Thursday, September 20, 2007


Gross Lizards and Scary Ass Monkeys in Malaysia

Check out the rest of our Malaysia photos at our photo website.

When Troy and I started planning our trip two years ago I was basically in charge of choosing the destinations. Troy was up for anything so for the most part he didn't care where we went. For some reason I chose Malaysia as a destination. I remember hearing faint rumblings that it was a good place to go for diving. A few weeks before we were to head here I started reading my guide book and I kind of started to panic. I realized that Malaysia was not a great destination for diving and I thought "How am I going to tell Troy that I am dragging him to this country where the diving is blah and is not known as the most exciting country in Asia!" While in Egypt we ran into a group from Singapore and I asked their suggestions of where to go. They said Redang Island. I thought it was as good a suggestion as any I have had - which was none - so as soon as I could I booked us accommodations and diving. It was at this point that I told Troy not to expect too much. He gives me a questioning look "So why did you choose Malaysia if it's not good for diving?" I respond with "Dude, it was two years ago that I chose this place. I honestly can't remember why but we're stuck with it."

But there were two good things about Malaysia,
  1. There is not a whole lot to share about it so this will be a short (and probably not very exciting) blog.
  2. The food was shit so we hopefully lost a few pounds.
Troy and I had gained a few unwanted pounds during our short stint in the US which we have been hoping to lose. But between mounds of rice and beans in Costa Rica, endless supplies of pizza in Italy, copious amounts of bread and cheese in Switzerland and France and multiple buffets in Egypt it just hasn't been happening. Luckily Malaysia is not known for for their cuisine (you can only get so creative with rice) so we hope we have dropped a few of these unwanted pounds. It is also Ramadhan here which is Islam's holy month. For a full month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. No food, water, or cigarettes. So it is safe to say we dealt with a lot of grumpy Muslims - they were not very happy to be serving us food when they could not eat it themselves. This also added to not having a very big appetite when the restaurant staff was not very nice to us.

Redang Island

So off we went to Redang Island and we have to say we were pleasantly surprised and had a great time. The diving was not the best but was better then we expected. Water was warm, visibility not so good, saw more turtles in a few dives then we've seen in the past 30 dives, a few sharks and a lot of colorful nudibranchs (sea slugs) which is our favorite thing to find. We stayed at a very small diving hotel which we became very fond and very protective of. Whenever new guests showed up we gave them a look that said "What are you doing at OUR hotel?"

Tioman Island

After Redang Island we headed back south to Tioman Island. We were told the diving was just as good as at Redang but these people failed to tell us the water would be colder and the visibility even worse. Once again the diving was not fabulous but we found some unusual nudibranchs and many more turtles. Two days of our diving were spent helping the local dive shop collect Crown of Thorns which eat and destroy the coral (which is not a good thing). COT's are part of the starfish family so they are round have about 8-10 arms and are roughly the size of a giant dinner plate. They are also covered with poisonous spines so if you get poked by one, it is not pleasant. Since they have suctions on the bottom of them they have to be pried off the reef so we were given these evil BBQ tools to use in collecting them. As soon as you get them off the reef, they immediately curl into a tight ball which you can bat around like a ping pong ball. The next trick is to get them in the bag without using your partner (Troy in this case) as a backboard. Over two days and 35 divers we collected 1155 COT's. In case you're wondering, no, you can't chop them up to kill them; that only multiplies them. So once they are back on shore a deep hole is dug in the beach and they are buried. This is the best and cheapest way to get rid of them.

Tioman Island was not as nice as Redang but it grew on us. The dive shop and dive instructors were great - in fact, it was the best group of dive instructors I have ever come across abroad. Tioman also had more wildlife that were not scared of people such as big, ugly monkeys. While in Hong Kong we came across a lot of monkeys while hiking so we were used to them. But one afternoon, I'm sitting outside our bungalow minding my own business when something on my right catches my eye. As soon as I turn and look, this monkey comes running towards me, screaming and screeching his head off. This of course scares the piss out of me and I jump up in my chair, screaming an screeching my head off. He runs a few feet a way from me and stands there staring at me. I refuse to get down until either the monkey leaves or Troy comes and rescues me. He immediately sticks his head out the door wondering what the racket is and starts laughing upon seeing me standing on my chair having a staring contest with this monkey.

Then there are the giant monitor lizards that live in the muddy stream that backs up to all the hotel rooms. They range in size from babies that are one foot long to adults that are well over six feet in length. They are one of those animals that are so gross they are fascinating to watch. About 5am one morning a tiny little kitten shows up on our doorstep and won't stop mowing (animal lovers may not like this story... can you tell what is about to come?) When we finally get up there is this tiny, sick kitten right at our doorstep. It can barely stand, when it tries it falls over, one eye is bulging out of it's head like Marty Feldman and looks like it is about to die. We stand there looking at this helpless thing not knowing what we can do to help it. But we finally leave for a day of diving hoping that when we get back it will be gone and not dead on our doorstep. We then proceed to ask the guys at our hotel restaurant and the dive staff what we should do about the kitten, how we can help it. We all get the same response. "Feed it to the lizards!" What??? We can't do that!!! But then we get the argument that it will die a slow, horrible death and that it's survival of the fittest and wouldn't you rather put it out of it's misery? So Troy and I are looking at each other thinking that we might have a horrible task on hand when we return in the afternoon. Luckily when we got back the kitten was gone had found it's mom so we were not faced with a most unpleasant task of feeding a tiny kitten to a lizard. (Would you serve red or white wine with kitten meat??? Sorry, bad joke!)

Next up is a month in Indonesia. Yes, we know they have had recent earthquakes but they are always having earthquakes (not a very comforting thought, I know). But it's one of the world's best diving destinations and natural disasters won't keep us away!


Cool update! Heck, I didn't even know Troy was preggers and there he is holding his newborn baby! Sooo cute. (Troy's purty cute w/that beard, too.) I loved the big lizard until you said they ate kittens; glad Herm is a vegan. Glad you're still having fun. We're off to Hawaii tomorrow for our 2nd anniv. Much fun ahead! Lv and Hugs--Aunt Andy

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:46 AM  

I wish I could have seen that Monkey show down! How funny. Don’t tell Steph that kitten story, my god. She’ll break down. However, I’ll have mine with the white wine and mushroom sauce. (Couldn’t resist)


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:09 AM  

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