The breakfast buffet presented by YT Midtown Hotel in Kuala Terengganu was quite disappointing. I had a combination of spicy rice and spicier noodles, accompanied by juice and a cup of tea.
At 10:00 we hit the streets to make some enquiries. The young lad in the Ping Anchorage travel and tours gave us some information about prices for accommodation on Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang but he didn't have any information about liveaboards nor diving from the islands, our sole purpose for visiting the islands. I had a website to look at and a couple of contact numbers to try, so sure I would be able to find us a liveaboard we made our excuses and went off in search of a telephone. Being unsuccessful in the use of the public telephones, I was trying to make a possibly barred international call, we repaired to the hotel room. I made my international call on Ian's mobile, who accepted the high cost, and proceeded to contact a liveaboard vessel that was recommended to me by a fellow diver aboard the Cairns liveaboard in February. Sadly, it was a no goer. The skipper wouldn't be at Kuala Besut, the mainland port, until late March which was too late for us. Then we made a decision to get to Kuala Besut today in order to get in a better position for reaching Pulau Perhentian. We checked out, left our bags at the hotel reception and wandered off to find a cyber cafe so I could check the website I had for liveaboards in the area. Sadly, they don't operate until June so that was a no goer also. We wasted the hour reading our e-mails and then collected our bags from the hotel having discovered that the bus station didn't want to sell us tickets to our destination. It was hot. It was humid. It was sticky. We struggled in the heat to the other bus station, a short way from the hotel and having successfully avoided being run over we reached the bus station to discover, on enquiring, that there was no express bus that goes straight to Kuala Besut, only a local bus. He immediately suggested we take a taxi instead of the 2 hour 30 minute bus journey. The taxi would leave now and would cost MRG 40. The bus would leave in an hour and would cost MRG 14. I didn't want to stay a moment longer in sticky, hot, humid Kuala Terengganu and by taking the taxi we would stand a better chance at getting a ferry to the Perhentian islands today. So we decided on the taxi. Sure enough we arrived in 1 hour 45 minutes, as expected, and bought a ticket for the crossing, 21 kilometres off shore, at 15:00. Unfortunately, we were refused transportation to the island today as the waves were too big and it was considered unsafe to make the journey. We were sent off to Nan Hotel and dutifully following a chap on a moped, lugging our backpacks, and checked in to the basic yet adequate hotel. We then spent spent the next few hours cooling down and reading before I insisted we have a look around Kuala Besut before dusk.
There wasn't much to it, plenty of children and chickens around, some hawker restaurants and a river leading to the South China Sea. The East facing beach was being rapidly eroded by the sea pounding its waves ashore. Mounds of sand and rock slumping 4 or 5 feet into the sea, literally, as we watched from our vantage point. We stayed there for a while, just staring out at the sea, long enough for the sun to set behind us and for my camera to emerge from its case and capture the silent image.
As the light began to fade we walked back to civilisation and had a small dinner at a very small price by the harbour, surrounded by cats, a scrawny kitten and a goat.
Copyright 2003 Helen Fuller. All rights reserved.