June 22, 2011

Better dayz - Welcome to the good side of life

Jungle trekking sure is fun, but nothing compares to a great beach life. Travelling is all about having a good time in awesome places, so we headed to the Malaysian East Coast for some beach, sun and underwaterworld watching.... Perhentian Islands it is. 
Perhentian Islands are located an hour of the East Coast of Malaysia and means "a place to stop" in Malay more or less. Earlier in the days it was a stop over island for the traders commuting between Thailand and Malaysia. The islands are still kept pretty basic and back to nature, there is a small (Kecil) and a big (Besar) island, with Kecil being the more laid back to the resorty Besar. The accomodation on Kecil is pretty basic with simple wooden chalets and blends in quite well with the surrounding untouched jungle, there is no electricity, excpet generators during the evening, no roads and no cars. The only way to around it to walk or via water taxi. The islands only permanent inhabitants live in a fishermen's village on Kecil. It's also very well known for the stunning dive sites scattered around the islands, so for us, the perfect location for some sun bathing, snorkeling and kicking back. 
After 8 hrs on the van and a short, speedy boat trip we were on the island. White sandy beahces and crystal blue waters... hello paradise. We chose to stay at Pulau Perhentian Kecil, the smaller but with a more laid back vibe and with more cafes. We landed on Longbeach - the party beach - aka two beach bars, but which are pretty busy at night with all the backpackers and dive instructors. Since we were more in the kick-back vibe we headed over to Coral Bay - the more chilled vibe beach - to check out some accomodation. The thing is, that the chalets on Kecil cannot be booked online nore via the phone, so you just rock up and have a look and like it or not. We went to several places and decided to stay at the Shari-La Resort, in a three bed dorm with shared bathroom. Sure, the double rooms with tv and ensuite were quite schmancy, but as we are the budget travellers, we decided on the dorm with aircon... yay. The walk from Longbeach to Coral Bay is over a small trail and takes about 5 minutes. It's through jungle and we were drenched afterwards, but we spotted several ghuanas on the way.

After settling in we hit the beach and explored the small strip of beach, lined with basic wooden chalets and restaurants. Oh and one dive school next  to the other, of course. In the search for food, we discovered Mama's Cafe - our favorite hang out spot for the next few days. Delicious food and a great athmosphere. Jeffrey and his team made our days - roti canai and yummy western brekky with muesli /w fruits and yoghurt. Yumm.
Our initial four days on the island extended itself for another few days, so that in the end we stayed for a week enjoying the sun, well, the shade more or less, lots of swims in the sea and lazy evenings with good food and chatter. The islands are also famous for its amazing underwaterworld, needless to say we had our snorkels and masks ready. The corals were really close to the beach and we spotted heaps of fish a few strokes into the sea. Truly amazing. Our "home" reef is the home to Nemo, big reef sharks and huge parrot fishes - truly huge compared to the ones I saw in Oz.
One day we went on a snorkeling trip with Mama's crew. We went to five different spots around the islands. We saw hundreds of colorful fishes at Fish Point, two huge turtles at Turtle Point and at Shark Point, well, yes reef sharks. Really stunning. The corals are unfortunately mostly dead and not that colorful compared to the Great Barrier Reef, nevertheless the underwaterworld was quite varsatile. Beautiful. Despite there being a lot of dive school on the island, I have to say I am still a proud surface-skimmer aka snorkeler. :-)
Our nights in the cozy dorm were a bit shaken by the "cockroach event". As I was drifting off to lala-land one night, I thought I felt a little something on my head and as I tried to shake it off, I realised what is was... the giant cockroach, that was resting above the window the other day, just made its way onto my head. FREAK! I wasn't sure whether to scream, cray or hysterically laugh. Jumping up and turing the light on, the room was awake and on the cockroach hunt. No one could have fallen back asleep with this disgusting thing just strolling around. No way. After like an hour we discovered that there were not one, but two of those "lovely" creatures, we caught them in the "infamous" red bowl and out they were. Though... good night sleep goodbye. ;-) 
More impressions from this little paradise here

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