After more delicious food, including lots of mock meats (we had delicious “goose” and fish, complete with nori for the skin), we said goodbye to KL and took a long-distance bus for 6 hours to Mersing, an ocean-side town on the eastern coast of Malaysia.
But this was no long-distance bus ride like any other I’ve taken before. Velour seats, reclining, with full legroom, air conditioning, clean gigantic picture windows, and no smoking! Can you tell I’m loving Malaysia?
The people have been helpful and kind, and it’s quite easy to get around even if you don’t speak any Malaysian, since many of the residents don’t, either. There are three main ethnic groups–Malays, Chinese, and Indians. Most people speak English as well as one or more other languages. In fact, science and math are now taught in schools in English! This is a forward-thinking country in so many ways.
As part of our tour group, our guide hands out laminated cards to help us learn the language. Not so much helpful for me, since I know most of it so far, save for a few words that are different than Indonesian, but the others are enjoying the challenge of learning a new language and trying it out, and I’m helping them with my crazy mnemonics whenever possible.
For example, the Indonesian word for “delicious” is enak. Here they don’t use it so much, although you will find people who understand it, since there is about 20% of the labor force from other countries these days, including many from Indonesia. However, the more commonly used term is sedap.
So my mnemonic to help remember it is, “Shut up, it’s so delicious, shut up, leave me alone, I want to eat it, it’s so delicious.” “Shut up” sounds very similar to sedap, since the “e” isn’t really pronounced.
Another one I was helping another group member learn tonight at dinner is “Good Morning,” which is Selamat Pagi in Malaysian and Indonesian. I told them that if they could remember that selamat means peaceful, and that it is the first half of any greeting, such as good afternoon, goodbye, and welcome, they could remember it by thinking that the opposite of peaceful would be to slam a door. Slam it. Slam-at, pronounced with the “a”s like say “aaaah.”
Then to remember pagi, think that in the morning, you feel tired, you feel like you’re in a fog, you are foggy, you’re in a bog, you’re boggy, boggy, poggy…pagi, which is how it’s pronounced.
My travelmate said, “Well, YOU might wake up in a fog, but I wake up perky and cheerful…so tomorrow morning, I’ll have to think, ‘Alina is waking up in a fog, foggy, boggy…Selamat pagi.” I said, “Yes, you’d be absolutely right, and you’d get the words right, too!”
So while we are off snorkeling with sharks over the next three days, I want you all to practice those two vocabulary items, okay? There will be a test when I get back. ha ha.
Tomorrow we get on a boat for 2 hours and go to Tioman Island, and island 30 miles off the coast, where will we stay in cabanas on the sliver of beach. The rest of the island is jungle, so we will alternate between snorkeling off the balconies and jungle trekking, with leeches smacking their lips, awaiting our tasty foreign blood. Should be fun!
We’ve already been warned to lock our windows and doors when we leave our room, not so much to prevent humans from stealing our things, but to prevent the monkeys from doing so! They will break into your bags looking for food, or worse, get scared and drag it off into the jungle, then leave it there!
We saw some lightning tonight as we headed to dinner, so I’m praying if it storms, it will be over before tomorrow. The idea of being on a boat in a storm, getting tossed around out at sea, with people throwing up all around me, makes for a great story and wonderful adventure, but it’s not a whole lot of fun. If you’ve known me for a while, you’ve already read about adventures like those. Thanks, but this time I’d love a peaceful trip!
Okay, I’ll get back to you in about four days or so. Stay tuned for more fun, and to see if the rubber boots I’ve been hauling will keep the leeches at bay…