WRIT LARGE: Ch 10, Part 3
Dancing in the Clouds
We slow down on the approach to the Plaza Tol Gombak at the base of the mountain. Tuah asks if we are all okay or if anyone would like a bottle of cold water. He passes them around from a cool box stowed beneath a spare seat at the front of the vehicle. “From here on, the views become quite spectacular.”
I feel a surge of excitement through my veins and sit forward in my seat as we eventually pass through the tolls. It is a short distance until we approach the Awana golf course. Tuah indicates the rainforest surrounding the golf course. “It is an extremely difficult course even for experienced players. There is little room for error owing to the surroundings.” He addresses me over his shoulder, “Do you play?”
I tell him that I play a little, but this course appears to be nothing like the courses back home. The IHG guys suggest that they might fit in a round if business allows and that I would be welcome to join them if I am tempted.
Past the golf course, the terrain sloping upwards and the views becoming even more impressive, we approach the Awana Skyway, the glass-bottomed cable cars that the children want me to ride with them. The vehicle pulls over for a few minutes so that we can appreciate the cable cars as they pass overhead, high above the lush vegetation as they make their way towards the resort at the top of the mountain. We are all gazing out of the windows. Even the IHG guys have halted their conversation to peer upwards.
Behind me, the eldest lad says, “They are passing right through the clouds.” He pokes his brother who is still quietly engrossed in the video game he is playing. “Look, it’s the cable cars. We must ride them,” he adds.
“I am coming too,” says Leann.
“Same!” adds Olivia. Her cheeks are pink, and I am not entirely sure the colour is solely down to the champagne.
The road continues to wind and climb ever closer to the top of the mountain. Soon a tall pagoda comes into view standing high above the clouds which is something I would never have imagined possible were I not seeing it with my own eyes.
Leann says to Putera, “Is this the Chin Swee Caves Temple?” When Putera confirms that it is, she asks, “May we stop here for a while? I would love to see the statue of QingShui and the pagoda.”
Putera leans forward and murmurs to Tuah, who rises and approaches the chauffeur. It isn’t long before we are pulling up at the temple, the pagoda rising like a tower block in front of us. We all step out of the shuttle and stretch our legs. Leann is staring up at the pagoda, smiling. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she asks me.
I have to agree. It isn’t only the size of the building that is mesmerising, there is something calming and serene about it, that makes me feel as though I should not be staring quite so openly. We follow other tourists around the temple which, Tuah tells me, is 4,600 feet above sea level. Unexpectedly we come across a Buddha statue that is fifteen metres high. I snap some photos of it, and the walkways carved into the side of the mountain. While Leann goes to view the blessing lamps, I snap some more images of the seven fairy statues and the eight immortals. Situated as it is amongst the clouds, it almost feels like we are flying.
Olivia must feel the same because she holds her hands up to the sky.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she says.
I tell her that if this is the only sight we get to see on the entire trip, I will be happy.
“We’re in the clouds and yet we can still see them in the distance,” she says. “I wish I’d paid more attention to science at school.”
I suggest that she might have been better off paying attention in geography lessons, and she grins.
It is almost a shame to climb back into the Sprinter, but we are only a ten-minute drive from the resort. We are all quiet now, our eyes fixated on the view. When we arrive, we all climb from the vehicle and take in our surroundings. Tuah and Putera buzz around us, excited to be our hosts and proud of their resort.
“This way,” says Tuah. “We have provided our penthouse apartment for your visit.”
Olivia is grinning as she grabs her bag and makes sure the boys have not forgotten anything. We have all slipped into excited holiday-mode, filled with anticipation of the days to follow, and when Tuah shows us into the apartment with its landscaped rooftop gardens and pool, I set down my bag and snap another picture for Ann.
“Time to swim,” says the youngest lad, stripping off his T-shirt and running towards the pool. When he reaches the side, he pinches his nose between his fingers and jumps.
Conked.io - writing breakout novels is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The description of the locations, and especially the temple, really makes me want to visit the place for myself. It sounds like it would be awe-inspiring.
I have enjoyed reading this story and can't wait to read more in the future. I've been to a few of the places mentioned throughout the story, so it is not to relive some of these places with the descriptions. Thank you for allowing us to join you on this writing journey.