Lakes of East Asia

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Fred Watson is in a parallel earth where the sea level is 2,000 metres lower. He travels through the seas of East Asia and the lakes of Indonesia from Russia to Indonesia. But will he find love?

Submitted: July 20, 2016

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Submitted: July 20, 2016

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We took the limousine through the Russian town of Onekotan in a parallel world where the sea level was 2,000 metres lower. I worked as a trans-dimensional explorer for a New Zealand company called Columbus Warp.
 
In this world there was a land bridge between Europe and North America and Siberia was attached to Alaska. There were two seas in the Arctic Region: The Canada Sea bordered by Canada, Alaska and Russia; and the Arctic Sea bordered by Russia, Norway, Greenland, Iceland, UK and the Netherlands. The Losomonov Isthmus separated the Arctic Sea from the Canada Sea.
 
There were three lakes in the Caribbean Region: Lake Mexico, Lake Cayman and Lake Venezuela. The four lakes in the Mediterranean Region were Lake Laguria, Lake Tyrhenia, Lake Ionia and the Black Lake. There was no Caspian Sea in this world.
 
The Seychelles was a large island north east of Madagascar. There were the Crozet Islands south of Madagascar, Wallis Islands west of Namibia and Rio Grande Island off the coast of Brazil. Australia and Papua New Guinea were attached to South East Asia by the Indonesian Mountains. The Philippines and Japan were attached to East Asia.
 
New Zealand was separated from Asia and consisted of one large island containing the New Caledonia Mountains and Mount Norfolk on one of its northern arms; the other arm was called Howe Peninsula. There was Chatham Peninsula in the east, the Bounty Gulf between Chatham Peninsula and Antipodes Peninsula and the Campbell plains in the south east. New Zealand also contained the Macquarie Islands.
 
Vanuatu was a large island. The Fijians ruled the western half of Horizon Island while the other half was ruled by the Tonga Kingdom which governed the Kermadec Mountains. Antarctica was the only continent in this world that was entirely surrounded by the sea.
 
There were seas and lakes from North East Asia to the Indonesian Mountains. This is where my story begins.
 
 
***
 
 
Sitting across from me in the back of the limousine was President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation. He was 63 years old with blonde hair surrounding a bald patch, medium build and white t-shirt, jeans and sneakers.
 
Sitting next to me was my local guide, Sarah Johnstone, who worked for this world's version of Sine Cosine Tangent, a company that dealt with extra-dimensional anomalies and UFO's. You could say I was the alien in this world. She had a heavy build with long black wavy hair and wore a red dress and sandals.
 
 
Vladimir looked at me and said "We'll be sailing down the length of Kuril Lake, Fred".
 
"OK," I replied "That sounds fun".
 
Kuril Lake was between the Kuril Mountains in the east, Japan in the south, Sakhalin Mountains in the south west,  Okhotsk Plains in the north west and Kamchatka Mountains in the north. It was separated from the Pacific Ocean by the Kuril Mountains.
 
 
"Here we are" said Vladimir as the limousine pulled to a stop.
 
The chauffeur walked down the side of the limousine and opened up the door. Vladimir stepped out of the limousine followed by me, then Sarah. We followed Vladimir down the jetty which was lined with boats and yachts.
 
"We go in this boat" said Vladimir.
 
We climbed aboard Vladimir's private yacht. He opened up the sails and we headed towards the south west along the east edge of the lake. As we sailed along the length of the lake I looked up at the Kuril Mountains which towered 2,000 metres above sea level. The yacht bobbed up and down in the waves, the seagulls flying above our heads as the sun beamed down on us.
 
"What a glorious day. Isn't it, Freddy?"
 
"Yeah. It's marvelous".
 
"You know. Ireland was once part of the UK. But then the Irish fought back their independence and got their coast back".
 
"You don't say?" The breeze picked up.
 
"When Ireland gained its independence, the British lost their navy ports. The British managed to defeat the Nazi's though. We invaded Germany when they attacked the Soviet Union. Helped the British and French Resistance after the British Empire drove the Italians and Nazis out of Africa".
 
"In my world," I said "Britain had the most powerful navy in the world".
 
"Same here". The Japanese made the mistake of bombing America too. Apparently Russia invaded Japan at the end of the war.
 
"In my world, the Soviets never invaded Japan. The Americans dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese denied their part in the war".
 
