48. Finding a Better Beach

Finding a Better Beach: We dropped off the map for a while in the Perhentian Islands on Malaysia’s East Coast. It’s still officially monsoon season there, but we played the odds that El Nino (global warming) would bring an early dry season/drought. We were rewarded with clear skies, clearer waters, mind blowing snorkeling and a wonderful little A-frame beach chalet that only cost ten dollars* a night, mosquito net included. Electricity on the island came only from generators that ran from 7pm until 7am, so there was little choice but to buy a hammock, a new bottle of tequila and suffer mightily through the beautiful daylight hours. Spend enough time in a place like this and it starts to feel normal, like this is the life you were always supposed to have. Wake up in the morning, walk outside, step over a giant monitor lizard on your front porch and it’s all, “How will I ever sit at a desk again?” for the next two hours. Then you’re drinking a fresh mango shake, trying to work out how it might be possible to spend the next 50 years as a wily young village boy, fishing for barracuda and smoking cheap cigarettes all day under the brilliant South Asian sun. They play nose flutes here, you know. Nose flutes! It could take a lifetime to master that.

*Or, if you prefer, 40 Ding Dongs a night. Ding Dongs, sometimes Bingos, is how we now refer to the national currency of Malaysia. Properly it’s Ringgits, but Ding Dongs and Bingos sound equally plausible to us, and it also seems to be easier for Amy to remember. She kept calling them Ringers and Ringlets, which doesn’t get a very positive response when bargaining locally. Ding Dongs on the other hand – kills every time.


  1. Denise Olsen says:

    What an amazing picture. Amy you look marvelous – and so does your shadow.

    I’m so jealous – it’s been raining all week in Portland. I need sun.

    Have fun. Love your stories. You are both the best writers and the monkey story was hilarious. Sorry about the Ipod. You should submit that story to Apple and see if they’ll give you a replacement. I bet they would.