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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Monday, 16 Apr 2007

Location: Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

MapOur original plan was to travel up the west coast of Malaysia apart from the trip to the Cameron Highlands. However, we were really glad that we listened to all the rave reviews and went to the Perhentian Islands off the east coast in the South China Sea. The only way to get to the islands is by small open boats which carry about 20 people with little room for any luggage and which speed across the 20km from the mainland. On the way there the sea was quite rough and it rained so we arrived soaking wet - but a warm rather than a cold wet.

We stayed on the Big (Besar) island rather than the Small (Kecil) party island - there aren't any roads on the island or any major resorts, just a string of small hotels / bungalows along the beaches. The restaurants are right on the beach with the bungalows and cabins set in the trees behind. The boat drops you off at your beach accommodation and then you can take water taxis to get around the island.

This part of Malaysia is predominantly Muslim and nearly all the women wear headscarves. It was quite odd seeing women wearing tracksuit bottoms and long sleeved tops swimming with masks and snorkels over their scarves. Quite a lot of the hotels, including ours, don't serve alcohol - in fact we had an alcohol-free stay, even though we mostly ate at another place that did serve booze. Some of the hotels have a separate bar business run by Thais to avoid making money from alcohol.

We stayed at Coral View Resort which had the best snorkelling on the island straight from the beach. The white sand beach was fringed with palm trees and the sea was crystal clear and warm. All in all it fitted the tropical paradise bill very nicely. There was lots of coral and loads of fish right by the beach and reef sharks further out. Further out still the sea bed became sandy and turtles came to feed on the sea grass - we were lucky enough to see one close up - in fact Sue thought it was going to attack her but it was just coming up for air. We also saw a huge monitor lizard - it must have been 6ft long. A German family rushed passed us as we were sitting on our verandah - the mother helpfully said "big animal, big animal" and indeed it was. Apparently it had just come out of the sea - not sure we would have fancied swimming with it.

We're not huge fans of the beach so we only stayed 3 days, but as beaches go it was pretty hard to beat - in fact it has probably spoilt us for future so called paradises.