Turtle Beach
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Turtle Beach, Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia.
My charged childhood memories of summer days spent fishing, swimming and exploring the backcountry of central Ontario are a far cry from the wild tropical jungles and lavish sandscapes of Malaysia’s island paradises, places where angel fish tango undersea, sharks and rays rub shoulders with astounded divers and the tangled web of seemingly unending jungle demands exploration. Differences abound half a world away, yet there is something about these islands, these wild natural playgrounds, that remind me of home. Perhaps this is because I don’t do the beach the same way most people do. I never did. I’m more Jack Sparrow than I am Jimmy Buffett; I’ll take a swashbuckling adventure over a piña colada any day of the week. When I was five years old my mother took me on my first trip to the beach. An older boy bet me I couldn’t dig a hole in the sand clean through to China. I didn’t quite make it, but I knew one day I would show that boy Pangkor Island, the forgotten underling of posh Penang, has the power to set free any inner child yearning for adventure. It all starts with the ferry from the mainland; studying my map by what light does stream through the grimy port window I can’t help but feel a little like an 18th century navigator, a commander of the high seas. The sluggish ship, surely at one time a tin transport, chugs along at a knot or two. The wooden seats are cracked and stained with salt and saturated with shellfish stink. All I can say is that it feels like paradise
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