The un-date

I am in SE Asia this week, having spoken to a conference in Jakarta earlier and am now in Penang, Malaysia, where I did a presentation Friday. I connected with a friend of a friend who offered to show me the island of Penang on Saturday. She had a conflict at the last minute and coerced a friend of hers, Martin, to play tour guide.

Martin is a pleasant-looking, Chinese Malaysian, midlife, single businessman who proved to be a charming host, taking me to historical sites and along the coastal highway half way around the island (about an hour’s drive). His English is excellent, and he patiently answered my questions about local history, culture, current events, geography and politics. We visited mosques, temples and museums where he added his insights to the displays.

At dinner time, he asked if I’d like to go to a close-by resort island, Pulau Jerejak, for dinner. Sounds good to me! We took a short boat ride across the channel to the small island. Dinner was fabulous — one of the two best I’ve had on this trip. We had good conversation and laughter throughout the 3-hour meal.

Why so long? Because the boat didn’t run frequently, so we had limited choices for a return. But we were enjoying ourselves, talking and laughing and eating our way slowly through Malay, Indian, Chinese and Western buffet items.

As the sun set, we could see the lights twinkling on the mainland, and the resort’s light-wrapped palm trees illuminated to mark paths to the beach. After dinner we strolled along the water taking in the sights.

It was such a romantic setting. The only problem was I wasn’t with my sweetie. And while this was not set up as a date, if two people had a modicum of attraction, it would be easy for the romantic setting to ignite some budding fire. However, although Martin was a nice man, even if I was not seeing someone exclusively he would not be my cup of tea. And I’m doubtful I was his either.

So I enjoyed his company, but still longed for my beau. Sometimes it’s not “love the one you’re with.”

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