Malaysia – The Perhentians

The Perhentians…

We then made our way to Penang airport, a nice 0430 start to the day! We boarded the tiny little propellor plane ✈️ …both slightly nervous! But got to Kota Baru in no time. It then took us an hour drive in a Grab taxi to the Kuala besut ferry terminal. This cost 65 MYR. The ferry ticket to the perhentian kecil island is 70 MYR return, there are also some extra costs; island entrance fee: 30 MYR and another little taxi from the speed boat to the beach: 2 MYR. From the boat we trudged along the beach, now in the swealtering sun, and found a little shady area to dump our bags whilst we wondered around looking for accommodation and dive schools. We eventually ended up going to ‘Oh lala’ dive centre and chalet. After a boiling swim in the 30deg water and our classic vegetable fried rice lunch, we passed out for the rest of the day after having only a couple hours sleep the night before. 😴

The next day we started out PADI open water course. We were really lucky as it was only Dani and I in the group, our instructor was a lovely girl called Lucy who was from Buckinghamshire. She was really great and calmed us (me) down a lot….Danielle will probably remember my sobbing the night before about getting a PE or having to go into a decompression chamber. But I’m still here to tell the tale! and have definitely caught the diving bug. We did all our skills tests not far from kecil island and then we got to do a few bigger dives; lots of reef, and an artificial wreck (three sunken police boats).

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On our last day we got to explore the island a bit more which we hadnt had time to do yet so busy with the course. We walked across to the other side of the island…after getting lost and passing through what seemed to be the islands dumping ground! One big lesson we have learnt this trip is things are not always how you imagine,, and when your looking at peoples instagram getting jealous the photo will not always represent whats going on.

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Anyway we eventually did manage to cross the island and reach the beach and much more expensive resorts and found a lovely little cove to have a swimbo.

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The day then came when we had to leave the lovely perhentians, say goodbye to Lucy and everyone at ‘oh lala’, the tasty ‘no name’ we had had everyday for lunch and elly a lady who worked at one of the front restaurants who was always looking after us!

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Someone obviously didn’t want us to leave as the heavens suddenly opened, the storm was so rough the boats were about to be cancelled…but in true asian style they thought they’d give it a go. So we all crammed onto one of the speed boats, buckled up a life jacket and clung onto each other making man over board plans, but credit to our driver, who had been on the phone most of the journey he got us there in one piece! That night we stayed in a lovely little guest house run by a malaysian couple who gave us lunch and took us to a local restaurant for dinner. In the morning we got a flight from Kota Baru to Kinabalu, Borneo. Now this part of our trip was a bit if a surprise addition so we hadn’t planned it quite yet!

Next to Borneo…

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Malaysia – Penang

…Penang!

We took the ferry which took about 3 hours and cost 70MYR each. We then could walk from the pier to Georgetown where all the hostels are. For the first two nights we stayed at art hostel 1921, the third night at love lane in 54 and for the last one an air bnb near the airport. The hostels were both pretty shitty but the cheapest we could find! The reason we changed was because the second one was slightly cheaper but we wish we hadn’t! It was so bad. If you’re ever in Penang don’t go to love lane inn 54 whatever you do, it was so dirty and the owner was an arse.

Georgetown is a really nice relaxed place, there isn’t tonnes to do here but have a good walk around and enjoy all the street art and great local food! If you like Indian you’re in luck.

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There are a few day trips you can do from town, one day we went to Penang hill and the botanical gardens. You can either get the furnicular up to the top of the hill or walk. We decided to walk, take water with you and be prepared for a decent hike. It took us about 1 1/2 hours up and an hour down and was pretty much vertical the whole way. There are places to rest along the way, in the Malaysian heat you really need these. It’s worth it to get to the top though and it felt good to have achieved the climb!

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After getting down we had a lovely cool down walk around the botanical gardens which are free to get in to. We also saw a few white eyed monkeys outside the gardens which was really cool as we hadn’t seen these anywhere else in Asia!

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The other day trip you can do from Georgetown is Taman Negara, unfortunately we didn’t have time for this but heard good things about it from lots of different travellers.

Next stop the Perhentians…

 

Malaysia – The Perhentians PADI open water âš“️

All along long beach are several dive shops. In fact the whole beach is just made up of either snorkelling or diving outlets. So why did we pick oh lala? A French run place needless to say, with a friendly female manager called Jan. Really nice, very straight talking and typically French. All the dive shops are pretty much the same price for PADI open water courses (1050 rm + 3%card fee), which included x3 nights accommodation in their rooms.  The only exception was a place called Turtle bay divers…they’re a bit cheaper and don’t have a card fee but they don’t have any accommodation. When you work it all out though it ends up pretty much the same money wise. So the shops with the chalets just take out the hassle of wondering around looking for accommodation: unless you stay in the expensive resorts you can’t book anything before getting to the island.

So we had a look at the accommodation, it’s all very basic. The main reason we went with Oh lala was that they offered us a private room rather than a dorm (for 20rm each rather than 40rm each as we were diving with them), which was nice as we were there for a few days.

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So we started our course in the afternoon on the 5/5/17. We were both nervous… Lara nearly backed out after having researching all the fun injuries one can sustain underwater. Eventually we both agreed to do the first session to try it and could see how we felt after that. Our instructor was a girl called Lucy from Buckinghamshire, we were very lucky she was absolutely lovely and it was just Dani and I in our group so we had lots of support! The first session incorporated skills in the shallows, with our SCUBA kit but just on our knees so we could have come up easily if needed. The hardest part was flooding our masks, at first I had no idea how to clear it and just had a tonne of salt water in my eyes. I finally understood that you can’t clear it while your still holding it off your face so got the hang of it… Dani found it a challenge too as she has a sensitive nose which kept letting in water making her choke whilst under water, not a good move. After a few struggles though we both managed to complete the skill session and then went into a proper dive, maxing at 11m deep! We saw some beautiful coral and fishies at a spot called Batu Nisan.

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The next day we did a tonne of theory in the morning; videos and questions and then quizzes with Lucy. Dani was a pro and got a solid 💯 on everything!

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In the afternoon we had a whole session of skills. So this was mainly on our knees and then some stuff a bit deeper like swimming around without a mask off at around 6m. Again Dani fearing for her life whilst trying to get her mask off, snuffing up yet more water but managing to survive and getting it second time around.

The next day we finished the rest of our theory videos and quizzes with Lucy and did the final exam which we both passed woo!

Then we went on a dive to D’lagoon which is not too far from long beach, still on kecil island. It was a nice dive; more coral and fishies.

Then for our two bigger dives on our last day,  we need to reach 18m to finish the course. The fist dive was to Tanjung basi which was a really cool dive and we saw tonnes of trigger fish and x4 black tip sharks 🦈. The afternoon dive was called Polis wreck which is an artificial wreck where they sunk x3 old police boats 🚣 to create some a new habitat where coral would grow. Here we went to 18m! We saw loads of creatures including three bright yellow box fish which we were told was very unusual for that spot.

So now we are qualified PADI open water divers and can go alone (without an instructor, but with a buddy) and dive… not that we will just yet!

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*TIP , THERE ARE NO CASH POINTS ON THE ISLAND! So to avoid the fees get as much cash out as possible.