Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Malaysia - Perhentian Islands

From Adelaide we flew to Singapore for a wild weekend with old friends there. On the Sunday night we caught the train from across the causeway in Johor Baru to Wakaf Baru (the nearest station to Kota Baru) in North East Malaysia. The sleeper carriage we were in was a bit like a huge travelling dormitory with bunk beds running down each side of the aisle in the middle. As people got on and off at each stop through the night we didn't get a great deal of sleep even with our trusty earplugs and eye masks on.

We arrived in Wakaf Baru around 8.30 on Monday morning and although all the guide books and travel guides suggest this is the best place to catch a taxi to Kuala Besut there was in fact only one waiting. So after a fair amount of haggling and a good deal of silence as both sides tried for a win-win situation, we hopped in the rusty bucket of a cab for the hour long trip to KB. On the way the cabbie had to stop for oil and petrol just in case. The fake leathery plastic seats and no aircon made it a very sweaty experience even so early in the morning and with all the windows wound down.

The cabbie stuck to back roads and tracks so we didn't see any sign posts for KB until only a few kms out. This always makes me nervous and stupid thoughts of jungle robbery spring to mind! But he got us to the jetty in one piece and before long we boarded the big speedboat filled with other travellers. We were almost the last people off so we got a good tour of the islands while the boat dropped others at accommodation ranging from very basic to five stars.

We'd decided to stop at Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil (pronounced per-hen-t-ian ke-chill not perhenshian kesil as we first tried) the small island. We figured as most places were closing for the end of the season (monsoon season is on the way) we stood a better chance of finding somewhere still open. We ended up at Mohsin Chalets which were up on the hill overlooking the beach. They were clean enough and had power between 6.30pm and 7.30am so the fan worked while we were asleep! The room did have 24 hour water though which was a real selling point as a lot of places didn't.

We spent the rest of the first day relaxing and eating lots of tasty Malay food. The next two days we went on snorkelling tours round the two islands (Kecil and Besar, small and big). We enjoyed it so much the first day we had to do it again the next. Both days we saw at least 3 or 4 different green turtles, more than ten black tipped reef sharks and tons of other tropical fishes including clown fish (nemos) by the bucket load. On the second day we even got a chance to see the turtle sanctuary and saw some just hatched baby turtles which was magic. Both evenings we ate at restaurants on the beach serving fresh barbecued fish and other goodies.

On the boat back to Kuala Besut we met an Australian couple going back to Kota Baru too so we shared a cab with them to the city, and spent the afternoon with them (mainly eating and drinking) before we all caught the night train back to Singapore.

1 comment:

private guide said...

Thank you foк the good review. I read your blog when have time and I find it attractive. Like a mini-voyage to the foreign country.