Joss McDonald

Winds are blowing from the north-east today. The small seventy-seater plane sways from side to side as it descends towards the tiny runway. A tarmac so small, I contemplate whether the plane could be whisked right past the end and into the sea that borders it. 

The plane lands safely. 

I unclench my hands from around the armrests, unbuckle my seat belt, and gather my belongings. Outside, an auto-rickshaw awaits to take me to the jetty. Thirty minutes later we arrive, albeit minus an actual jetty —

I follow my driver as we weave past some dogs, through what appears to be somebody’s yard. The dogs bark. They seem worried I’ll be a threat to their loot of garbage strewn around the dirt. 

We arrive at the water’s edge where a longboat is waiting to carry me to my destination. A boy takes my carry-on suitcase. It turns out he will also be the captain. I gingerly climb into the boat. I am his sole passenger. Packed around me is the clean linen we stopped to collect at a laundromat on the way here. 

Thankfully, the tempered wind has lessened. We head across the peninsula. The boat rocks back and forth- the top of the sides almost kissing the water more than once. As we enter the bay, the ocean becomes tranquil. Before me a white beach, dotted with palm trees, glitters in the sun. Secluded behind that is where I’ll be sojourning. 

The journey has taken an hour. When the longboat pulls close to shore, I gather up my skirt, ready to be christened by the shimmering blue sea. Then, stepping onto the beach, the sand molds itself around my feet. It will become my shoes for the next few days.


I arrive at lunchtime. A table is spread with local cuisine. Instead, I’m drawn to the scenery that captivates and encompasses me. I look outwards, peeking through the trees, at my view of sparkling turquoise. Gazing to my left, a longboat sits perfectly framed between two palms. The waves, softly lapping a few meters in front, are hypnotic.

Having only recently recovered from Dengue, travel and the bumpy flight have taken its toll on my body. The serene beauty of this location soothes me though. It is the balm I didn’t know I needed. I could sit here forever in this reverie.

Day turns to evening. On the beach I watch the sunset. The sun burns crimson, it’s reflection seared across the water. A strip of water looks like it could be on fire. -A yellow flame that fans out to orange, fringed with red edges. Slowly, the sun lowers itself behind a mountain. 

Winter monsoon will last another month. The heat of next season hasn’t begun to build yet, so the night air is cool. I put on a jumper to sit in the open-air restaurant. After dinner and wine, I head to bed. The pillows are like cumulus clouds that lull me to sleep.

My alarm chimes to wake for sunrise. I climb out of bed, step out of my room and onto the balcony. Over the bay, the sun is competing with itself, trying to eclipse last evening. A hint of magenta is everywhere I look- the sky, the beach, the ocean. Fishing boats’ motors are humming at shore. The rise of the sun illuminates the oxcart that is arriving to carry away a night’s taking.

Soon the sun is fully up.

I float a few feet back to bed. This 18 degree morning is frigid now that I’ve become climatized to living here in South-East Asia. I swaddle myself in my duvet and reflect on what I have beheld. I smile and I declare sunrise the winner of the two suns. What I have witnessed was not a dream. For I have been blessed to hold court here with both.