As one of the most popular tourist spots in Malaysia, Penang naturally became one of our stops as we visited a few places during the summer. Penang is a vibrant city rich with cultures and history. The only downside, perhaps was the very humid and hot weather! Even a Malaysian like me felt uncomfortable at the end of the day after cycling and walking around George Town the whole day.
It took me a looong time trying to decide whether to join this trip. It felt safe and secured to be travelling in Europe, despite the language barrier, but somehow lots of possibilities crossed my mind about this trip (no offense, and indeed I’m a worrier, lol).
Thank God I made an impulsive decision, which led me to this beautiful island on the east of Malaysian Peninsular. Pulau Perhentian consists of two islands, the Small and Big Islands.
From Penang (which will be in other posts later), we took a night bus to Kuala Besut, which took almost 10 hours. We arrived at about 6am to this humble little town. Honestly, it didn’t appear to me to be well taken care of, being an important if not only portal to such a popular island for tourists, and clean public toilets were only opened after 8am! We spent a good few hours waiting for our boat to Small Island, so we had a simple breakfast in the town just 2 minutes walk from the jetty. Finally at 10am our boat ride arrived (it was included in the package bought at http://www.pulaupulau.com/ )
It was a 30-40 minutes boat trip as they had to drop off the tourists at a few resorts. The drivers were friendly and talkative if you start asking them questions about the islands and since many of them are locals, they sure know a lot.
As soon as we arrived, we were awed by the clearness of the sea water and the amount of fish visible near the boats.
In the afternoon we had a relaxing time swimming the private beach of our resort. It was covered with dead corals instead of being white sandy, but overall it was a nice experience swimming and sunbathing as it wasn’t crowded and the water was really clean. We could see fish swimming and some sea cucumbers. Some of us rent the life jacket at RM5 each just to be safe. Afterall, swimming in the sea was never the same as swimming in swimming pools…
The highlight of this trip was the snorkeling on the second day. The trips from our resort left at 10am or 2pm. We chose the Short Trip (3+ hours) which included snorkeling points at Fish Point, Shark Point, Turtle Point and Light House. It’s a good thing to know beforehand that the baby sharks don’t bite! Despite the names, only some of us saw one baby shark at Shark Point, we saw one big turtle at Turtle Point. Generally there were plenty of fish and at some snorkeling points the corals were very much alive and colourful! We saw giant corals at the Light House. We were lucky that there weren’t any tourist choosing the 2pm slot so the guide was free to ride us to other spots in the afternoon.
During the night we went to the beach for BBQ fish by the sea. As there was a long list of order and everyone was waiting for buka puasa, we waited for two hours before we could eat, but it was really nice to be chilling and eating and listening to the waves after a tiring day swimming in the sea. There were two BBQ restaurants in front of Shari-La Island Resort, Mama’s and Amelia’s, both very popular.
We also took a 15 minutes-walk on a pitch dark (!) small road to the other side of the island where Long Beach is situated. I was quite alarmed at first by the complete lack of lighting on the way but surprised to find that quite a few of others were taking the road to and fro the Long Beach as if it was normal to be walking in the dark. Some of them even had torchlight with them, apparently being well informed or experienced. Instead of being covered with corals,the Long Beach was a sandy beach, very comfortable to walk on. It was very happening at night with pubs opened for drinking and dancing.
We left the island on the third day and took a taxi to Jerteh (a bigger town, easier to catch buses going to other places, and it was 15 minutes car from Kuala Besut) and left Jerteh by a bus at night. As we haven’t bought bus tickets for our next stop, we had to leave the island earlier (at 12am) to make sure we secured the tickets we needed. It was a hassle to do anything online (for e.g. buying a bus ticket) as the connection was quite poor on the island.
Thank God for the safe and amazing trip to this beautiful island. I believe this is a must-go place to people who enjoy the sea and beach.
The morning sun had just emerged from behind the thick grey clouds. I was sitting by the river when I saw an old guy, possibly 50 or 60 years old, went down to the river bank and started digging among the mud and stones, looking for clams (or oysters?). I heard there used to be more people in this town doing this along the river. It seems to be a slow job, I wonder how long would it take to get enough for a dish of the seafood and how much he gains each time he goes down? I hope that his gain was good that day.
At the far end in the background is the mosque of Sultan Ibrahim (Masjid Sultan Ibrahim).