Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Caught in the monsoon!

The brewing storm

"Jangan lalai!"

Those were Lan's last words of caution before we all jumped into the tiny boat in the drizzling rain, pushing off the shore for the mainland. He meant it for Long, the boat driver.

They've made the journey together countless times, from Perhentian Kecil Island to Kuala Besut jetty, a trip that, in good weather, usually took only about 30 minutes. But this time, with the winds threatening to blow again, and the rain picking up, we weren't even sure if we'd reach the mainland in one piece. The monsoon had claimed many lives before this.

One quick prayer, and with my trust in Long, we shot straight into the dreadful, brewing weather.

Our tiny boat

Lan and I sat in front, while Awi took the middle row. Long, navigating from the back, had earlier warned us not to panic and, no matter what, to be quiet, he would handle the boat.

I was thinking of my wife and kids the entire way, and what I was going to hold on to should we capsize! Lan, as though reading my mind, whispered, "If anything happens, just hold on to the boat."
Mid-way, we encountered huge waves that just kept hitting hard on the boat, non-stop. Then one particularly monster wave rolled up and almost overturned the boat! I could see Lan's face. We were all scared. Then Lan switched places with Awie; he took a piece of rope and tied it to a petrol container. I knew that he was preparing something for us to grab on to should the boat capsize.

The ride was rough but Long was a fine driver. His skill was once again tested as we approached the river mouth of Kuala Besut. The waves and current at the breakwater were extremely strong, pushing the boat backwards. There were two big fishing boats there as well, both struggling as much as we were.

We could actually see the jetty and knew that if we could just pass through this part of the water and enter the river mouth, we would be home free. But the choppy waters kept throwing our boat back and forth, left and right.We looked at each other's pale faces. I could only think of my family.

Long slowed down the boat engine, waiting for just the right moment to cut through the waves. He finally made a decision, revved up the engine and shot through the waters. I wasn't sure if we would make it, and just left it to fate. After several seconds or minutes, I don't know which, of struggling to ride the waves through the opening in the breakwater, we finally made it!

Safe on land
What a relief! Long immediately cut the engine and the boat just bobbed in the calmer waters. Muka Long yang hitam pun boleh nampak putih! Well, he's the driver with four lives in his hands...I guess he felt the pressure!

Once on land, I rushed to pee! I wanted to text Ena to tell her I was safe, but I couldn't find my phone. A few people came by, surprised to learn that we had made it from the island in this weather.

It was almost 1pm when we reached the mainland. I don't know how long we had been in the water, but it was the longest ever ride for me.

C-3PO: Sir, the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately three-thousand-seven-hundred-twenty to one!
Han Solo: Never tell me the odds!

From The Empire Strikes Back
More pictures here.

No comments: