Can I ask you a question?
Have you ever been so scared for your life, just absolutely terrified that you’re willing to drop everything and just get out of there? Well, I have. And it wasn’t pretty. So sit back, relax, and let me tell you about the moment in time that I felt complete and utter terror, all while I was on vacation in Langkawi Island. Be warned, though. This is not a happy story (well, not really). It will be long, and it won’t have many pictures because of reasons (I will tell you the reasons in the story, should you choose to continue reading).
So there I was, in the hotel room that I shared with my 2 friends, feeling sad and depressed after the day I had with the refugees (which I will tell you about in the next Langkawi Stories post) when one of them told me that “the van is here. Sylvia (another friend) is waiting for us at the lobby”. ‘What van?’ you might ask. Well, it was the van that would take us on an island hop. We booked a boat the day before to take us around the smaller islands in Langkawi.
I didn’t feel like going, of course. I just wanted to stay in the hotel and be miserable, but they kept telling me “just go! It’ll make you feel better”. “It’ll be fun,” they said, “It’ll take your mind off things.” Finally, I relented. I went to the lobby where my friend was waiting, got in the van with 9 of my friends, and we were on our way! I should’ve known better.
Now, before I continue, I have to tell you that I always, and I mean ALWAYS take my camera with me whenever I go on trips like this. And for this island hop, I thought it would be a good idea to take my books with me to take some photos for bookstagram. So in my bag, I had Passenger (you guys probably already know what happened to this book from my previous Langkawi Story), Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi, and Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch.
Okay, now back to the story.
So we got to the pier, and I felt the wind on my face, the sun was shining, the waves were calming and I thought, “Hey! Let’s take photos here while waiting for them to get the boat ready!”. So I took my camera out of my bag, put the strap around my neck, turned it on, closed my left eye and I looked into the eyepiece. “Wait a minute,” I thought. “Why is it so dark? Did I turn it on?” I then lowered the camera and looked it over. The switch was on the ‘on’ position, so why didn’t it work?
Guess what? I forgot my battery. Amazing, right?
I forgot to put the battery back into the camera after charging it and I didn’t have a spare!
I don’t think ‘upset’ is a strong enough word for how I felt then. I was devastated. Well, first I was dumbfounded, thinking “how did this happen? How could I be so stupid?” Then the grief set in with “how am I supposed to take book photos now? I’m never going to come back to Langkawi and now I won’t even have photos?” I’m not exactly sure whether or not I’m ever going to go there again, but at the time that’s what I thought.
Anyway, we got in the boat and started our (camera-less) journey. I think it took about half an hour to reach our first island, the Dayang Bunting Island, which in English would be Island of the Pregnant Maiden. They call it that because if you tilt your head to the side, the island really looks like a pregnant lady.
We stepped on the island and right off the bat something happened. My friend, Gwen, the one from Mongolia, had a plastic bag in her hand with her swimsuit inside. And out of NOWHERE this monkey just GRABBED it and tried to snatch it away. Gwen screamed but she didn’t let go of the bag. It was just a tiny monkey though so we just laughed it off and kept on walking. I should’ve known something bad would happen here, but I kept going anyway.
There’s a lake on this island. Legend has it this lake is magic, but who knows? If you’re interested in this lake, you can read more about it here. Okay. They said it’s really beautiful there so my friends decided to walk up to that lake and see it for ourselves. Two of our friends decided to stay behind, though, and I understand why. It was supposed to be a 10-minute
walk climb to reach the lake, and even though I was curious to see it, OHMYGODIWASGETTINGTIRED.
Halfway up the stairs, we noticed more monkeys, similar to the one that tried to snatch Gwen’s bag, curiously looking at us. I was feeling uneasy already, I ignored it. Suddenly, the same thing happened again! Another monkey tried to grab Gwen’s bag! And it wasn’t letting go! (wow so many exclamation points) Gwen didn’t let go, though. She just kept screaming and screaming until the monkey left. I actually saw it grab her leg and her skirt, too, but she said she didn’t feel it.
I really thought I was safe, you know. Because Gwen’s bag is just a small plastic bag from a grocery store that just dangles on her hand. My bag was a big beach bag that I had on my shoulder and I kept it close to me, so it wasn’t dangling around. So again, I kept walking. I think you can already see where this is going, but I’m gonna tell you anyway.
I’d been keeping my eye on this HUUUUGE monkey that was sitting right outside the ‘fence’ that separated the path and the jungle/forest/thing, and call it instinct or a quick reaction, but let me tell you, I saw that monkey coming for me. The moment I saw it move, well not really move. I SWEAR that that monkey sprinted towards me and my bag. Anyway, the moment I saw it do that, I turned around and I dropped my bag and everything inside it and I just RAN as fast as I could.
You should know that other than the three books and my camera, my bag also contained my wallet and 2 phones. Did I care? Hell no. I DROPPED that bag like it was hot rocks. The monkey wanted my bag, but I wanted my life. I guess the monkeys thought I had more stuff with me because MORE THAN ONE chased me. Let me show you:
You see that monkey? Isn’t it cute? Just a tiny thing eating some food. Now multiply that by about a million. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but it felt like that many at the time.
