A Little Taste of Malaysian Paradise

Trip Start Jul 13, 2009
Trip End Jul 20, 2010

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Where I stayed
Maya Bungalow

Flag of Malaysia  , Kelantan,
Sunday, April 11, 2010

From Thailand to Malaysia we finally had to buck up and take a bus.  No more boats - overland is how we would travel.  So 3 buses and a whole days worth of travelling we made it clear across Thailand to reach the opposite side of the land strip and the border with Malaysia. 

Upon entering, we'd reached a whole new world. 

We always find it fun to reach a new country, learn their customs, the language, the change in currency, food, people....

We got a taste of very conservative Malaysian Muslim culture in the city of Kota Bharu before heading out to one of Malaysia's most scenic spots - the Pehrentian Islands.  Turns out our guidebook couldn't have been more right as scenery and lifestyle was just absolutely gorgeous and boasted a laid-back vibe and atmosphere that made us feel like we hadn't traveled far from Thailand at all.  The only difference you notice is that the price of beer skyrockets and makes 2 budget travellers trying to string out a tight budget for a year of travelling into a couple of sober people.  No Problem - with perfectly beautiful coral right off the beach and gorgeous jungle paths and other beaches to discover on the island, we found plenty to occupy our time and energy for a day and had us in bed early like a couple of old folks that we're becoming.  

Only problem is, Caroline was under a strict antibiotic and ear drop regimen that kept her out of the water the entire week.  Being the Advanced Diver that she is, watching boat loads of people pile into dinghies and jet off to the nearby dive sites from our balcony did not put her spirits in high tow.  She bucked it up though and read books at lightning speed and enjoyed the small community of beach people and locals that you run into time and again on a small beach in paradise. 

I think she also lived vicariously through me for a week as she watched me studying my Open Water booklet, preparing for my exams, suiting up at the dive shop just steps away from our bungalow, and taking off for my open water instruction.  Yes - I decided to be pro-active and get my Open Water certification and set myself up to be able to dive when the time is right for us to take that "other" plunge together we have yet to do.  The price was right, the place was right (like I said, right off our balcony, walk 20 paces...) and the people couldn't have been more great.  I received 1 on 1 instruction (being that it's low season now) from a Japanese guy my age named Wataru that became my Mr. Miagi for the 3 days he instructed me.  I definitely learned a lot.  After instruction in the water and practicing the skills I needed, we would have free time to do some diving.  We explored the beautiful underwater reefs of a psychedelic array of colors.  Wataru had a knack for finding and pointing stuff out I would otherwise not see....  throughout the week I saw 2 turtles, 5-10 black tipped reef sharks, 5 or 6 blue-spotted rays, porcupine fish, puffer fish (huge and tiny), razor fish, angel fish, huge schools of fish so thick they seemed to make gigantic walls around us, as well as 2 creepy Moray eels hiding out amongst the coral.  It's pretty insane what's down there....

Another place, we would prefer not leave if we didn't have to...but we'd booked a flight for the 20th.  To Kuala Lumpur we needed to head, and then we hop a flight to Borneo.
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