I took the bike along the beach here in Valencia last Saturday… it was sunny yet the wind is biting. I dismounted from my bike and paused to hear the surf crashing against the sand and feel the wind against my skin..
Warmed by peacoat and scarf I wanted to take off my shoes and dipped my toes in the sand.
Wasn’t it just a month ago I left the sugary sands of Langkawi and just walked barefooted along the shores?
The Langkawi trip was not a part of my holiday plans but somehow I partly knew that after the Philippines I probably would visit Phuket, Langkawi and Singapore. I did visit Singapore. But nothing was confirmed as his boat was not so sure where they were heading to after the holidays.
With modern and fast communication these days, the moment they confirmed to head to Malaysia from the Maldives, he sent me a text of the dates they were arriving and if I could visit.
So I emailed my ticketing agent in Athens to change my flights and sort my Langkawi ticket.
I could not stop laughing when I heard her voice as if I had just asked her to book me a flight to the middle of nowhere. He had not even heard about this place until he joined the boat in Singapore in October last year and had said he would be not surprised if I knew about this place since am Asian.
I first heard about the place when I started diving and would search information for diving spots in Asia. Then few years back one Malaysian reader of my blog ,Bayi, emailed me that he was going to be in Athens for a business conference and asked if I would be home so we could meet up.
While I showed him around Athens he convinced me that my next holidays should be in Malaysia and pointed out places that are worth visiting, and suggested Sabah or Langkawi…
The trip that was planned a year later never materialised but I knew that I would visit Malaysia one of these days.
Luckily he had at least 4 days free to explore the island with me. I left it to him to decide which part of the island we drive to and he asked me to help navigate with the map. But I think was such an utter useless person that time since few minutes after we left a place I fell asleep.
It’s the fresh tropical air you know.
But honestly you can’t get lost in that island and I am sure he was glad I fell asleep a few times as I would always find something exciting along the road and asked him to stop.
So he divided our days, half day discovering something around the island and the rest of the day, chilling at the beach. Like a captain , he plotted the roads , the area while my mind went adrift what to eat next…
He rented this tiny car (with dodgy papers maybe) that did not even have enough horse power to go up the mountains but managed to take us around the place, so on the last day after such a late start, hey I am on a holiday after all, I told him I did not care where he was going as long we stopped at the wet market.
Since I asked for it I finally had to read the map and locate it, as he would happily drive anywhere. Easy…near the airport the area is called Padang Matsirat. He had to constantly remind me of the seat belt, as there were random police checks that day, he was probably worried how can he would explain the car..
It was not big and not smelly… the fish section they had to keep washing the fish with ice cold water to keep them fresh…there were tunas and few selection of tilapia , not much really since it was almost mid day. Fish farming is a big business in Langkawi, as I ‘ve noticed fish ponds everywhere next to the rice paddies.
The meat section I am sure would certainly horrify a westerner who is so used to a high standard of hygiene of their country. I nearly laughed at all the blood on the butchers clothes and while he was beheading the poor chickens.
And looking back , I thought he would grab me and drag me to our tiny car, but lo and behold he stayed – I know then I could travel with him.
You see, although the Philippines in the same tropical latitude , our cooking is heavily influenced by Spain, while the rest of Asia use all these kind of spices on their food:
galanggal, ginger, different varieties of chillies, tamarind, for Masak Assam Pedas. Fresh bean sprouts, baby corns,kangkong, turmeric roots. I could bury my nose there with all the scents wafting in the air. Luckily I did not have my own kitchen, I knew I probably would have filled the car with all my finds.
Hanging were bags of dried thinly slice bananas and sweet potatoes and grated baby coconuts and cendol with the green colours of pandan.
There were lychees, rambutan, mangosteen too, not much mangoes. I found this small bag filled with a small lump of brown mass, I immediately knew what it was and made Stephen guess…hmm he needs more lesson on tropical food I think.
As we set off again, I thank Stephen and told him one day I will have my works published and I will title by coffee book, “Markets Around the World…” that sent him into hysterics – he was probably thinking how many more markets I am going to drag him to.
As I post this, Stephen is just leaving Langkawi for a short visit to UK before flying out again for Antigua.
As I said he plotted our trips like a captain…. he is finally going to captain his own boat.