Day 146: So This Is What Paradise Looks Like!

Ok, so today will be a really quick post. Feel free to skip it if you like. The whole day was taken up with travelling, and what free time we did have was spent waiting for our next form of transport to be ready. We travelled by air, land, and sea all in one day. I didn’t do any people watching what so ever, and that was thanks to a book I have become obsessed with. It definitely gets the Ben Norris stamp of approval, and is titled “Marching Powder”. It was one of the books Liam had recommended to me back in Ho Chi Minh. Liam was right when he told me I wouldn’t be able to put the thing down. No matter how hard I tried, it was too addictive. I will refer to bullet points once again for 2 reasons:
1: I don’t want to waste your time with boring details of a boring day.
2: I want to get back to my book.

• The alarm rang at 3am. Yes you read that right, THREE AM. In total we got all of 3 hours sleep. However, I was soon shouted at for setting the alarm 45 minutes early. We attempted to get back to sleep, but it only felt like 5 minutes had passed before the alarm was sounding again.

• We didn’t get breakfast this time. After packing the last of our bags, we headed downstairs expecting to find our taxi driver outside waiting for us. He was running late, we were worried that in turn we would also be late for arrivals at the airport.

• Like usual, the time we were told it would take to get there, and the time it actually took to get there, were completely different. We were expecting it to be an all systems go type of affair, after we were told it would take 20 minutes to reach terminal 2. Instead, we arrived in 10 minutes and checked in our bags with time to spare. We were so early in fact that the airport was dead, and security hadn’t even opened its doors yet.

• We grabbed a lovely healthy McDonald’s breakfast, then at 5am we were allowed entry. There was a slight hiccup when I left my tablet in the bag. I think it hid something on the X-ray scanner. The lady told me to remove it from my bag, and she scanned my rucksack again – tablet free. I had nothing to hide, we then walked through to get our passports checked. The two guys were probably the most chatty authoritative figures we had met. They asked us if we had a good time in Sabah, and they hoped we’d return again – we would in time. Then all that was left to do was find the departure lounge and wait to board the plane.

• For the 2 and a half hours it took for us to reach KL I had my head in my book. The flight was completely smooth throughout, and Sarah took a picture of a magnificent sunrise. I was also given a free meal aboard the plane. I chose the chicken noodle option, but the noodles tasted like ash, and hidden amongst the chicken was the devils lettuce: coriander. Needless to say, it was horrible. When we touched down (softly by the way) it was around 9:15am. We made our way to baggage claim, all 3 came out very quickly, then we were surprised at the lack of security. There was no more immigration or security scanners to go through. Given the early hour of the morning, the whole process of leaving one airport and arriving at the other went extremely quickly.

• Immediately we recognised our surroundings. It was where we had met Rachael the other day. This meant we had to catch the same bus to KL’s other airport. We had a flight to catch to Kota Bahru with AirAsia. We went to the same station, paid the 2 ringgit 50 cent charge, and half an hour to 40 minutes later we had arrived – again, I used that time to read my book.

• We spent the 3 or 4 hours we had between flights at McDonald’s. it was only logical. There was nowhere else to sit, and if we wanted refreshments they were right there – if not for a slightly higher price than anywhere else. We stayed there for so long, that the menus changed from the breakfast to dinner options. I didn’t mind as it gave me longer to read.

• An hour before our second flight of the day we checked in our bags, went through security, and sat patiently in the departure lounge. Again, I read more of my book.

• The flight was only an hour, but it seemed a lot quicker because of all the reading. By then I was well and truly entranced. The only thing that occasionally distracted me was the high pitched screams of babies and young children as their ears adjusted to the high altitudes. The poor things must have been in lots of pain, and scared because they wouldn’t have known what was happening to them. Before I knew it, we were landing. It made me jump as the wheels crashed onto the landing strip. I wasn’t expecting it, the last thing I knew we had just begun descending.

• After collecting our bags once more, we purchased 3 tickets to get us to the Perhentian islands. This involved us taking an hour long ride via taxi to the jetty – during which time I fell asleep while reading some more. In my tired state I began hallucinating, and I believed I was editing the book much like my blogs. I guess that’s what happens after only 3 hours sleep. We had to stop to withdraw money on the way, as there are no ATMs on the islands. 5 minutes later we had reached the jetty office.

• After filling out our names in a large book, as well as our passport numbers, we were led to the boat by the man behind the desk. We had to pay an additional fee of 5 ringgit, this was for conservation fees. Because the Perhentian islands are part of a conservation area, the money helps to keep it all clean. The boat we climbed aboard was a speed boat. It had two large black engines on the back, each had the number 175 printed on them in white sticker. I presumed this was the horsepower rating.

