Pulau Bidan: the free ‘meditation centre’ in the North of Malaysia

I found the project ‘Pulau Bidan’ on the platform ‘Work Away’. Yep, a project, not a meditation centre, but I think this experience is close to the feeling you will get in a meditation centre. When you are travelling you want to do everything as cheap as possible. So I did with this project. It had my attention for a long time (around a year) and I really wanted to do this. I was really excited when I could finally set off.

‘Pulau’ is the Malaysian word for Island, so the project was called ‘Island Bidan’. They told us before the project has started; there haven’t been people for the last twenty years. A Malaysian family started this project. For only 4 RM (which will be used for food they will buy at the mainland for you), you could stay on this island and help this family to keep it clean and make it liveable. You need to know, there is nothing on this island: No Wi-Fi, hot water or vehicles. It is about 1.5 hour by boat from the mainland. You will be surrounded by only water. Half of the island is still jungle, which is not safe to wander around on your own. And trust me, by seeing that part of the island from a distance; you would not even consider going there on your own.

On the other half of the island, we were working with seven people at that moment. We were making a bamboo hut, catching coconuts out of trees (which you don’t have to underestimate), cleaning the area, catching fish and oysters, and, last but not least, making a path for the gees’. Being on this island was so peaceful and quiet. It really did look like paradise. Thinking about everything with a beautiful view to stare at. Not getting disturbed by any Whatsapp messages, Facebook mentions or Insta notifications. No phone calls, no social media and no E-numbers. Back to basics. I couldn’t be any happier.

A random day at the island

The days were wonderful. When you get up, I would recommend a morning swim in the crystal clear sea, where you could see a few fish swimming next to your toes. Is there a nicer way to start your day? We washed our hair or played the game c-o-n-t-a-c-t. After this swim we start working. First we cleaned the island and made it (or at least we tried to) liveable. We were building roofs from plastic bottles that washed up at the beach. So it is like two birds with one stone, cleaning the area and making a roof. We did this the whole morning, every day. When the afternoon started, it was too hot to work. This was, for me, the meditation bit. We wrote, thought, discussed things, shared personal stories and took a nap. The real world was so far away. It felt like it did not exist anymore and we were the only survivors who got stuck on the tiny little bit ground that was left. In the evening somebody would start cooking, while the other finished the work. Everybody would do a different task until food is finished. I used to continue with the plastic bottles, but washing clothes, making the path, and keeping on cleaning were also tasks.

When dinner was ready we would eat it on the floor. Once we joined a barbecue with a local group of men who came fishing for the weekend. We had a shot of Kratom Which is a drink from a plant, natural based, but you will get high from it, so don’t take too much at once. Oh, and one tip: ALWAYS wear your flip-flops. I killed a snake by accident because I stood on his head. It was a poisonous one so I was happy (like super happy) that I was wearing my flip-flops, even if it is nice to walk on your bare feet, just don’t do it when it is dark.

What this island did to me

For the people who know me, they know my mind is like a heart machine. Like what you see in movies when somebody who is in a coma has his last heart beats before he is going to die. My mind is exactly like that. Always a surprise and it changes every day. ‘Nothing is changing as often as Senna and the weather’ is my mums favourite saying. So, normally I love to meditate the same as doing yoga. It makes me relax and it gives me the feeling I have got everything under control for a bit. But on this island, I did not need a reminder to meditate. It happened by accident. Suddenly I knew what I wanted and how to reach that, I knew what I felt and why. I saw my life from a distance, and for the first time I became really proud of myself.

All I want to say is: don’t pay a lot of money for a ‘decent’ mediation centre to ‘find yourself’. It can be easier. You have to do it by yourself anyway. Getting out of the WI-FI, daily people, the mainland and your comfort zone can be enough to reach this. Those projects are easy to find on platforms, which are offering volunteering jobs. Do you want to know more about this project? Or do you have the same experience with another project? I would like to hear from you.

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