Once we reach the south western tip of the Kuril Sea Vladimir pointed out the  Hokkaido Mountains on the horizon behind the hills. He explained that they reached to over 4,000 metres in height. Vladimir steered his yacht towards the port of Monbetsu on the Kurilian shore of Japan. We pulled into the dock. Sarah threw a rope around a wooden post and pulled. Vladimir did the same. We came down the gangplank onto the wooden jetty. A middle-aged Japanese man with a medium build and impeccable black suite waited for us on the jetty.
 
"Naruhito, so nice to see you" said Vladimir. Vladimir and Naruhito hugged for a bit. Then let go.
 
"Haven't seen you for a long time," replied Naruhito. He looked at me and said "You must be the famous Fred Watson from another universe".
 
"That's right," I said. "And this is my guide, Sarah Johnstone".
 
"Konejewa, your Imperial Highness" said Sarah with a bow. I bowed too.
 
"I'm Crown Prince Naruhito of the Japanese Empire. Welcome to my country".
 
"Thanks," I said "It's a beautiful country you have".
 
"Well your highness," said Vladimir "I'll leave Fred in your hands. I better get back to the Kremlin".
 
"See you next time". Vladimir turned around and stepped back onto his yacht. "Well, Fred and Sarah, we better get on the train to the South China Sea. Come".
 
 
***
 
 
We boarded a bullet train that Japan is well famous for. Naruhito led us to the VIP section of the train. He sat opposite us on the train. While we waited for the train to leave Naruhito asked "So, Fred, how was Russia".
 
"It was a marvelous trip," I replied "Seeing the Kremlin, experiencing the Siberian Highlands, traveling through the Okhotsk plains".
 
 
"It's a fine country," said Naruhito, looking out the window. "Got its problems. With the Olympic doping scandal and gay rights and stuff".
 
We left the station, traveling through the suburbs and industrial section before heading out towards the east. The coastline was covered in temperate forest. Naruhito asked me what our world was like so I told him that Japan was a series of islands in the Pacific. In this world the Sea of Japan is cut off from the Pacific.
 
 
We headed up the hill which became very steep as we headed towards the La Perouse Plateau between the Hokkaido Mountains and the Sakhalin Mountains. We climbed to about 1800 metres above sea level before the ground leveled out and the slope become gentle. I could see the foothills of the Hokkaido Mountains as reached the top of the plateau. We zoomed through the town of Wakkanai, then headed downhill towards the Sea of Japan. The climb downhill was much gentler. We then headed southwest. We finally arrived in the small seaside town of Teshio on the northern tip of the Sea of Japan.
 
The Sea of Japan was surrounded by the Russian Federation in the north, Japan in the south and east, and North and South Korea in the west. Japan was bordered by Russia, Sea of Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and the Pacific Ocean. The Honshu Peninsula stuck out from the north of the country with two chains of islands towards the south.
 
The train pulled into the Teshio Train Station. Naruhito led us off the train towards an elderly couple with a middle aged woman and a young teenage girl.
 
"Konichiwa, Dad," said Naruhito with a bow. He turned to me and said "I would like to introduce you to my parents, Emperor Akihito of Japan and Empress Michiko Soda".
 
Me and Sarah bowed and said "Hello, your Imperial Highness".
 
"This is my wife, Crown Princess Masako". We bowed to her. "And my daughter, Princess Toshi Aiko". The Emperor and his wife were in their early eighties, Masaka would have been in her fifties and I believe Aiko would have been about 14 years old.
 
"Welcome to the Empire of Japan, Fred," said the Emperor "I have prepared a feast for you at a local restaurant and some entertainment. If you would like to come with me".
 
"Thank you, your Imperial Highness. I would like that very much" I said.
 
The Emperor led us to a fancy restaurant beside the lake. He walked up to the matre de who instantly recognised him as he said "Welcome, your Imperial Highness" with a polite smile and bow "Your reservations are ready. Right this way. And you're Fred Watson from another Dimension?"
 
"That's right, young man" I replied with a smile.
 
"Welcome to Japan".
 
"Thanks" I said and a wave and smile.
 
We followed the waiter to the table with Japanese letters on it. We sat down at the table with me and the Emperor at the head of the table. Our table was right next to the window so that I could see out at the Sea of Japan. It was getting quiet dark. The head chief walked up to us and said "I am Nigaro Hanujiwi. I am the manager of this restaurant. Hope you enjoy the food".
 
He clapped his hands and the waiters came out with platters of sushi, don puri, soups, buns and raw salmon. It looked delicious as  I picked out the crumbed prawns,  raw salmon sashimi, teriyaki chicken, rice, miso soup, chicken sushi, prawn sushi, seaweed sashimi. I popped them in my mouth and it tasted good. I love the taste of raw salmon.
 
