Friday, 13 July 2018

Off to Perhentian Islands

Night buses are never my idea of a good time, and this one in particular was very unpleasant. After setting off from Penang at 8.30pm we had a half hour stop at 9.30 and then another at 11.30. Every time we stopped the lights would be turned on and it was pretty much impossible to sleep. Although the seats reclined back slightly it was hardly like a bed and we had no pillows or blankets, so overall was not off to a good start. I woke up at 3.30 when we had yet another stop and discovered that we had arrived!! We had been told that we were due to arrive in Kuala Best at 5.30am ready to catch the first ferry at 7am, but evidently this was not the case. Having had less than an hour's sleep we collected our bags and headed to the port. Here we found benches to lie on and attempt to sleep for the next few hours. Good times.

I couldn't get to sleep and miraculously there was wifi, so I began looking into accommodation options on the island. There are two; a bigger one aimed at families and couples with expensive resorts, and a smaller one with more backpacker options. Neither advertise almost any accommodation online, so it is pretty much a case of turn up and hope for the best. However; when we told this to other people on the bus they looked shocked and couldn't believe we hadn't booked as it's high season, which worried us slightly, and so I browsed some blogs to get the names of potential accommodation.

It finally got to 7am and we moved over to get the boat. Another disaster struck as we discovered our ticket was different to everyone else's, and the boat staff told us we needed to wait and catch a different boat. Every single person at the port aside from us and two others then proceeded to board boats and head to the island, not ideal when we were already competing with them for accommodation! Fortunately we were soon allowed to take the empty spots on a boat, and headed off. The journey itself was very similar to the one on our island hopping tour; we were quite literally bouncing through the water and I started to think we may not survive.

At this point I wondered why I had suggested the Perhentian islands at all, and was praying they were nice so this journey hadn't been for nothing! Fortunately the first stop the boat made was at a port and from here we could see how beautiful and clear the blue sea water was, and things started to look okay again. We got off the boat at long beach and started to venture along to find somewhere to stay. There was a beautiful resort with an infinity pool which we passed first and I secretly started to hope that this would be the only place left and that we'd have to stay! We then tried a backpackers style place which had 12 hours of electricity, no wifi, and offered us a triple room for £22 with boarded up windows. Although we kept it as a possibility we continued wandering and asked for directions to one I had seen the name of online, and we're fortunately able to find it! The man at the desk offered us a reduced rate if we stayed for 3 or more nights and after checking out the room we booked it for our 4 nights on the islands. The Perhentians are notorious for having bad, overpriced accommodation for backpackers, but we got a standard, modern bed each in a 6 bed dorm with attached bathroom (cold water only), 24 electricity including wifi at reception a 2 minute walk from the beach for £6 each per night, which we were very happy with.

After checking in and showering it was now around 9.30am and we were shattered, and opted to spent the next few hours napping so that we could survive the day. After a great nap at around 12.30 we headed out in search of food. Again; we'd been told that food was very expensive over here and to bring our own food and snacks so had come very prepared, however we found a lunch place cheaper than anywhere else so far in Malaysia! I got 2 pieces of roti canai (a local dish- pretty sure i broke my veganism for it) for 80p!

After lunch we went to sit on the beach, and katie and I swam in the amazing water. We spent a few hours here just lying on the sand and relaxing before deciding to head over to the other beach, just a short walk past our accommodation to reach. This besch was really beautiful too though with more rocks, and many people were snorkeling. I noticed a large, multicoloured fish as I was swimming which was so cool, and later we booked onto a snorkeling trip to hopefully see more.

After a while on the beach it was time for dinner and we headed to a place mentioned in all the blogs as offering good, cheap food. I had got an oreo shake from there earlier and we now had some dinner before heading back to our room. After an ab workout, showers and a mass clothes wash we just sat around chatting before bed.

Laura x

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