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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

16 January 2011

Man-made disaster

14th January 2011

And since I’m the man of the outfit, we can probably guess whose fault it was. Anyway…

So we decided on a crushingly early start to the day, to go back to the Penang NP for more otter watching. That meant up and out by 6:15AM in the dark, collecting breakfast on the way – nasi lemak, a wrapped-up pyramid of rice and spicy fish – and then stopping at an isolated spot overlooking the sea on the twisty north coast road to eat our breakfast while the sun comes up. All according to plan so far.

Then nothing happened when I turned the key in the ignition. Disaster!

Now, before you pour curses and derision on our stinking junk-heap of a rental car I will confess. I had left the blasted headlights on, and ten minutes was enough to kill the battery dead. Journeys started before dawn but ending after dawn are presumably the reason why all modern cars wail at you if you try and leave them with the lights still on.

And so with nothing around us at 7:45AM but the sound of the surf and the occasional passing motorbike, we had to begin walking along the coast to the nearest village. We passed a towering white edifice of a hotel, completely abandoned with black algae starting to crust the walls and foliage rife in the parking lot. Eventually we reached the edge of a village and told some likely fruit sellers about our flat battery. They recommended a new battery. We explained it was a crappy rental car, so we didn’t want to buy a battery. “Oh, that is quite true. That is very true indeed.” There was some animated discussion and one of them was championed as possessor of both car and jump leads. Into his car we hopped, along with an accomplice, and drove back to the lifeless hulk.

They found the tiny battered car to be somewhere between amusing and mildly offensive. The accomplice was apparently brought along for his mechanical skills, as he poked around the engine and tutted while our saviour got on with attaching jump leads. Having killed it in the first place, I was not deemed competent to start the engine, so accomplice also took on this role. When the car roared into life and then settled down to its usual fitful shuddering there were smiles all round, and I paid twice what they asked for the favour because we were truly grateful.

It was past 9AM now and the sun was having a merry time in a cloudless sky, but despite the stinking heat and the fact that we’d missed the golden wildlife-watching hour after dawn there was no way we’d abandon our walk after that little fiasco. Forty minutes uphill, forty minutes downhill, and of course this time there were no obliging otters. Typical.


2 Responses to “Man-made disaster”

  1. Dave says:

    Hmm are you sure you’d left the lights on and it wasn’t Maureen up to her usual tricks, she’s done it with car keys before so who’s to rule out spark plugs??

    • shortclaws says:

      You have an amazing memory. More probably you just listen better than I do – I almost never remember the stories people tell me, at least until they tell them again.

      But on this occasion I believe Maureen’s level of miffed was quite genuine.

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