Perhentian Islands - Clear waters, white beaches... paradise?
20 Oct 2006
|We took a taxi down from Kota Bharu to Kota Basu, about an hours drive but only 3 dollars each; not bad; it looks like transport in Malaysia is cheap if everything else at first glance appears expensive. From Kota Basu we took a large speedboat (15 people + bags) over to the Perhentian Kecil (there are two islands in the Perhentians, Kecil is the cheaper and smaller of the two). The seas looked calm, but appearances can be deceptive, the speedboat was bouncing through the waves like no bodies business, a number of times when we hit a rogue wave it felt like the boat may even tip. When an approaching storm hit we got a nice drenching to boot. Great fun it was, although after 40 minutes, it was starting to wear a little.
Choosing Long Beach as our destination, we transferred over to a smaller boat for our beach landing. The skies were still overcast, but the most noticeable thing was the clearness of the water! It was remarkable, I've seen swimming pools which are harder to see in! With it coming towards the end of the season on the Perhentians; they close down from November to Feb for the monsoons; a lot of the accommodation on the island was already closed, only a few places remained open. Going on a recommendation we headed to Moshin Chalets. At 50 Ringet a night, it was way more expensive than what I was used to in the rest of SE Asia, but was still the cheapest accommodation on the island. Checking our gear in to our rooms, we made our way down to the beach, despite being overcast it was still pretty warm. The storm had kicked up a few waves so we eagerly took to the seas and did a bit of body surfing. Later that evening we realised that the overcast skies hadn't protected us from the sun as much as we would have liked, and we were all a rather nice pink colour.
It turned out that Moshin was a good choice for accommodation, the Blue Roof Restaurant attached to the chalets was the only decent restaurant on the beach and a good crowd from the other bungalows turned up to chow down. After dinner we hooked up with Alex, Laura and Gemma for a some drinks and a few games of cards. Strangely enough two of them had gone to Warwick uni (although somewhat after me :o) ).
Tyler and Jonny had booked on a 3 day PADI diving course, always over cautious about my asthma (damned thing) and diving, I opted to go snorkeling with the girls. Turned out to be a great day. There were 8 of us on the small boat and we bombed around the two Perhentian islands exploring various coral reefs and the vibrant fish that occupy them. I was lucky enough to spot a large leatherback turtle (about 1.5 metres in size) and happily swam along beside it for 5 minutes as it munched its way through some jelly fish. At shark point I struck gold and got to see some black tipped reef sharks swimming around. Admittedly they were baby sharks, none measuring more than 2 metres in length, but still my the first sharks I'd seen out in the wild. The trip finished up on a deserted beach for a bit of sun bathing before heading back.
The evening was pretty tame and we ended up watching Day Another Day on the big screen projector at the Blue Roof.
Not much happening today. Jonny and Tyler were out diving, so I set about walking through the jungle interior of the island over to Coral Beach on the other side. Totally deserted so didn't hang around for long. On the way back through the jungle came across a giant monitor lizard the size of dog. Fortunately unlike its cousins the Komodo Dragons these guys aren't in to eating people and it ran off in the other direction.
Hired out a body board to surf some of the waves. I wasn't overly successful at it, but was good fun all the same. Jonny and Tyler passed their PADI dive course, so we had a few celebratory drinks in the evening. Before handing over their pass books, the PADI dive instructors insisted on J and T downing a beer through a snorkel. Harder than it looks as you have to hold your breath at the same time. They both passed mind and the books were handed over.
Caught the 12pm boat back to the mainland, with every intention of getting the jungle train down to Tama Nagara National Park.