Ko Adang, Ko Lipe, Malaysia, Perhentian Island

The Other Side

Paradise Lost

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.

   

Chill out with the master cat ‘Coco’ (verrrry cuddly, heel aanhalig) at Art Garden, Ko Lipe

   

Jack joins me up to the view points on Ko Adang

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.

   

Mind-blowing awareness list: How long it takes to break down pampers, for instance: 500 years! And glass: 1,000,000 years! I found that list at Turtle Bay Divers, Pulau Perhentian.

  

That’s Ko Lipe over there (look at all these boats along the coast…)

   

The Norwegian Alchemist

Ok. Enough about me for now ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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Langkawi, Malaysia

ReifReif fรผr die Insel

Namo tassa kelapa sammarefreshingla

There are days and weeks I don’t feel like writing a lot. I have filled up my first diary now. Still, most of it i find it unworthy to put it out there. Ruminations too abstract, insights too personal, ideas only half-baked, trains of thought ‘too self-conscious’, as my beloved bro refers to my investigating and sometimes overly reflective nature.

It’s times like these that I take refuge in the coconut, and comfort in bowing down to fine grains and salty waters – and distant mermaids. Yogis can do their suryanamaskara. I bow down to kelapas ๐Ÿ˜‰ It helps ground meselif.

Riding with a scooter we stumble across the ‘travelling’ night market several times during our stay. It’s one thing to be lucky, yet another to know how to be grateful, and yet another how to make best use of luck when it strikes.

Recently I take fancy in recording short videos. It’s a convenient shortcut. Sums up what i experience here. Except sounds (as I add music for your convenience and entertainment) and smells (burnt trash, sweaty armpits, fresh frangipani, street dogs, food of course, well you know, the entire asian package…) and temperatures (supermarket fridge A/C, beach sauna, rain-forest worth its name).

Someone’s happy at Telaga Tujuuuuuh (Seven Wells)

   


Now, dear friends, enjoy the video!

   

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Lumut, Malaysia, Pulau Pangkor

Follow the Sun

We figure it is wise to follow the advice of the Mrs. Singh at Hotel Lotte, iPoh. Thus, we check-in at the place recommended by her, i.e. Hotel Indah at Lumut and explore the town a bit. The most striking feature of it is the ubiquitous offerings of smelly fish. One of the upcoming days we hop on a ferry over to Pulau Pangkor on a sunshiny morning in order to enjoy beach life and return in the evening.

   

Marina Island (not for everyone)

We explore the island mostly on foot. When we arrive we don’t know what to do. We want to rent a scooter but there is only one option and the guy kinda plays on his monopoly. Too arrogant, too much Chinese biznizman. After about half an hour walk thru the small fisher village we join a group of youngsters from Yemen and a German girl. So we are seven and share one of the countless bus taxis waiting at the port to pick up and lend wheels to the tourists.

   

We go to the west of the island, then mostly walk on foot. All in all, we pay merely RM5 for transportation on the island, not including the ferry tickets. How we managed remains a mystery to me, somehow. We have some food. We take a dip in the ocean. Argghh… it’s so hot, I don’t even wanna get out of the water. The sun dries the skin in 3.5 minutes. Put up the hammock in the shade of Turtle Bay. One time, we get a plate of food that looks like vomit and walk away. After all, there’s a first time for everything. Who knows what happened to it in the end, mayne some stray dog snatched it. Bon appetit ^_^

Difficult to find an open tandas (toilet), sometimes. Either it is closed up or only for muslims or it’s jammed so you better not flush. Anyways, there’s some prob with the waste on the island and in malaysia, in general. People are not educated about the value of nature and about the impact of the environment on physical, emotional and mental health.

Shortly before we leave Pulau Pangkor, I pay for the food and drinks. The lady at the food stall adds two numbers: 12+4 and says ’26’. ‘Nice try,’ I say. Turns out it was unintended. Her kids show up. They apologize. Apologize again. And I am given way too much change. The lady just takes a bundle of ringgit notes and hands it over to me. Either she did not count dat shit or she could not. Right then and there it hits me, you know. The day before we’d had lunch in a small Indian restaurant. We had just arrived in Lumut, still unfamiliar with the surroundings. To cut a long story short: We had looked (and looked) like tourists and been properly ripped off. And now on this island we encounter open-hearted generosity. Hmmm.. or perhaps they both simply bad at maths? Whatever it is, it made me wonder…

Lumututgut

   

How curious it is… this approach to money – as mentioned before, she really just grabbed some banknotes and handed it over to me. The prices, the rip-offs, the gifts… somehow it never adds up. Or maybe it does, but for whom? The people we give our money to, the banks, trusting them to give it back to us when needed?? In daily life, can I be a river, not a dam… by learning from others the value of generosity and experience for myself how great it feels to give, how much more fun it is to give than to take?

This babylonian matrix riddle keeps puzzling me. Please Ajahn Chah, make me smile!

Take money, for example. In the past there wasn’t any paper money. Paper was just paper. What value would it have? Then people decided that silver money was hard to store, so they turned paper into money. And so it serves as money. Maybe someday in the future a new king will arise who doesn’t like paper money. “How about wax droppings? Even though it’s soft, we can stamp it into lumps and suppose it to be money.” We’ll be using wax droppings all over the country, getting into debt all because of wax droppings. Let alone wax droppings, we could take chicken droppings and turn them into money! Nothing else could be money! All our chicken droppings would be cash. We’d be killing one another over chicken droppings.

