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A speedboat ride from hell


We’d been on Pulau Tioman for ten days and were waiting on the jetty for the speedboat back to Mersing.  Surprisingly enough we were still waiting an hour later.

When the boat finally arrived it was very small, old and derelict looking but we boarded it anyway thinking we would just head straight back to the mainland – but of course that didn’t happen until we’d stopped at another 3 jetties around the island.  By the time we were due to leave the last pick up the boat was at bursting point, the inside was swamped, every seat was taken and the aisle was crammed with people, luggage and a huge TV that someone had brought along.  An argument started when a Malaysian family complained that they didn’t have a seat even though they had booked and paid in advance.  The driver, who had all the charm of Satan, couldn’t have cared less and after a few minutes they decided to get off, which was probably the best decision they ever made.  But even after they left, the boat was still packed and the remaining luggage and passengers that were outside were now crammed inside with the rest of us.

To begin with the journey was ok but as we got further out to sea, the water got choppier and the driver went faster, steering with one hand whilst smoking a roll up with the other!  We were smacking waves with such speed that my bum was hovering in mid-air and my legs were bashing against the seat in front.  Two little kids next to me were screaming with excitement – it was like being on a roller coaster.  Then when the waves started to go over the roof and I was ankle deep in water it stopped being fun.  The luggage was practically floating, the kids were now crying, others were throwing up and two ladies in the front were putting on their life jackets (they bought their own!)  One man who couldn’t get a seat inside was literally holding on outside as waves crashed over him left and right.  The windows were shut to keep the water out which made the temperature inside unbearable and then people started to pass out.

I have never been so scared; I actually had to reign in the tears, as my immediate reaction was just to cry.  After a while I looked to my boyfriend.  I wanted to know if he was scared or if I was just being a girl, blowing it all out of proportion.  I asked him if he was ok, he glanced at me quickly and in a very high-pitched and nervous sounding voice said, “Yeah, I’m fine” – he was shitting himself, we were doomed.  It seemed so obvious to me that the boat would crash or just fall to pieces and I couldn’t see how we’d all get out as there was so much luggage blocking us in.  Every time we went past an island or a sand spit I would try to keep it in my view, just in case I might have to swim to it in a few minutes.  I was convinced that we were all going to die, which would have been rather unfortunate as it was my Mum’s birthday that day and I figured it might ruin it a bit for her!

Then in the distance after 2 hours of somersaulting through the sea, I saw the mainland and the pier.  The waves got smaller, the crashing slowly calmed down and within twenty minutes, we’d docked, disembarked and were carrying our drenched backpacks to safety. 

I attempted to explain to the driver that he was an insane speed freak and that he drove like a lunatic but he just shrugged his shoulders and laughed at me.  I don’t think he was that interested in my views on health and safety or anything else I had to say – he just blamed everything on the weather, sucked the life out of his last roll up and walked off.

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