Sand, sea, salt air and sunshine.
Just can’t get enough of it.
Too bad my life isn’t one long holiday.
Recently, me and me buddies headed up north and slightly eastwards to a small island off the coast of Terengganu called Pulau Perhentian, literally translated to ‘Stopover Island’. We left on a Thursday night and drove whole night long to reach the Kuala Besut jetty. The road to Kuala Besut involves driving along the Pantai Timur Expressway and then turning off onto smaller trunk roads. This is the ONLY way to reach Kuala Besut by land. The drive along the Pantai Timur Expressway wasn’t bad at all. The roads were empty. The only problem was that we were forced to turn off earlier that expected due to the highway being under-‘Vellu-ed’. Without warning, the highway was blocked off and everybody travelling along the highwat is forced to turn off at Jabur (pronounced with a distinctive Hokkien slang).
Fortunately we had GPS, so finding the road that would lead to the Kuala Besut jetty wasn’t a problem. Unfortunately, at about 4.40-5.00 a.m. in the morning, the GPS (which was actually my friends handphone) ran out of battery. Imagine being in the middle of nowhere, in an unfamiliar state, suffering from lack of sleep in the middle of the morning and you would know how we felt. However, being positively-overwhelmingly-confident, we just said ‘ti ti kia’, Hokkien for ‘just go straight’. And we did that for awhile until we started going around in circles.
I am here about to proclaim the power of having a mobile phone that has access to the Internet. Using his handphone, Daniel manage to download an application from Google Maps that allowed us to locate our position and that of the jetty. So we happily continued our trip and managed to make it to the meeting point well before the departure time. The holiday package we were taking was run by a company name Fauna Holiday Sdn Bhd and I have to say the service is fantastic. They really take care of their guests from the moment they arrive right up to the point that they are leaving the jetty. We met up with one Mr. Ong at the jetty and he directed us to our boat. Here is a tip if you ever have the chance to sit in a boat. If you are the type that gets motion sickness, NEVER, EVER sit at the front of the boat. That is the part of the boat that moves up and down the most violently. 10 minutes into the boat trip and already I was wearing my butt around my shoulders. The sea wasn’t even particularly rough but being in the front of the boat is pretty bumpy. However, it is also the most exciting part of the boat so I would recommend sitting there at least once in a lifetime (just once though).
One of the reasons why we chose to use the service of the Fauna Holiday Resort was because they offered a snorkeling package that is actually worth the money. 2 days of snorkeling over 6 snorkeling spots. Totally awesome. We rested a little once we checked into the hotel rooms but we were for the most part too restless to get any proper sleep. After a buffet lunch, we headed out to the boats where we were taken to out 1st snorkeling escapade. To my pleasant surprise, the snorkeling masks were actually provided F.O.C. with the package. This is highly unusual because most resorts require that the masks be rented for RM10-20 (hidden charges!). Another thing that set the guides and the snorkeling package apart from other snorkeling packages is that the guides actually take the time to instruct the tourists (us) on the proper methods of wearing a mask. Not that I don’t know how to do it, but to many a 1st timers it is a great help. It also shows that they actually care what happens to you on the trip.
The 1st spot that we went to was near some rocks on a stretch of island that didn’t have a beach. It was the 1st but it wasn’t a pushover as there were plenty of fish and corals to be seen. Me and Daniel wandered off away from the rest of the group for the most part because it can get kind of crowded in a pack. The second spot we went to was a spot where turtles came and fed of the seabed. The turtle was a big specimen, not some small fellow and there were 2 of them. The guides even took one of them to the surface so that we could play with it. One good thing (among many) about the guides was that they insisted that everyone must see the attraction that they were brought to see. They actually cared whether you were having a good time. The 3rd spot for the 1st day was near to our resort where baby sharks could be found. After the 3rd dive, the boat sped off to a small strip of beach where there was a well from a spring with ice-cold fresh water in it. The guide proceeded to splash everyone with the fresh water and I have admit it was refreshing. We then heading back to the resort where we were left to our own devices (I slept) until dinner time which was in a form of a BBQ.
Night time of Pulau Perhentian is peaceful and serene. There is hardly any waves and the air is cooling and fresh. When the sun dips beneath the horizon, the stars come out and the sky is filled with them, unlike in the city where all you can see are the ugly red clouds in the sky and one satelite blinking spastically.
The next day, I woke up early to wander around and do some rock clambering. Off to the right of the island were some rocks that seem ideal for clambering. So I did some before breakfast and ended up dozing in one of the hammocks. It was so peaceful and cooling in the morning that sleep came unexpectedly. I only woke up because my friend Eddy came to get me for breakfast. After breakfast, it was back to the rooms to get our things and then back to the hammocks to await our boats. This time round, the boat took us to Redang Island, where our 1st stop was a tourist shopping centre. It was also evidently the place where there are some baby sharks. Being tourists of little means, we and my friends decided to forgo the pleasures of shopping and instead hunt for some shark. We ended up having the entire snorkeling area to ourselves and we had fun trying to chase after the sharks and other fish. Our second stop took us to the Marine Park where we had our lunch that was packed for us. Usually, on cheaper packages such as this, you don’t really expect much but we were again suprised with food that was not only good but that was served on proper plastic plates with real cutlery. We then had the chance to feed the fish and take a look at a morey eel, a large grouper as well as a suprise visit from some black squid and a particularly ill-tempered barracuda. However, I was dissapointed to find that some human really don’t know how to take care of the environment. After finishing all the bread that was provided for us to feed the fish, these human simply discarded the plastic into the sea! What kind of idiots are these people. Yes, I did pick it out of the sea for them. Morons.
Anyway, before we headed to the last stop, we stopped over at a resort of Lang Tengah for a rest. By that time my skin was twice over sunburned and was screaming for shade, which we found in the shape of a bunch of hammocks under the trees. Ahhhh….so blissful, I nearly fell asleep. Our final snorkeling spot was off some rocks in the middle of nowhere (or probably I can’t recall) near some pretty deep water. We amused ourselves by diving and harassing the fish as well as picking sea cucumbers for others to touch. We also had a diving competition with one of the guides whose name is Wendy (who is a guy by the way, and obviously we lost to him). We did plenty of skim diving but a word of caution, look where you are going because I nearly crashed headlong into a coral reef when I wasn’t looking.
Finally, after 4-5 hours of snorkeling, it was back to the fresh water spring for another rejuvenating splash. After that it was back to the resort. However, we weren’t quite done with snorkeling so we borrowed some masks (FOC courtesy of Wendy) and took of on a REALLY shallow water snorkeling experience with a girl we met on the boat. Somebody remind me, are sea anemone supposed to sting? I touched one before I remembered that they were supposed to sting. This is where I got my triple sunburn. After about 2 hours, we got back to shore and cleaned up ready for dinner.
The next day was spent at a more leisurely pace, hanging out with the guides, kayaking a little and just waiting for time to pass and our boat to arrive. And so we bad farewell to a wonderful trip. However, we do have cause to return to the island again. We found out that we missed out on a squid catching experience. We vowed to return if only to go and catch squid (yes, we are that obsessed with squid catching).
Anyway, you can check out the picture on my FB account or if you don’t have Facebook, the pictures can be found here.
I am planning to make another trip back to this island and the resort. I really enjoyed myself and I would without hesitation recommend this resort to anyone I know (provided I like you la..hehe).
I am looking forward to my trip to Krabi at the end of August. I hope the H1N1 virus has died down by then.
Till next time.
Theme song of the trip : Pitbull – Calle Ocho (75, Brazil Street)