Update 4 - Perhentian Islands
It's 9.15pm and we're now sitting outside our hostel in the middle of yet another spontaneous monsoon, it must be at least 20 degrees and pitch black, drinking a can of diet coke and finding some inspiration for our next chapter of our adventure.
As you know we spent the last few days in the Perhentian Islands off the north east coast of Malaysia. We took our final bus trip to Kota Besut and got a speed boat over to the islands. We were told before hand that the island usually gets busy between June and September and had to reserve rooms to avoid disappointment.... if it wasn't for the mozzies we'd be happy sleeping on the beach! The island was a perfect combination of crystal clear sea, golden sandy beaches and temperatures no less than about 25 degrees. We also had to budget for the total time we were intending to spend there because there were no banks or ATMs, no card was accepted anywhere! The only way you could get around the island was by jungle treks, taxi boats (speed boats) or kayaking.
We spent the morning trying to find somewhere to stay, which turned out harder than we thought. We were both tired, hungry and only wanted to crash out somewhere and have a shower, not much to ask, no? We ended up in a place called the bintang view chalets.... which was an unstable wooden shack with a bed, a light and a fan (which only worked from 6pm till 8am) No electricity, no mirror (Abbie's contribution) and a balcony overlooking the shower block.
What we weren't expecting, was to be occupying the chalet with Eddie.. Eddie the lizard. He was about 10 inches long, green with orange and brown spots. He enjoyed our company so much that he stayed for the whole three nights we were there. For a 10 inch reptile he made some tremendously loud GAAAAWWWKs, not very often but usually when we least expected it, at about 3am. I think we both broke the British high jump record by at least a meter. It wouldn't have been so bad if we realised it was Eddie but when you're stuck in the middle of a jungle in a wooden shack and hear such a loud noise, the last think you expect would be quiet old Eddie.
As usual we got up early to make the most of the glorious sunshine and everything else you get when you Google 'paradise'. We headed for breakfast in a sort of tiki hut facing the sea front where we had a traditional Malay breakfast of Omlette and Pancakes! Haha. It seems that all they eat is spicy noodles and rice, they also don't believe in knives and forks, just use your hands! We thought we wouldn't risk a Malayan style breakfast on our fragile stomachs. We headed back to the hut to grab a few things and strolled down the jungle trek towards the beach, unaware and in deep conversation. We both glanced up from the path and at the same time froze on the spot, turned on our heels and ran as fast as Usain Bolt on speed.... As much as this is going to sound like a massive exaggeration and no we don't have any visual evidence.... we saw a Giant Lizard probably about 7 foot long with tail, on his mid morning stroll across the sandy paths. I don't think that either of us had ever felt so scared in our lives, my heart sank to my stomach and my head didn't know what was going on. We looked back and saw the lizard, slightly startled by our lightning quick reactions, whipping his tail from side to side. If only they had these creatures on I'm a Celebrity get me out of here... We then daringly headed back slowly only to find his partner crossing from the other direction, averaging the same size. We both keep thinking back to it and slightly relieved how close we actually got to him, something like that should only be kept in a cage with reinforced steel or at least have a warning for the islands “Not suitable for anyone with a known heart condition”.
Each night was a mission to get asleep, trying to block out the array of noises that could be heard and trying to picture the quiet crackling of the sea further towards the coast.
For the first time on our trip (12 days in) we managed to take a break, no walks (well, nothing more than 3 miles...) no buses and no early mornings, 9-5 of chilling and relaxing. We even managed to stay at the same accommodation! The first day we spent looking for the quieter areas (not that it was particularly busy). We found a lovely little spot over the rocks between romantic beach and golden sands beach, seems like no one knew that it existed. We swam around in the clear still water where 20 metres out you could look down and see your toes wiggling around. There were little fish playfully swimming in and out of your legs and the coconut trees lazily hanging above our heads while we lay on the beach listening to some summer anthems.
The following day was a little less fun, we hardly slept from the sound of the heavy rain battering against the tin roof of our wooden chalet. We ended up sleeping more during the morning than we did all night and began functioning about 11.30(am). The whole place was a bit murky and dull but at least this forced us to stop being so busy and just 'chill out'. WE were planning on going on a snorkel trip but instead we took a stroll towards another beach called coral bay and took shelter at Ewan's Cafe. Ewan was probably the nicest person we've met so far on our travels, we had a fresh banana milkshake (which was out of this world) and some breaky. We ended up playing Jenga for about an hour and a couple of card games, even though we were on probably the most beautiful island of the Indian Ocean it was so nice just to take it easy.
We headed back towards long beach and decided to have a BBQ dinner on the beach. The choices of meat included: Chicken, Prawns, Squid, Shark, Barracuda, King Fish, Blue Marlin and Stingray. Wanting to try them all we ended up with Barracuda (with Malay Paracik Sauce) and King Fish (with yellow coconut sauce). As romantic as it sounds it wasn't the easiest meal to eat, with the dimly lit lighting and the number of deathly sharp bones that the Barracuda had. The food was good but perhaps not their specialty. We headed back to the chalet with firmly gripping the torch and with extreme caution in case we bumped into our old friend the lizard again.
We checked out of the nature reserve of a chalet at 11 and were herded onto a speed boat back to kota besut. We spent 2 hours kindly declining the constant offers of the taxi men (at least one every 2 minutes) “you want taxi? Kota bharu? Get you there now, no wait for bus? 60 riggit? Taxi? Kota bharu? You want taxi? Kota bharu, kota bharu”. The bus finally arrived to take us the 60km journey which we thought would take 40minutes... which in Malay time is 2 hours, after picking up and dropping off every school kid in the 30 mile radius.
We looked around a couple of hostels recommended by the lonely planets book, where we instantly walked out of due to their level of health and safety! And we ended up in a clean(er) hostel called Zeck's who is as close to the funky buddha as you could imagine. We had some dinner in yet another 'hawkers' style night market... those little steel shacks serving a variety of colourful dishes. Although the food tonight doesn't really compare to that of Penang!
We're now waiting for the rain to calm down before darting back to our rooms for an early night. We fly from Kota Bharu Airport at 11.35 tomorrow morning and arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 12.30 saving us a 10 hour bus journey! Score! Then we stay in KL the night of the 30, 31, 1 and 2 and head to Singapore on the 3rd at around 6am. Its been nice to see a few more tourists around and we've met a few nice people along the way, all have been friendly and helpful (apart from the Spanish woman who guided us on the 11 mile trek!!) It's somewhat reassuring to know that there's other's in the same or worse position as you, especially with the language barrier here.
The weather doesnt seem to be getting any better, in fact its probably getting steadily worse with the thunder and lightning, looks like we're gonna have to man up and make a run for it. Just as well we're not in the shack tonight or we'll be floating into the sea heading for Australia!
Hope all's well at home!
Lots of Love,
Abbie and Emyr