The emperor talked about the history of Japan. "It was back in World War Two. Once the Nazi's had been defeated, the Soviets invaded Japan. We were totally surrounded so my father surrendered to the Soviets and he signed the treaty with America and the Soviet Union. I remember when Japan was under a communist regime set up by the Soviets. I did not like the Communists much as they were just as bad as the Nazis and they treated the pro-democracy demonstrators harsh. So … once my father passed away," Akihito looked at me. "I decided to abolish Communism from Japan once and for all.
 
"First I abolished the Japanese Communist Party. Then I sent out a referendum to see if my people wanted democracy  or Communism. They voted for democracy and I ruled it legal to have multiparty elections every four years for the House of Representatives and every six years for the House of Councilors. So I bought democracy to Japan".
 
Off course the Soviet Union had collapsed in the late 80's. After that Japan formed a relationship with both the Russian Federation and America.
 
"You remember that tsunami we had back a few years ago?" asked Naruhito.
 
"Of course, we had it back in my world," I said "I believe it was on east coast of Honshu".
 
"Honshu is a mountain in this world" said Sarah.
 
"It struck the city of Sendai on the coast of Honshu in Miyagi" said the Empress.
 
The emcee stepped onto the stage and announced something in Japanese. Then he said "I would like to welcome, Fred Watson,  to this delightful restaurant with this traditional drumming".
 
The drummer walked up to the big vertical drum and started banging with gutso as we drank our shots of saki which was a fermented rice drink. Man it tasted strong. The room reverberated with the beat of the drum with its deep base. I could feel the vibrations of the beat going up my legs. It was noisy, it was awesome.
 
 
***
 
 
The next day, me, Sarah, Naruhito and Akihito climbed aboard the boat and headed off into the Sea of Japan. It was a beautiful day, the cliffs lined with trees and grass. The sun was out. It was a beautiful summer's day. We past a small island on our way out of the Teshio Harbour, sailing along the coast of the Russian Federation on our right. I saw the sand beaches with pine trees and houses.  Once we were between Russia and the Matsue peninsula, the emperor said "Let's stop here for a bit of fishing, aye".
 
Naruhito stopped the boat. Sarah threw the anchor into the sea as I looked at the pagodas sitting on the top of the Matsue peninsula. The emperor got out the fishing rods and handed one to me, Sarah, Naruhito and himself. Naruhito showed me how to bait the line with earthworms they bought from the shop. I cast the line into the lake and allowed it to unwind, hearing the whining sound of the fishing reel.
 
The boat bobbed up and down in the water as I could hear the water slapping against the side of the boat.
 
"It's nice and peaceful here," I said "the sun is beautiful".
 
"Yeah," said Naruhito "It's a nice day for fishing. You know," Naruhito looked at me. "When I was a small child, my father took me fishing on the Black Lake. I was fourteen at the time. It was when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union at the time. The Soviets were our Allies back then. Leonid Brezhnev was a great friend of my dad. He was a wonderful person"
 
"He took us to the top of Mount Crimea," said the emperor "he showed us a great view of the Black Lake".
 
"The Ukrainian President took me there," I said "I could see Turkey on the other side of the lake".
 
"Whoa, I caught something" said Sarah.
 
"Quick, wind it up" yelled the Emperor.
 
Sarah winded it up, pulled, wound it up, pulled.
 
"It's a fighter" she said. She struggled to pull it in, but she finally managed to do it. "It's a sword fish" she screamed as she pulled it out of the water and placed it on the boat.
 
"We better put it back in the water," said Naruhito. "It's protected under Japanese and Russian law".
 
Naruhito pulled the hook out of the sword fish. Sarah had a disappointed look on her face but said "OK". That's when I felt a tuck on my fishing rod.
 
I wind, then pulled, wind, pull, wind, pull. It kept on fighting me. It was a strong  fish. It took all my effort to pull the fish in.
 
"Come on, that's it" said the Emperor.
 
Finally I pulled the fish out of the water. It was a huge tuna. About a metre long. I used all my energy to pull the fish out of the water. Naruhito opened up the container full  of ice and I placed the tuna in the box.
 
The Emperor pulled in a fish too only to find it was a small baby salmon a few centimetres long. He threw it back in the sea as it was undersized. Naruhito pulled furiously at his fishing line. It took all his effort and he was struggling. But his line became loose and when he reeled it in, he found the bait had been eaten. Sometimes the fish manage to outsmart mankind.
 
