Month: May 2014

Tuna Bay Resort, Perhentian Islands, Malaysia 3/3 – tropical fish

There is some coral just a few feet from the shore on some parts of the beach. If you snorkel here you can see fish. But also one or more fish peck your legs – you are invading their territory perhaps. One girl had actual bites on her leg. Trigger fish.  It must be their nesting season. Later on a different beach I was attacked, too, on a leg.

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Other fish peck at you occasionally – maybe they think you are food. But I found that if you keep on moving, even if slowly, the fish leave you alone.

dangerous fish

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I have never found a place where it is so easy to snorkel and see fish. If you walk around the island – as in my previous blog too, you see coral here and there, so it is really easy to find places to snorkel.

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The Penang Airport Taxi incident – 2014. Beware of airport taxis. Followup 1

May 27, 2014

On May 3rd an airport taxi driver appeared to try to commit a crime against us. See below for details.

This is a followup article.

I sent by email complaints to SPAD, the airport taxi company and the tourist authority.  And the results three weeks later are:

Nothing.

Well, two of the three said they would investigate.  SPAD emailed me back quite promptly and told me their phone system was down when I called. They said they would investigate.  The tourist office also said they would investigate.  And the taxi company simply did not reply at all.

I emailed all three a photo of the taxi driver’s licence (which has his photo, licence number etc. on it), and of his car and number plate.  In a few minutes they could have all the information they need to talk to this man.

If I actually get any further information I will post it.

In the meantime my taxi plans are to only use drivers I know and trust, or those my friends know and trust if at all possible.  If I must otherwise take a taxi, copy his number plate and text it to someone I know locally, saying I will text again once I have arrived in about X minutes. If you know no one in Penang  or Malaysia, then you could email the number plate and details to SPAD – their details are easily seen in every taxi and are in a photo below. Once in the car photograph his taxi licence – which is on the front windscreen – and email that too to someone.  Inform the driver, if he doesn’t notice, that I am doing this. If he is not using his meter, then write down the agreed fare on a piece of paper and ensure he agrees with it. And wear the seat belt, which now finally all taxis seem to have in the rear. If he brakes hard to injure or surprise you, at least you will be safe.

If feeling very threatened just get out of the taxi when he stops at a light – where people are around preferably – and abandon your luggage.

This may be way too cautious.  But I am not sure any more.

————–

At Penang Airport there are posters recommending avoiding taxi touts and instead catching an airport taxi.  You buy a coupon just outside, and this costs RM44.70, for example, to Pulau Tikus except very early or late when there is a surcharge.  The price is reasonable, and in fact I have been doing this for the six or so years I have been living here when returning home from the airport.  The quality of the cars is mixed, but the drivers have always been honest.

But not today.  The passenger ahead in the queue was picked up by a new Nissan Silphy.  Which means, on average, that our car would be an old Proton – and so it was.  The driver barely spoke any English, but he seemed to understand more or less where we were going. Once clear of the airport and on the main road, the driver moved to the left lane and slowed to a crawl, while talking on his mobile phone.  We asked what he was doing and he said he had car problems.  However, it did not seem like it at all. We told him to get a move on and he did for a bit, and then pulled into a side street, and navigated into some narrow suburban lanes.  We called someone who spoke Malay and gave the phone to the driver to explain, but he told our friend the same – that he had car problems.  The driver stopped at a petrol station, and it seemed his idea was to transfer us to his friend’s car.  So they could be planning anything from murder to kidnapping to just extortion for money.

All taxis have a SPAD sticker – transport department – so we rang – and all we got was a message to leave your number and they would call back – which they didn’t. Useless.  We then  just told him forcefully we’d had enough and to take us to our destination – and he did. No car problems at all. He understood much more English than he pretended – to we spoke another language to each other so he wouldn’t understand.

We got him to drop us at a nearby hotel so he wouldn’t know our house.  Naturally I photographed his licence as displayed on the windscreen, and his car’s number plate. And now we are sending complaints to SPAD, the airport taxi company and the police.

Koplimo White  Taxi:

airportaxipenang@gmail.com      04-643 3922

SPAD:

SPAD

SPAD

The airport administration really don’t want you to have a taxi driver you have arranged to pick you up.  However, if you live in Penang it pays to have one or two trusted taxi drivers, and perhaps you should do just that.

Tuna Bay Resort, Perhentian Islands, Malaysia 2/3 – a short jungle trek

You can walk around the island, or part of the way.

