We went downstairs at 7:50 having skipped the cold shower option to find ourselves probably the last up and thus to breakfast, taken on the steps of the hotel (wide steps). Simple and pleasant as toast and coffee is it was cool and pleasant on the ground which was quite a surprise considering the din of cockerels, scooters and chicken de-feathering devices that we could see and hear from upstairs. Our man, Nan Ibrahim (maybe that explains why the ferry man said
Follow this guy, the hotel owner. the impatient mopedist) explained that some of the racket last night was because a group of people turned up at 5am. I didn't quite understand why. Most of our fellow guests charged off just after 8 leaving us sipping our drinks.
We found most of them over an hour later at the ferry man's shop. With a few more taxi arrivals there were about thirty Europeans with backpacks waiting for the slow ferry. Kal's old car? We were ushered off to a long line of boats and scrambled across two to reach a boat which definately wasn't going to hold all of us. Fortunately they had two arranged so about half filed onto the next boat clearly labelled "Max 12 passengers." Like double white lines, these are more guidelines than rules.
First, then, through the harbour walls. Here the swell of the ocean was compounded by a narrowing and a shallowing and we rollercoasted through two or three almost standing waves from the relative calm of the harbour. Good seat of the pants stuff. Then on across the 21km (1.5 hour) gap between the mainland and the islands. I had some sympathy for a young French kid who a stranger suggested to watch the horizon but only after the kid had started looking unwell. Sadly such advice is too late once symptoms are showing. His mother then fretted a bit and held out a plastic bag (kindly offered by the same stranger). All this time the father was completely indifferent to his son's distress and the nearest he got was to interrupt the mother to get his camcorder out to film the second ferry weathering a particularly bumpy bit.
As we approached the first island several long thin heavily overpowered and generally alarmingly directed water taxis appeared and rode along beside us. We stopped and then there was general confusion as to what was happeneing. It's at this stage and it's the same with almost all public transport that you really wish someone had taken the time to tell you what was about to happen. As it turns out this wasn't our island and the ferry doesn't "land" but merely approaches. At Long Beach on Kecil, wily taxi men step in to help. On Basur, the other island, the resort's boat comes out for you. I say resort, more stretches of beach as they all jumble along next to one another.
We took a "standard air con" room for RM150 (less 25% -- low season) and I thought we were just going so picked up the bags (kindly saving Helen) and lugged them for an eternity before realising that as we hadn't signed anything we were meant to be inspecting. Having lugged that bags up a steep flight of steps we accepted. We went to see the three local dive operators who all called the same tune that the diving was pretty lousy at the moment as the monsoon hadn't quite finished -- ie. the winds were blowing the wrong way meaning big waves and bad visibility where there wasn't. Hmm.
We went for lunch and decided to go for the company that did trips to the other big island in the region, Pulau Redang. Sadly, she said, there's no likelihood of doing the boat trip with these condition until April. Bugger. We decided to do nothing for a day. I then decided to try out my underwater camera. Wearing my blue goggles -- I bought them thinking they might be useful in blue water, they're not, everything becomes a shade of blue but at least you can focus -- I realised that the deep blue extended to my camera and I couldn't see a thing on the display so was shooting blind. Not wanting to find excuses but there was a very strong surge and a surprising amount of sand in suspension so I wasn't too dismayed by the poor results. Still, at the surface the water was a very pleasant 30C which made up for the camera battery (somewhat less substantial than two Rizla packets stuck together) not lasting for long.
We retired and read for a while -- Helen voraciously consuming Edgar Allen Poe where I had been stuck on p7 for five months -- before dinner at the shore. A bit too near the shore, the waves stopping about four feet away but they seemed confident enough to put fencing in etc.. Helen obliged me to try the "Fried Ice Cream" for dessert which appears on a large plate as four squirts of frothy creamy stuff with a square of doughnut material in the middle proudly upholding a small Union Flag. The doughnut did indeed contain strawberry ice cream. Sadly a bit sickly in the end but a good effort. We took a wander to the next beach to see the fish in the jetty lights but retired with too many people with guitars hiding in shadows. Actually, only one but it's enough.
Coral View Resort, Pulau Perhentian Besar N5.90228 E102.74043 Elev. 20m Standard room air con garden view, Coral View Resort, Pulau Perhentian Besar
Copyright 2003 Ian Fitchet. All rights reserved.