Maria and David Round The World Trip 2006/2007 travel blog

Crossing the Thailand / Malaysia border on a freight ferry - don't...

At last ... we can relax!

Cooling off!

The ubiquitous gecko. We like them because they eat the mozzies!

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Speed boat to the island.

To escape the rainy season in Thailand, we had decided before we left that we would head to the beautiful Perhentian Islands off the north east coast of Malaysia for some much needed R&R!. We booked a cheap internal flight from Bangkok to Narathiwat with (Thai) Air Asia (Asia's equivalent to RyanAir!) and left Bangkok on the 21st June. Narathiwat is one of the least developed areas in Thailand and not surprisingly we were the only tourists on the plane! The region is largely Muslim and there has been a rise in recent years in Islamic militancy. Since 9/11 violence has increased considerably in the area and there was a heavy military presence in the airport and on the roads surrounding the town. It was a bit intimidating at first but worth it to get the cheap flight ... the joys of travelling on a shoestring budget!!

The airport shuttle bus dropped us outside a hotel in the centre of town and immediately we were surrounded by inquisitive locals offering us assistance (but unfortunately not speaking a word of English!). After much smiling and hand gestures, the local Mayor was summoned and he bailed us out! Fortunately, his English was good as he had been in Scotland the previous year and it seems our celtic neighbours had treated him well! He arranged for us to be transported to the local bus station complements of the local government! We were not sure if we were being kidnapped or 'taken for a ride'(!) but fortunately it was free of charge and we are still here to tell the tale!

After a few sweaty minibus rides we eventually made it to the border town of Tak Bai and crossed the border by freight barge (don't ask!) into Malaysia. We spent the night in a run down hotel (and that's putting it mildly!) in Kota Bharu and got a taxi ride the next morning to Kuala Besut.

As this was our 'honeymoon', we stretched our budget a little bit and stayed at the lovely Tuna Bay resort on Palau Perhentian Besar (the bigger of the two islands). The resort arranged for a speed boat transfer and we spent a glorious and much needed relaxing two weeks in the sun. The Perhentians are a white sand paradise with palm trees and turquoise blue waters but at a reasonable price. The snorkeling and diving was excellent and Maria enjoyed her first diving experience. The highlight was Nemo the clown fish (watch the film 'Finding Nemo' if you haven't already seen it) - so cute!

We also had time to read a couple of books (as David had no diversion of windsurfing!). No doubt he'll make up for that later in the year! The two weeks seemed liked a month and after all that rest we were ready to commence the next leg of our journey to the north of Thailand.

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