Utter Peace, Quiet, And Escape
“Paul and I try to hang out with locals rather than the tourists wherever we travel,”writes Intrepid Correspondent Vicki Terhorst. “So, when we were ready for some beach time during our recent stay in Malaysia, we headed for Pangkor Island, a west coast island popular among Malays.
“We left our hotel in nearby Taiping early in the morning, while it was still cool, to catch the first (and maybe only) bus headed toward the port town of Lumut. You can also reach Lumut on comfortable, first-class, air-conditioned buses from Kuala Lumpur or Ipoh.
“Lumut’s simple beauty convinced us to stay the night. We found a reasonable hotel, with wifi, overlooking the well-designed boardwalk park along the bay. After unpacking and checking e-mail, we ate at the hawker stalls (think food court for locals) at the bus station. I’m a vegetarian and found a traditional dish of string beans cooked with eggs and melt-in-your-mouth tofu.
“After breakfast, we took a long walk along the boardwalk to watch the birds and the bay.
“The next morning we took the smooth 30-minute ferry ride to Pangkor Island itself, where we selected the beach at Nipah Bay as our base.
“We arrived in the middle of a long weekend, and, that first day, hordes of Malays arrived every hour. Still, we had many hotel options and chose a place on the beach with a view where we were able to negotiate a weekly rate.
“Each morning began the same way. Our travel companion Jose, Paul, and I drank coffee on a large balcony we shared with a couple of other rooms. From the balcony, we listened to the gentle waves and watched the action on street and in the trees. The island is home to dozens of friendly hornbills.
“Our second morning was dead quiet. Most of the vacationing Malays had gone home, and only a few Western backpackers remained. Utter peace, quiet, and escape…nothing but beauty.
“Well, beauty and garbage. As is often the case in the Third World, if you go where the locals go, you are confronted with contrasts. In Nipah Bay, the locals left behind piles of garbage when they moved on. Worse, a major, messy boardwalk construction project extended up and down the beach and cluttered up access.
“Still, directly in front of our room and just beyond the unsightly mess, I could see the beach and, in the treetops, the birds. After two days, the ugly didn’t register anymore. It’s just what it is–the process of progress.
“Every day we spent in Nipah Bay, I’d look over my always-growing to-do list…and then I’d put it aside and turn my attention instead to the beach and the birds and the constant lullaby of the waves…”