You can see the dotted walking tracks on the big island

You can see the dotted walking tracks on the big island

It’s better to wear shoes, but you can wear flip flops, and even after a night of heavy rain it wasn’t slippery, and there were no insects, snakes, or other animals around. Whether you are going clockwise or anti-clockwise, you start by walking along the beach. So I suggest a backpack, where you haul out your shoes for the jungle sections, and otherwise walk bare foot or in flip flops on the sand. Take money, towel, camera, hat, etc. It’s nice to walk past, or into, the other resorts along the beaches. Some have big – “No Alcohol” signs, so I shunned them and found places that sold beer when I needed refreshment. RM10 for a can of Tiger. RM8 for Chinese Tsing Tao beer.

In this walk I go clockwise around the island to the Perhentian Island Resort.

from Tuna Bay you walk clockwise around the coast to the next beach

from Tuna Bay you walk clockwise around the coast to the next beach

at this beach you pass Cocohut and ascend the stairs

at this beach you pass Cocohut and ascend the stairs

at the top of the steps you turn left

at the top of the steps you turn left

and pass these buildings, then follow the path right between the buildings

and pass these buildings, then follow the path right between the buildings

on the left is a sign

on the left is a sign

turn left and proceed up the path

turn left (after the red fire extinguisher) and proceed up the path

the path appears to end

the path appears to end at the end of the buildings

and veer up to the right. You can see a track

but just keep going – and veer up to the right after the building. You can see a track

just follow the track and veer left

just follow the track

into the jungle

and veer left into the jungle

the track is more pronounced now

the track is more pronounced now

you cross a water pipe. You cross it several times during the treck.

you cross a water pipe. You cross it several times during the trek.

partway along the track

partway along the track

after about 10 minutes you can glimpse the sea again

after about 10 minutes you can glimpse the sea again

and this is the view as you descend from the jungle

and this is the view as you descend from the jungle

Between here and the PIR below are a few resorts. Everything is very relaxed and you can just wander through.

Perhentian Island Resort's beach.  This is about 15 minute's walk from where you come out of the jungle.

Perhentian Island Resort’s beach. This is about 15 minute’s easy walk from where you come out of the jungle.

 

 

Tuna Bay Resort, Perhentian Islands, Malaysia 1/3

Tuna Bay Resort arranged all transfers from Kota Baru Airport to the resort, and everything went smoothly, as detailed in a previous blog.

arriving in paradise

arriving in paradise

There are only a few resorts on this part of the beach. Tuna Bay, Cocohut, Abduls…

a tiny jetty, but we stay dry

a tiny jetty, but we stay dry

There are water taxis to get you to other parts of the island, tours you can do – by boat, and diving and snorkelling trips, or you can learn to dive.

the launch - very comfortable and smooth

the launch – very comfortable and smooth

We arrived at about 11.30AM, and check in is at 1PM. We took a couple of deck chairs, swam, and relaxed on the beach until then.

Reception at the back on right

Reception at the back on right

There are books to borrow near reception if you wish– as have many of the resorts.  There are books in many languages.

the bar - on left - too early for customers

the bar – on left – too early for customers

restaurant area

restaurant area

the bar

the bar

another view of restaurant

another view of restaurant

Internet always on - but quite slow - only really available in restaurant area

Internet always on – but quite slow – only really available in restaurant area

Wi-fi works in the restaurant – they don’t hassle you to order anything while there. If you are in Room 18 you may also get wi-fi. It works on and off. Either way, it is slow.

our room

our room

our room

our room

our room

our room

our room

our room

The rooms have a safe, but it is very small – only a small laptop will fit in, wallets etc.

our room

our room

our room

our room

our room

our room

view from our verandah

view from our verandah

view from our verandah

view from our verandah

other rooms

other rooms

beach front rooms

beach front rooms

the beach

the beach

the beach

the beach

There is some coral just a few feet from the shore on some parts of the beach. If you snorkel here you can see fish.

floating platform

floating platform

the beach

the beach

the beach

the beach

sunset

sunset

breakfast

breakfast

Breakfast is included. It is OK. Get there early as not everything is replaced when taken. The best is the salad bar – tomato, lettuce, melon, watermelon, pineapple, red lettuce, carrot … Otherwise basic bread, chicken sausage, mee (noodles) etc. And there is an egg station – omelettes, sunny side up etc. The coffee is pretty stewed. So my choice was to load up on salad and fruit, get some baked beans and an omelette – or two.

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

Generally the menu was not interesting for me. Nachos and fish and chips, or the grill were about all I wanted to eat. So my best bet was to load up on fruit and vegetables at breakfast, and treat that as my main meal. There is no refrigerator in the room, but you can buy a cup of ice if you want to make your own drinks.

Tuna Bay seems the nicest of the resorts I saw on this island – Perhentian Besar. More relaxed, friendlier, and although the beach is not as nice as the one at the Perhentian Island Resort, it has a nice mix of coral, where you can view fish, and swimming areas. The beach area is lively without being crowded. The staff are friendly and helpful, and everything seems well organised.  Our air-con suddenly started leaking, and after I told Reception, the maintenance guys were there in two minutes to fix it.