We had enough fishing for the day and as the emperor put the fishing rods away, Naruhito pulled up the anchor. The Emperor grabbed the wheel and we headed towards the south past the Matsue Peninsula. We went alongside the coast of the peninsula until it fell away into Matsue bay, going between the large island of Talongra and the coast of Japan, past Ulling Peninsula on the right, Mount Liancourt in the east, into the little harbour towards the coast of South Korea.
 
We finally arrived at the city of Seoul, capital of South Korea, which was located on the southern end of the Sea of Japan. I could see the Korean Mountains in the background. We approached the city which had a lot of sky scrapers in it. We pulled up beside the jetty. A man I recognised as Kim Jon-un and an old woman waited for us on the jetty.
 
Me and Sarah followed the emperor off the boat, carrying the large tuna between us.
 
"Nice to see you again," said the Emperor, giving Kim a hug "Long time since we last saw you".
 
"Yeah, too long" replied Kim.
 
The Emperor turned to me and said "Fred, this is Kim Jon-un, supreme leader of the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, and President Park Geun-hye of South Korea".
 
"I know who you are," said Geun-hye. She was in her sixties with short black hair, tall medium build and wore a black dress with black high heels. "You're Fred Watson. Welcome to Korea".
 
"Thank you," I replied. I introduced the two Korean leaders to Sarah. "Lovely city here".
 
"Welcome to the Korean Mountains," said Jong-un "Me and Naruhito have been friends, ever since I became an adult. It's a pleasure meeting you". Me and Jong-un shook hands. "What's in the box?"
 
"Oh, yeah," I said "I caught a tuna in the Sea of Japan. Brought it over".
 
"That's great". Geun-hye had a beaming smile from ear to ear. Jong-un gave a weak smile. "We better take it to the palace. Get the chef to chop it up and cook us some spicy tuna soup".
 
We waved farewell to the Japanese Emperor as he climbed back aboard the boat. Geun-hye wished him good luck. Jong-un helped Sarah to carry the tuna along the jetty as I walked alongside Geun-hye.
 
 
***
 
 
Back at South Korea's Presidential Palace we sat around the dining table having our lunch. The cook had chopped up the tuna and, while we waited for our food to be prepared, we talked.
 
"So, Geun-ye," I said "Are you married?"
 
"No, no" she said shaking her head "I've never been married".
 
"It's a shame," I said "You are so beautiful".
 
The paper doors opened up and the waiters placed the bowls of fish soup on the table with kimchi, which was a type of cabbage seasoned with chili and garlic, and buns. I dipped the spoon in the soup and sipped in.
 
"Man," I said "This is hell of a spicy soup you got here". I grinned.
 
"You don't want it?" asked Jong-un.
 
"I like it" I replied. The soup smelled very fishy and was extremely spicy too. "The soup tastes great".
 
Jong-un laughed. As I kept drinking the soup, it set my tongue on fire. I grabbed the chopsticks and placed the kimchi in my mouth. The kimchi had a crunchy texture and I could taste the chili on it. I then drank the soup.
 
"Seems like you're enjoying it, Fred," said Geun-hye "I'm glad you like it".
 
"My dad told me that at the end of the Korean War, the Americans dropped an A-bomb on Shanghai" said Jong-un. He sipped his spicy fish soup. "Funny thing is …  the Americans felt guilty after seeing Shanghai being wiped out. That was when the war ended".
 
"In my world," I said "The Americans A-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Hirohito surrendered after that".
 
"So many similarities, yet so many differences" said Jong-un.
 
Once we had finished our lunch I said "Thanks for the lunch. I enjoyed it very much".
 
"So you'll be heading to Hong-Kong by train then?" asked Geun-hye.
 
"Yes," replied Sarah "We better get going. The train leaves at two".
 
"I better get you to the train station then".
 
"I'll come too" said Jong-un.
 
 
***
 
 
Jong-un and Geun-hye dropped us off at the train station. We climbed aboard the train and sat down in our seats. We waved goodbye as the train pulled out of the station. We went through the tunnels, the houses and factories. For a while the train went up a gentle slope as we past the trees and farms.
 
Then the slope became steep as we exited the basin, climbing to 1700 metres altitude. The train took us between the Korean Mountains and Mount Tsushima and past Mount Cheju on the right. We headed towards the south into the People's Republic of China, zooming past the Yellow Plains on the right and going between the Chinese Highlands and the Taiwan Ranges. Then we headed down the slope towards the South China Sea.
 
Like the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea was closed off from the Pacific Ocean. It was bordered by the People's Republic of China on the North West, Taiwan on the North East, The Philippines in the east and south east, Malaysia and Brunei in the south and Vietnam in the west.
 
