Take a dip, go for a swimJuly 29, 2016

The best thing about being far away from home was to meet travellers of my age. Nothing like a good round of banter over a beer. It would lead to a lengthy trash talking, which could be entertaining. As long as we don't run out of beer. It happened that Tanjung Bungah was becoming a bit too hot, and it would be wise to take a dip in a pool.

Kyle seemed to be an unusual bloke. He had been on the road for the past six months. He planned to go to Oz to look for a job, as he wasn't keen to go home. He was a native of Fairfield, California. He wasn't proud to be an American. And he was a huge fan of Jack Kerouac. I read a few books by Kerouac, having studied literature not long ago. I couldn't imagine a leading figure of the Beatnik generation turning into a digital nomad. There wouldn't be any romance in becoming a fuddled backpacker during a full moon party. Then again, the author of "On the Road" might be tempted to sleep in a comfy bed.

Kyle was an active swimmer during his school days. He was also an avid fan of the sport. He insisted that Michael Phelps would leave Rio de Janeiro with five gold medals. I don't follow swimming competitions that much, but I knew the sport. As a matter of fact, I would like Australia's chances in Rio. As far as the medal tally is concerned, the Aussie swimmers could finish a close second behind the Americans. My fingers were crossed that it would be first place. I flashed my wry smile.

Looking for the big thing

It was past five in the afternoon. We reckoned that the sightseeing could wait for another day. Besides, we weren't ready to leave the pool. Kyle and I agreed that the women's races would be hard to predict. The media loved big headlines, and the American coaches saw Katy Ledecky's potential. No other swimmer could challenge her in the freestyle races, not even the 200 metres. I would love to see the Australian ladies beating the American belles in the 800-metre freestyle relay, and it could happen when Ledecky had an off day. But she seemed to be on fire. Kyle was hoping that a miracle would happen in the shorter events. I was about to laugh. The Bronte sisters are untouchable, and not even Missy Franklin could come close to the siblings. Emily Seebohm would be the leading swimmer in the backstroke events.

Kyle might be referring the 400-metre freestyle relay. Australia won the gold in the worlds last year, and they would be the favourites in Rio. What if the American coaches would include Ledecky in the US team? It might happen. It could make the race more exciting. I'm still counting on my home team, though.

A blond lad overheard our conversation. Nils was a native of Uppsala. He had been away from home for more than a month. And he was a huge golf fan. I could only think of the top PGA golfers overreacting to the Zika virus. It wouldn't surprise me if they won't have second thoughts about competing in Tokyo (four years from now). Kyle wanted to set foot in Uppsala after looking at the colourful houses in Instagram. Nils was pleased about it. Dusk was about to set in. Nils asked us if we were done with a culinary tour of Georgetown. Not yet.

I came to Penang for a different reason. The island had a storied past, and it was a flight away from home. But I was a child of the sea. When I had enough of salty water, I found myself in a pool. It was still humid.

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