Friday, November 04, 2016
Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
I've finally got around to having a go at typing this entry....even this first sentence is painful as my laptop is knocking at deaths door. It's splitting in two at the back for a start. Half the keys don't work and using the on screen keyboard is as grim as the time I had to book my Stone Roses Heaton park tickets on my PS3 as both my laptop and mobile were broken.....sloooowwww. But I'll battle on the best I can.

So how long as it even been now since my last entry? 6 weeks maybe? It feels a lot longer and feels like so much has happened in that time . 10 days ago was our last full working day at the LASSie animal shelter, 8 1/2 weeks after we first arrived here. It's been a blurry couple of months for sure. Working at the shelter is great. It's very rewarding seeing the difference you make to the cats and dogs daily lives when you are there for a prolonged period of time and it doesn't sound like hard work when you tell people that your spending your time walking dogs and playing with cats 8 hours a day but it takes it's toll after a while and there are lows as well as the highs. When you get in from work on a night having sweated in 30+ temperatures all day, covered in dust, hair and dog piss and you have also maybe held young tiny kittens still while they are getting put to sleep as they are ill and have no chance of survival. Or maybe it's been a day when you have had to carry a bag full of 9 dead puppies to their grave as they have been put down as nobody will adopt on a predominantly Muslim island. It's been tough for sure. Also when you stay on site at the resort in your over heated greenhouse of a room as you don't want to go out and spend money it can get pretty boring . So we did what most other Northeners would do on a duty free island we drank....and drank.....and drank. We have drank far too much even by our usual standards. At a rough guess I would say we have gone through around 40 litres of spirits, dozens of bottles of wine and hundreds of beers in just 9 weeks. Horrible really when I think about it but it's certainly kept us sane in what has been a completely different experience to our other previous trips to Langkawi.

For a start the shelter has changed so much. When we were here back in May and June I wanted to say a lot more about the place on my blog entries but I held back as I knew we would probably be coming back again before the end of this trip. I didn't want to upset anyone connected to the shelter as I have a lot of friends here now who have access to my blog via facebook. This time though I simply don't care anymore so I'll say it how it is.

The shelter has gone massively downhill from the place it was a few years ago . The 3 Bangla lads who work here now are a disgrace compared to Tul and Dipin the 2 Nepalese lads who were here before them. Tul and Dipin genuinely cared about the dogs. They loved them. Any time those 2 boys walked into the shelter all the dogs would run up to them tails wagging away franticaly. Any of the current 3 boys walk in now and the dogs run away, hide or cower in a corner. You can tell they have been abusive to the dogs and it's horrible to see. I've seen them raise chairs above their heads to intimidate the dogs. Witnessed them soaking cats with a hosepipe just for the 'fun' of it. Dragging dogs around on walks when the dog does clearly not want to go with them. Raising their hands on a regular basis to the dogs and on one occasion even a knife. I could go on and on. The final straw came a few days ago when despite having left the shelter to go and stay with a friend for a weeks R&R we popped in to discover that one of the boys had beaten a dog so badly it could not walk with a suspected broken leg . Disgusting. Gabby one of the other long term volunteers here who is very comitted had seen it happen and was in tears. She challenged the boy herself when we were there, speaking in Malay which I don't understand and I felt helpless as I watched from the sidelines.

It's left a very sour taste in the mouth leaving this time and as much as I would love to come back again and help in the future, I wont until all 3 of those boys have been sacked and are no longer able to harm the dogs. I hope the shelter improves for the better in the near future and hopefully and thankfully I have heard that the boys will be replaced as quickly as possible. If you are ever in Langkawi please, please call into the shelter and help walk the dogs and show them some love. They are such friendly and good natured dogs for living in a shelter and they need as much care and attention as possible.

So not the best experience at the shelter this time but it hasn't all been doom and gloom . There have been some happy success stories there amongst it all. We managed to save two puppies from being put to sleep and found permanent homes for them. The first we named as Smudge, a gorgeous little black pup that was so small Dani had to hand feed him milk with a syrynge and he couldn't fully support himself on all 4 legs. After a few false hopes we finally found him a loving owner on the island. Fasier an English ex-pat who works at the resort saw him and fell in love straight away. A great result.

Only a few days later another very familiar looking female puppy was dropped at the shelter. This one looked so like Smudge that we had to do a double take. She was clearly Smudges sister from the same litter and despite having a broken front leg she was full of life and energy. So it was time again to try and find a permanent home. With time running out we were contacted by Marcus a guy living close by on the mainland. She was scheduled to be put to sleep but thankfully we got her a stay of execution until Marcus could make his way over and save her from her doom . A week before he arrived we met up with Fasier and Smudge to re-unite the two siblings briefly which was so nice. To see the two of them runninhg and playing together was very touching.

We have also had some great times and some great laughs away from the shelter and met so many nice people that have shown us amazing hospitality and warmth this time. I can't thank Lisa and Dicky an English ex-pat couple living here enough for all the help and hospitality they have provided. Such nice down to Earth people who have shown us another side to Asian and island life that we haven't experienced before.....ex-pat life. All credit for the title of this entry goes to Lisa and at times it really does feel like being on the set of a bizzare island soap opera. I wont go in to too many details but once you really get under the skin of a place and amongst the ex-pat community there is a surprising amount of surprising things going on on a daily basis. The gossip and stories are unavoidable and they certainly open your eyes and give you a laugh . I'm sure we will meet up with them both again at some point in the future.

Thinking about it now there are probably far too many people I need to mention and give credit to for making the past 10 weeks so memorable. Gabby, a Swiss lady living in Malaysia with her wheelchair bound flying machine of a dog Vito has been a great source of calm amongst the crazy antics of the shelter. She is still there with the dogs now soldiering on through it all and giving her heart and soul to providing the dogs with love and attention. Daniel another British ex-pat who has recently opened a new bar in Cenang has provided us with plenty of laughs as well as plenty of beers and drinks. If your ever here get along to Bam-Boo-Ba for a great atmosphere and some good old school house music. Frankie at Lepak is a great character to look up if your in town for a few beers at his great little hidden away bar.

I could keep going on really with the myriad of people who have gone out of their way to make our stay a comfortable and memorable one....but then I run the risk of missing folks out as well as boring my casual readers. If your reading this and I met you in Langkawi over the past 10 weeks then you know who you are the great times we have shared together. Thankyou all very very much....I will see you all again at some point I'm sure.

So what next then? Well originally we were destined to head to the Philippenes. But a dwindeling budget won't allow that. So we are sat here in KL airport yet again. Headed to the land of volcanoes, jungles and wildlife....Sumatra. Another new place to check out let's see what the next few weeks bring.

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