In my fear clouded mind, I didn’t hear my friends calling my name. I didn’t even notice if the monkeys were still after me or not. All I knew was that I had to keep running. Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t stop. I’m not even kidding. I didn’t know how to stop. I just kept running and running and finally, I forced myself to a sudden stop.
You know how in books, they sometimes have that phrase “legs turn to jelly”? On that island, at that time, I finally know, I understand on a physical, mental and emotional level what that phrase actually means. Because my legs literally felt like jelly. They couldn’t hold me up, and I just dropped to the ground on my knees and tried to catch my breath.
But I guess the monkeys weren’t done with me. I looked up, and I saw this monkey approaching me, so I immediately got up and started running again. To hell with the stains on my jeans. All I cared about was getting to safety.
Once I got to the bottom, actually, almost to the bottom, I called up to my friends and begged them to get my bag if the monkeys hadn’t carried it away. My friend Sylvia, whom at the time was the person I loved most in the world, tried to get my bag. But this crazy monkey was grabbing the other end! She pulled my bag, and the monkey actually snarled at her! Crazy, right?
Anyway, she somehow managed to get my bag, but the monkeys were still eyeing it. So what she did was, she put my bag inside her shirt and walked down the steps, surrounded by the four friends who remained. Gwen and the friend whose bag contained the swimsuit actually walked on to the lake, leaving the rest of us!
When they reached me at the bottom, we walked on hand in hand, with Sylvia in the middle, protected from all sides. I was so worn out, my hands were cold and clammy, I was sweating all over my body and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more scared in my entire life.
Let’s take a break here. There’s more to the story, but my heartbeat’s getting elevated just thinking about it. So relax, get a glass of water, or a snack or two before you continue reading.
Okay, break’s over.
After the Dayang Bunting Island, we went to 2 more islands. The first was an uninhabited island —not inhabited by humans, actually. Eagles live there. Many, many eagles. We couldn’t get out of the boat because hello… flesh eating birds, but the guide did throw a bucket of chicken parts into the water and one by one, the eagles swooped in and just ate them all up. The smell was awful, but the sight of those eagles was so amazing! I am SO sad that I don’t have any photos of the eagles, but again, camera issues. Sigh.
The last island we went to, I don’t remember the name, but we could get ashore and swim a little and while I didn’t swim, I did make a sand turtle. I could never build a sandcastle because for some reason, the towers always collapse, so I did the next best thing. Sand TURTLE! Anyway, the guide told us to get back to the boat at a certain time because of the low tide, and we did! We got on the boat at the right time, but I guess it was just my luck, we didn’t make it back.
We were so close, I repeat, so close to the pier. It was literally 20 paces away, but our boat was stuck in the mud. Let me show you.
Do you see that? Do you see how close we were to land? You might be saying “but there’s still water there? Why can’t the boat just keep going?” Well, here’s why:
See the mud? Yep. That’s why. After a while, one of my friends started to feel agitated. So he tested the waters. He tried lowering his hand into the mud to see if we could walk on it and get to the pier ourselves. Nope. Didn’t work. His hand just sank into the mud, so he gave up. For a little while, at least.
Next, he actually lowered himself into the mud (holding the steel bars, of course) to see how deep it was. It was pretty deep. He actually sank knee-deep before he pulled himself up. Things were not looking well for us. So, what was left for us to do but wait?
I started digging around in my bag to see what else was in there, and OMG I found a bag of candies! And no! This was NOT why the monkeys chased after me. The candies were wrapped tightly and they didn’t smell like anything. Anyway, I passed around the candies and we just started talking.
Obviously, we recounted the monkey chase from earlier. More than one of my friends mentioned how they couldn’t believe that I could run so fast. One of them said, and I quote “you ran so fast! You reached the bottom in like one second!” and another said, “I think you ran faster than Usain Bolt”. The power of adrenaline, huh? Stuck in that boat, everything felt funny. And Sylvia, with my bag inside her shirt, became a real pregnant maiden on that island. We just laughed and laughed. I actually almost forgot how scared I’d been. But I guess it’s true, some things do get funnier after a while, even if ‘a while’ was only a few hours.
For more than TWO hours we were stuck on that boat. I’d already started singing after about the first hour. The first song was ‘Somewhere Beyond the Sea’ because no words could be more perfect for our situation. “No more sailing”, definitely. For now, at least. A few times we got tricked by the sea, the waves coming in only to go away again, leaving us stranded still. Gwen had already started yelling at Poseidon, first blaming him, then begging him to let us go home. I’d joined in, because, hey? What’s the harm in that?
Finally, finally, after more than two hours, the water level started rising, and the moment the boat started and we slowly but surely moved toward the pier, everyone cheered like we’d won the biggest football match of the century. You have no idea how close I was to kissing the ground when my feet stepped on that concrete pier. It’s definitely a day to remember.
So, silver lining time. I don’t think I’ve mentioned how grateful I am that I forgot my camera battery, because if I had that camera dangling around my neck? I don’t know what would have happened to me with the monkeys. And being stuck on that boat with my friends? Well, I think that it strengthened our friendship. We bonded, I guess? Haha.
Anyway, it is now
finally the end of the story. If you’ve read this whole thing, thank you so much and I hope you enjoyed the story. Do you have any stories about the most terrifying moment of your life? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to read about how I’m not the only one who’s a scaredy cat 🙂