Today I enjoyed a refreshing refresher scuba dive with Tanja from Finnland, a diving instructor on Perhentian Island! We did some exercises under water in order to freshen up the memory. (Last time I went scuba diving is more than a decade ago!) After that, we went on a short dive around the area called ‘Batu Nisan’ close to Long Beach. During the dive we spotted several clownfish, a fantail ray, an Indian Ocean Walkman well hidden beneath a rock. We picked up some trash we came across, too. During the next four days I did the PADI Rescue Diver Course. So at least by name I am a ‘Rescue Diver’ now, acting as a role model for newcomers at a dive site and carrying more responsibility. It’s exhilarating, exhausting, it’s challenging and it’s funny. Thank God it’s funny, too! Part of me says ‘What have I gotten myself into here?’ while another part enjoys the challenge. It is an experiment with stress, really: simply to jump in and see how I handle it, how I can help myself and others in difficult situations.
The trash we found on the ocean ground reminds me of another island I’ve recently been to, Ko Adang. It’s already two weeks ago that I took a taxi boat to camp there after a couple of days on Ko Lipe. Once I had crossed over it became clear how busily buzzing Ko Lipe really is. As if my ears easily adjust to a certain level of noise. Then it gets quieter, and I come to notice how loud it was before! Such an amazing organism, this flesh body. Like going to the forest after a week of work in the city. (Yes that is an invitation to try it and
see listen for yourself…) It’s so obvious how much trash my ears had to endure! How wonderful to give them some rest.
Back to physical trash. When I find cigarette butts, aluminum, plastic etc. on an island, let’s just say it loses its charming quality. From one moment to the next I am humbled and reminded about the downsides of being born into this human family. Eventually, i am responsible for some more water plastic bottles that are later set on fire in some remotely hidden area of the beach. Of course, that doesn’t make them vanish.
In general, environmental issues are well-known throughout the Western hemisphere. Around Malaysia, not so much. It’s getting better, though. People get informed. Children are educated. Awareness is raised in public spaces and in areas like National Parks. Volunteer networks pop up. Like the one just starting up in a fisher village: Perhentian Turtle Project.
The Norwegian Alchemist
Ok. Enough about me for now 😉
Surely you are familiar with the story of Don Quijote. Well, you’re about to read a story of a modern northern plastic warrior who has found his personal windmills on Ko Adang.
One of the movements that contribute to raising the awareness of environmental responsibility is Trashheroes. That’s a group of people who care for a better environment and are willing and able to work towards that aim. I came across them on Langkawi (Malaysia) and on Ko Adang (Thailand) where I met Andreas. Born in Norway, anubis out of ashes, he has been on this small island for more than two months now. Chilling, yes. But also: Launch a project he calls Travellingtrashhero. Be sure to check out the background and pictures on his website 🙂
Call him crazy, call him adventurous, call him nordic by nature, he probably heard it all before. That guy is turning shit into gold, mate. Believe it or not, he is currently building a raft to cross the border and go from Ko Lipe to Langkawi. What? HOW? With raw materials found on the spot. In other words, he collects whatever buoyancy he needs like plastic bottles, styrofoam… Getting bamboo poles and using a worn-out hammock to set sail in case the rudders or shoulders won’t be sturdy enough. Please check his website (above) and spread the word. This brave guy is definitely worthy of your support.