Swimming in Kerteh…

…shows the conservativeness in the community. Teenage boys and older swim with wet shirts on, and the ladies have full one-piece swimsuits that covers the thighs and arms.  And majority of them were Chinese. I have no qualms about it, it’s just part of an observation.

It was a long day with a long walk under the hot sun in thick coveralls, and the moment I got back to the hotel, all I wanted was to jump straight into the swimming pool before all the kids join me for their late evening swim. It’s been awhile since I had a good swim, and being able to do a few laps was refreshing instead of tiring.

Then a group of kids came, alongside with their swimming coach, and before I knew it, they were wading and paddling horizontally, vertically and diagonally across the pool, disrupting my momentum. I remember how I would have swimming lessons when I was still in primary school, and I remembered more of the games I played in the water than the lessons I learned. And I think I had my fare share of frustrating some adults who wanted to swim across the long side because I would only swim across the short side, staying at the shallower end.

That memory alone of the vicious cycle of growing up made me smile.

A little girl, probably around 4 years old was trying very hard to wade around in her donut float, laughing and complaining at the same time with her older sister accompanying her. A young boy swam towards her and greeted cheerfully.

“Seow Yee, ni huei yu liao ah? (‘Seow Yee, you can swim already?’)

“Wo huei liao! Chou kai wo yau kuo!” (‘Yes I do! Please move, I’d like to pass!’)

And again, that cute little thing gave her all to move another meter more.

Her sister then started swimming leisurely next to her while holding her float, as if trying to race her. This excited the little girl even more, and she paddled and paddled and laughed and laughed while exclaiming, “Gei wo ying! Gei wo ying!” (‘Let me win, let me win!’) Her older sister pretended to race on but eventually slowed down and panted dramatically as she watched her younger sister beat her by 30 centimeters.

The cute high-pitched laughter continued to fill the air. I caught myself laughing a little too.

It was time to go. As I left the pool to grab my towel, I looked back, and the little girl shyly waved goodbye to me.

There may be less skin showing in Kerteh, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun.

You know, the innocent kind that makes you laugh til your eyes can’t be seen.

 

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