We went through Shanghai City which had been totally rebuilt, running along the eastern shore of the South China Sea. We finally arrived in Hong Kong and pulled into the station.
 
As we hopped off the train, Sarah led me towards a middle-aged couple.
 
"Fred," said Sarah "I would like to introduce you to President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China and his wife, Peng Liyuan".
 
"Nice to meet you," said Xi Jinping "Welcome to China". He smiled at me.
 
"Thank you," I replied. "Pleasure being in this magnificent country of yours".
 
"Come. I have booked a reservation at the restaurant".
 
We left the train station. Xi Jinping took us through the street which was crowded. Food stalls everywhere and markets selling fruit, veggies, duck and live chickens. He took us to this fancy restaurant.
 
"Good afternoon, Mr President," said the matre de as he bowed to us. Xi Jinping bowed back and we followed suite. "Right this way".
 
The matre de led us to a table at the back with a good view of the stage. There were musicians playing authentic Chinese music. We ordered our dinner. We had chicken chow mein, sweet and sour pork, egg foo young, fried rice with crumbed prawns.
 
As we ate our dinner the magician put on a show for us, performing his magic tricks. He turned a white tissue into a pigeon, caused a woman to float in the air and proved it by pushing a hoop over her body. He then made a tiger disappear and reappear again. We clapped at all his tricks.
 
Then we watched the acrobats jumping over each other, doing summersaults in the air, one man holding a woman up as she did a hand stand, doing the splits. We clapped again. We drank wine and saki.
 
"This is great entertainment," I said "I'm enjoying it".
 
We watched a man swallowing a sword. Then he juggled four torches, put them out with his tongue and breath fired. The audience went ooh. Then we watched some Chinese girls dancing.
 
"They're really good dancers. I like their costumes".
 
We clinked our glass of wine and gulped it down.
 
 
***
 
 
The next morning Xi Jinping and his wife took us out on a boat that he had chartered from a professional diving instructor. They took us out into the South China Sea until we were close to Macclesfield Island which was just off the coast of China. The diving instructor  got us to put on our wetsuits. He said "You put the oxygen tanks on your back like this". The oxygen tanks felt heavy. "Now you put the respirator in your mouth. Now just dangle your legs in the water and jump in".
 
We all jumped into the water. The diving instructor came in after us. His name was Liang Mangau. He led us through the sea and we got to see all these amazing sea creatures. There were the orange and white sea clowns. There were the puffer fish with spikes all over them. When they get a fright, they blow up to make themselves look bigger. They are highly toxic when you eat the wrong part.
 
I spotted an octopus crawling along the ground. It was so well camouflaged, it made itself look like a sole. There were sea horses clinging to the seaweed, hammerhead sharks that were tan coloured, a sea eel sticking its head out of the cave with its sharp teeth. Dolphins making a squeaky sound, a crab crawling along the sea floor, jelly fish and coral. They were amazing.
 
After we had enough of the sea life, and the diving instructor could see we were running out of air, we slowly climbed towards the surface of the water, being careful not to get the bends. We climbed back aboard the boat, took off our diving gear, got out of our wetsuits and put our clothes back on.
 
Then Liang went back to the steering wheel and we headed towards the south, past a group of small islands with tropical trees on them. We went between Namyit Island, which was a large island in this world, and the southern coast of the South China Sea into the Gulf of Brunei. We came through the narrow passage into a smaller harbour as we approached Banda Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei Darussalam.
 
We pulled up beside the jetty and hopped off the boat. Sarah led me towards two elderly men and a middle-aged woman.
 
"Hello," said Sarah "How nice to meet you," Sarah turned to me and said "Fred, this is Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, his wife, Queen Saleha, and King Abdul Halim of Malaysia".
 
"How you doing?" said Halim with a cheerful smile. He appeared to be in his late eighties with a striking black suite and thin build. He wore glasses and a hat.
 
"Good thank you, Your Majesty".
 
"Welcome to Brunei Darussalam," said Hassanal "I thought we'd go shopping and then have lunch at a café". He would be in his late 60's, early 70's. A quite handsome man with a beard and moustache. His wife was the same age as him and wore a scarf on her head.
 
"I would love that very much" I replied.
 
We walked up the street and into the  various shops that lined the main street of Kalorha. There were shops selling dresses, suits and clothing. One of them showed small statues of a woman in a blue dress. There was a glass dolphin, wooden elephant. There was a furniture shop selling settees, tables, cabinets.
 
