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Published: June 30th 2014
Flew out of Melbourne in the early hours of a freezing Winter's night to the tropical (read sweaty) heat of these eastern isles a few days ago. The Air Asia flight was fairly smooth but I wish we had prebooked two comfort kits because the plane 's aircon was set to a temperature more suited to its destination. The passengers around me were buckled in but little did they know that the 'turbulence' was actually me shaking from frostbite.
Arriving at the new KLIA 2 terminal we walked a few kilometres to Immigration and the baggage carousel and it was only then that my attire of three quarter length pants and t-shirt was appropriate for the climate. We wandered around for a couple of hours (nothing really to see), had a bite to eat and checked out the web. Dean and Eleanor were meant to be at the netball grand final, so he was keen to find out the result. Unfortunately the little plastic netballers on top of the piano will not be joined by another shiny golden friend this time.
The short flight to Kota Bharu was uneventful but Dean, in his prebooking frenzy of 12 months ago,
had ordered my second nasi lemak for the day. Luckily I can't get enough of that coconut rice and anchovy delight. However, a meal is not really needed on a plane that starts its descent pretty much once it takes off. Anyway, Kota Bharu airport was as I remembered it - nothing fancy but still in working order. I don't mind the somewhat neglected feel of the terminal building, although I do hope air traffic control receives a little more attention. Greeted by a solemn looking man holding a sign, we were quickly ushered into his minivan without any ceremony. Soon we were whizzing past villages and overtaking anything in our path. After a jolting journey of about an hour, we arrived at the pier with half an hour to spare. Dean was keen on purchasing a pair of sunnies so we dutifully trotted along to a nearby business. Finding ourselves in what appeared to be a mausoleum filled with dusty boxes, we sifted through dozens of sunnies that had died back before celebrities had branded every product imaginable. I eventually came across a pair that was least likely to have come from the props box of Boogie Nights. I
then left the two of them for some air conditioned comfort while they went to find some snacks. Returning with three packets full of highly saturated fat, salt, artificial flavours and colourings, we promptly scoffed them down before reaching the island. The boat trip was the last leg of the journey, so after leaving Melbourne at 12:45 am, we arrived at Perhentian Besar at 2:30 pm - sweaty, tired and eager for a swim. Not much appears to have changed since we were last here four years ago, but the predominantly Scandinavian and Dutch clientele means that it's still fairly tranquil. Sitting on our verandah, overlooking the beach, the serenity is occasionally broken by diesel powered fishing boats and the call to prayer from the shiny new mosque opposite.
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