Last known location: London, England

Island Idleness

From Penang we travelled East across the country to the Perhentian Islands, a group of small islands on the far north-eastern coast of Malaysia. This involved a very early 5am start, swiftly followed by some treacherous driving through the Malaysian countryside. Our driver (who looked no older than 17) seemed not to have learnt the art of taking corners and we were thrown about the minibus like rag dolls. It was so bad that on the 1st toilet stop all of the passengers begged him to slow down and drive more carefully. Despite protesting that we’d miss our boat he did actually slow down. I even managed to get a snooze in!

Due to the speedy driving during the first hour or two we arrived at Kuala Besut port an hour early. This is the first time we’ve ever arrived anywhere early so far on the trip! We all piled onto a fairly sturdy looking speedboat and began the 21km trip to the islands. It’s a good job the boat was so sturdy, as we were bouncing around a lot on the waves and got splashed quite a bit. I sort of enjoyed it and got a bit hysterical; it was like going on a ride at a theme park! Dan wasn’t so keen so it was with much relief that we finally made it to the island.

Our good friends Imogen and Olivier are also doing a world trip and they were on the Perhentian Islands so Olivier could do his PADI Open Water diving course. They were staying at Shari-la bungalows on Kecil, or “Small Island”, so we headed straight there to check in. I’d stayed on the same island 5 years ago with some friends when doing a bit of travelling after graduating. Back then we had to walk through a jungle path to get to the shared toilet and bathroom facilities. Now Dan and I had the luxury of our own, albeit relatively basic, bathroom. We also had electricity 24 hours a day this time, whereas 5 years ago there was only a few hours of electricity during the evening. The island is still quite underdeveloped though. There are no cars or banks, and most of the accommodation is only open from March to October.

The white sand beaches and turquoise waters make the Perhentian Islands a great place to spend a few days. Imo and I spent our time sunbathing and putting the world to rights whilst the boys swam and read books. They also both had the unfortunate luck to be urinated on by one of the islands many stray cats. Imogen had been telling us the story of how poor Olivier was ‘done’ by a passing ginger tom when Dan suddenly jerked his foot and shouted ‘I’ve been got’. Terrible news, obviously, but while he ran off to wash in the sea Imo and I couldn’t stop laughing. Very mean, I know. He was slightly gratified when we discovered that my bag had been a target, too! I appreciate that in the photo the cat looks rather dead, but I can assure you no harm came to him and he was just sleeping at the time of the snapshot!

We had a great couple of days with our friends and discovered a mutual fondness for prohibited rum on the first night when we stayed up chatting till 2. Not a bad effort considering we’d been awake at 4.30am to make it to the islands. After a relaxing break we all moved on; Imogen and Olivier went West and then North to Thailand, whilst Dan and I headed south to the modern mayhem of Kuala Lumpur.

1 Comment:
  1. John 28 Feb, 2011

    I’m pleased but not surprised that you managed to sleep on a speeding bus.
    Must be interesting gauging the impact of development in the five years. At least this time there could be team Gemma at the PADI school.
    Hope you got my email.

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