After travelling around South East Asia, Malaysia comes as a shock to the wallet, resulting in an immediate tightening of the belt, which in turn can lead to some poor choices regarding accommodation. One such poor choice was made on the Perhentian Islands. Having arrived there by mistake as I had fallen asleep on the bus from Melaka, missed my stop and woken up at the Thai border, I was completely unprepared. Rather than jumping on a new bus back down south, I hopped on a boat to what I had been told was paradise. This was not a lie. The island was lush and green, swaying palm trees, picture postcard perfect white crescent beach, the most crystal clear waters I had ever seen, cute little ramshackle restaurants and low key bars playing chilled music, all you could possibly want from a tropical paradise beach.
After scouting the beach for a room and being somewhat unsettled by the prices, I opted for the cheapest little hut I could possibly find, thinking I wouldn’t spend much time inside considering my surroundings. A very fair assumption so I paid upfront for 3 nights. The hut was in all fairness the very image of sparse monastic living, just some nailed up wooden planks with a hole in the wall masquerading as a shower, and a mattress on the floor right next to a fairly big hole. Not too big to fall through, but big enough. Who cared? What more could you possibly need? Besides, it had the best view of the beach.
The island was simply amazing and impossibly beautiful, and after a day of snorkeling with reef sharks, a short hike through the jungle, a spot of sun bathing, a delicious dinner and a few drinks I was exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep. This is when I noticed I was not alone in my room. Shortly after I had switched the lights off I heard an unfamiliar tapping noise, as if someone was tapping their fingers on the wall. I switched the lights on and right beside me I saw a lanky grey and brown spider, so ugly only a mother could love it and the size of my hand. Its long legs, all eight of them, were so spikey they made a loud noise on the wood as it scattered along. Unsure whether or not I should be afraid of it, I got up (it remained motionless) found a flip flop and tried to throw it at the spider. It moved only a few centimetres, the legs tapping away. Realising I was up against a formidable opponent, I retrieved my 95% deet bug spray that had previously melted a fully grown cockroach in Sri Lanka and stripped paint off bathroom tiles from my toiletry bag and sprayed in the spider’s general direction as I looked away in fear of reprisals. I doubt the spray did it any serious harm, as although it moved quickly out of sight, I could hear it crawling around all night. Leg after leg tapping away.
At some point in the early hours I must have fallen asleep as I woke up with the feeling of someone watching me. As it turns out I was being watched. By a monitor lizard. A small family of these enormous lizards had dug out a nest in the sand under my hut, and one of them was now poking its head up the hole in the floor. It just stood there quite still, the cleft tongue making an appearance every few seconds. After staring at each other we reached an agreement to just tolerate each other. It was a fun little family of lizards that collected plastic water bottles, and by the end of my stay I’d saved some money and made some new friends.
The spider however, I thankfully never heard again.