08 October, 2009

The Great Adventure: Day 18 to Day 27

Sorry about the delay in updating our adventures; internet connections off the mainland aren't that good & pretty expensive (12RM per hour, instead of 2RM)

Anyway, let me update you on what we've been doing since the last update...

Day 18 (Monday 28th September)
(Still on Perhentian Island)

Both K & I adapted to the island life style & spent much of the day reading or napping. Not the most exciting of experiences to share, but we ARE on holiday after all!
In the evening, K headed out for another night dive. He enjoyed this one much more and even saw a shark. Yup, a real shark (admittedly it was a small one & didn't look like a proper shark. For those interested, it was a Bamboo Shark)
And that was pretty much Day 18.

Day 19 (Tuesday 29th September)
K started of the day with a wreck dive, which he really enjoyed but came back wanting more, so signed up for another one the next day. The wreck site was a cargo ship that ran into the reef during monsoon season, not as exciting as a WWII wreck, but interesting all the same...
In the afternoon, K headed out for another dive; this one 'just' a reef dive, looking at various fishes & corals.
Meanwhile, i hung out at the shack, watched the afternoon squall from the comfort of the shelter of the balcony. Also watched mad little squirelly type things jumping madly around the trees. They look like squirrels, but have the colouring of chipmunks, with the white stripe down the side. There were also a lot of beautiful butterflies in loads of different colours. Lovely.
Also saw a big monitor lizard (about 1m long) hanging outside of the reception of the place we were staying. Not sure if it was checking in or out...

Day 20 (Wednesday 30th September)
K headed out for his second wreck dive and had a much better time.
In the afternoon, we had planned to gout snorkelling again, but a really big squall hit the island. There was thunder & lightning & everything. It was all tad scarier, but made all the more scarier by a tree falling over onto the bungalow next door. Scared the crap out of the two Swiss girls who were inside at the time. Luckily, neither of them were hurt but their toilet was destroyed.
Ah, the excitement never ends, eh?

Day 21 (Thursday 1st October)
We got up relatively early in order to catch one of the earlier speed boats out of the islands.
About 10 minutes into our journey, a Malaysian air force jet came flying over. Nothing too exciting about that, but then he (assume the pilot was a he because no woman would do the things he did...) proceeded to do a series of completely & utterly crazy manoeuvres. For example, two of the things he did were a full stall, then later simulated a strafing run at our boat. It was like having our own private air show. Have to admit it was pretty scary though.
And did the excitement end there? Oh no!
Maybe 10 minutes after our Top Gun experience, one of the boat engines packed in. This meant our boat was going REALLY slowly & i thought our 30 minute ride would turn into an epic journey. Luckily, a replacement boat came along & we all changed boats. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN!!!!!!! This did not amuse me in the slightest. Open water? Changing boats? Not my idea of fun at all. Luckily, it was a really calm day & wasn't that hard at all.
Finally arrived back in Kuala Besut about an hour after leaving. Not too bad.
Took the public bus back to Kota Bahru, which was nice. Took about 90 minutes (our taxi in the opposite direction took under one hour) but it was a nice slow ride which was infinitely pleasing after the morning's boat adventures...
On arrival in Kota Bahru, we decided to buy our bus tickets out again for the next day. I went to the ticket office - which was complete mayhem, with no clear queues or anything - perhaps i'm too British, i need order! We'd completely forgot what day it was & everyone was getting ready for the weekend & buses were selling out on Friday (the next day). Finally, i got myself to a sales clerk & requested 2 tickets to Mersing (S E Malaysia. He told me the price. I DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH CASH ON ME!!!! I was really frustrated by this point, but asked the clerk if he would save the tickets for me & i have to admit i didn't expect much.
Anyway, K & me decided to stay at the same place in Kota Bahru - the Ideal Traveller's House. Once we'd unloaded, we ventured back to the bus station via a cash machine. Managed to talk with the same teller and guess what? He'd saved our tickets! What a lovely man! Really didn't expect him to do that, but he did! Yay!
Also made a quick trip to a pharmacy to stock up on medical supplies & the staff their were also really helpful. For me, Malaysia is a crazy & disorganised place (not as crazy as Thailand though), but the people are really helpful & nice which kind of balances things out.

