Sunshine and Sharks
Trip Start Jun 04, 2009
79Trip End Sep 06, 2010
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Somehow we arrived at the 'ferry’ port and were loaded onto a speedboat to finish the trip to Kecil the larger of the two islands where we were greeted with a lovely little scam
Eventually the very last hotel I tried, Moonlight, had one room left which we snapped up and settled down in. We later learnt how the popularity of the islands has grown so quickly that there simply aren’t enough rooms for all the visitors that arrive daily, so many have to leave the day they arrive after paying for the ferry and doing an unsuccessful hotel gauntlet run
Our time on the island was wonderfully low key spent sunbathing, reading and swimming in the clearest water I have ever seen. We went on an amazing snorkeling trip where we found ourselves swimming with huge sharks nearly two meters long. On our trip was a guy from Kuala Lumpa who comes here every year and only has seen a shark once, we were lucky enough to see four on our first stop. They were fascinating to watch and with the water being so clear we could see for 20 meters so the view of a big shark circling below and somebody’s legs dangling off the side of the boat it looked like an all too familiar horror film! Regardless of the sharks the reefs we were swimming around were gob-smackingly beautiful and diverse so we were very entertained. En-route to our lunch spot our driver stopped the boat and pointed out a big turtle on sea-floor (another advantage of crystal clear water) we donned our masks and swam down for a closer look but our keenness attracted other boats in the area and before we knew it four other boatloads had all jumped in for a look as well and it turned into a mass jumble of arms and flippers chasing after the poor turtle who was now being chased from his resting spot. From the brief moments I got to spend with the turtle I got to see how majestic they are and why everyone wants to see one but with the way tourism is invading their privacy I doubt they will choose to hang around the islands for much longer which is a terrible shame. I didn’t want to be a part of the mass turtle hunt so I swam off back to the boat through an unsuspecting cluster of jellyfish who showed me no mercy – and that’s the price you pay for trying to respect nature
Thankfully I only sustained minor stings that wore off in a few hours and still had plenty of gusto left for the final few reefs where Steve made a dive down in between two huge branches of coral and came face to face with an even bigger shark! Thankfully the shark showed his indifference by beating a hasty retreat into the deep blue and leaving us in disbelief at what shallow water it chose to be in. My respect for sharks has quadrupled after seeing them in their natural habitat, if they wanted to actually attack you, you really would not stand a chance, they are just so fast and elegant in comparison to a helpless swimmer with limps flailing everywhere. It’s a food chain that we just do not deserve to be on top of.
We had heard there was good coral just out from the main beach we were staying in so we sweet talked our boat driver into dropping us further out to sea so could swim back to the hotel and enjoy the coral enroute. However, once we got into the water we saw with horror how devastated the coral here had become. The Perhentian Islands are truly beautiful but you really didn’t have to look far to see the damage being done by a sudden surge of tourism, littering and pollution from the increase in boat traffic. Nothing seems to be being done to monitor it and we heard that the damaged reef we saw was the same as the other perfect ones we saw only a couple of years ago so it terrifies me to think of what will become of it all in the next few years
On a brighter note we found out that one of the bars was putting up a big screen on the beach for the start of the world cup so for better or for worse we wouldn’t miss the first England game. We had to wait until 2.30am for the game on Malaysian time and got a couple of beers in to cushion the inevitable blow of a typical England performance. It was then that we thought back and realised it had been just under a month since we last had any alcohol, unheard of in our ‘real lives’! Needless to say we were complete light weights as a result which suited our budget well and so began the bad influence of the world cup. Back to drinking and out all day seeing the sights then up all night until 4.30am watching football. An exhausting but a great way to live, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
In total we spent four days living the island life and finally got a ferry back for a bus connection to take us off to the Cameron Highlands for a well deserved break from the heat and humidity….or so we thought….
Lots of Love,
Amy and Shark-loving Steve