• The boat blasted across the water, and at points I am pretty sure we were airborne. Whenever we crashed down atop a wave it sent shudders up our spines, causing our teeth to clatter. We did well not to bite our tongues come to think of it. It was a blessing whenever we’d fly off one wave and ride down the back of another in a smooth fashion. The boat journey lasted half an hour, and after all that excitement there was no way I was feeling tired anymore.

• The Perhentian islands were stunning from a distance, and even more so as we grew closer. The water took a new shade of green. It was a darker turquoise than I had been used to, it resembled the green ice pole for the multipacks you could buy back home. I think it was that colour because it was so deep, the closer we got to the shore the more transparent it became, I hadn’t seen anything like it before. Like most islands there were jungle areas, and also like most islands they were rich in colour and wildlife, however the Perhentian islands were something else. But there was no time to admire that now, we had to find accommodation, and fast. Every second we carried our holdalls the more the straps dug into our skin.

• We were stopped by a friendly guy outside a dive centre. He told us the fancy looking resort behind the dive shop would be reasonable for 3 people. After going to enquire, it turned out to be too much – £16 a night each was too much by any backpackers standards. The next place we tried was full of older Indian men, the girls felt uneasy about that and rightly so, they don’t hold back with their eye contact. They eye western women up like a wolf would a lamb. There’s not much subtlety to them whatsoever. The third place was much better, although we left it initially to check other places first. But after learning that one of the other resorts hadn’t opened after monsoon season just yet, we returned.

• The first room we were given had a spider in it. Sarah spotting this began shaking nervously, pointing at it and ushering me over to remove it from the premises. After having seen the really large black ones in the jungles, this 8 legged loser posed no threat to me. I went at it (ahem… with a tissue in hand) but the second I got close, it ran faster than any spider I’d seen. It darted right behind the cupboard, this made Sarah very, very uneasy.

• Good news came next. When I went to pay for our accommodation, and fill out the log book, we were asked if we’d mind moving. The reason being, there were 3 of us in a double room. The guy in charge looked over to the guy who sold us the room and said “it’s just a double, can’t add a third bed in that room”. Knowing Sarah would be all to happy to move rooms to one that was arachnid free, I almost snatched off his hand at the offer. I don’t even think he finished the question before I blurted out the answer.

• Our new room was much better, higher up, cooler, and spider free. The power to the island was only between the hours of 7pm – 10am every day. This meant the ceiling fan in our room wouldn’t work for another half an hour. Not wanting to wait – mostly due to our impatient rumbling bellies, we went in search of a meal.

• As we strolled along the beach we bumped into a guy we met at the jetty. His name was Phillip and he was from Germany. Everything about Phillip’s face made him look like the cartoon character Dick Dastardly. All that was missing was the pencil thin moustache and a snickering dog. He explained to us that he found cheaper accommodation than we had, and for 80 ringgit a night we could get a room with a/c overlooking the beach. The only catch, to get it that cheap you’d have to book up 2 consecutive nights. We paid them a visit straight after we were done talking. The guy behind the counter explained they’d have plenty of room, and there’d be no need for us to make reservations. After he showed us the rooms, we told him we’d be back in the morning to book up the following two nights.

• With a new home lined up we returned to the beach. We took some fun photos of us jumping around, then went for some beach side food. It was fantastic. I had a family sized burger, not that there was anything family sized about it. I still felt hungry afterwards. So to scratch that itch, I ordered the battered snickers with ice cream. When they arrived they looked more like fish fingers, but the melted snickers was goooooood. As for the supposed ice cream that came with it, well, I’d say it was more chocolate mousse than anything.

• Sated from food we returned to our private room. It was very dark by that point, and the oversized gecko on the wall outside scared the life out of us when we caught it in the torchlight. Unfortunately, when we opened the door we discovered there was no third bed brought up in our absence. Luckily for Rachael, I noticed one of the staff eating at the same restaurant as we were. The pair of us returned and found the dreadlocked man sat with 2 girls. We apologised for disturbing his meal (of which it looked like he’d finished) and explained there was no third bed in our room. He told us he’d sort it straight away. No sooner than we returned to our room, than there was a knock on the door. It was him, and with him he had brought a spare mattress, a pillow, and a towel. What a nice guy.

• Around 11:50pm I had finished my blog entry. I have realised that I had a lot more to say than first thought. However, I am very tired now, so reading my book will have to wait until tomorrow. Yet, then again that probably won’t happen either. We had seen various posters around the island advertising snorkelling trips. We could visit 4 islands and snorkel them all, and what with the curse looking like it was on its way out, it seemed like a good idea!

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