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Published: August 6th 2007
Time to move on. We caught our flight from Siem Reap to Kuala Lumpur but were gutted to realize we had landed in the ‘ Lo Cost Terminal as we’d flown with Air Asia. Our onward journey was four and a half hours away and there was nothing to do. In the international terminal we’d remembered seeing free internet access and had planned to use the time productively and update our travel blog. The only decent seats were in the café, how long can you make two cups of coffee last?
After what seemed like forever we boarded our flight and 35 mins later we touched at Kota Bahru. By now it was approaching ten o clock so we were worried about getting a bed for the night. We jumped in a taxi and asked to be taken to Bunga Raya Guest House. The Lonely Planet Guide had not painted a rosy picture but it was cheap (less than £3) and they had a vacant room. The owners were very friendly but it was pretty bad, still it was only one night. I have to say though I slept with a torch in my hand and found I was turning
it on every few minutes expecting to see rats or cockroaches with every slight noise.
Finally morning came, at 6.45am as we emerged from our ‘hostel’ there was our taxi driver from the night before pulling up - perfect timing! We zoomed off to Puala Besuit where we were to get the 8am boat to the Perhention Islands
Unfortunately for us it was the start of a bank holiday weekend. There were at least 20 Malaysians getting on the boat including 2 tiny babies and several children. The boat was supposed to take 12 passengers max. With us, and Johnny from London it was double capacity full. The locals started handing out life jackets to the adults but amazingly not the children - or us Europeans. As we set off I asked for one as the boat was very fast and it helped keep the spray off me if nothing else! At one point the boat lifted right out of the water and the engines cut out, after a lot of head scratching and a bit of tinkering the driver finally got the thing going again. Johnny had e-mail on his phone so contacted his 3 friends already
on the island. They secured him a room at Matahari Bungalows but said they were filling up rapidly. I asked him to e-mail back and get them to book us a room as that had been our first6 choice. Too late it was already full! The Malaysians all wanted to go to Perhention Besar so of course the boat sped past Perhention Kecil and dropped them off first then came back to drop us 3 off. By the time we’d got back to Perhention Kecil, what with the extra drop off and the time lost breaking down another load of back packers had arrived and finding a room seemed really difficult I waited with our bags in a bar while Stan tramped up and down in search of one.
He eventually came back - success, but very rough! An A frame wooden hut with a raffia roof but holes everywhere. The only light that came in when the door was closed was through the numerous holes but mostly through the large hole in the floor boards! A shared ‘bathroom’ 20 foot or so away, no flush toilet.
Now you instantly feel at home in some places, others you have to
work at - this was one of them. We managed to find a couple of plastic chairs to put our bags on (too many creatures likely on the floor!), swept the layers of sand and dust from the floor, put our own nice clean sheet sleeping bags on the beds and it began to look like home. There were a few rusty nails here and there to hang our stuff on. One bonus we actually had a generator that produced electricity between 7pm and 7am, luxury!
We spent the afternoon on the beach and at 4pm I realised we’d eaten nothing all day so Stan went back to get the squishy melted bar of chocolate we’d bought at K.L Airport yesterday plus a few chicken flavour crispy things and a can of coke. Very healthy!
We attempted to shower and get ready for an evening meal when the electricity was turned on and were surprised how easily we’d adjusted to our living arrangements. I convinced myself that if those poor people we’d just seen in Cambodia could cope with even worse conditions for probably all their lives, then I could manage for a few days! Surprisingly we both slept
Long Beach, Pehentian Kecil
View from the rocks at the North end, we clambered around there to reach the best snorkelling
extremely well that night, that is until the girls in the next hut came in at 5am screaming and shouting.
We woke up feeling fresher than we had done for ages and realized how lucky we were to actually have a hut, at least 6 backpackers were sleeping rough on raffia mats near our ‘reception’ area.
We spent the next few days exploring the beautiful beaches, swimming and snorkelling. The coral off the north end of Long beach was very good and we saw many fish including a huge trigger fish. One day we did a snorkel trip, our group consisted of 3 Armenian guys plus a couple, Fearghal and Misa, who we were to become good friends with. Our boat driver was determined we would see Black Tipped Reef Shark so when there were none at ‘shark point’ he sailed to a second spot and jumped overboard in search himself, he was soon gesturing us to join him and sure enough there they were, strutting around. The Armenian guys seemed a bit nervous. I was swimming immediately above them and followed them for quite a while as they swam through channels in the rocks. During the trip
we also saw huge turtles and some amazing coral as well as millions of beautiful coloured fish.
Evenings were spent meeting up with the numerous couples we had befriended whilst there, especially Fearghal and Misa who we discovered were on their honeymoon. This fact amused me as they were staying in accommodation worse than ours! No electricity at all, so no fan and no mosquito nets! In fact many conversations revolved around who had the worse accommodation, something like a scene from Monty Python. There is good accommodation on the island but it is expensive and after all how long do you spend in there anyway?
One day we took a boat trip, hopping between the nearby Islands of Redang and Lang Tenga, they were both very beautiful but unfortunatly it's not possible to stay on either of them unless you book a package trip.
One night I awoke to hear the gentle pitter patter of rain on our raffia roof, it then became harder and in no time thunder was rocking the sides of our little hut and lightening was cracking all around us. As we had no windows we could only imagine what was going
on out there, I kept expecting rain to start dripping through the roof but amazingly it didn't. We came to the conclusion there was nothing we could do so turned over and went back to sleep. By 11am the next morning every thing was drying up and getting back to normal. A couple of nights later the same thing happened but earlier in the evening, we were able to sit on the beach watching the lightening light up the whole bay, it was a fantastic sight but as the rain began we had to run for cover!
Well it's time to move on again, tomorrow we travel back to the mainland and hopefully meet up with Sharon in Kota Bahru before taking off to the jungle.
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