‘Therapy’ is a beach life, working at a resort in Pulau Perhentian

So, it’s been a little more than two months of my three-month work stint at a beach resort in Pulau Perhentian, and I can safely say that life back in the city will be different after this.

Late last year, I made a vague plan to get away, to do something that was out of the norm for me.

Something just for me. To detach for a little while and breathe.

It was an idea I had tossed around for quite some time before taking the leap.

The hesitation was that I would be leaving mum at home alone for a few months. The amount of mischief that she would be up to… oh boy!

Also, the people she would persuade to do errands for her … I am sorry, but she will call you all the time when she knows you can get her orders right. So, be warned.

But it won’t be all bad. Mum will also reward you with great food when she is happy with you. It’s a win-win situation.

It all started when Nico, who owns and operates a small boutique resort called Beach Box, buzzed me and asked me to head over to help out, since I was looking for a respite from the Covid-19 madness. I thought he was kidding.

Apparently, he was not. Five months later, I was about 550km away from home, on an island, with two bags and no cell service because Maxis sucks here. Oh well!

The boat ride was not fun, mainly because I am a scaredy-cat and do not like not having dry land under my feet. But I’m glad to say I survived the journey.

After the first couple of days, which felt like a week, I realised that the days here felt longer, yet shorter, at the same time.

It is quite an unusual feeling to be so busy, yet I am calm, while doing more heavy lifting than I am used to at events.

The work here is mainly physical, but the satisfaction at the end of the day, when you see how happy the guests are, is instant and gratifying. It also helps that the views are amazing!

The sunsets, the calm turquoise waters, and the sounds of the crashing waves, help to lull me to sleep every time I sit outside to do some work. That is why it has taken me so long to write this article.

Beach life really is quite relaxing, despite it being hard. Everything has to be transported, hauled onto the premises, and packed away. Because of that, a massive pantry is a must.

Oh, and ice cubes. Ice cubes here can be an absolute necessity, especially on hot days.

The owners thought ahead and invested in an ice maker. Some nearby restaurants buy ice from us.

Power is another issue. Everyone still relies on generators. Some have installed solar power panels to help, but they can only do so much. Therefore, owning generators is a must.

That means backbreaking work transporting fuel to the island regularly. And yes, we have to do that ourselves.

I’m a wuss. I can only carry two before I get winded and leave the rest of it for the boys. I’ll help with the laundry.

That is another big one. It has to be done on the mainland if you do not have your own facilities.

Being a small resort may be less burdensome, but it’s still a lot of sheets and towels to get through.

In any case, the job has its perks. I met tonnes of fascinating people. Most of them are chatty as they are more chilled out when they get here.

Well, those that don’t get sick on stormy days after the 45-minute ferry ride from Besut, anyway.

The people who work here tend to be all-rounders as we are short-handed. In fact, the whole island is after the pandemic, with past workers all leaving the island in search of work back on the mainland during the Movement Control Order.

Trying to get staff is not easy. So, if you want to experience work on an island, do try it. It is an experience you will never forget. You might even enjoy it.

I do, however, have one big gripe about working here.

The lizards are super fat, and the biawak and other similarly yucky creatures are a-plenty here.

Those who know me know how much I detest those creepy things with a vengeance. They are yuck and yucky! And no, they are not cute!

So, after two months, was it everything I imagined it to be?

Aside from the exhausting fasting month and having to spend Raya away from mum and my family, it has been quite an enjoyable experience.

In a way, it was more and less what I thought it would be.

More eye-opening, tiring, rewarding, relaxing, calming, and just more. It was less stressful than I imagined, and it helped to centre me.

It helped me to be happy again. To live in the moment and enjoy the fleeting company of the people that come and go.

Being here has taught me that life and its troubles are much like the guests at Beach Box.

They come, leave an impression – good or bad – and then, leave again. While some may postpone or cancel or have some last-minute changes, what is certain is that their time is fleeting.

Each experience and occurrence will leave an imprint on your life. It could be lasting or fleeting.

Since receiving huge news six years ago, I have worn a silver bracelet with the words “Everything happens for a reason”.

Taking stock of all that has happened in the past year, I found what I hoped to discover when I came here to work.

The air and the constant lapping of the waves and the people helped me get out of my funk.

I’m a bit reluctant to leave, yet, I’m excited to see how I will be when I get back to reality. Because to me, this has been quite the dream.

The guests that come to Beach Box have the mindset of just wanting to get away, and the laid-back feeling everyone exudes helps to recharge my energy.

I have always been a little high-strung, tightly wound, and easily angered.

Here, it takes a fair bit more to get me riled up. I am able to keep my temper at bay, although I very nearly did snap at a guest who was being a little too demanding.

The owners of this place are teaching me patience with their people’s skills. Something I seriously lack and strive to learn.

I realise that while here, I lose all sense of time. Hours feel like days. Days feel like mere hours. I forget the days and only notice dates and times based on arrivals and departures — arrivals of strangers with names on booking forms, to the departure of friends who share many memories.

The people here are welcoming, and their cordiality has rubbed off on me, and I hope to remain in this blissful calm state for a long time.

Who knows? If I get bored of Kuala Lumpur, I might just come back here and do this again.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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