Submerging myself on Long Beach

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of Malaysia  , Terengganu,
Friday, September 23, 2005

Greetings from the beach yet again troops.

I know it's almost October and would be starting to approach summer back at home so maybe this will help prepare for the long hot months ahead.

I'm now hanging in the Perhentian Islands on the north east coast of Malaysia - they're just below the Thai/Malaysian border on the eastern (Koh Samui) side. What's more, they're absolutely beautiful, relatively uncrowded and the weather is just right even though end of season is just around the corner (30 September - love the timing).

However I still have a few days here so I'd better not speak too soon.

Sun shining over north point Long Beach Crystal clear water Shot of the rocks from water level

The reason I've come is cheap scuba diving in crystal clear water. I'm proud to say that I've now completed my PADI Open Water Diving course and have become officially certified to dive anywhere around the world at any time I feel the urge. It has been a challenging but fun experience, a little daunting when you start but actually pretty straightforward and enjoyable once you get under the water and practising the reams of theory involved. Doing it here has the added advantage of non pool-based training dives, so we had a myriad of tropical fish buzzing around in the 30 degree celsius water whilst learning our skills.

Para sailer over the colourful fishing boats View from the dive boat

The course is quite intensive over a three to four day period and it is not a good idea to be hungover, so apart from some snorkelling and the course I haven't got around to sampling the other delights of the island. These include some impressive rock climbing, cheap para-sailing, wake boardiing and just general lazing about. There seems to be a lot of very cute women around here too which has made things very pleasant.

Moonlight chalets and Sunlight dive shop My dodgy stilt bungalow

Despite a couple of downsides such as the difficulty accessing cash money and the relative expensiveness of accommodation and alcoholic drinks (compared to similar destinations), this is a top place to visit for travellers or for that short romantic holiday - it's small, relaxed and less commercial than many places in Bali or Thailand. However the locals live well and the pricing probably helps maintain a necessary balance, so these disadvantages can be seen as a blessing in disguise...

There's not a lot else I can tell you about Perhentian paradise except that the Swedes have discovered it en-masse (which is a good sign, I hung out with many fun Scandinavians over the week)) and the great crew at Sunlight Divers on the north end of Long Beach.

The crew at Sunlight Divers winding the season up Snorkel test history being made

Sunlight is a friendly, fun and young team with a professional approach to teaching and leading diving trips in the area and who know how to party when the time comes. Many thanks to Claire (our instructor) for getting the group through and to Sunny, Mathias, Theresa, Sandra, Alpha, Liam, Curtis and Gecko for some very amusing times. The snorkel test (sculling competition through a snorkel) and demented beach olympics for the Dive Master graduation was a highlight - hope that becomes a tradition here and you all make it back to the idyll you've managed to find work in.

An aquatic bye for now

Next entry -> Underwater photos, check 'em out!

Life's little mysteries - part 1

Seeing as though my catalogue of travel afflictions isn't growing as expected, maybe I can note the odd and inexplicable little things that occassionally happen whilst on the road.

This one relates to the dodgy stilt-perched bungalow I've been living in for the past week here (photo above). It's one of the cheapest places on Long Beach with ensuite bathroom so is at the very bottom of the scale for comfort, presentation and construction quality. It leaked profusely and things like spiders, mosquitos and small lizards had constant access to the internals of the place. Oh well, you don't get 5 star for $US11 on Perhentian.

One morning I left my ear plugs perched on a tub of hair gel and went to the beach for the day. These are small squishy yellow pieces of foam that when insterted in the outer ear expand to fit it nicely and block out around 80% of surrounding ambient noise. They're just 90 cents Australian per pair at any pharmacy and I highly recommend them for a good night sleep if you're travelling. This pair had served me faithfully for a couple of months and I wasn't concerned for their safety as I locked the door that day...

When I returned and used the bathroom I noticed a funny thing. One earplug was gone and the other was completely severed across the midrift, so the tip and the base was left but little else. Something like a squirrel, small monitor lizard or rat (all in the neighbourhood and seen by the author) must have broken in through one of the many holes and then devoured one plug and bitten a huge chunk straight through the middle of the other. Then they left some scraps for later. Aren't they just adorable?

Anyway, I found it a little bizarre so RIP little earplugs and remember that your ear wax is probably more attractive as a food source to local wildlife than you would expect.
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Where I stayed
Sunlight Lodge
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technotrekker on

Re: Diving

You couldn't call it the cheapest place in Asia to visit or do your diving course. Food, accommodation and beer is relatively expensive compared to Thailand, but the less crowding and more remote feel are well worth it. I highly recommend.


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