Gilbert asks me if I want to hire a bike and go for a tiki tour around the island. It’s a bit of a joke really because when we here ten years ago Gilbert asked me and I agreed, although I’d never been on a motorbike before.
We go down to where you hire them and before he lets me get my helmet on Gilbert gives me a warning. I have to agree to do what I’m told. If he says to lean left, I have lean left he tells me. I can’t just think ‘Oh My God were gunna fall over’ and try to lean the other way, which is something I might’ve done. No I’m not allowed to think for myself. I have to follow his lead. He’s very serious and the bike guy is listening too. I just stand there like a disobedient child for the terms and conditions of going shopping. The bike hiring guy turns to me and says very seriously but with a somewhat cheeky grin. “Do you agree?” “Ok, ok”, I say to them both. Then the bike guy hands me my helmet. I get on the back and off we go. It’s a wobble fest till we get up some speed and then we’re off down the road. Wind in our hair and my arms wrapped around Gilbert. We’re laughing out loud like a couple of teenagers and as we’re burning along I lean in even closer and yell…”This is amazing! Why havemt we done this before? We should get bikes. What fun! No wonder people love motorbikes. I get it!”
On we go and stop here and there and then right into town. By now I’m less comfortable and my back feels quite sun burnt. “Can you look at my back and see if I need to put a shirt on. It feels like I’m burning?” “Nah it looks alright”, he says. we decide to head back and it feels like it’s taking forever. We just go on and on and on, the bike noise screaming in our ears, my back stiff and it’s getting more and more uncomfortable. Jaysus, how much further…? by now I’m wishing we could just leave the bike on the side of the road and get a taxi. We’ve been gone about five hours and I’m pretty much at my limit when we finally get back. We laugh about the last bit being hard, tho it’s not so funny and we’re knackered. I never want to ride a bike again I confide, and when we get back to our room I look in the mirror as I get into the shower. I look like I have a lobster shell for a back. Ahhh, the memories!
We spend today alternating between lying in the sun on the beach and dipping into the water. The water is not at all clear like Croatia. Not a chance of seeing the bottom at all. It’s almost too warm. Like a bath. The beach and the pools are about a minute walk between them. The sun is quite hot but the wind is surprisingly hotter. It’s rushing up over and around me and I feel like a size 16 chicken getting fan baked. Lots of people around us are very burn’t. Two girls come into the water who are possibly the whitest people I’ve ever ever seen. I hope they’ve got good sunburn cream on I say when Gilbert points them out to me.
Yep that’s my toes. Got a taxi to the night markets at about six and had a little wander. Feels like it’s more of a local market with lots of food on offer that the few tourists here don’t want to risk. Sarah sticks waiting patiently, deep fried chicken, omelette looking things and lots of woks lined up with fried rice. Turned out it was the ‘small’ night markets. The ‘big’ night markets are Saturday night. I bought a couple of scarves and we ate sweet corn on the cob straight off the hot coals before walking into town which is a real contrast of what it was like ten years ago. Some fancy new builds like Starbucks, KFC and seven 11. None of that was here last time, sitting alongside ram shackle buildings extended with makeshift tarps.
We taxi home and we chat easily over the fifteen minute drive with the driver asking a million questions about NZ. I ask him which hotel on Langkawi does he think is the best and he tells us one charges 22,000 MYR per night, which is about 10,000 NZ$! Mostly Saudis stay there. You get a private beach each. Another one charges 15,000 MYR so a little over 6,000NZ$ per night. We are incredulous. “Really?” I ask and he nods laughing catching my eyes in the mirror. “That’s ridiculous” I say. “Which are the worst tourists?” Gilbert asks. “That’s easy, he says. The Middle East ones are always trying to beat your price down. They pay that money a night to stay there and dont want to pay me 30MYR/12$NZ to get a taxi home. They try to beat me down to 20. I hate the tourists when they are drunk he confides, so I try to finish at twelve at night”. “Which are the worst tourists drunk?” Gilbert asks and he doesn’t hesitate. “The Aussies, he replies. Had some bad ones last night” and indicates they were vomiting before they got in. We laugh about it but that’s gross!
Four days to go…who’s counting?