When I grow up I want to be a pirate. They sail through tropical waters, hang out amongst white sandy beaches with palm trees and drink copious amounts of rum. ’Pirates of the Caribbean’ was the informant for my heavily glossed over version of a pirate lifestyle. But, it was this glorified notion, plus drinking a quart of Orangutan Rum my second night in Malaysia with my travel mate, that spurred the idea to live out my pirate fantasy on Pulau Perhentian Kecil in the South China Sea for a few days.
The Perhentian islands two tiny spots on the map off the north coast of Malaysia offer 2 very different options of travel. Besar the larger island is dotted in beach front resorts. Kecil the smaller island is backpackers paradise. A hut on the southern slope of the island overlooking Long beach and the turquoise waters was the choice spot for a pirate dwelling. Electricity was available every evening when the generator was turned on, but I was here to be a pirate so luxuries were not required.
Days were spent snorkelling, exploring the coral shelves and crevices looking for bright coloured fish and cray’s and chasing turtles. Or sitting in the shade on the deck at the Lemongrass cafe reading a book, writing in my journal and generally trying to avoid the scorching sun. Not so pirate like yet, but I’d realised that unless I was on a ship sailing across the sea I was not going to get my pirate adventure I’d imagined. None the less, it was an adventure to explore somewhere different. Night times where spent meeting other backpackers at Buffaloes. The local watering hole… it’s a bar with a carved sign above saying “Buffaloes”, with reed mats spread around low wooden tables spread out on the beach between the bar and the ocean. Drinks were served in a bucket and consisted of a quart of Orangutan Rum or Vodka with a small can of soft drink. Shisha smoke wafted through the air from
most of the tables. It was a great atmosphere, but it reeked of normal backpacker travel. I’d set out for a grand adventure and being the first stop in my four months expedition I took it as a lesson to not travel according to backpackers guides anymore. I wanted a more local experience, to really see the culture, spirit and soul of a place.
I still want to be a pirate when I grow up. Drinking rum on an island in tropical waters doesn’t qualify as a true pirate adventure. Next time I try being a pirate, I’ll definitely include a boat and maybe a hat.