Snorkeling & Kayaking
We remained under the greatly appreciated shade for most of that day as we were completely incapacitated due to the blistering, sweltering heat. During that time however we witnessed the arrival of a black speedboat that pulled into the jetty and a group of soldiers disembarked, a few armed with automatic rifles. We were told by some of the staff there that these men preceded the arrival of someone they called TMJ which stood for 'Tengku Mahkota Johor' (the Crown Prince of Johor). At that time we dismissed the event and thought nothing more of it not realizing how much it would later impact our trip.
By the time it was cool enough to emerge from the shade to go snorkeling, it was already past 17:00. I found the coral reef in front of the resort to be somewhat mediocre although there were patches of coral here and there that had large amounts of biodiversity. There were quite a few Clownfish (Amphiprion sp.) protecting their symbiotic anemone as well as a lot of Common Parrotfish (Scarus psittacus) chomping on the coral below. There were also certain areas, albeit a bit further out from the shore, that had large numbers of sea urchins that could pose a threat to those swimming barefoot.
After a while, Kayleigh, Lesly and I decided to take out the kayaks that were part of the package (as was the snorkeling gear) before it got too late. Lesly and I ended up paddled around the Southern tip of the island as the sun began to set and as we rounded the tip, we found to our dismay that the strong current that was flowing from the North was now against us. We proceeded Northward nonetheless and followed the coast for some time before deciding that we had better turn back as it was beginning to get dark. There was also a small cove of sorts, perhaps more akin to an inlet, that Kayleigh had discovered and the rest of the girls had clambered down to. The cove was accessible by kayak but it was too small and the rocks at the sides were a little too close for my liking.
Sundown & Starrise
The dinner was somewhat disappointing as the presence of the TMJ had left the staff in an irascible state. The choices available on the menu were also suddenly limited. Despite all this, the group decided to play a game of charades after everyone had eaten their fill. I had heard of this game before but to my recollection had never actually played it which made me reluctant at first but as the game went on, the more my competitive nature began to show. We were shocked and disgusted at one point when one of the staff had the impertinence to come over and to ask us to keep our voices down as the TMJ was seated nearby. We carried on with the game trying our best to not let what had just happened bother us but I later realized that the staff in question may have done what he did for our benefit rather than for the TMJ's benefit.
As we were heading back to the room, I realised that the stars that night were out in their blazing glory which seemed to more than make up for the previous events. I then decided to take some long exposure shots before retiring for the night.
A Horrid End
The next day began with me in a querulous state as I had found the night before to be almost completely devoid of sleep. I had awoken with a start around 04:00 to blaring music that was so loud that ear plugs failed to help and found it close to impossible to get much sleep from that point on. I decided to consume copious amounts of caffeine during breakfast hoping that it would keep me going long enough before getting some rest on the bus back to Kuala Lumpur.
After giving the slide on the Rawa jetty a try, we went back to the room to pack as we were to depart shortly after lunch. The boat that was to take us back to the mainland arrived during low tide and as such was forced to stop at the jetty. It turned out that the TMJ was on the beachfront having lunch so the staff herded us around through the back via another route to reach the jetty. Never have I been treated more like cattle. To make matters worse, there was no space at the jetty for the boat to dock properly and we were forced to clamber down some tyres that were tied up to wooden posts in order to board the boat.
We were later to find out that the Caucasian couple that was sharing our boat had cut their 4-day holiday short after the second day due to the cacophony the night before. Such a horrid end to an otherwise pleasant trip...