The picturesque sunset from Coral Bay.
Leaving the cool climate of the Cameron Highlands reluctantly behind us, we made the 7 hour journey to Kuala Besut in order to catch our speed boat connection to the Perhentian Islands. The boat ride was insane - if the captain didn't drive a BMW then he didn't drive at all; the choppy waters meant nothing to him as he shot off at what seemed like 80mph towards the small island - Perhentian Kecil. Once we'd arrived, disentangled ourselves from our bags and the other passengers, and disembarked, we heard from a beach-walker that the island was full and we'd be lucky to get a place on the sand! Rather disheartened by this, we joined a couple of Irish guys and began the long and arduous task of finding a room.
This took all of 3 minutes as the first place we tried - Simphony Village - had one triple room, and two doubles. Sorted! All the budget accomodation on the beach was fairly grotty, with little to no power, dodgy showers and toilets, and no air con, but we were pleased enough to have found somewhere so didn't grumble. Too much!
Perhentian Kecil was finely kitted out for the deep-sea divers, and the highlight of our visit was a snorkelling trip run by one of these dive companies. It promised 5 locations and lunch at the quaintly named "Fisherman's Village", and it certainly delivered. The first stop was "Turtle Point", where there was nothing - not even a fish. Fortunately the back-up "Turtle Point" had a turtle in it. It was a lot of fun to follow this massive creature as it surfaced right in front of us for air, then dove back into the depths.
Palm trees on Long Beach silhouetted in twilight.
Next stop, the adventurously named "Shark Point". The sharks were black-tipped ones, and were few and far between but quite breath taking when one swam merely metres below us - they were quite harmless though. Apparently! Apart from sharks, this stop had some magnificent coral in all colours of the rainbow; there were also some clown fish, or "nemos", living in their anenomes - this was quality as I'd never seen these outside of a tank before, and they swam right upto my mask before scurrying back into the tentacles again.
A brief stop at "Coral Grove", or "Coral Point" as the angry man in the boat beside ours shouted, correcting our guide (he's obviously the guy that comes up with the names!), allowed us to see some very friendly little stripy fish that came up to you in shoals of about 100.
A night shot of the straw sun-shades on Long Beach.
They were friendly because they either thought you had food, or that you were
food - they could scarcely bite though. I had a lot of fun here throwing my bead bracelet into the water about a metre away, and watching these things come in their thousands from nowhere, trying to eat it. After following a few more funny-looking fish around for a bit, we headed off for lunch at Fisherman's Village - it was as quaint as it's name suggested. Back in the boat, we headed out to the lighthouse for some more bracelet-throwing at the fish. Here, the fish were even more sprightly than before as some of the passengers of the other boats had bread. My bracelet, looking exactly the same as bits of bread when floating on the surface, meant I could have stayed here for hours.
This is Coral Bay with the pier in the background.
Hehe! A final stop at "Romantic Beach" gave us everything put together - even sharks and turtles (though I didn't see any). The coral here was beautiful, and there was an abundance of clams to poke, fish to follow and tease, and sea cucumbers to stare at. After an hour of swimming about we headed for the beach itself and waited a further hour for our guide to finish sunbathing, before heading back to the island. A very worth while trip, all for RM40 (just over 6 quid).
Unfortunately, the consequence of this trip was pretty bad sunburn for both my back and Chris' legs so, while Rhodri did a couple of dives, the two of us did little else over the next couple of days but sit about reading and, on one occasion, watch "Casper" at the movie night. Still, it was pleasant just to enjoy being on the island, which really was a naturally-occuring tropical paradise!