Turtles, Sharks, Lizards and lazing

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
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Trip End Jun 01, 2012


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Where I stayed
Mohuit Bungalows
Lemon Grass Bungalows
What I did
Snorkelling, swimming, Kayaking, Snoozing, reading, eating.

Flag of Malaysia  , Terengganu,
Sunday, July 17, 2011

So the guide book says "Palau Perhentian - Wake up, swim, lie on beach, nap, snorkel, eat, wander, snooze!" I think this pretty much sums it up.

 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. Or at least it did until we arrived at our beach, Long beach which is much busier.

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. We had intended on staying here for at least 3 nights but started to wonder if we would even manage 1 night. Eventually we managed to find somewhere that had a room just for 1 night, it was more expensive than we'd hoped for and more than anywhere we had stayed so far (25!!) but somewhere to stay at least and then we hoped in the morning we could go early to a number of places and perhaps people will have left for the first ferry and we could grab a room before new people arrived. That's exactly what happened and the next day we got our bungalow so we were able to stay for the 3 nights we wanted to. We spent the afternoon lying in the sun, reading and planning what we would do with the rest of our time in the stunning Perhentians. 

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. The pathway is lined with coconut trees and as we passed one of them we heard a sharp loud hiss. Both of us jumped and turned to see what it was, and on one of the coconut trees was the biggest lizard we have seen since we've been in South East Asia. We've seen a lot of very small geckos, a few lizards that are maybe 30 Cm's long and then this absolute beast! (Katy decided he should be called Cecil) While we were taking a photo of it a Malaysian guy walked past and saw the monitor lizard, he explained to us that the lizard was climbing the coconut tree because in the heat the monitor lizards try to get higher up as it is cooler. Well that's what I took from the comment, what he actually said was "Ah, Lizard, Coconut!"

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. Mental!

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. We made it back but our shoulders and backs suffered the consequences and I decided it was mainly the kayak's fault, it could not go in a straight line and we were constantly fighting to keep it going towards the beach. With all the zigzagging, we probably added an extra kilometer to the journey. 

 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. He would go over bringing a dish, hand it to them and then be given his next task. "We need lime", he brings the lime, "We need water", brings the water "4 glasses", brings the glasses "2 baguette... uno due baguette... two!" the baguette never arrived. Arguably they shouldn't have had to ask for everything as they should have had those things already but we got our food with what we needed on the first try so I'm not sure. I refused to be on the side of the Italians due to the choice of swimwear of the oldest & hairiest man. Earlier that day we had been having a drink at the same place as them and he was sat in just his tight, cream, virtually see-through speedo moving around far too much. It reminded me of Lee Evans when he talks about how people on holiday are quite happy to wonder around shops in effectively their underwear and flip-flops, bending down to get the beans off the bottom shelf. You wouldn't do that back home, scanning the aisles of Tesco in your Y-fronts. Then to top it off he stood up, stretched and adjusted!!! I wanted to burn out my eyes but only had a cold mango shake to hand. No, they had no sympathy from me, they should have been banned from the island, never mind having to waiting a few minutes for a lime.

 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. 
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Comments

charlene on

your green stringy pudding with the beans sounds so delicious!!! I'm sure you won't be at all envious of the strawberry cheesecake and cherry pie with cream and icecream that we had this evening :-) xxxxx

seanspacifica
seanspacifica on

Normally I would be jealous, but today we visited a strawberry farm in the Cameron Highlands and I had a strawberry pancake muffin!

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