Our trip began early on Sunday morning, as we were instructed to check in at the Subang Airport by 7:10, ninty minutes before our scheduled departure.  Unsure of reliability of cabs and distances to the airport, we arrived at 6:50, to a totally empty airport with no sign of an airplane; but the doors were open and we managed to locate the Berjaya Check-in counter.  I think it was close to 8:00 before staff started to arrive and our luggage was weighed and x-rayed, both of which seemed to be totally unmonitored.

 Right on schedule, a Dash -7 plane arrived and the 20 or so people gathered, boarded, assisted by the same people who had issued our boarding passes and x-rayed the luggage.  Take-off was a little shaky and as we climbed, the cabin vents began to emit what looked suspiciously like smoke.  Apparently there are pressurization issues and this was simply condensation from the air-conditioning, much to our relief.

The flight was a short, one hour hop to the island with a very rough landing on a short airstrip on Redang Island.  We were met by a hotel bus which took us to the Berjaya Redang Beach Resort, one of only three resorts on the island, about five minutes down the road.  We were welcomed with a drink of something that tasted very unusual and even the staff’s explanation of it didn’t make us any the wiser.  It might have been fruit juice.

For some reason that we don’t understand, it is “off season” in Malaysia so there were less than 100 people at the resort.  The hotel was a beautiful, open air design nestled on the hill surrounding the most amazing beach and the blue waters of the South China Sea.  We all decided that it was this island that is used for photographs on all the postcards and travel advertisements that make you long to visit a south sea island.

We spent long hours reading on the beach, punctuated by little naps, examining the tidal pools, and snorkelling amongst the coral along the shoreline.  We spent a morning snorkeling at Marine Park and another on a four stop trip that circled the island.  We came to the conclusion that the producers of “Finding Nemo”, had spent time snorkeling before making the movie.  It is indescribable what it feels like to swim surrounded by hundreds of fish of all colours, shapes and sizes, that are feeding on coral that is in itself breathtakingly beautiful.  It did at times feel like you were in a scene where you might just find Nemo.

 We finished each day with our friends over a leisurely meal in the Palm Court restaurant serenaded by the d’Island quartet, who had just an amazing repetiore of all our favourite songs from years gone by, each of which set Bill and Steve off on great discussions of the original artists and their history.

 The week really was a trip of a life time and extra fun because it was ridiculouly inexpensive.