Take Two, Perhentians.


So our introduction was less than stellar. Breathe, relax… Reexamine. Take two: Perhentians.

We woke up to sunshine streaming through the cracks in the walls and floor of our guesthouse shack. It was almost 10, which was more than two hours later than our usual, natural rising time. On the island, this also meant that the power had been off for nearly two hours. The fan hung frozen above us and the heat was so stifling that we couldn’t figure out how we had slept so long. We must have been more exhausted then we’d thought from the night bus the day before.

After assessing our situation, we’d decided to head back to the mainland as soon as we could. The trash splayed around the tiny walkways, the hassle of competing for a room, the wood tool shed that made up our room… It wasn’t what we’d pictured when we decided to come here. But our accommodation had been given to us with the condition that we stay two nights. We weren’t about to break our agreement with the owners who saved us from a night of homelessness on an island that was otherwise completely booked. We considered ourselves lucky. For two days we could survive practically anywhere– and besides, we were on an island surrounded by turquoise hued water. Our situation really wasn’t nearly as difficult as it had seemed the night before.


Throughout our first full day here, we made effort to change our expectations. And through that choice we’ve seemed to come to terms with what this place is about. We’ve found that no one so much as recognizes the need for hotel bookings, or for manning front desks, or even organizing when people come and go. Pretty much all guesthouses are single pane wood shacks made up of whatever scraps were lying around at the time of construction. Our room has a rainwater tank on the roof for showering, and when the water stops flowing you wait for the next time it gets filled up. Power throughout the island is only on after dark, unless you happen to get into one of the few places that turns on a generator for an hour in the afternoons. The island has no trash service and a boat comes every week or so to haul garbage back to the mainland. As a result, it’s not a very clean place. But what it lacks in general housekeeping it makes up for with nature. On an island with no automobiles and only small sandy trails for ‘freeways’, wildlife all but owns the place. Monitor lizards grace our walkway, tiny geckos live in our coffee mugs, and bats work throughout the night to loudly fling as much fruit onto our metal roof as possible. This is just how it is here- like it or not.


Rustic has become the new word to describe our location. We are living in the simplicity of a tropical island from decades past, and while it’s taken some adjustment we are starting to ‘get’ it.

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