Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mad Hatters Club

Dear Friends,

Recently, I was appointed 'G.O' (Gullible Organizer) for the annual Management retreat. The comments that came across my desk then were; "Why not Ho Chi Minh City?", "What Club Med?", "Travelling to Cherating just for a night?". The initial plans of flying to Ho Chi Minh City and crawling into the Cu Chi tunnel sounded much more exciting but Murphy's Law came a striking. Final destination; Club Med, Cherating - Kuantan, Malaysia. A convoy of six cars with 23 hardworking or hardly working executives made our way along the East Coast Highway to this secluded village. A tiny 'Club Med' sign at a turn off hardly visible along the way to Kemaman- Terengganu, led us to this tropical resort after a three and a half hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. We further travelled along some mangroves before reaching the gates of this paradise.

Upon arrival, we were met by a 'GO' called Angie who is Malaysian. The acronym stands for 'Gentils Organisateurs' a French term similar to the likes of guest officers. Their main tasks are to ensure that all 'GM's also known as 'Gentils Membres' or guest members (which are us) are taken care of with the best possible stays. The special feature of Club Med is that the GOs and GMs play, dine, drink, and dance together anytime of the day. Along the lines of a communal party, if you like.

A particular institution is the communal dance or crazy signs led by the GOs at varying intervals during the day and evening (the frequency varies by village). The dance steps for each song are standard across the organisation with some new ones introduced each year. The evening shows,often requiring detailed choreography, are also standardised and include both new and established routines. GOs are moved between villages and many work both winter and summer seasons. All GOs, regardless of their specialism (a sport or administrative function), are expected to regularly participate in both the show and "crazy signs".

The Club Med concept offers an all inclusive package which means that you do not need to spend a cent around the village. Meals, booze which are mainly house pouring, (they differentiate this with a colour coding on the menus) activities and entertainment are all for you to enjoy 'with compliments'. The only setback with this resort in Cherating is that there are no facilities for water sports.Pic: The 'Island'

I feasted from their lavish buffets for dinner, breakfast and lunch and I must commend the quality of food and the layout of their restaurants. I could have played volleyball, tennis, do some rock climbing or for the matter bungee bouncing. But I guess it was all too much after the long drive, coupled with the fact that we were only going to be there for a night. The boys hung around 'the island' social interacting with Mai Tai, Bucks Fizz, Blue China and of course the pretty GOs, Aya and Romi both from Japan and Korea. They were shy but friendly and kept the boys amused with their pleasantries.

Pic: GO - Aya from Japan and GO - Romi from Korea
It has always been stigmatized that Club Med has its reputation to be a swinging singles getaway. Seen for so long for its wild parties, 'friendly' GMs looking for an 'adventure'; it was clearly not seen at this village. I found a lot of wholesome family fun here with many young ones running around. If you are planning to get hitched, think again. You will probably go home disappointed. In short, there is far more appeal for families compared to single desperadoes.

Pic: Hello, I am Hunk. Wanna hitch?

I don't know if everyone in my group enjoyed themselves. If you are there just for the relaxation and tranquility, you may not have come to the right place. If you are there to catch the nightly entertainment by the GOs, you are in for a treat. If you are there to 'score' or to get hitched, you may have to inflate the condom you brought and float it into the sea.

This is the first time in my many times of organising an outing, that people in the group were looking forward to going home. It could be the long journey by surface, it could be the short one night stay, it could be the different likes and dislikes or some the frustration of bringing the entire unopened box of contraceptives home.

As for me, I was glad that it was just a night. I couldn't have survived the second night. Most satisfying was that I held a table tennis bat after a lapse of 25 years. And I scored five times on that table.

A different kind of 'orgasm' I must say.

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