Monday, July 17, 2006

Chew Jetty Trip. #2

Getting on a rocking boat wasn't at all difficult as I imagined it would be a few days prior to the trip! I got on first and, dutifully, helped mom on board. The sampan was nevertheless shaky, beaten by the waves, as each of us made our way to our seating, loosing our balance ever so often. Mom had to cling on my hand to make her way to the back of the sampan as we boarded it first. Surprisingly, I gained more balance than I thought I would with my legs spread apart. I got mom seated comfortably and I sat beside her. We were the last two sampans left waiting to be filled with passengers (Tim was still talking to Siew Pheng and we waited patiently for him). And yes, I never let go of my camera the whole time, snapping photos feverishly at every opportunity I got. Suffice to say, I wasn't the only one taking photographs there. The majority of the crowd there were photography enthusiasts and some of them are even professional photgraphy, judging by their cameras and extensive lenses.

The really old man (I'm sure he's a highly skilled fisherman) who was in charge of our boat started the motor of the boat, with all the strength he could muster and with the shaky hands, skinny hands of his, drove the boat a little further away from the pier. We just sat on the boat and waited, floating near around just like every other 5 boats were, for the last boat to arrive to load the remaining passengers who were still waiting anxiously at the pier. The sun was flaming hot and my body was just beginning to break into a sweat, especially with the life jacket on and a backpack containing two bottles of water on my back. There wasn't much wind while we remained stagnant on the boat.

Thankfully, not before long, we saw the last boat sped by our boat to the pier to pick up the remaining passengers. After receiving orders from Siew Pheng's mom, the boat ride began with the old man restarting the engine. Look, the old man was really old and I could've sworn he had some hearing disability. He almost took us off course, going directly to the left when we're supposed to head to the right and still needed a few minutes of our desperate yells for the message to sink in into him, before he realises we were on the wrong track! All the time, I was worried sick about mom getting sea-sick. Well, she has developed and image for herself, always known as the weak one, after the numerous times she blacked out at the weirdest of place! Even before the trip, I kept reminding her to bring her ointment in case anything happens to her and knowing me, I wouldn't be off much help. I kept asking her if she was allright and fortunately, none of the dreaded incidents happened.

The only down part about the whole boat ride was the haze. Penang's been badly hit by the haze and beeing out in the middle of the sea didn't quite gave us a view of the outskirts of Penang Island that we were hoping for. I could only make out the outlines of Komtar and several other buildings. Pointing the cmaera towards the island only resulted the pictures to come out with a tint of dull grey. Plus, the rubbish spotted surfacing on the sea was downright awful. You could practically find every damn thing floating around the sea, scattered all over the place. I could only focus on the sky and other boats that was around. Thank God, dad got me a camera with a 12x optical zoom for my birthday! It'z amazing how far my camera could go.

So there I was, seated comfortably with mom by my side, enjoying the breeze on our face and the occasional sprinkle of water from the sea whenever the boat crashes a wave. Living in Penang all thsese years, I've never experienced such a thing and it was truly something new. What was stated on the itinerary was that we were only going to visit the Penang Bridge. Unless I've read wrongly, I was surprised that we were going to stop by at the Penang Bridge Tidal Islands, well, that's what I learnt when we finally got there. If you're a frequent user of the Penang Bridge, you'd probably be blind to miss the two little island on your left (if you're using the bridge FROM Penang). I've grown up all my life, used the Penang Bridge probably close to a millionth time, wondering what was on those two little islands.

My lifelong curiousity was answered when our boats took a stop at both the islands. The old man pulled over? Wait... I'm hopeless with these sea-terms. Anyway, the old man pulled over the shores of the first tidal island and we got off - the normal way, of course, jumping off the boat getting wet till your knees. It was the one time that I regretted wearing sneakers to an outing. My sneakers were partially soaked when I got off the boat and after helping mom off the boat. Having the sneakers on also kind of forbade me to venture any further in the island. Yeap, we were given a total of 15 minutes to "explore" the island. Most of them with sneakers, I saw, had willingly took off their shoes and went exploring.

I realised I couldn't afford to miss this opportunity and pulled off my shoes, stuffed the socks into the shoe, with mom nagging, "Be careful!" and ran off to join the others. Mom refused to follow, though. I mean, how many times in your lifetime do you get to go to the island? Anyway, I was amazed to find that there was a huge swamp behind the tall pine trees that kept it from view if you were standing form the Penang Bridge. It also happened to be an eagle's lair. I have no idea where thos eagles come from, but the whole flock of them were resting on a tree. Thanks to my 12x optical zoom, I managed to get something, I guess.

To be continued...

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