"That was so amazing seeing all those shops" I said.
 
Hassanal led us towards a cafe in a pack next to a pool of water. The sun beamed down on us as we sat down in our seats. A tram went past.
 
"It's a nice day to relax," said Hassanal "All this beautiful scenery".
 
"It is beautiful, isn't it," I said "Splendid day it is".
 
The Sultan ordered us some food and so we had green chicken curry on rice that day with a flat bread. We had it with mango juice. He talked about how he used to swim in Lake Palawan as a small child.
 
"We better get going" said Abdul "I want to take Fred kayaking up Lake Palawan".
 
"Yeah, off course"
 
We rose up from the table and walked over to a red SUV parked on one of the streets. The Sultan unlocked it by remote. We climbed in. The Sultan hopped in the drivers seat. He started the engine and we were off.
 
We headed southeast, over the hills towards Lake Palawan, driving through the tropical forests and past the rice paddies and farms with sheep in it. It was a long drive down. We started heading down the gentle slope. Hassanal parked close to the beach. Abdul climbed out of the SUV followed by me and Sarah. We waved goodbye to Hassanal and his wife and walked over to the beach.
 
As we got closer, some workers carried the kayaks down the steep slope towards the water. We stood next to Abdul as they place the kayaks in the water and held them for us. We followed Abdul down the steep slope towards the kayaks.
 
"Get into the kayaks" said Abdul.
 
We complied and climbed into the kayaks. The workers gave us the paddles and let go. We paddled ourselves into the lake. It was a nice day as I felt the tropical breeze against my skin, the seagulls flew overhead. Lake Palawan was a narrow lake bordered by Brunei in the northwest, Malaysia in the southwest and the Philippines in the east.
 
We paddled across the lake towards the southern shore, turned left as we followed Abdul along the length of the lake.
 
"We'll be heading to the town of Balabac at the foot of the Palawan Mountains," said Abdul "We will meet the president of the Philippines there".
 
"OK" I replied.
 
We paddled along the southern shoreline, spotting a couple of islands on my left.  I saw a few fish in the water. There were some mountains in the distance and hills on either side of us. We eventually spotted an elderly man standing beside the beach with some men standing either side of him. We followed Abdul towards the shore. Once we reached the shore, the men came down the slope towards the water and grabbed our kayaks. We climbed out of our kayaks and up the steep bank towards the elderly man with black hair.
 
"Fred," said Abdul "This is President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippine Mountains".
 
"Welcome to the Philippines" he said.
 
"Thank you" I replied, shaking his hand. Rodrigo wore a denim shirt, green shorts and sandals.
 
"Today we go jet skiing in Lake Sulu. Then we have a party," said Rodrigo. "Then we'll drive to Lake Celeb where we'll meet the President of Indonesia. How does that sound?"
 
"That sounds great. Let's go".
 
We waved goodbye to Abdullah and followed Rodrigo to a creamy white Land Rover. We hopped in, slamming the doors shut. Rodrigo started the engine. We headed southeast, climbing up a very steep slope. There was an alternation of steep hills and plateaus and rolling hills. Tropical rainforest all around us. We went over the top of the ridge between Mount Balabac in the Philippines and Mount Bangii close to the Bornean Highlands. Rodrigo took us through the plains and down the gentle slope until I spotted Lake Sulu below us.
 
Lake Sulu was totally enclosed by the Philippines. I saw the small village of Bancoran near the waters edge on the peninsula and the water surrounding another point close by. Rodrigo called it South Point. I could see the Sulu Mountains and the Philippine Mountains on the horizon.
 
"This is amazing," I said "Such a beautiful lake".
 
We went down the slope of the hill through Bancoran Village towards the beach where some jet skis had been set up. Rodrigo pulled to a stop. We hopped out and followed Rodrigo to the jet skis.
 
The drivers were already sitting on the jet skis, so we waded into the water and sat on the jet skis behind the drivers. A young pretty Asian woman gestured for me to hop on behind her. She was gorgeous. She gave me such a warm smile. I complied. I sat on the jet ski behind her and place my arms around her waist. My penis felt erect when I touched her.
 
"Hi, you must be Fred Watson from another universe" she said.
 
"That's right," I said "You're pretty".
 
"Thanks," she replied. Her smile broadened. "I'm Liang Manchu. Just hold tight. It's going to be a fast ride".
 
She started the jet ski, pulled the throttle for a while and we took off towards the south. Such engineering feats of western technology. We zoomed towards the south along the western shore of the lake. The lake was surrounded by high mountains. As we reached the southern shore, we skidded to the left and whizzed along the southern shore towards the east. I could see the Sulu Mountains towards the south as we passed a couple of peninsulas. Then I saw the Zamboanga Mountain Range attached to the Mindanao Highlands.
 
