeated this act around every 5-10 minutes, each time it looked cuter than the last. At times I believed it was trying to get just as good a look at us, as we were at it. Unfortunately other people came along and spoiled it. In particular two foreign women. One of them kept swimming down towards the turtle, not to admire it from a distance like we were, but so she could touch its shell. Each time she did this she’d push down on the turtles back to enable herself enough momentum to come back to the surface. She was in the wrong to be doing this, as you should never touch the wildlife because it can have serious effects on the animals health. Not to mention the fact the turtle might swim off, therefor ruining the amazing sight for other people. We stayed for a little while after they left, then returned to our own boat to be taken back to our island.

• Long beach was the name of the island we were staying. It was on the east of the island which meant (if we got up early enough) we’d be able to see the sunrise. There were three restaurants in a row, all selling similar dishes, and were quite high in price. Rachael had a few ringgit in her bag so we decided to stop for a refreshing can of coke. When we finished, we paid up and returned to our chalet. We only stayed for as long as it took to grab some money and other necessities for the beach, then returned to the third and final restaurant for food.

• They sold the best food of them all. I was pretty hungry by that point so I decided to order two meals. I had the penne and tuna for a starter. As soon as I finished that my main arrived, the garlic butter chicken breast. Good lord, both dishes were amazing, and the chicken even came with potatoes. POTATOES! I had missed them a lot. I still felt hungry afterwards, so it was a good job I also ordered the M&M chocolate shake to wash it down with. The girls found this amazing and kept taking sips. During dinner I finally completed my book. I had been engrossed and captivated for the past two days, and now I was finally free. But what a book, I then gave it to Sarah to read. She’s like a machine when it comes to books, and will have finished it come the time Rachael leaves.

• I left the girls to continue their sunbathing on the beach, as I had to throw in the towel and return to the room. Although I was covered in suntan lotion before we left for snorkelling, it wasn’t enough. I had achieved the task of beating Sarah in getting more colour (in our secret tanning battle). Only it wasn’t the colour I had in mind exactly. My back, my arms, my neck, upper chest, and even my hands were scarlet. Never have I been so burned, especially to say I was lotioned up. Even the whitest one (ahem, Rachael) wasn’t as burned as I was.

• I was sat on the balcony outside our chalet. I found it very hard to read through old blogs with such a stunning view in front of me. Add to that the warm breeze that blew through, and I could have easily fallen asleep while enjoying the music on my iPod. After about 2 or 3 hours Sarah came to grab me, telling me her and Rachael were heading to the west side of the island to watch the sunset.

• I’m glad I joined them, as when we reached the other side the sunset was spectacular. The time was around 7pm and everyone had gathered around the pier to admire its glory. There was even a photographer with his tripod out (ooh matron) taking a time lapse. However, a man passed by twice on his speed boat, most likely ruining his shots. There was an abandoned boat anchored at sea, it added to the effect of the photos. The suns setting beam danced across the sea, until it reached the boat, and as it floated around on the gentle current, they looked as though they were putting on a show. The sun was setting so quickly that you could literally watch it fall from the sky. Although the sky could have been alive with more colour for it to be truly astonishing, it was beautiful nonetheless. And by the time it reached the horizon, it was a rich pink colour.

• After we had taken 20 or so pictures of the crispy character, the three of us headed to a restaurant for tea. This side of the island was supposedly cheaper for food. It turned out that was true. Each restaurant does a BBQ every evening. Over on our side they charged 25 ringgit, this side it was only 18 (just over £3). They had various meats to choose from, but most of it was sea food, including fish I’d never heard of, like a red snapper. Seeing as I’d seen them in the wild, but never tried it, I ordered barracuda. I’m not the fondest of sea food, but barracuda was lovely. There was only one bone running through the middle (which the chef took out) and the meat itself was really fleshy. It looked more like chicken when it arrived on the plate. Along with the meat of choice, it was served with lime water, baked potato, coleslaw, banana bread, a mound of white rice, and a sauce of your choice. We chose mamas special sauce – a combination of soy and chilli, and it made the meal the best I’d had in Asia yet!! My only fear is the next time I go diving, I hope the barracuda don’t realise I’ve had a taste of their brethren and turn on me!

• It was very dark by the time we finished our mouth watering food, and luckily I brought my iPhone with me. The two sides of the island were separated by a concrete pathway that led through the jungle. Although it had no lights to guide you. This is where the iPhone came in handy. I used the torch app to get us through, although it didn’t help that much. Because there were 3 of us, it made it quite tricky to share the light, and the person at the back couldn’t see too well. To start with I was at the front guiding us through, but as I passed a certain tree we heard the pile of leaves at the bottom rustling. All of a sudden, out poked a reptilian’s head. Only it wasn’t a friendly lizard, it was a viper. It had a black body with yellow stripes. What made things worse was that Rachael nearly stood on it. If it wasn’t for Sarah shouting, Rachael wouldn’t have hopped out of the way.

• We didn’t know if the snake was poisonous or not, but after that near miss Sarah grabbed the phone and began running ahead of us. Both the girls were shaken up, and moving too quickly to avoid anymore threats that may live in the jungle. I shouted at them to encourage them to slow down for their own safety – which they did, but Sarah’s whole body was shaking. Even her voice was wobbling. We made it the rest of the way safely, and climbed the stairs to our chalet in one piece. Even if the occasional flicker in a shadow made the girls jump out their skin.

• We didn’t leave the room for the rest of the evening. The electric generators had kicked in by then, so we put our a/c to 16•C on full blast. We took it in turns to shower, and by that stage my back had turned a crimson shade. Which the girls made fun of for some time. We applied the aloe vera to help sloth any pain. At least, that’s why I did it. The girls put it on in the hopes of reducing their burn, just so they could do it all again the next day. Rachael taught me some exercises to help improve the weak spot in my shoulder, then all three of us climbed into the giant bed to go to sleep. Although it didn’t end there, the girls were annoyed because there was sand in the bed. For the next 5-10 minutes we brushed and scooted the particles off, just so they could sleep comfortably. However, with three of us in a bed and Sarah being a notorious duvet thief, I think my sleep would be anything but comfortable.

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