The Lonely Planet Guidebook says the monsoon season in Malaysia is from November to January. It is November, and I must ask, “why am I here?” After riding in both the rain and the sun, I must admit, I prefer riding in the rain.
That is I prefer riding in the rain, up to a point, after about 3 days straight, rain gets pretty old. When we pulled up to the Awana Golf and Beach Resort, I decided to stay. I was done. Done with the heat, done with the rain, done with Odyssey.
I was now counting the days until the adventure was over. I didn’t want it to be ending this way. We had such a good year, but now the divisiveness had split the group. I didn’t like the feeling, I wanted to be removed from it and free to make my own ending a positive one.
The Awana Golf and Beach Resort is located on the China Sea, on the land side, it is surrounded by golf course. The multi story hotel had first class rooms, several restaurants, pools, tennis & volley ball courts and it was cheap. Simply stated, it is heaven.
I made up my mind to stay behind about 2 minutes after I stepped into my room. This was the end of the road for Odyssey, the monsoon had won, I was done.
That night the hotel staff welcomed us to dinner in the most unusual fashion. Dinner was being served on the second level of the hotel, the mezzanine. To get there we walked up a wide expanse of stairs. Tonight the staff of the hotel dressed in native Thai garb stood on each side of the stairs and greeted us like royalty. Gently they threw flower petals as we ascended the steps. Fans waved in the air and I was greeted with many warm hello’s and handshakes. I imagined myself an honored queen, they made me feel so special. I was so thrilled.
Later in the evening we celebrated Dr. Helen’s birthday by hiding in her room. She was supposed to be distracted by getting a drink at the bar. But the simple feat of getting a drink in this Muslin hotel, turned out to be a very long process. It included filling out an “application” and testifying that the applicant was not of the Muslin faith. Very weird! Eventually Dr. Helen did come back to the room, but only after one of our troops went down to the bar to rescue her and bring her back to the room. Fortunately we had our own supply of wine.
The birthday group felt much the same as I about riding in the rain. Someone mentioned the room rate of our hotel and spontaneously the entire room, all bus riders said, “let’s stay another night!” They figured the bus could catch up the following day. Serendipity won again.
Helen’s bus group stayed one extra day. I was lucky enough to have the bus take my bike when they left. I wouldn’t have to see it again until Singapore. Considering how much “stuff” I was now carrying, that was a good thing. My accumulation of goods had grown to a size that was not very manageable, especially when toting a bike. TK&A refused to carry anything for us when we were “off route”, so it was my responsibility to carry everything I owned or else get another rider to take care of it. Since my new wardrobe was rather special to me, I felt obligated to take care of it myself. I was just too big a favor to ask someone else to watch.
I helped the bus folks load the bikes onto their truck in the morning, then as they left I returned to my room. It was still raining sheets, it didn’t look like the rain would ever stop. Later that morning the few riders that had stayed on decided to go for a walk at 11 a.m. They said it didn’t matter if it was raining or not, we were going to get ourselves out of that hotel! I liked the idea. Why should a little wetness matter, I needed a walk.
We planned to rendezvous in the lobby and then walk along the beach to the end, where the jungle began. Since I was waiting for a telephone call, I told them to go ahead, I would catch up later.
Not long later, I was ready to go, I put on my long Chinese poncho. It was a roomy affair with a hood, I should be just fine and fairly dry underneath all that plastic. Outside the rain hadn’t let up. I choose to walk around the swimming pool to the beach. To my surprise the pool was not only full, but beyond full. The water around the pool’s apron was at least a foot deep! I wadded in it, sloshing as I walked!
I felt like a little kid, doing something wrong. Any minute my Mom would appear and yell at me to get out of the water! But no, I’m not a kid, just an alien in a foreign land, enjoying a moment of mild mischief.
The next moment I had a panicking thought, “snakes swim in this water!” I looked towards the landscaping surrounding the pool area, convinced that the snakes would have to come out of their holes. I hate snakes! In that same moment I missed seeing the indentation in the walk, the place where you would normally step into a basin to wash the sand off your feet, before entering the pool. At this critical moment, the few inches of depth caused me to loose my balance. The next thing I knew I was on my knees with the water in my face. So much for the big poncho. It only keeps one dry when standing upright!
My knees got scraped and bloody, but the worse part was my ego. I just knew the entire population of the resort was watching me, the crazy American out walking around in the rain.
I got up as fast as possible and continued my walk to find my friends. I’m tough, I’m an Odyssey rider!
The white sandy beach continued down about a mile or so. At the end the water continued, but the beach was interrupted by the growth of the jungle. Plant life was dense and passage was impossible. I stood and listened to the sounds of the animals and birds. I am always amazed at how loud it can be. You need not see the wildlife, you can hear it.
Later that day Sarah and I made arrangements to take a bus to Singapore. By arrangements, I do mean just that. Nothing is simple in a foreign land. We were lucky to find a travel agent in the hotel who sent his driver to the bus station to purchase our tickets. In fact, we got the last two available seats on the bus.
Resa another rider was upset, because she had not learned of the need to make arrangements. She was left without a way to get to Singapore. Or rather without an economical way, she ended up taking a cab rather than wait for a seat on the night bus.
One more time we learned it is best to enlist the aid of more than one local when determining plans. Initially, we were told it would be no problem to take a bus. It turned out to be no problem except when the bus is sold out, which we learned was common.