Castaway in the Perhentians!

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Aug 05, 2011

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Flag of Malaysia  , Terengganu,
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Perhentian islands lived up to their billing as an isolated paradise. We're talking a palm fringed white sandy beach, clear and sparkling water, a few umbrellas, a rough wooden footy goal, a café and a couple of illegal shack bars (Islamic country remember!) and that’s about it.  There are no phones, no bank, they only have electricity between 6.30pm-8am and the local vibe is quite insular - still Malay, but kind of different - think similar to the Isle of Man!!

We stayed at Bintang's huts up on the hill, which was great; friendly and relaxed vibe, and with the communal bathrooms and "lounge" area it was like a summer camp! Unfortunately I picked up a cold, which meant diving was on hold and our daily routine kind of ran as follows for 5 days; get up, have tea and chat to the owner for a couple of hours, go get lunch on the beach, laze on the beach, swim in the sea, laze, go back, get showered when the leccy came on, go for dinner at Panorama, watch their film if it was any good (Hels - Invictus?! Liked it!), go back, play cards, bed!  The sky at night is absolutely vast, without the usual light pollution you feel like you can see the entire universe.  Not the most exciting daily grind, but very relaxing, and let's remember we were on a castaway island!

Once I'd sorted the cold, we managed to get round to more stuff.  We did the steep trek to Coral Bay a couple of time, the beach isn't as good but they do have the sunset! We went snorkelling round each end of Long Beach and saw the biggest sweetlip fish I have seen ever - 3 ft!! And a few moray eels if you dive down and look under crevices.  Then we finally got around to the dive - brill, but completely different to our training in Koh Tao! It was nerve racking to be treated as if we knew everything after just 4 dives, and all the silly things like getting in the water were completely different.  Also when we went down the visibility was only 7m...we were spoiled with 30 plus in Thailand!!! Lots of different things to see though...bigger fish for sure, and more Nemos living in anemones than you can shake a stick at! There was also massive rock formations and coral to swim through to test our buoyancy skills.  We were judged good enough to be able to cope with the a dive at Sugar Wreck that afternoon and that was another experience entirely.  Lots of hazards; masts, nets, ropes, barnacles on the ship's side, scorpionfish hiding in the sand, big black spiky anemones absolutely everywhere!! But to go down and cope with all that was a big confidence booster.  The dive itself was spooky I have to say; it was  a very silty floor so visibility was low and the silt cast eveything in an eerie light.  Suddenly huge masts and hanging nets would loom up in front of you, or a bit of the ship's hull - I confess I did keep expecting to see a head float past a porthole a la Jaws, or some ghosty Titanic-esque figures!!!!  Instead though, we did get a shark! And he was a scary looking fella! I sunk close to the floor with the divemaster to have a peek at him under the mast and was floating about in awe until I remembered I had a nosebleed!! (not caused by anything dramatic probably a consequence of still being a little bunged up, and blowing too hard to equalise.  But strange nonetheless to clear your mask of blood instead of water!) I swam off fast as my little legs would carry me! What a wimp!

So anyway, after a bit of a delay getting the bus to Langkawi we finally managed it.  A short boat hop and a taxi ride with a guy who drove like a tortoise on beta blockers and we arrived at the bus station 5 hours early, so we had a walk round Jerteh with a Dutch girl we'd met at the ticket office.  I think we haven't seen the "real" Malaysia yet, as I said the Perhentians have an insular mentality to them, and are also more Muslim than most areas.  Jerteh was more of a mix, with Chinese influences and a cool night market.  Malaysia definitely seems more modern than Thailand, the roads, buildings and vehicles are all more up to date, but the Islamic background gives it that traditional atmosphere to.  It's going to be interesting, and we can't wait to move south and see the big cities which are even more of a melting pot! 
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Kim on

Wow!! I love the geko's, I think you should keep onw as your travel pet!!
Carlos says hi, i watered him today which I assure you was not the first time since you left (ooppsss)
Sam, your STILL top of the league, Blues are not doing so well as you may have heard!! xx

Hels on

WTF? I signed up to be emailed when you post a new blog so missed these last two when that didn't work!
I LOVE reading your blogs and seeing the pics. Although scary times are all part of the experience they leave me quaking here in Knowle!!
The wreck dive sounds flippin awesome!!
Oh and Sam. I haven't seen Invictus yet..but it's on the list! :)

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