We skidded left as we came into the bay, then rushed northwards along the eastern shore past the Negro Highlands in the east. She took us into the narrow bay at the northeastern tip of the lake, skidding as she did a full u-turn. My heart was pumping, I could feel the adrenaline in my veins. We whooshed along the northern shore towards the west, past the Palawan Mountains. We headed back towards the western shore.
 
Once we approached the Bancoran Beach, Liang slowed down and we taxied towards the shore. Liang turned off the motor and I climbed off. Not once could I see the Bornean Highlands in the distance. I waded out of the water as Liang pushed the jet ski onto the trailer.
 
"How was the ride?" Asked Rodrigo "Did you enjoy the scenery?"
 
"The ride was thrilling," I said with a grin "I could see the Sulu Mountains, Mindanao Highlands and the Negro Highlands".
 
"Borneo is too far to see I suppose. Come. Let's party!"
 
We had a magnificent feast. Green curry chicken, prawns, fish curry, rice, pork bones and flat bread. And we drank beer. We sang some Filipino song even though I don't know any Filipino. That Liang chick came and sat next to me and we got talking about our lives. She did a tourism course and she liked going outdoors and going on adventures. I asked her "Do you want to go exploring other dimensions with me?"
 
"Yeah, sure" she said. She spoke fluent English which was good. "Do you want to dance?"
 
"Yeah, I'd love to". I smiled.
 
So we got up and danced to some Filipino music and we drank beers. I love beer and saki. We smiled at each other. We laughed. I told her about the previous universes we'd been to. She told us about hiking through the Philippine Mountains.
 
"The mountains were named after King Philip the second of Spain" said Liang.
 
I placed my arms around her waist and she placed hers around my neck as we kissed each other on the lips. Her lips felt nice and soft.
 
 
***
 
 
The next day we hopped into the creamy white Land Rover and left the village as we headed up the steep slope towards the main Western Highway. We turned left and travelled along the west coast of Lake Sulu. This time Liang came with us.
 
"You're so lucky that you get to go exploring with Fred," said Sarah. "My boss would never let me quit on such short notice. I have to stay and greet the extraterrestrials".
 
"He told us about the worlds he's been to".
 
We gained altitude as we approached the top of the ridge between the Sulu Mountains and Malaysia. Rodrigo turned right as we headed west. Then he turned left towards the south between the Sibutu Mountains in the west and the Tawi Tawi Mountain Range in the east. There were tropical forests all around us. I spotted the orangutans in the trees.
 
As we drove towards the edge of the ridge I could finally see Lake Celeb below me. Liang pointed out the Sulawesi Mountains on the other side of the lake. We had reached the village of Manuk Manka. As we parked close to the edge of the lake, a middle aged couple waited for us beside the lake. We climbed out of the Land Rover and followed Rodrigo to the couple.
 
"Hey, long time, no see," said Rodrigo "So how are you doing?"
 
"I'm good, Rodrigo," replied the middle-aged man.
 
Rodrigo turned to us and said "Fred, Liang, Sarah, this is President Joko Widodo of Indonesia and his wife, Iriana".
 
"Nice to meet you, Fred" said Joko. He and his wife would have been in his fifties I'd guess. He had a thin frame and wore a sky blue shirt with purple shorts and jandals. Iriana was a lovely woman in a pink floral dress and jandals. "Welcome to Lake Celeb". Lake Celeb was surrounded by the Philippines and Malaysia in the north and Indonesia in the South. "We are taking the jet boat around Lake Celeb. Then we take a trip to Flores Harbour where we will travel by hovercraft to Malu City. So if you would put on your life jackets".
 
He threw life jackets at me and the two girls. We caught the life jackets. I put on my life jacket.
 
"I'll see you again, Joko," said Rodrigo "Hope you enjoy Indonesia, Fred".
 
We waved goodbye to Rodrigo. Then climbed into the red jet boat that was manned by a young man. He made sure we were buckled in and introduced himself as Sabu Tiang. Once we were fastened, he climbed into the driver's seat, started the engine and pulled the throttle. We were off as we zoomed along the northern coast towards the northeast.
 
I could spot the Sulu Mountains and Mindanao Highlands on the horizon as we zoomed past the cliffs towards the eastern shore. The Mindanao Highlands rose above the land at up to 5,000 metres high. We turned left into an inlet and spun around towards the south and out the inlet. My heart was racing. I could feel it in my throat.
 