Day 22 (Friday 2nd October)
Had to take a taxi to another bus station. Apparently Kota Bahru has 3 different bus stations. Why, i have NO idea, but it is a bit confusing.
Got there in time for our 8:30 bus. The bus wasn't quite as nice as our last long distance bus, but it was relatively comfortable - which was good, because today's bus ride would last 12 hours. Yippee!
Still, despite being 12 hours, it wasn't that bad. The drivers would stop every couple of hours or so for a pee break & we had a longer lunch break too. Only thing was that the drivers didn't tell us how long we had, so was always a bit pissed off when one of the travelling foreigners was still in the toilet when he wanted to leave.
At around 8:30pm, the bus stopped. Then the driver made an announcement & all the (Malaysian) passengers got off. Us foreigners were all sat there feeling a bit clueless, then the information filtered down that the bus was broken, something to do with electronics. SO, once again, K & I had to change modes of transport. This meant grabbing our rucksacks from the baggage hold whilst standing on a steep slippery grassy verge in the dark. I was not impressed. We got on the new bus, travelled about 10 more minutes and reached our final destination. I really don't know why the first bus driver couldn't have driven 10 more minutes & have avoided all the hassle of us unloading everything. Well, we had arrived safely & that was the most important thing.
Before crashing, we managed to book our boat tickets to Tioman Island the next morning. Decided not to get the early boat (7am) and stick with later one at 11am (a much more humane time).

Day 23 (Saturday 3rd October)
Got the ferry over to Salang on Tioman Island (SE Peninsular Malaysia). One of the reasons for going to Tioman was the slow pace of life & quietness. Actually, that was a lie. The main (but not only) reason is that for some unknown reason, Tioman is duty-free zone & beer & smokes are half price compared with the mainland. Woohoo - party time!
On arrival to the island, we enjoyed our first duty-free beers. 5RM. Nice.
Found a nice place to stay - Ella's Place. Was really nice & quiet there & with a sea view. Was really relaxing to be able to go to sleep to the sound of the ocean every night.
In the evening, we found the one and only bar in Salang, the 4 S Cafe. Salang was described as the "Party Beach" in Lonely Planet, but one bar? Is that what qualifies as a party beach? Admittedly, it was a fun place, with friendly locals & foreigners alike.

Day 24 (Sunday 4th October)
Had a typical 'island day' - read, slept, ate some food, went for a swim & then went to 4 S for cheap beers.

Day 25 (Sunday 5th October)
Another Island Day.
But in the evening, K booked himself on a diving trip & i found out that i could join him & go snorkelling.

Day 26 (Monday 6th October)
Went out for our dive/snorkel trip.
Was a half day thing from 11 to 3pm, with a lunch break & two dive sites.
The first dive site wasn't that good for snorkelling as the water was too deep. This meant that i couldn't really see much, just a few fish swimming by. Luckily the boat was 'parked' nearby, so i got back aboard & waited for K. K had a better time, being able to go deeper & see different things than me.
Then we headed off to a coral beach for lunch which was really nice. Think it was an uninhabited island, so we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. Was really nice.
The second dive site was MUCH better. The water was a lot shallower, so there was so much for me to see; a rainbow of fish, coral & sponges. It was also possible to swim in between huge rocks & see different things on the other side. It was so cool!
After getting back, we had a siesta and then headed out for dinner. And then after dinner... you guessed it, 4 S again, where we mistakenly joined in with the drinking games going on...

Day 27 (Wednesday 7th October)
Had a very VERY slow start to the day. Drinking games seem fun at the time, but extremely stupid the day afterwards...
One of the problems of the small islands is that they have no ATMs. Not only that, they have no banks. We had stayed on Tioman a little bit longer than we had planned & therefore ran out of money (another way of looking at it is that we drank all the money away...) Anyway, we needed to find somewhere that would change money. We tried 3 places that were recommended by islanders. All three said, "Yes, we usually do currency exchange, but we don't have enough Ringgit today". Crap. Finally, we went to a little kiosk on the pier to inquire about bus/ferry/plane tickets. And asked her where we could change money. And miracle of miracles, Kiosk Lady could change money AND had enough Ringgit for us! YAY! Meant that we could have food and even a few sneaky beers...
While we wandering around looking for Money Exchangers, we found the famous river where the Monitor Lizards live. And yup, there they were. They were swimming lazily up & down and were very impressive, about 1.5m. And did i have my camera with me? Of course not...

And that leads me to today. Day 28 which is only half way through.
K & me are on our way to Kuala Lumpur & I have to end here as we have to catch our bus. Only a 4 hour bus ride today...hopefully!


j-ster said...

Oh dear, when I read about the tree falling on the bungalow next door and destroying the toilet, I thought you wrote "Ah, the excrement never ends, eh?"


Martine said...


Sandi said...

Wow, lots of adventure. Make a woman out of you.