Friday, February 03, 2006

CNY 2006 Perhentian Trip - Day 3

I am not sure if it's a good thing or not. The first two days, the weather was good and on the last day of the Perhentian trip (photos here), the weather suddenly turn bad. Not familiar with the weather system in the island, we are not aware that the weather is in a pretty bad shape. We did noticed that the water condition is choppy than two days before.

I slept early the night before (the second night), like the first night. Not really that tired. Just don't feel like joining my brother and cousins for the card game in the room next door. I just lied on the bed and in no time fell asleep. It has been quite a while since I last slept earlier than 10pm, not counting when I was not well.

I woke up around 4 am on the third day morning. Tried to sleep again, but failed. That was I has to pay for sleeping so early. After restlessly rolling on the bed for like 15 mins and still failed to sleep, I picked up a novel and read it. Manage to finnish like one chapter before I started to feel drowsy again, and get back to sleep. When I woke up again the next time, there was already some light shining through the gap on the wooden wall of the room.

The noise made by the my nephews and small cousins told me that it's about time I got up and went and get the breakfast. In half and hour time, everyone had gathered at the restaurant. Yay... all 32 of us, four families.

I meet one of my junior during the university days there. He is operating a tour guide business and so happen to bring a group of clients who were staying in the same chalet as us. He told me the place was just open a couple of days ago, so they are not so well prepared. Only one cook was there, the rest of the helpers in the kitchen were actually the housekeepers and even the carpenter too, lol.

Naturally there were some glitches, in food preparation and service. We were given short of 4 sets of breakfast. One of the "waiter" they had ran out of egg. Fine, we asked to replace it with fried noodle or other thing. Another waitress came out and told us it's not possible. Only give us some toast with butter and jam. After ding-ding-dong-dong, we had no mood to argue with them anymore. Just let it be. Seems like this bad service is a first sign of the worse thing yet to be unfold later. After everyone was done, everyone went back to the rooms and some getting ready to go into the water for the last time before we packed and go back, supposing at 12pm.

By almost 10am we were informed to pack up early, because the weather was not good. We would have to leave before 12pm and gotta have lunch at 10:30am. The first boat will come at 11:00am. The kids will go first. By 11:00am we finished the lunch and the first group got up the boat and left for Besut. The same boat will come back for us by around 12:00pm.

It was around 1pm when we started to sense something was amiss. Saw a few boats on the horizon. Everytime we though that's boat and only to be disappointed when those were not the boat that we were waiting for. We asked the helper of the chalet. Everytime we posted that question to her, she will give the standard answer that the boat had left K. Besut jetty for like half an hour ago.

By 2pm and the boat still not in sight. My cousin supposed to take a flight back to KL in the evening. If the boat was too late, he might miss the flight. We start to get anxious, yet the helper and the boss kept telling us the boat would be there anytime soon. We were very sure they were keeping something from us.

True enough, later on we found out that the boat developed some problem when it was about to reach the jetty in K. Besut while sending our first group. Luckily they manage to arrive safely to the jetty despite the problem. I heard from them that the sea was rough, very rough; and the boat steering malfunctioned. That forced the boat operator to manually steer the boat to jetty.

This wasn't made known to us, who were waiting in the island. My uncle, who's son suppose to take the flight back to KL, called the boss like so many times and kept getting the same standard answer. He went as far as promise to return the money to us. Gave all a the promise and excuses he could managed came out with, but the truth. The boat that he told us has been arranged to pick up, finally turned up. Everyone was so relieved, picked up the luggage and head toward the boat. Before we even manage to arrive at the makeshift jetty, the boat left. Again we got stranded. The worst thing was the boat left without any explanation. We turned to the chalet helper, and asked her what's going on. Even she was speechless.

We got even more anxious. It seems like the replacement boat was having a problem too. It seems to me, the boat didn't start it's engine. It just slowly drifted to another island.

By almost 3 pm, a passenger boat (doesn't belong to the tour guide that we were dealing with) were seen dropping off some passengers at the island. The chalet helper was running toward the boat trying to get him to send us back. By that time, it has rained a couple of times, and made us even more worried. The driver wasn't so willing to bring us back because according to him the sea was very rough. Luckily after some "negotiation" done by the helper, the boat driver reluctantly agreed to bring us back to K. Besut.

Everyone board the boat with relief, but no less anxious. The weather doesn't seem to get any better. Though the rain has stopped, still we are no less worry. I could already sense the condition of the sea was very rough right after the boat left the vicinity of the shore. Suddenly the boat come to a halt. Everyone was like, shit... in the middle of sea. Oh no... Don't tell us the boat was having problem too.

It turn out the boat driver need to have leak. Everyone sigh with a relief and worried smile.

The journey back to the jetty was very "exciting". The water was very rough, in certain part the wave was like almost one meter high, and the boat were free falling and smashed into the water. At least couples of times, the driver has to complete halt the boat to avoid the boat from tip over on it's side.

Along the way, I keep praying and asked for blessing from the deities from our village's temple. Somehow it helps me to keep me calm and steady throughout the "exciting" journey. Yah, only remember the deities in times of trouble and never thanks them enough during good times. I am bad. Actually that day was the fourth day in lunar calendar, and our village temple was having "homecoming" ritual welcoming the deities back from heaven (yah... they went back to heaven to celebrate CNY with Jade Emperor - that what I am told).

I seldom miss this event, and my dad never miss it. Actually he is one of the committee member of the temple. One who is responsible in making sure all the preparation was done properly. Because of that, at first he didn't want to join the trip to the island with us. But after some nagging from my cousins and aunts, and because my mom will not want to join us if he doesn't join us too, he relented and ask other committee member if it's okay if he gave it a pass this year. They agreed, and instruction was given by him to a chap who to take over, and it's good to have a backup too.

Enough of the digression, at least for now. Back to the "joyride".

The most dangerous part was at the river mouth, because the wave and current there were the strongest. If wasn't being handled properly, the boat can be hit hard by the wave and turn turtle and capsize. Luckily the boat driver is quite experience. The moment we arrived at the river mouth, he halted the boat, and waited for the wave to travel passed our stagnant boat. The moment the wave passed and before another wave develop, he hit hard on the accelerator and zoomed the boat pass that dangerous zone and sailed into the calm river. Finally we reached the jetty safe and sound. My sister and cousin sister complaint that their hands were numb from holding to the railing of the boat very tightly throughout the almost one hour "joyride". lol.

I guess that's the risk we should have been aware of when we decided to go there during this time of the year. Yet, the tour operator too can do better with their customer handling skill. Instead of keeping the problem to themselves and lying to us, they should be honest and tell us the real situation.

We stopped by the temple, and the rituals had just finished when we arrived at the temple. After helping to clean up a little bit, I lighted some joss stick and said my thanks to the deities.

One of the elder (he is well known for his "kan cheog"-ness) complaint about my dad absence. It seems one of the preparation was not carried out properly by the chap who stand-in for my dad. My dad left instruction for him to get "pulut kuning" and "ayam panggang" ready for a ritual in the morning.

Obviously he'd screwed up on that part, and this elder was not happy with that and take the opportunity to take a snide at my dad. I think my dad doesn't really give a damn to his snide, anyway it's a good experience for the chap too. No one will ever willing to take this thankless responsible if my dad was there anyway, so his absent sort of "force" the younger generation to start to pick it up somewhere. From my uncle who didn't join us on the island trip, I also gathered that there was a big hoohaa among the villagers in the morning that my dad was absent from the temple. A typical "behavior" of the villagers. bleh!