We zoomed along the eastern coast at tremendous speed. We past the Kepulauan Mountains and spun towards the right as we reached the bay. We weaved between some islands and whizzed along the southern shore towards the west with the Sulawesi Mountains on the horizon. As we approached the western shore, I could see the Borneo Highlands in the distance.
 
We swing to the left as we entered an inlet on the southwest corner of the lake. I could see the Sulawesi Mountains on the left. We travelled along the length of the inlet until we approached a jetty. Sabu pulled the boat up beside the jetty. We unfastened ourselves, climbed out of the boat and took off our life jackets. Then we climbed the steep stairs to the village of Mamuju on the eastern shore of the Makassar Harbour.
 
 
***
 
 
We had some lunch at a bar and cafe beside the lake called Laguna. We had stir fry prawns on rice that day. They tasted nice and spicy with a strong taste. Joko talked about how he used to go swimming in the Banda Sea when he was a kid.
 
"I would spend hours in the water. We would splash each other. Then we'd come in and have stir fried prawns" said Joko.
 
I talked about the time I went swimming in Lake Mexico next to the Mexican Highlands. "It was a nice sunny day. Then I'd go walk along the beach".
 
"Well we better go." said Joko smiling "The helicopter would be waiting for us".
 
We gulped down our beers and left the bar forthwith. We took the cab to the local airport where we climbed into the helicopter. The pilot's name was Jakhar Mandi. He started the engine. Joko instructed him to take us to Sabalana.
 
We rose a few metres above the ground, the pilot turned the helicopter around and we talk off. We climbed 2,000 metres into the air. I could see the Sulawesi Mountains on the left, Borneo Highlands on the right and the Sumbawa and Flores Mountains on the horizon. Tropical forests, farms and villages were below us. The sides of the mountains were extremely steep by the looks of things. Once we had cleared Sulawesi Mountains, the Flores Harbour came into view.
 
We approached the village of Sabalama on the northern shore of Flores Harbour. The lake was a beautiful dark blue colour. The Flores and Sambawa Mountains were on the other side of the harbour.
 
We landed next to the lake, climbed out and followed Joko towards the hovercrafts. Liang grabbed my hand and led me to one of the hovercrafts that was tied to the jetty.
 
"I'll drive," she said "I know this area well".
 
The attendants gave us each a life jacket and we put it on, making sure it was fastened tight. The attendant checked our life jackets. We climbed into the mini hovercrafts. Liang sat in the driver's seat and I sat behind her. She started up the motor which gave a large roaring sound. She waited for the engine to reach full torque before releasing the throttle. We were off.
 
We sped down the length of harbour at a tremendous rate towards the east. The wind blew in my face, my heart was a flutter as we sped down the harbour. There were steep cliffs all around me. I saw some hills sticking out of the water ahead of us. Liang took us towards the opening of an inlet that was surrounded by steep hills. We spun to the left around the first head, then right, zooming past the second peninsula. We slid to the right, then spun left as we entered Lake Banda.
 
We skidded along the lake at a rapid pace, whizzing past the islands on either side of us. We zoomed past the Barat Daya Island in the south and whizzed through the islands towards the eastern edge of the lake. I spotted the Yandema Mountains on the horizon. As we reached the edge of the lake I found the shoreline was steep.
 
Liang slowed down our hovercraft as we approached the bank. We climbed out of the hovercraft, took off our life jackets and walked up the steps to the top of the bank. I saw the islands on the horizon. Sarah, Joko and Iriana caught up with us. We walked all the way to the top of the hill into the village of Malu.
 
"So, Fred," said Joko "How did you enjoy the East Asian Lakes?"
 
"It was a wonderful time," I replied "Particularly crossing Lake Banda in the hovercraft". I placed my left arm around Liang's waist.
 
"Sarah, where are you taking Fred and Liang now?"
 
"We'll be taking the train to Rockhampton Port where we'll be having a barbeque dinner with Malcolm Turnbull and his wife," replied Sarah "Then we'll be taking a ferry back to New Zealand before they leave our world".
 
"We better get to the train station then".  We crossed the town centre towards the train station. "Well, Fred" said Joko "Good luck on your trip across Australia. Hope you enjoyed our world. Hope you make it to the next world".
 
"Thanks, my friend" I replied, shaking Joko's hand. Irenia gave me a hugged.
 
We climbed into the train, made our way to the seats and sat down. We waved goodbye to Joko and his wife as the train pulled out of the train station and took us to Australia.


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