From the Highlands to the Islands

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Rock Garden

Flag of Malaysia  , Terengganu,
Thursday, July 29, 2010

After a lie in for the Lady we got up and had a lazy breakfast with lots of coffee. We have realised that the sausages are beef hot dogs, we hadn't made the connection between a Muslim state and the lack of pork on offer but they were still nice regardless. Our minibus arrived to start the day long trip to the Perhention Islands, well it turned out to be a taxi in actual fact. We shared the bus with the Swiss guys from the day before as they had decided to head for the beach too. After a short discussion about who would have the middle of the back seat for the first 2 hour part of the trip the trousers won through in the end. After 5 minutes with my head stuck on the ceiling and Erica’s head at belly button level it was clear I couldn’t last the two hours so we swapped and Erica complained for about 5 minutes about just how uncomfortable she was. This was followed immediately by complete unconsciousness for the rest of the journey. I completely understand, the poor girl only got 14 hours sleep last night.

After a couple of hours in the taxi with our extremely nice taxi driver who also seemed to be a free tour guide we got dropped off at a hotel in an unknown location in a very strict Muslim area. The taxi driver explained that the women dressed in burkas were generally Saudi’s but also Jordanians and folks from the UAE. We couldn’t figure out why there were so many fat people here but again the driver said that the Arab states come here just for the cool and spend most of their day inside the room of their ludicrously expensive hotel, oh and inside KFC where it is common (according to him) to see 8 year old boys eat a whole family bucket for themselves "they just love the KFC". They also want to shop but the Cameron Highlands isn’t kitted out like that so that is why there are so many tourist traps here (strawberry farms, honey farms, vegetable shops and most of all food places).

Anyway we waited for over 1.5 hours before we sussed out what we should be doing and we were joined by a raft of other buses all full of tourists. All the minibus drivers stood around for 30 minutes arguing with each other and it created so much confusion. We eventually got a guy to speak to us and said oh it’s that van there. Before this stage all the drivers went together to look at one person’s ticket then all stood arguing over which bus that couple should get in. Outside this hotel were maybe 100 people so they were just getting nowhere. Sometime the simplicity of the solution to everyone’s problems is so easy “Perhention Islands those two buses, Cameron highlands those 4 busses” etc. It was obviously beyond comprehension for these guys though. We told everyone else what to do and in 10 minutes everyone was on their correct buses.

After another 3 hours we arrived in a small town and again confusion reigned but we soon just sorted ourselves out and jumped on one of the speed boats. Well it was a speedboat with 2 x 200HP engines so we were soon absolutely flying across the open water bouncing off the waves and nearly taking off. The swell wasn’t huge but at that speed it felt huge. By the time we got off the boat 30 minutes later all our faces were tingling and it felt a bit like I had had a face lift.

When the boat stopped a load of water taxis appeared at the side of the boat and we had to climb into the smaller less stable boats with our rucksacks, as soon as you put a foot on the smaller boat it felt like it was going over and we would have a nice dip but we didn’t fortunately though it looked very inviting. We climbed out into the water with our rucksacks and Long beach was all we had hoped for really. Gorgeous water and scenery a nice beach, no cars or motorbikes it was lovely. I had read in the book though that whilst impossible to book accommodation on line or by phone you need to arrive early to avoid sleeping on the beach so I was shouting “go go go” the Lady accelerated to a slow walk. We tried 4 places and all were full before I climbed a big hill to be told that they had one room left and it was 90 ringgit (18). This is extortionate but with no more options available we had little choice. While waiting we got eaten by the local mosquito population. On walking to the room we were greeted by a monitor lizard about 1.5m long. This was going to be fun.

The room had a great view of the water but had a bathroom window that was knackered and didn’t shut, the toilet did not flush and leaked onto the floor. The drain was on the opposite side of the floor to the toilet so it leaked all across the floor. This is one of the places you pay before you stay so having forked out an extreme amount of cash I wanted them to at least have a go at fixing some of the things as we knew we would get nothing back we left the key with them but when I ran back from the beach at 20:30 they had not done a thing and just shrugged when I asked about it, I therefore had to take the key and run back to meet the Lady back in the restaurant, it was definitely time to move on the following day.

We went out for something to eat. The restaurant was nice and cheap and for two pounds I had a Malay King Fish curry and rice, Lady E had a Ceaser salad (why I don’t know). The place was unlicensed so we had a bottle of water then later on in the night we noticed a beer seller on the beach with a big cool box full of ice filled with beer but at 10 Ringgits per small can (2) we were not going to have any more than one.

The people working in the restaurant were two transvestites dressed in makeup and dresses and it seemed surreal to have the middle eastern women dressed in Burkas being served by these two guys, the middle eastern men didn’t seem to take to them much but they were lovely and always sat down with you to have a quick chat while they took your order. The restaurants lit the half oil drum barbeques and huge prawns, king fish, squid, shark, and stingray were all put out next to the only light they had.

The beach had started to come alive and the only two bars on the beach had been lit with candles, hooker pipes and tiny tables where you just sit on the sand it was very atmospheric and we had started to fall for this place big time especially when they put Air on the sound system it really was special and became the perfect chilled out holiday island. We walked back along the beach to a wonderful sky full of superb bright stars not spoiled by any light pollution. We got an early night.
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Gregg and the Graemite on

We're starting to feel like Lady E is turning into Moonin and becoming 'Sheba'......she'll have you bringing her drinks at her sun lounger

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