Sleeping with rats: An overnight microadventure to the Sisters Islands
For all those men out there who are wishing for more physical contact or intimacy with their wives or partners, I have the solution for you. Take your partner on a microadventure to sleep on a deserted island infested with rats. I did this with my wife and she never strayed more than 0.5m from me the entire evening. Its been years since she paid me this much attention!
Our recent microadventure involved paddling our trusty inflatable sea kayak (affectionately labeled ‘The Divorce Machine’) to the Sisters Islands in Singapore, and spending a night there camping in our tent. The Sisters Islands are actually two tiny islands, around 3.5km off the Southern Coast of Singapore, which form a group known as the ‘Southern Islands’ of Singapore. They are uninhabited by humans, are without power, have a basic toilet facility, a few monkeys, some monitor lizards, a bbq pit, loads of palm trees and as we found out a fair few rats.
I picked Stephanie up from work at 5pm, and we raced into Sentosa Islands Tanjung beach which was our launching point. We arrived at 6pm and were in a race against time to set up the Divorce Machine then paddle out to the Sisters Island’s through the busy shipping channel before darkness fell. We are getting efficient at setting up now after lots of practice and were in the water ready to paddle in only 20 minutes flat. It was a beautiful evening and the stress of a days office work soon melted away as we paddled out off the coast heading for the Sisters island. This really is a beautiful part of Singapore with gorgeous views of the CBD of Singapore, of huge ships moored and some steaming slowly by with their precious cargo, and the Southern Islands themselves. Dodging past a few fast ferries which came roaring past leaving their large wakes, the last 20 minutes paddling was a real struggle as we battled hard against a strong current to reach the Sisters Island just after 7pm.
We quickly set-up the tent, our home for the night. I then started a fire in the bbq pit with a small bag of charcoal we had bought over with us. As darkness fell we both noticed a small furry rodent with a very long tail come scuttling past the bbq pit. “What was that?” Stephanie exclaimed in alarm. After 39 years of living on this planet, experience has taught me that there are certain combinations of things that do not go together at all well. Just like ice cream and beer, ladies and rats are a terrible combination. A combination so bad that it can have severe lasting negative effects for any man who is unfortunate to put the two together.
“Erm…… I think it was a squirrel” I replied in a lame attempt to hide the fact it was a bloody big rat. “A squirrel? Squirrels don’t look like that…. Are you sure?” replied Stephanie very suspiciously. “Yeah I think so….either that or it was a long tailed mouse” I said even more meekly. Suddenly the rat came racing back out underneath the bbq pit right beside us “Oh my god! It’s a rat” Stephanie squealed. “Don’t worry it won’t come anywhere near us, it’s just looking for food scraps”. So set-off a very uneasy silence for the next few minutes as I quietly cooked some noodles and sausages for dinner on the bbq. Stephanie sat on the table with her legs drawn up, anxiously scanning the ground in search of the rat. “Fuckin hell – it’s on the table” she shrieked as she jumped off the table. The jolly rat (lets call him ‘Roger’) had jumped up onto the picnic table beside her in an attempt to share some of the chips Stephanie was nibbling on. Now this was all a bit traumatic for poor Stephanie and I must take my proverbial hat off to her bravery in the face of adversity as she was scared stiff and came and stood beside me for the rest of the evening never venturing more than a footstep away. We finished dinner(I ate all 6 sausages as Stephanie lost her appetite), had a wash-up and were making our way to the tent when we noticed that actually Roger was not alone on the island but had a number of friends running around the picnic area with him also. It was a very relieved Stephanie who made it into the tent and zipped the door tightly shut for the night.
Sleeping in tents in the tropics has never been one of my favorite experiences. If you ever had a few too many beers and fallen asleep in a sauna you will understand the feeling of what its like sleeping in 30+ degrees heat and high humidity. My air mattress which I had last used in a snow cave in an emergency bivvy on Mt Cook in New Zealand in December had also sprung a leak. So it a fairly uncomfortable night sleeping on the ground. Roger and his friends were having a great time outside the tent, squealing and fighting and making all sorts of noises as they clambered in and out of the metal dustbins. Around 5am a strong wind picked up which cooled things down and Roger and his mates finally decided to bugger off to bed. This allowed us a rather nice 2 or 3 hours sleep until morning time.
We rose around 8:30am and slowly packed the gear and paddled off for Sentosa. It was a lovely morning and we had a swift trip home as the current pushed us back over to Sentosa in only 25 minutes. We both came back from our adventure with smiles on our faces, still married and non the worse for wear. It also made us enjoy a hot shower and a nice bed the next evening, those things we often take for granted in normal everyday life. I would go as far as to say it was jolly good fun. Would Stephanie do it again? In her own words “Probably not”. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Next time I would take a hammock however, sling it between the trees and sleep in that as it would me much cooler. I may also bring a cat.
Happy adventuring and see you out there!
This blog is listed under a section on my website called ‘Microadventure’. Microadventures are cheap simple adventures close to home. A chap named Alistair Humphreys coined the phrase ‘microadventure’, you can read about him here. I will continue to add more microadventures to my website to give people idea’s and inspiration to go on your own adventures. If you do go on your own, I would love to hear about them and do drop me a line!