12 May

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These little men were in my life for a short, blissful, week over ten years ago.  Their family owns a secluded cove on the smaller of the two Perhentian Islands, off Malaysia’s East coast.   We reached their home by squid boat, an overcrowded, possibly dangerous, wooden vessel that was used for fishing by night, and as a passenger ferry by day.   As we neared the cove, the boat’s captain radioed to the island and a small motor boat was launched to meet us.  We awkwardly climbed down from the large swaying vessel into the small one, causing violent rocking as we manoeuvred our huge bags, two small boys sitting in the bottom of the little boat, watching us with friendly smiles.

Those children never stopped smiling.  I didn’t hear them whine once.  I suppose it’s not that surprising, their home was as close to paradise on earth as it’s possible to get.  The white sand on the little beach met the dense, green, verdant  jungle, alive with the sounds of a thousand creatures.  We stayed in a small wooden hut on stilts in the thick of the jungle.  It was very basic, with no windows, but we fell asleep to the rhythmic cacophony of insects and woke each morning to the crashing of the sea on the rocks below us.

The boys had, in many ways, the kind of life I’d like for my children.  Each morning, they’d go by boat to the island’s only village, where they went to school.  Each afternoon, they’d come home and play on the beach.  They learnt English from the small number of tourists who came to stay and ate delicious, healthy curries and bananas, jackfruit, coconuts, picked from the trees.  Their father would bring them pet kittens, who’s sad demise at the hands of the giant iguanas who came out of the jungle in the rainy season, didn’t bother the children.  They swung in hammocks and swam in the sea.

I’ve no doubt their life wasn’t without it’s problems.  For secondary school their only option was boarding school on the mainland, an experience their older sister hated so much she only lasted a year.  And their little home was often at the mercy of the elements, they’d be trapped for days if the sea was too rough.  Walking to the village was only just possible, you had to carefully find your way through the tangle of tree roots and cut through the curtains of creepers with a machete.

But for all the problems, the family were very happy.  They’d chosen this life for themselves and their children rather a like Malaysian Tom and Barbara Good.  They were proud of their sparkling beach and the home they’d built there.  They could have had better jobs, more money, more security, if they lived on the mainland.  But instead they had chosen their own little corner of paradise.

The family still runs a guest house on the little beach, I checked in the latest Lonely Planet.  The boys must be teenagers by now, I wonder if they still smile all the time?

This post was written for The Gallery at Sticky Fingers and Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.  Both great photo blog roundups.


I am inordinately proud to be a finalist in The MADs Best Blog for Family Fun category.  I would be therefore extremely pleased if you would consider voting for me.  Voting confers a number of benefits: a rosy glow of satisfaction to the voter; the winning of my undying love; and if you are very, very lucky, you might win the chance to stowaway in my backpack.  [Please see full terms and conditions.]


25 Responses to “boys”

  1. Deardulldiary 12/05/2010 at 10:35 am #

    Wow fantastic post. Looks beautiful.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/05/2010 at 10:41 am #


  2. eggscreamandhoney 12/05/2010 at 10:38 am #

    I love your take on this post! I want to be there now with those boys. What a great place and an idyllic life. How nice to think it is still going strong after all these years.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/05/2010 at 10:42 am #

      I was so happy to see it still in the Lonely Planet. It doesn’t get much of a write up, just something like “quiet friendly place on a small beach” but that’s just how I remember it.

  3. MrsW 12/05/2010 at 10:46 am #

    Great it’s still there – are you planning to go back?

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/05/2010 at 10:59 am #

      I’m not sure. The boat ride was pretty dodgy, and I don’t know about subjecting our children to that, but maybe the ferry will have improved. It is the most gorgeous place.

  4. nudieprincess 12/05/2010 at 11:15 am #

    As usual I am very jealous, of your fabulous photography and your adventures. Those boys were so beautiful, and thier lives- well it’s like a parallel universe. I can only begin to imagine what it must be like. Amazing.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/05/2010 at 3:55 pm #

      I know, it was just like that TV programme Shipwrecked, but with a TV and electric light and a fridge. And probably a few other things, but you get the idea!

  5. nudieprincess 12/05/2010 at 11:16 am #

    P.s Love the new look blog. X

  6. Pants With Names 12/05/2010 at 11:27 am #

    Looks idyllic. Lovely photos too. You must go back!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/05/2010 at 3:43 pm #

      I would really like to. We’ll see how we go.

  7. Josie @Sleep is for the Weak 12/05/2010 at 12:22 pm #

    What a fabulous story. So envious of your travel experiences but love that you have all these little gems hidden away. Great idea for the theme, gorgeous photos.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/05/2010 at 3:44 pm #

      Thank you. I dug out a lot of old slides yesterday and took them to Jessops to be scanned. Expect more photos from my past soon…

  8. Mummylimited 12/05/2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Well I was expecting to see your own gorgeous boys but this is great so you’re forgiven. I hope you do go back with your family and of you do please blog about it.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/05/2010 at 4:03 pm #

      I will blog about EVERYTHING. Rest assured.

  9. Mirka Moore 12/05/2010 at 4:08 pm #

    Stunning pictures, they are sooo cute 😉

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/05/2010 at 4:24 pm #

      Thank you!

      Victoria Wallop

  10. Michelle 12/05/2010 at 8:24 pm #

    Beautiful photos, they are so cute! Love your post too:-) Ow and the look of your blog as well!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 13/05/2010 at 9:55 am #

      thankyou, I thought it was time for a makeover!

  11. Gigi (MumsRock) 13/05/2010 at 8:59 am #

    *Gasps* I stayed on the Prehentian islands! A long long time ago. I think *cringe* it was almost 20 years. The bathroom was a well with a ladle on a rope, surrounded by a grass wall in the centre of the six or so huts that made up the guest house. Every morning we had pancakes and the guest house owner would ask what we wanted for dinner before climbing into his boat to buy it/catch it whatever.
    This was the most magical place I’ve ever been. You’ve brought it all back to me today. So thank you. Thank You So much 🙂 x

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 13/05/2010 at 9:54 am #

      Our bathroom was a little hut up the hill, with a giant iguana in the loo. I don’t think I did much showering.

  12. Paula 13/05/2010 at 9:08 am #

    Seems so strange to think we might have been there at similar times. I ‘lived’ there for nearly 3 months, interrupted by a visa dash to Singapore. It’s a wonderful place. Worked out that we were on opposite sides of the island – I was mainly on the side that faced Perhentian Besar. Truly one of the best times of my travels. Thanks for the memory jog…beautiful post xx

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 13/05/2010 at 9:54 am #

      As the title of my blog says, it’s a small world…

  13. Plan B 14/05/2010 at 2:26 pm #

    What beautiful pictures. You have totally taken me out of my surroundings and put me on that beach. Thank you!

    ps Like the (not so? Not sure, have been away for a bit) look…

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 14/05/2010 at 2:51 pm #

      Thank you, it’s made me dream of beaches too. And yes, the blog has had a spruce up recently. Glad you like it.

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