I wasn’t exactly planning on sunbathing this morning, but the steady (no, I take it back: now it’s POURING) rain has me and everyone else hunkered down in the covered, open air restaurant. Sipping tea and staring outside.
I’m supposed to catch my boat out of here at noon. If it doesn’t stop raining before then, I will get thoroughly soaked on the trip back, even with a raincoat and poncho. Considering wearing my swimsuit and finding a place to change into dry clothes once I reach the jetty.
Snorkeling boats have pulled up to the beach, now, waiting for the storm to pass. Visibility is really poor. I might not be leaving at noon, after all. The rain is deafening, and when it thunders, you can feel it in your chest.
On a related note: shout out to the guy at REI who suggested I get a dry bag rather than a packable tote to use as a beach bag. It was great to have on the snorkeling boat, and I have a feeling it’ll be clutch on the boat ride back. Definitely on my to-bring list for future trips.
Chatted with a couple of German girls for a while – they had been on yesterday’s snorkeling trip. Main takeaways: I should check out Borneo sometime, and also do an overland trip in Africa (which J has also recommended!). The one girl was a big fan of a company called Nomad. Also, I would like 6 weeks of vacation per year, too.
11am, and the rain tapered off a bit, I finally headed back to my room to pack up, only to find that the lights are out. I assume my friendly neighborhood gecko tripped on a breaker or something.
I called the front desk and they sent someone over to fix it pretty quickly. Good, because it was tricky to pack in the dim light offered by the window. I decided not to be a swimsuit weirdo for the boat ride, but packed a change of clothes in my day pack (in the dry bag), threw the rain fly on my big pack and raincoat on myself, umbrella overhead, and trekked back to the reception desk to check out more or less on time. My flip flops are losing their traction on wet surfaces and I nearly bit it on the walk out to the jetty. They helpfully had some big garbage bags for luggage, so I was able to put my big pack in one of those. Helpful, given the soaking wet boat. I should have grabbed an extra to wrap around my legs.
As we were underway, in choppy seas and sub-optimal visibility, we came to an alarmingly sudden stop. I lifted my rain jacket hood off my face to see what was going on, and we were backing up to get untangled from a big rope, attached to a larger boat. Yikes. And that’s about when I realized this was the first boat ride where we hadn’t been given life jackets. When we stopped to pick up some more passengers (coming from another boat, where everyone was wearing life jackets), I pointed at the jackets hanging in the net overhead and asked about them. The driver (captain?) said “they’re wet.” I shrugged and said, “okay…” “Do you want one?” “Yes.” Nobody else put one on, but a couple of people held on to them, or used them as shields for the rain/spray. By the time we got to Kuala Besut jetty, my legs were pretty wet, but my raincoat kept me dry under the life jacket.
I tried asking a couple of people about sharing a taxi to the airport, but no takers. I asked the guy at my hotel’s ticket counter if he would watch my big bag for a minute, and he helpfully pointed me in the direction of the public restroom. When I came back, there was a woman talking with him, who turned out to be from a minibus company. 25 ringgit per person (vs the 78 ringgit taxi ride from the airport, or the 70/pp listed on the hotel’s website). Sold. No sooner had I followed her to their ticket counter and bought my ticket, than it was time to load up. I must’ve been the last seat filled. Somehow while closing up my bag, I managed to drop my minibus ticket behind the heavy luggage table (out of reach). What is it with me and stuff behind tables, on this trip!? The lady said not to worry about it, and shepherded me to load up. Nobody asked for the ticket. Whew.
And now we’re at Kota Bharu airport. And it is still raining, but my pants have dried.
So happy we had clear weather the past 2 days, for snorkeling. I mean, aside from the sunburn (which is still really painful). It’s not so bad if I just don’t bend my knees, though. My UPF 50 long sleeved rash guard shirt performed as advertised. I wonder if they make swimming pants, too.