A few days before we left Penang we organised our onward travel east for the Perhentian islands, to make a long story short we got them from an agent at the Komtar bus station, though my hopes for an easy journey were dashed when we were told the best option (well cheapest and most comfortable) was to get the VIP night bus (with reclining seats). Ugggh the thought of it! Especially after the last VIP night bus we got in Myanmar. The lady assured me that it would not stop every two hours, she actually laughed when she said this so I assumed it was me being a bit over cautious.
When the time came to leave Penang, our guesthouse hosts kindly gave us a lift to the bus station where we could catch a local bus to the long distance bus terminal, after some waiting (in the wrong area) and missing some buses we eventually asked at the kiosk what bus to get, we were told to wait and our driver would collect us. After fifteen minutes waiting, time rapidly ticking closer and closer to our bus departure time, we were summoned and on our way. On arrival at the bus station, we got our tickets and headed straight for the bus as there were some rather dodgy looking types hanging about.
So the bus ride. From 9 pm to 5 am, we drove across the Malay Peninsula and no word of a lie, the bus stopped every hour with full lights on for at least 15 mins. Then at 3.30 am we clipped another bus, braked viciously and we were transferred to another bus after sitting around confused for an hour. Two hours later we were at Kuala Besut bus station, met by a lady (she ended up spitting later, less of a lady) who walked us to the pier to get our ticket for the speedboat to the island. An hour later, we were on our way to our cast away location of D’Lagoon. Literally. After a forty minute, bone shattering, thrown-in-the-air journey we arrived at our destination. We got off along with our bags onto a platform 200 m from the shore. A few minutes later a boat left the shore to pick us up.
We checked-in, relaxed and were greeted by this little lady.
A bundle of cuteness (who squeals like crazy when waves come near her!) that amused us for our few days at D’Lagoon. She wasn’t the only great thing there of course, a massive monitor lizard lived right outside our cabin and would walk into the jungle past the food hall a few times a day. Very cool.
So what do you do when you are on an isolated resort in the middle of the jungle?
Well we went on a few hikes through the jungle behind the resort to the beaches on the other side.
We also got taken out on a snorkeling trip one evening by one of the “guests”- it turned out he worked there as a dive-master. It was quite cool (and my first time snorkeling with no buoyancy device). We saw lots of cool fish, my favourites- parrotfish, bannerfish, etc. Gav spotted a box fish and a moray eel. I got to see 3 1.5 m blacktip reef sharks- Gav missed them unfortunately.
Also they had a dive school there. With pretty much brand new equipment. The dive-master from the snorkling trip, Omar, took us on our two dives. To the awesome Pinnacle (where we just missed a whale shark- its fin was spotted as we returned from our dive and to Batu Layer. Both quite different sites and also our first dive as a buddy! We also made a little film of our dives using a “fake” Go-Pro type camera we picked up on Koh Phangan.
While here we also decided to go to Sumatra in a “sure we are in the area it would be rude not to!” snap decision and booked the flights. More on that later
Every night there was a bit of a thunderstorm, the last night was an epic one. Four hours of crazy thunder and lightening, insane rain, massive waves and us lying in bed wondering how bad the sea would be in the morning when we were due to get the speedboat back. (It was completely calm in the morning!)
The following morning we got back to Kuala Besut, in a very overloaded boat (I was glad of the life jacket). Avoided the touts on the pier, hailed the most polite taxi driver to drive us to Jerteh where we had to wait ages for a bus. This was one of the few places I got massively stared at. I had chosen to wear a short dress (because I had to wade out to my thighs to get on the transfer boat) and hadn’t time to change). Luckily I had leggings in my bag and once they were on I got noticeably less stares and some 60+ year old guy came to talk to us for around 40 minutes on his way to get a paper. He was predominantly talking to me, and by talking I mean flirting. It was quite amusing for Gav.
Anyway after numerous “hellos” and “where are you from?” we were on our bus to our next stop of Kuala Terengganu. The plan was laundry, blog posts and catching up on sleep from the epic storms. At D’Lagoon, we had limited internet access (using mostly our sim card data and the odd hour at the common area in the evenings) and limited access to power (there were only plugs in the common area not in the rooms) so everything was dead but Gav found a place to stay from a recommendation by Lonely Planet. Cheapest (but clean) rooms in the town, fast wifi, washing machine, rooftop cafe. Sounded like an excellent base for a few days. So we arrived and used the last ounces of remaining battery to find our way to Ping Anchorage Travelers Inn. Two nights we planned to stay here before flying to Kuala Lumpur. I really wish it had only been one night. The room was insanely cheap (25 RM/£3.77/$5.82) for a twin room with shared bathroom. But…..there was no internet! Ok for the price we figured we could cope with no internet as we could at least get our laundry done for free. So up we headed to our room. It was almost prison like in its sparseness. Concrete floor, no over sheet, no towels, window onto the hallway (at least it had a window!) and ants (we were well used to ants at this stage so this didn’t bother us). Well we had sleeping bag liners and travel towels so no massive issue there. The icing on the cake however was that the washing machine was 8 RM per wash and as it turned out it was broken. Oh and the cafe was no longer there, just the ghostly apparition of one. In fairness this kinda summed up the whole town, it was quite dead, looking very sorry for itself and crying out for a lick of paint. It was a sort of passing point town as just off the coast were the Redang Islands. Basically a upper class Perhentian Islands and a holiday resort for Malaysians. A bit of a fancy package holiday place. Miles out of our price range.
The the only decent bit of Terrangganu was the Chinatown area. In the end we spent our first day there looking for a self service laundry (we found after asking loads of people). The next day we went wandering.
First for breakfast (well lunch..) to a place called Madam Bee.
A quick flight from Kuala Terangganu to KL, bus, long wait, walk across town to our guesthouse, went out to see the Petronas towers, other than that we went shopping, not much to see there. Shopping was pretty good though.
After 2 days in KL, we were once again leaving on a jet plane..for Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia. Country number 7.
(FYI we have a cheap way to get the train to KLIA that Gav came across- split the journey at Putrajaya, it will save you 20 RM ($5).)