07.07.2012 28 °C
We took 2 cabs and headed to the domestic airport in KL. It was such a tiny airport and it seemed empty. They had specialty donuts with all sorts of toppings on them. Cameron had green tea icing on his. We flew Firefly airlines to Kota Bharu. Kota Bharu is on the west coast and nearly borders with Thailand. It was to be our jumping off point to get to a jetty to go across to the Perhentian Islands. From Kota Bharu, we took 2 cabs on about a 40 minute cab ride to the Jetti. The most memorable sight on the cab ride was the moms picking up their kids from school. The little girls wore bright pink burkes as their uniform. The moms picked the kids up and there was 4 of them on one motor bike with their pink fabric flying behind them as mom drove them home from school. The countryside was very lush with lots of palm trees, corn fields, and everyone seemed to own a cow or two. We saw some palm oil plants.
We bought our ticket for a speed boat ride to Palua Besur. It was about 30 minutes across and thankfully not too rough. We managed to get all our backpacks off and onto the beach without getting anything wet. Now to find a place to sleep. We chose Flora Bay as Cameron had taken his dive certificate here and the beach was beautiful with lots of snorkelling nearby. WE tried lots of the little bungalows along the beach but most of them had squat toilets. Well in other words, no toilets in my opinion.
We finally found a family room style with flush toilet, AC, fan, and hot water—luxury! After a nice lunch on the beach, we checked in and had a beautiful swim in the water. The water felt like a warm velvet bath. WE had to watch where we were stepping as there were sea cucumbers everywhere. The water was super shallow as the tide was out. Although we were staying at the Flora Bay 1, they were building a brand new restaurant which wasn’t to be open until the next night. We ate at Fauna Bay resort. It was an early night for me but the boys sat out on the balcony to play some cards.
Today was a “chill” day. Just hang by the beach. The guys all walked over the mountain and checked out the beaches and resorts on the other side of the island. Daniel had an early run on the beach and saw a monitor lizard. It was sunny and likely 28 degrees. The tide had come in so the water was perfect for swimming. We will stay here for 2 more nights and move on to Redang Island after this . We are paying about $60 cdn/ night for all of us.
Last night during dinner there was a huge storm. I actually wore my little jacket because it felt cool. It was the first night for the new restaurant to be open and they were having a barbeque. Well that didn’t work out very well as the rain poured down on the barbeque. I’m sure we waited one and a half hours to eat charbroiled chicken, beef, squid, and fish. We are only eating at our resort restaurant etc. Because they take visa and we are not sure we have enough Malay ringets, to get off the island. We didn’t plan that very well. However, it is an incredibly nice restaurant. Beautiful tile, stainless steel tables, and chairs, and a very high tin roof. When the rain came down on the tin roof it was so loud, you couldn’t carry on a conversation very modern. Because it is Muslim they do not serve alcohol. We can get beer at a store way down the beach. We took a snorkelling boat ride around big island and had 4 stops. It was just our family and we saw shark, stingray, a large turtle, beautiful huge coral, and colourful blue and green red coral and as usual beautiful fish. There were many other boats at each stop and the Asian people were standing on the coral, breaking the coral and trying to catch the fish. It was disgusting. It was a great day, the water is so warm and beautiful and the sand powdery white and the island is lush. We spotted a monkey in a tree during lunch.
Breadfruit fell from a tree during supper and almost hit a Muslim Mom and her baby. Dinner was great- garlic prawns, seafood, rice, oyster sauce beef, red chicken, fried rice etc. We remarked that it doesn’t get dark until eight pm which we thought was unusual. After dinner we took a long walk on the beach in the dark. It is very quiet here as there is no drinking or partying. There are many families mostly Muslim but some Chinese and many are here just for the weekend. Our neighbours are from Quebec City and are travelling for three months with their three young sons.
We left Palau Besar this morning. Bob was to take us but he left at nine and it was now ten. (We thought he said ten). So we got another very small speed boat and a driver that we never knew his name. He did not speak any English. It was just the 5 of us and it was quite an overcast, windy day so the water was a bit rough. I was a bit worried as it was and hour and a half boat ride with only about a foot of boat between us and the ocean. We also had 2 life jackets for the 6 of us I noticed. Luckily the waves were large rollers and no whitecaps developed. About half way there, I noticed the engine didn’t have quite the same purr. Naturally we were out of gas but luckily our driver with no name had another tank. Cameron took the opportunity to jump overboard for a pee.
Redang Island Malaysia
We arrived in Redang and unloaded on the dock. We carried our packs across the beach to our new abode which was called Holiday Resort Redang. We booked it by phone from our last resort and they only had packages available which meant all meals and 2 snorkel trips each day. Our rooms are plain with the usual shower issue where all the water pours all over the floor and never dries. At least we had AC, hot water, fan and western style toilets. I refuse to stay in a place that has a squat toilet. They don’t give a top sheet, just a blanket but Cameron says he didn’t even get anything but a bottom sheet where he was staying before. We also have a balcony which is nice for drying all our clothes. There was a large family company convention here when we got here so the place was full. Lunch was chicken, fish, egg, coleslaw, and juice. We took the 2:30 snorkel trip with 50 other people on a good size boat with a driver that Mark said must have been 14 years old. They took us just around the point to snorkel. The other snorkeler were a mix of Muslim with full scarves and all and young Chinese looking students. We were the only snorkelers that actually move 10 feet away from the boat to see some coral etc. The rest were really just interested in feeding the little fish around the boat and sticking their heads in the water once in awhile. The coral was big and pretty nice in places but in other places it looked dead. There was this terrible white slime on the water and the water was murky and polluted. It was so disappointing to see what is happening here in the Perhentians. We don’t expect any of this coral will be alive in 10 years the way they are treating it. They just aren’t educating the tourists and the boat drivers don’t care what you do. Usually it is the snorkel guides that are standing on the coral. The people all wear bright orange life jackets and snorkel by the boat loads so there may be one hundred people dropped in the water at any one time. This is supposed to be paradise and a divers Mecca. So Sad!”tea time”. We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and relaxing on the beach and our entertainment was watching the garbage boat. It was so tedious watching how they got the garbage off the island. They dumped hundreds of garbage bags on to the beach and then they would throw them one by one into a small speed boat. The speed boat would drive up to the garbage boat and they would throw each bag up to the boat. Then bail the boat like crazy to get the water out because it was really wavy and the boat was always overloaded. Then they would anchor by shore again, throw a bunch more bags in the speed boat, unanchored, drive up to the garbage boat and so on and this went on all afternoon.
We had dinner on the terrace overlooking the ocean and it was lovely with a warm breeze.
We have very little availability to internet or phone as we are on islands so this will be quick. We have been snorkelling and swimming in the. South China Sea. The coral is incredible. We have been travelling mostly by boat but tomorrow we will fly from Redang to Singapore to Johor Baru. Then we will fly to Tioman Island for 3 days. Maybe we will find some internet there or load up the phone. All is well with the happy travellers.