   

เธ‚เธญเธšเธ„เธธเธ“เธ„เธฃเธฑเธš (Thank You), Luangpor ๐Ÿ™‚

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Ko Lanta, Sharing, Thailand

Lanta Love

FOUR ISLAND TRIP

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Long tail boat

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Da Crew ๐Ÿ˜€

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The Rock

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The Sea view of Ko Lanta Yai

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Snorkeling time yippiiee ๐Ÿ˜›

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Emerald Cove

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The Human Temple

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The Beach

Great lunch

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After the boat-swimming-snorkeling-sunbathing trip i volunteer to do some work where I stay: With John, I dig a deep hole and fix up the frame of a welcome sign ๐Ÿ™‚

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The way to the Phra Ae (Long Beach). I have my first pizza-beer combo there at sunset! I meet Alex from 2 nights ago. He teaches me some more Thai phrases & words.

After sunset I’m heading home. Have a shower. Listen to Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bobby McFerrin… l8r electronic house music and a live gipsy band playing their tunes around the corner…
… Evening chill out.

Decision to stay another day comes easy.

My body has two minor injuries. A cut on the right foot that came about while walking in-between the stones during low tide. And a blister on the right palm that stems from perforating bamboo with a screw driver. It’s all healing pretty fast. Within two days the wound begins to close up, with the alcohol I’m putting on it still burning like hell, though. Within a week it’s practically healed and there’s no need to put any plaster on it. I’m happy about that. Watching the body miraculously take care of itself, I mean.

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Ko Lipe, Sharing, Thailand

Seele baumeln lassen

Chang beer and chips…
chocolate cake, coffeee…
cocktails and Christmas…
chillin chillin chillin…

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To You All ๐Ÿ™‚

About a week I stay at the beach on KoLipe. Mind you, I wouldn’t be here without Su. She invited me to stay here for a little while. Lucky guy, me, I gotta admit. With friends like that, life is great. We explore the island, enjoy good food together, talk tacheles, have a drink (or 2), get a thai massage (ouch!) and relax at the raggae bar listening to chill out sounds and breaking waves. The boats gently rocking nearby. Stars shine above at night. Clouds cover the sky during the day.

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We book a royal snolking (and snolqueen, of course) trip the other day. Yet day after day because it is not sunny enough we postpone it. We stroll around the walking street and go to the other side of the island. Only 10-15 minutes on foot. Still, motarolas and scuta taxis drive around the walking street. Eventually, on Xmas day, we cancel the trip because Su leaves a day early. She decides to believe the weather forecast, pay more than 1,000 baht to get away from the island 24 hours earlier and spend a day in Bangkok instead. Go figure. I try to talk to her but her mind is set. “The weather forecast said…’ – ‘Alright, alright…’ Later, I watch the sunset while she goes shopping. Well… everyone just wants to be happy. We choose different paths. I only wish I could be more equanimous about the people I care about.

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People are friendly here. But inna different way than in Malaysia. I do get a taste of tourism around that place. It’s nothing unusual. Nothing to be surprised about.

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Reminiscing the irony of what happened to Ko Phi Phi when that movie came out. The book by Alex Garland delivers a message that is only hinted at in the movie. Another Hollywood love story seems more important these days. And who wants to stir up the guilty national conscience, anyway. Kiss kiss bang bang. Cut! … Forgive me if this sounds cynical. But as most cynics say, ‘I am only realistic’. If it is true that a cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing then I am not a cynic. At least not in a Wildean sense. Cuz I know the value of a good movie, trust me ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s just… I think it’s essential to look at something from many different perspectives and to try to see the big picture. It is what makes some people think of me as a strange person, sometimes asocial, sometimes unfathomable. It is also what others like about me, freethinking, able to dwell alone, happy to share and go into depths, still down-to-earth. (em… ok maybe that’s only the way I’d like to be seen haha)

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ChiLLa CaT… a tautology, I know…

As I said before, I would not be here without Suzu. When I was in Penang we agreed to meet on the island on Dec 19 and spend a week together. I am grateful to celebrate X-mas on Ko Lipe with her. I mean, geez, who’d have thought that? It’s all happening so incredibly smoothly over here. Why not float along?! Lasciare la vita ordinare le cose.

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Fresh coconut, please!

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Ha Ha Ha Ppi NesS

Wishing you a wonderful, happy, peaceful and homely Christmas eve. Eat and drink well, sing and dance, and also spend a minute or 2 thinking of those who are less fortunate than you are and maybe having no one to share this evening with.

May you appreciate what you have got! May you be happy with who you are! May you be aware that there are people you love! Show it to them today! Tell them: ‘I care about you. I love you so. I am happy when you are happy.’

Is there anything better to do today than this?

I mean, apart from having a prolonged siesta ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Postscriptum:
In the end, we undertake the snorkeling trip. We really do. Since the morning brings sunshine, Su decides against taking the booked flight. She changes her mind again and stays on the island instead of flying to Bangkok line day earlier. Well, I’d say it’s OK to make mistakes. And it’s OK to change one’s mind twice in 24 horus.

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Koh Phangan, Sharing, Thailand

Sky is clouded, Mind is clear

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Lookout from the hill (Wat Kow Tahm)

Today I rent a scooter to go around the island. Enjoy the beach. Drive. Drive. Stop. Have a drink. Chill out. Join a gong meditation with dhamma friends. Eat fresh coconut. Relax in a hammock.

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Really grrreat food

The Soul Food Cafe is a wonderful place to have lunch. I had some millet salad and a pumpkin ginger soup. So delicious! The cafe is run by an Italian man and a Brazilian woman. They prepare fresh salads, drinks and teas. You get anything there, from moringa to chlorella to tempeh and all kinds of grains and veggies.

I am staying in a bungalow at a place called Golden Rock.

At times I get disoriented. Try to keep it simple Hakeem. At all times. Don’t expect anything. It’s alright.

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View from the restaurant at ‘Golden Rock’

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