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Published: April 20th 2015
When doing our research on Malaysia one gem we had been looking forward to visiting the most was the Perhentian islands;
Sat at my office desk with my attention drifting from work, my mind would take me to what I believed it would be like; perfect blue waters, soft sandy beaches, an amazing underwater world and great sea food. Add in a BBQ and a mango shake, then that would be my paradise. As our pending trip got closer more and more I would idle over days that we could spend relaxing on the beach, reading books, listening to music or exploring the island and cooling down with a shake, beer or just some refreshing cold drink. It wasn't hard to look forward to this place and forget about any work projects in hand.
Oh how it did not disappoint. Was this what my daydreams were made of? I think it could be. It offered everything we wanted. The beaches were long but quaint, lined with small wooden huts and palm trees, the sea was clear blue; very shallow for the first 100 yards and great for swimming or cooling off from the sun.
Getting here via
local transport seemed impossible, we went to the bus station, asked the various tour shops and also our hostel but got the same answer. We didn't mind changing transport along the way but it seemed like everyone was making money through this. The only information we got was that there was a tourist minibus that you could buy combined with the boat ticket to save us money. Not exactly saving money at 120 ringgit each!!!, but with limited options due to not being able to find any helpful info on the internet and a desire to move on we took this option reluctantly.
The total journey time took around 7 hrs in the tourist minibus with a driver that appeared insistent on trying out moves from fast and furious. P avoided looking at the window as each time she did, he was speeding on a heavily trafficked road weaving in and out of traffic or nearly touching the bumper of the car in front in an attempt to bully them out the way.
Once we arrived at the port we then reluctantly paid the environmental fee that was absolutely absurd given all the visble rubbish dumped in the
sea and then we flew to the island. Okay maybe that's a little over exaggerated, we did remember reading about the questionable safety standards on the boats to the island so were happy when we were given life jackets but did not expect them boat to bounce to the island with the whole boat suspended in the air at times and drenching us all when we landed. No telling we all held on tight.
Unlike our journey; the island's vibe was calm, not overly touristy although with all honesty slightly more than we would have liked. Still just small local eateries, no big chains, and many friendly locals. From what we saw, there was only one bar with music that played mainly reggae music, not too loud, that offered their own local 'Jamaican' rums (making Chris very happy) with a lovely atmosphere by using low candlelit tables and thatched mats laid out on the beach. Some of our favourite past times were spent here.
We stayed on 2 areas of the island during our stay both times in little small wooden bungalows that were basic but charming. Coral beach was more laid back than the other with views
of the sunset and fantastic evening eateries, Long Beach boasted amazing sunrise views and a better beach but was more touristy. Both beaches were located around 10 minutes away from each other via an unlit paved trail (10min walk) and we made the journey to and from each beach several times each day.
For 20 ringgit each we often ate until we were overly content from the BBQ set menus. You would be given a choice of barbequed meat or fish that came with a pineapple/mango drink, a bowl of rice, a baked potato, coleslaw, a slice of pineapple and watermelon and all topped off with a slice of banana cake. No question on what we ate come dinner time during our stay here. Not being shy we tried the BBQ chicken, barracuda, Spanish mackrel, shark and lobster! We were pleasantly surprised by the meat/fish portions, they were huge and all very tasty. Our favourites being barracuda for Chris, shark for P.
One pleasant surprise, was a small beach called D'Lagoon via a 50 minute trail from the long beach. This was cosy and even quainter than the other 2 beaches with only a dozen or
so backpackers residing at the one guesthouse/restaurant provider, this place had a huge draw on us. After making it through the uneven wooded trail 45 minutes later with no injuries after relying on our useless flip flops (I know, we just didn't anticipate the need for shoes) we were in awe at this little place. We would have stayed an additional night here only we had already booked our flight from KL to the Philippines in the next few weeks. Located just off the beach was some great snorkelling spots where you could spot sharks and turtles. Truly paradise.
Whats more, a nice surprise was bumping into a girl we met in Japan. This does not happen, only a handful of south east Asia travellers we had met had Japan on their travel agenda (possibly due to cost). Plus whilst in Japan we didn't meet many western tourists. We spent the day here and then made our way to to long beach for our pending journey to KL.
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