A night with a stranger to find a missing bag

I was 20 years old at the time and it was my first time travelling by myself and my first visit to South East Asia so as you can imagine it was a bit of a culture shock. I was visiting one of my university friends originally from Malaysia and now working in Singapore she'd planned a few days trip for us to a beautiful island off the east coast of Malaysia called Redang island. Unfortunately at the last minute she had to work, so I took my backpack and off I went on an overnight bus to Kuala Terengganu a Muslim town where I would get the boat to the island.

I arrived early the next morning it was still dark but there were lights around the station I patiently waited for all the bags to be unloaded, one by one the bags disappeared and all was left was a scruffy looking holdall nothing like my backpack. I double checked the boot and tried to explain to the bus driver that it was not my bag, but nobody spoke much English, I had no phone and was starting to flip out luckily I had my valuables with me but with no clothes, underwear, toiletries or bikini this island trip was not going to be the heaven I visualised.

I had no idea what to do I paced and cursed for the next 10 minutes or so, I felt quite helpless. A man approached me and asked me to explain what had happened I obviously looked quite distressed his English was quite good and said he could help me find my bag we looked in the bag that had been left and found an address book.

The man introduced himself as Eddy and said his wife was picking him up shortly and I could go back to there place to freshen up before going in search of the bag. A young western girl going with a strange man, no one knew where I was but I had no other option but to trust him. Eddy's wife arrived and took us back to their house, they let me take a shower and gave me a towel to use. I met Eddy's three children who were excited to see there dad and curious about this foreign girl in the house they tried to teach me words from the TV and I helped them build their new toys there father had brought them back.

We dropped off the kids at the mosque then Eddy and I went looking for the bag, first we stopped at a shop to buy a few things and Eddy rang some of the names in the address book. Eventually he got an address where the man living believed to have my bag.

We were heading further out into the country we talked about various subjects one being about 9/11 which had happened only days earlier, Eddy being a Muslim himself explained they were not all like that and most Muslims were very peaceful. We drove on and stopped to ask for directions from an old man he ended up getting in the car with us. I felt a little out of my depth but wanted to get my bag back. We got to the mans house but he wasn't there a neighbour gave us a number for one of his sons, so we headed back into town.

We contacted the son and found out that he did indeed have my bag so we arranged the bag swap, the son arrived on a moped dropped the bag off, I hardly managed to check the bag before he drove off. I checked the bag later and found some underwear, my flippers and my bikini had managed to disappear. Somehow I don't think this was accidental but I got most of my things back so I was happy enough. I had missed the boat to the island so Eddy kindly let me stay with them for the night, we went swimming that evening at a local hotel and his wife gave me a swimming costume to wear. The next morning I was woken by the loud chanting from the mosque we had curry for breakfast and ate it with our fingers thankfully they offered me a fork as I was making a right mess. Later that day I got the boat to the island and eventually found my piece of heaven!

C Godden

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