Don’t we all dream of living on an island sometimes?…
South East Asia is a place, where you can get lost easily. And you want to get lost. Nothing is more exciting to find a temple in a modern city, eat local food, speak to monks or see plants and animals, you wouldn’t see in your home country.
The reason I went there, was that I got a job in a resort on a small island in Malaysia. I heard of the job as a dive apprentice after i came back from studying in Scotland for a semester and thought that I really want to do this while I am trying to figure out what my next step is going to be. After I sent them my application, I had an interview via Skype and got the job. They wanted me to come as soon as possible since it was Chinese New Year, a very busy time, and they needed my help. I had a few days to pack and say goodbye to family and friends. It was a great feeling to escape the grim and cold winter and pack dresses and tshirts and shorts and leave my winter coat at home. 13 hours later, I arrived in Singapore and was overwhelmed by the lights, cleanliness, the humidity… I got picked up the next day. The journey to the jetty in Tanjong Leman was about 2.5 hours. A drive past palm tree plantages on a small road. A speed boat picked me up and I was quite nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. The island I was going to spend the next couple of months there, is called Pulau Sibu and is about 6 km long and 1 km wide. Apart from the resort I was working, there was another resort and the local village.
Arriving there, it was the typical image of a deserted paradise island. A long, clear beach, palm trees, no one in sight. Working there was a really good experience and I would say I learned a lot about dealing with people from different cultures. While I was working with a couple of British people in the dive base, the other staff was Malay. Meaning different ways of behavior, religion, rules and a different language.
The difference was I wasn’t on a holiday, I was working and living with them on a small space. It was challenging and enriching to adapt and pick up some words in their language. Every morning I would wake up and walk to the staff table, have breakfast and open the dive base.
I would say, I was extremely lucky to call this my work place for about 3 months and I value this place even more now that my morning routine means getting ready for work, putting makeup and heels on and taking public transport to the airport which can take up to 1.5 hours. When I arrive, I am completely stressed out already and remember how I would walk under palm trees to my work place and see the sea and the beach the entire day long. It was hard work, lifting heavy things and taking them from the boat up the beach, working long hours, but I loved taking people on excursions like a snorkeling trip, a walk to the waterfall or to the local village, fishing on platforms in the sea and playing with the kids.
All in all it was something I don’t want to miss. I am glad I applied and spend some time on this island. After those 3 months I went traveling for another month and visited Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand and Bali and spent some time in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.
Sitting in a cafe, next to the Mekong river in Phnom Penh, Cambodia- i was writing a list why I love south east Asia:
– friendly people, who don’t always speak English but try there best. Are very relaxed and have a good sense of humor
– the food, so many flavors, spicy, simply delicious
– countries are so diverse, people from different ethnics bring their culture, expats
– for all the senses: noisy, smelly, beautiful nature and sights
– different religions live next to each other peacefully. Different temples of different religions in one place
– cheap: good value for money. Meals between 2-5$, accommodating 5$+
– great nightlife with fascinating bars and clubs + drinks are cheap.
– culture shock–> opportunity to widen your horizon
– markets: cheap clothes, souvenirs food (always haggle)
– every country is different and special in its own way
-it’s a place that is very welcoming
View from my former work place: Pulau Sibu
A night on the island
In the kids club
A reef shark