So last time we left you we were sweating away in the rainforests of Tanam Negara. We were feeling a little stiffled by the (compared to Sumatra) number of Westerners on the Malaysian tourist route so we opted for a less well troaden road or more actually track. So we took the local bus to Jarantut and jumped aboard the Jungle Train northwards, having a one night pitstop overnight in Gua Musang.
Our train slowly rolled through the beautiful jungle foliage, as limestone cliffs appeared through the window being replaced by rural villages where the train stations looked more like a knocked about bus stop. Gua Musang was surrounded by cliffs and oddly reminded us of Alice Springs without the red dirt. It was also the setting for our cheapest meal so far, at 35p for delicious nasi lemak and kopi, and Ellas loss of her train ticket 30 seconds after having it in her hand boarding the train! Also excitingly arriving over an hour and a half early for our station with the ticket conductors only explanation being that “sometimes its early”. But it was definitely worth taking the extra time to see some more ‘authentic’ Malaysia and the pretty awesome views out of the window.
Our train journey was towards the Northeastern Perhenthian Islands, the jewel in the crown of Malaysia’s tropical paradises. The only problem was that we arrived on Good Friday, so the islands were packed. Luckily for us our travellung buddy Britt saved the day by arriving a day early and finding a bed for us…she was difintely owed a beer! We opted to stay on the smaller of the two inhabited island, Palau Kecil, as this caters for a younger crowd and made ourselves at home on the beautiful Coral Bay. And it lived up to the hype, the waters were crystal clear and beaches a perfect white, though it was far more crowded than Tioman. The Perhenthian are for the beach lovers and apart from the two large ones, Long Beach and Coral Bay, you can walk or grab a water taxis to some other quieter spots. Our favourites were Mira beach, D’lagoon and the totally deserted Adam and Eve, the beach of our Robinson Crusoe dreams. The Perhenthians had more memorable experiences that lounging on the beach however, including getting lost in the jungle interior, dancing (and falling over) on the sand of the many beach bars and almost being inadvertently excepted into a cult! This last adventure involved meeting a long haird, aviator wearing gentleman who went by the name of Captain Morgan and had set up his ‘Pirates Paradise’ of tree houses with the help of some very stoned westerners! A little weird….
This was all overshadowed, however, by the brilliant snorkelling. The coral may not have been the best we’ve seen but there was an abundance of marine life. We saw beautiful blue and yellow stingrays, huge reef sharks and most amazingly endangered Giant Green TURTLES!! I have to admit to doing an excited dance/wiggle in the water when we saw them! They were not bothered by the human interest and one even swam up for air as we all watched. It was totally worth getting a very sunburnt bum for (Ella not Ryan, dont worry Ryan hasnt taken a fancy to tighty speedo buggie smugglers just yet!).
After a lovely few nights and obtaining far more sand than we started with it was time to leave the sundrenched islands and move back inland…but thats another story.