Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The itch to travel

The first word I uttered when I woke up last Sunday was “Wow!” The sound of the gently rolling waves reminded me I was in an island. But when I opened the sunshine yellow cabin door, a vast expanse of white sand beach greeted me. It was empty, with no people or even dogs roaming around. In my solitude in amazement of the wondrous sight, “the wow” factor lingered. I stood barefoot on the sand taking a 360-degree video of the island I seemed to selfishly have all to myself.

I am in Pulau Tioman, Malaysia. This island 20 km long and 11km wide was the setting of the mythical Bali Hai in the film South Pacific in the late 1950’s. The journey to this island in the South China Sea started as a quick weekend getaway. A friend had a car for the month (a luxury in Singapore) and this island loving girl instantly welcomed the 3-hour road trip, followed by a ferry ride. Well, the friend with a car flaked on me and my other island loving friend at the last minute. But with our appetite for sun and a much-needed getaway from the concrete jungle of Singapore now whet, we continued on our trip. It took us over eight hours to get to our basic sunshine yellow shack on the beach, including a 4 wheel-drive through the jungle of Juara.

I then realized if you start the day with word “wow” how can anything go wrong. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get the right omelet you ordered for breakfast, or if your rigorous trek through big slippery rocks didn’t merit the turtle breeding grounds locals promised, or if the water wasn’t as clear as you expected. It wasn’t a perfect day… by evening my friend and I had a combined total of a hundred sand flea bites on our legs all the way up to our thighs and backs. Two cockroaches even came to visit us in our cheerful shack before we went to bed. But still we managed to laugh at it all. More importantly, the island healed our weary spirits. (I do believe, there's nothing the sea can't heal).

As I struggle now not to scratch the fifty the insanely itchy bright red sand flea bites on my body, I ask myself if it was worth it. Would I head to another remote island to risk getting these horrible souvenirs on my body again? And insane as it may sound, I know I will do it over and over again. The travel bug has bitten me at age 5. The itch to travel is one I can never seem to shake off. It is worth the pleasant suprises, the characters you meet on the journey and even unexpected moments like uttering “wow” as my first word of the day.


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