The Star Malaysia - Star2
Ah, those Pulau Redang days!
I AM certain that all of us are longing for those pre-pandemic travel days. The days when there were no restrictions on movements. We could decide where and when to holiday without limitations other than personal or financial reasons.
Alas, those days are truly behind us thanks to Covid-19. The reality is that we are currently limited in our movements. But this does not mean that we cannot remember and appreciate the good times back then, and I’d like to share some of my memories of those times while we wait for more travel bubble arrangements.
My family and I enjoy the outdoors, especially in a place with sun-soaked beaches and blue skies. A prime example of this is Pulau Redang. It is located in the waters off the coast of my home state of Terengganu on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is approximately a five-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur to the Merang Jetty via the East Coast Expressway, and then about an hour by boat to the island.
Pulau Redang is famous for its crystal blue waters and sandy white beaches. It is also home to a world- renowned marine park that allows great snorkelling and diving.
Ironically, I only started to appreciate Terengganu’s beauty when I reached my mid 30s. I had largely ignored the state’s long sandy beaches, its tropical islands and ancient rainforest jungle until then.
I grew up in a house near a beach in Kampung Geliga, Kemaman. But I rarely swam in the sea or appreciated the beach. There were also many school excursions to nearby islands and jungle hikes which I totally ignored. My childhood aim was to do well in school and to leave my village and live in a big city like KL. I achieved this aim and am grateful to the Almighty.
As my children grew older, though, they became restless and were eager to venture beyond KL’S skyline. In other words, I was happily coerced into taking them on holidays involving sun, sea and jungle.
We travelled locally and regionally but our hearts always led us back to Pulau Redang.
Upon reaching the island we would immediately charter boats for snorkelling trips around the island. There are many magnificent coral reefs and a variety of marine life in Pulau Redang’s waters.
Those holiday trips bonded us as a family. This bond became extremely important and has been tested many times during this pandemic. Social restrictions, movement limitations and school closures have all created stress among us. However, we have managed to overcome these family tensions by avoiding conflicts and being patient. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “To lose patience is to lose a battle”.
This is a battle that is ongoing and will continue for generations to come. A recent survey published in the journal Nature stated that many virologists and infectious disease experts expect Covid-19 to become an endemic disease within human society – something that Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has also mentioned. This means that the SARS COV2 virus which causes Covid-19 will not be fully eradicated but will instead circulate in pockets of the global population. Similar to the influenza virus, it will continue to cause sickness as well as death but within limits that are manageable by medical services.
However, this does not mean that our current efforts have failed and we should stop vaccination. On the contrary, we should increase our efforts to vaccinate the population, develop antivirals, keep masking in public areas, and improve public hygiene and medical infrastructure. And one day, we’ll be travelling once again even if we have to remain masked and separated physically in public.
DR AZUZAY ZAMANI Ampang, Selangor