Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Din at Perhentian

On a trip to Perhentian once, it was raining upon our arrival. The rain was not heavy, but it sure killed whatever we had planned for the afternoon. With nothing else to do, I sat at the restaurant nursing a cold drink.

Overlooking the shore, another speedboat pulled up. A lone passenger; a Malay chap with long jeans, white sneakers, and he had with him two pieces of luggage; a duffel and a backpack.

I watched in amusement as he tried to exit the boat, and wondered if he was attempting this without getting his shoes or jeans wet. The resort staff came out with a plastic chair, placed this next to the boat for him to step onto. When he got onto the chair and was preparing to jump straight onto the beach... he lost his balance!

From where I was seated, it was sure one helluva funny sight! Splash into the water he went, soaking from head to toe. Whatever he carried in his bag, they were probably all wet. I thought about him having to dry his clothes in this horrid weather.

During dinner, seated by himself, he was busy dismantling his mobile phone. He removed the SIM card, re-inserted it, and was probably saying a silent prayer for the deceased.

I said hello and joined him at his table. We exchanged pleasantries (let's call him Din), and I asked about his phone. Din volunteered information about how he fell into the water upon arrival earlier this afternoon. I nodded and cooed words of sympathy, without acknowledging that I actually witnessed his grand fall.

Upon chatting further, I found out that Din is a Pegawai Penyelidik (Research Officer) with the Lembaga Penggalakan Pelancongan Malaysia (Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board), under the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia.

"Research?" I asked him.

"About tourist arrivals and trends," said Din. "The Ministry of Tourism wants to find out how effective the Zoom campaign has been in attracting both local and international tourists, so they send research officers to various holiday destinations around Malaysia".

Wow, I thought. I'd like a job like that!

So I confirmed with him further. "You mean, you just lepak here for 10 days, going from resort to resort chatting up tourists and getting them to fill up a form? And meals and accommodation are all provided for by your employer?"

Affirmative he says.

One night, I was having a beer at the restaurant, and Din joined me.

"Tried to sleep, cannot lah!" he said.

I offered to buy him a beer but he declined and ordered a Coke instead. It was our second night there. Din told me that he was bored, and that he hated the fact that there was no TV at this resort.

"Boring lahhh!" he whined again.

I'm thinking - who needs TV when at the beach? Who says there's nothing to do? Snorkelling! Swimming! Sun bathing! Go get yourself an Open Water Diver certification since you're gonna be here for 10 days!

Din says he doesn't mind doing it for a night or two, but definitely not 10 days by himself.

During the course of my stay at the resort, I saw plenty of Din. Sometimes he'd take a boat out to Perhentian Besar. Other times he'd be trekking along Kecil, going from resort to resort. I even completed one of his forms as a domestic tourist. Straightforward form it was, one sheet, front and back.

On my last night there (the fourth), we were again chatting at the restaurant after dinner. He told me he cannot take it anymore, and that he was going out of his mind. He felt trapped on the island. Mind you, it was not because he didn't have his mobile phone. One of the staff at the resort had loaned him a phone.

I couldn't sympathize. Cos I cannot relate.

Oh, there really isn't a point of this story. I just felt like narrating it, since it is afterall tax season.

Why can't the Ministry print those forms, leave it at the resort and have operators get their guests to complete it upon checking out?

Posted by Doreen at 3:14 pm