Turtles, Sharks, Lizards and lazing
Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
84Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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To get on to the Perhentian islands we caught the ferry (it was actually a speedboat) from Kuala Besut where we had been dropped off by the minibus, to Long beach on the small island (Palau Perhentian Kecil) which was about a 30 minute speedboat ride. The journey was brilliant as we got a short tour of a number of the beaches where some people got off to their accommodation, plus sightings of a number of deserted beaches. The scenery was absolutely stunning, the centre of the island is quite thick jungle with the white sandy beaches and amazingly clear sea around the edge. The Perhentians don't have electricity from the grid, everything is run on generators so from about 1pm until 6.30pm there's no power in most places and actually quite a lot of the beaches in the area are completely uninhabited and deserted most of the time, it felt like you had arrived at an island out of a film
Once we arrived at long beach we had to get onto a smaller taxi boat which actually took us to shore as there isn't a pier to stop on. Long beach is the busiest beach and is where most of the accommodation is, as well as a few beach bars, snorkel ling centres and little stores all of which are just little wooden shelters on the beach. Usually the owner can't be seen because he's sleeping in his hammock inside the shelter, and everyone is pretty laid back. The place we hired Kayaks from was called Lazy Buoys, which was the perfect name for them. They sat under their shelter all day unless they were inconvenienced by pesky customers. They didn't even help me get the kayak in and out of the water, just watched me struggling to drag it over from the top of the pile of kayaks and into the sea. Anyway, we were really excited to be here because it was exactly the setting we had imagined, although perhaps busier than we expected.
We hadn't booked any accommodation (we haven't anywhere we've been so far) and set off towards the first set of bungalows to get a room.. "Sorry we're full", then the next one "No rooms, we're full" over and over again. The excitement we had felt about being here quickly disappeared as we went from one set of bungalows to the next in the blistering heat with our backpacks on, "We're full!" and actually most of them were really rude to us barely grunting a response
In the evening our guesthouse had a Malaysian All You Can Eat Buffet and showed a really cheesy film but the food was delicious and so cheap and there was a good atmosphere for the evening. We ate until we couldn't eat anymore (as is buffet law) and watched the film while playing canasta, it was a really good night. I went to get my free cup of coffee and it was Malaysian coffee which is nothing like our coffee, it's thick, very black and actually tastes a bit sweet. Very nice, but not at all like the coffee we have at home or anywhere else I've been before.
The next morning we had to move our bags over to our new bungalow, the place we had been staying at was set back from the beach and up the hill towards the jungle so we grabbed our bags and walked down the path leading to the beach
After our breakfast we headed to the beach for a snorkel ling trip, we had a young guide who was really funny and clearly loved his job... what's not to love? (He lives on a tropical island and spends his days driving a speedboat and snorkel ling with turtles). We did the half day trip which goes to 3 snorkel ling spots, turtle point, fish bay and shark point. I don't think they were very imaginative when choosing the names of these snorkel ling points... say what you see! But then to be fair it was nice to know what you were looking for at each of the stops. We swam with turtles, reef sharks of varying sizes (some of the group claim to have seen 2 meter long sharks but we didn't see them unfortunately), and a wide variety of coral fish at fish point. We also saw a few large jellyfish and suffered the stings of some smaller ones, but nothing too bad. It was really cool and we saw loads over the course of the morning. On the way back our guide took the speedboat up to top speed and was directing us straight for some rocks that stood out from the side of the island. I thought he must turn away any minute.... surely..... he's got to turn surely? But no, he drove straight through a gap in the rocks with centimetres to spare on each side
The next day we decided to go on our own tour so we hired snorkels and a kayak and made our way across to turtle beach on the big island where there were about 4 other people and us so we could have our own section of beach if we wanted to. The beaches were simply unbelievable again with soft white sand and crystal clear sea water, like a swimming pool. We spent the day soaking up the sun, snorkel ling (saw another reef shark, just a little black tip one) and exploring the area. We went to two beaches, turtle beach and the romantic beach. The romantic beach was smaller than the others and for a while we were the only people there until about 3 o-clock when it became the next stop on the island tour and 5 boatloads of people descended on this tiny little beach.... very romantic. haha!
So we thought this was perhaps a good time to head back to long beach, got our stuff together and battled against the waves to get on the kayak in order to paddle the couple of kilometres back. This sounds easy enough but it was a bit of a nightmare. The swell was really quite big, the tide against us, the wind was blowing in the wrong direction and when boats came past it was always in front of us making huge waves which pushed us backwards. It was so frustrating, we'd paddle hard to get forward then stop for a minute's rest and end up back where we started
After all our exercise we felt we deserved a good dinner so went to one of the beach restaurants for a barbecue. Unfortunately this was spoiled by the rain so the poor guy doing the cooking had to crouch under an umbrella, it reminded me of a lot of our BBQ's in the UK when we would all sit in the conservatory whilst Dad tried his best to cook steaks crouched under an umbrella... anything for a barbecue.
"It's summer that means we have barbecue's"
"But it's raining and it's 10C"
"Doesn't matter, it's July we are cooking outside!"
On the table in front of us was a group of Italians, probably in their 50's and they were so demanding (yup, people-watching is brilliant!). The one guy stood over the barbecue chef inspecting every move he made and the poor waiter became their private staff whilst trying to service all the other tables
The Perhentians are a really fun place to be, every day has a party atmosphere and there are bars on the beach and beach parties every night. The only thing that stops them is the rain, and whilst we were there was a thunder and lightning storm accompanied by some serious rain every single night. You just hoped it would hold off until the early hours of the morning so that not everything has to stop. We loved it there, and I'm sure you could easily spend a couple of weeks exploring the various beaches and islands or just working on your tan.
We are now off to escape the heat for a few days in the Cameron Highlands.