Saturday, 5 October 2013

Perhentian Islands

Hooray, We are on one of rather confusingly called "Holiday" bits of our travels. This time the excuse is because of our friends visiting from England. So, we trundle off to meet them in KL and spend two days there...KL tower and watch people base jumping off. Petronus towers for some of us to look like old queens, Batu caves and then the night train (should have been 1st class but the train company messed up and forgot the carriage) down to the Perenthian Islands

Paradise comes at a price of £16 a night in the Perhentian Islands. For that we have one of 5 wooden beach bungalows on the gentle arc of the very private and beautiful Petani bay. The bungalows are spacious and rustic looking with flotsam of all descriptions making up large portions of the décor. Bleached white driftwood tables, handmade chairs, coral and shell decorations piled in corners or balanced on shelves; great lengths of substantial looking rope coiled around solitary upright posts or draped from branches of trees. Artistic creations of the current staff and past guests adorn the trees or open spaces around the huts – a wind chime here, a
freeform structure there, a piece of a wreck with a flower arrangement on it elsewhere.  The tiny resort is a picture set against the back drop of dense jungle with green leaves of Palm trees shading the bougainvillea that grows in abundance
around the houses. Golden sand, dotted with large rounded boulders, stretches the short distance to the jutting pieces of rocky headland that define the far ends of the beach. And beyond – a gently lapping aqua marine sea with the warmth of a bath stretching to an horizon of faraway hills and the open South China Sea. Our time on these car free islands has so far been spent sunbathing and reading, listening to music and enjoying the company of our dear friends Melanie and Gary who have come, their bottles of duty free merriment in hand, to visit us from England. Our time has also be spent shitting! Rachel, for a few weeks has suffered from an almost constant need to be near a toilet so has ate very little and now I too have got some sort of food poisoning from KL that leaves me in spasms, sweats and sore arsed. Welcome to Rachel’s world – she can keep it!

Another day and Gary and I do a dive off Shark Point (big misnomer – should have been called crappy dead coral dive – But I guess people wouldn’t do it). Heard there could be large black tip sharks about on that dive so was excited but alas none seen and later found out from the dive master that he only see’s one in every ten or so dives.  Ho hum, it was cheap (wonder why?). Got back to find Mel and Rachel half cut with a bottle of vodka and gin beside them on the beach. Lovely!
5.00pm and the daily build up of heat creates a fresh crop of huge looming  storm clouds to amass on the mainland and start edging their way towards us. As the sky changes from the perfect blue to an immensity of grey we watch a huge waterspout rise out of pewter coloured water out in the ocean and wind its way along for ten minutes or more.

Later, we run from the huts to the restaurant as the rain starts and reach it just as the first torrent hits. Thunder rumbles and the skies are streaked with jagged shards of lightning. The music from the stereo is drowned out by the patter on the roof tops The restaurant (picture perfect in design) suddenly changes into a scene of frenetic energy as menus fly, candles fall and placemats are whipped up by the tremendous wind. Shutters are grappled into place and tied to posts and banisters, tables are hastily shoved back to congregate around the bar end of the room whilst the rain seeping through the gaps wets the floor around us. Suddenly we have done all we can and after mopping brows and straightening clothes we take our seats and assume our roles of tourists trapped by the storm and set about eating and drinking our way through the evening. Our laughter and animated conversations stopped occasionally by extraordinary claps of thunder, displays of lightening and a little later the cry of “Sorry everyone – the boat is sinking we’ll be back!” called through the kitchen hatch.
Given the opportunity to be able to say I had a nice meal or to say I helped rescue the boat left me in  no doubt which route I should take so abandoning my sweet girlfriend, my sweet and sour chicken, tee shirt and shorts I rush out in my boxers. The air outside is electric and apart from the lighting that momentarily blinds before illuminating everything in silhouette it is black. I turn to the shoreline and run through the breaking waves to a spot light some 100 metres away. There, waist deep, are the three staff straining with the boat towards the shore whilst the waves broil around them. I join the fray and timing our efforts with waves we heave the boat to shore and when we can get it no higher, drop rounded fence posts beneath and roll it further up the beach to the tree line and relative safety. A good story, a good deed and a good, sodden, entrance back in the restaurant to reclaim my clothing and a towel.

The morning shines down on the debris brought in by the previous nights antics and after breakfast we set off on fast motorboat ride across the channel to the larger island. It is a perfect cloudless day and the best of days to be skimming the waves on a boat with spray flying all around us and the wind tousling our hair.


We are dropped on a shallow bay with a few empty beach bars and bungalows on it and walk to the huge monoliths sticking out of the water at the far end of the bay to snorkel for a while before setting off on the walk across the island to another bay. The walk turns out to be brilliant and diverse. First a path through reeds and long grasses then into gradually more rampant trees and bushes, up a gentle slope to taken in a view from the top then descending though pleasant wooded areas overlooking tree tops until we reached the other side. We had hoped to see a little wildlife. We were not disappointed with the gradually lager monitor lizards ending
with a a 5ft one blocking our path and needing a little persuasion to move whilst a troupe of monkeys leaped from tree to tree above our heads on their way to somewhere. Melanie, being a little wary of critters, looked like a cartoon character not knowing whether to run, stay still, wimper, shit herself or, as she eventually did, beam a big smile.

Last full day spent exploring the island some more and walking from Petani to Coral Bay along the coast track past derelict huts and cute little bays then back across the island to Long beach for Long Island Iced Tea and Pizza and a bathe in the warmest waters so far. A really chilled and lovely day.
As I sign off we are bizarrely laying on a mattress on the floor of the spare room of the owner of the Petani Beach. We said we would be going to the airport and would need a hotel and were told not to bother by Kiri (resort manager) and that Hash (the owner) would put us up. So here we are. God knows where, not sure how far from Airport and how we are getting there  in the morning but, you know what, The man is very friendly, hospitable and speaks good English and at the end of the day adventures aren't found in normality are they?


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a brilliant way to round off a years worth of travelling.
    H.O. UK