Tuna Bay also has electricity 24 hours a day – so you can always use the air-con – and seems to have plenty of fresh water for showers etc.

So, we had a great holiday there.

May 2014.

 

Penang to Perhentian Islands on Firefly – planes, automobiles and boats

The idea is to catch the flight to Kota Baru and get the morning boat from Kuala Besut to the resort on Perhentian Besar.  From Kota Baru Airport onwards it was all organised with Tuna Bay Resort.

The flight is scheduled to leave at 0700, arrive at 0755 at Kota Baru.

The taxi should take about an hour to take us from the airport to the resort office near the ferry terminal at Kuala Besut. Thus we should arrive around 9:15AM

And the boat for the island is scheduled to leave at 10:30, and take 45 minutes – it’s a launch rather than a speedboat, so slower, but much more comfortable.

So that’s the plan. And it pretty much goes according to that plan.

We get to Penang Airport, having already checked in online. Baggage Drop and check in line is the same, so you have to wait. Hmm, was it worth bothering to check in online? So this takes about 10 minutes. It’s quick through security to the domestic terminal. Yay, Starbucks is open at this hour – but there is only a branch in the domestic terminal. Not at the International.

about to board the plane

about to board the plane

Departure on FY 1002 was from Gate B2, so once your boarding pass and ID are checked you go downstairs to the lounge. But the door to outside is open and plane engines are running, so it is very noisy. You can hardly hear someone speak. We wait until we can board at 0655, and depart about 0702.

2 + 2 configuation

2 + 2 configuration

The plane is small – two seats, aisle and two seats, and the flight wasn’t full.

wow - a propeller

wow – a propeller

PIA

PIA

Just after take-off there is a good view from the right hand side of the aircraft of the new Penang Bridge.

Penang's second bridge

Penang’s second bridge

In-flight catering is a choice of a small packet of peanuts or a muffin, and a choice of orange cordial or soy drink.

in-flight snack

in-flight snack

When the pilot made his announcement it was not loud enough to hear over the noise of the engines. But the flight attendant’s announcement was comprehensible. She basically said hello and goodbye in the one announcement.

approaching Kota Bharu

approaching Kota Bharu

Arrival was on time at 0755. The pilot emerged from the cockpit just before we disembarked – a friendly Australian. Outside the air was fresh and cool – nicer than Penang at that hour.

the runway

the runway at KBR

plane on arrival

plane on arrival

KBR airport is small. In the arrivals area there are no toilets – so you have to wait until you have collected your luggage and gone out to landside. But it was only a five-minute wait for the luggage.

taxi stand at the airport

taxi stand at the airport

By 8.10AM we were loading our luggage in the taxi. The airport seems to be surrounded by kampongs.

a view of the airport from outside

a view of the airport from outside

kampong houses near the airport

kampong houses near the airport

For much of the drive the air is smokey – somewhere they are burning.

a bridge on the drive to Kuala Besut

a bridge on the drive to Kuala Besut

getting closer

getting closer

We arrive at the resort office at 9.02.

Tuna Bay office in Kuala Besut

Tuna Bay office in Kuala Besut

At the office we fill out a form, and leave our luggage.

ah - we're here

ah – we’re here

We need to be back about 10.20 to go to the nearby jetty.

stalls near the harbour

stalls near the harbour

There are places to eat at the jetty, but we go to the bus terminal square and eat at the Lucky Seafood Restaurant.

Chinese restaurant

Chinese restaurant

On the east coast of Malaysia it can be hard to get alcohol, but I noticed that this restaurant sells beer. Good for future reference. But no, I didn’t have beer for breakfast.

part of the jetty building in Kuala Besut

part of the jetty building in Kuala Besut

Back at the office around 10.15 we wait for a bit, and just before 10.30 make the two-minute walk with around another 10 passengers to the jetty. Our luggage is transported by staff.

at the ferry terminal

at the ferry terminal

At the jetty we pay a RM5 Marine park Conservation tax, and then board the launch.

on the peir and about to board

on the pier and about to board

Tuna Bay's launch - very comfortable - and you don't get wet either

Tuna Bay’s launch – very comfortable – and you don’t get wet either

boarding the launch

boarding the launch

It departed at 10.35 for a smooth crossing…

leaving the jetty

leaving the jetty

leaving Kuala Besut

leaving Kuala Besut

and we disembarked around 11.27.

arriving at Tuna Bay

arriving at Tuna Bay

So this is what you can expect. For us all went smoothly and easily. Our luggage was delivered to our room.

There are two Perhentian Islands – Perhentian Besar (the big island), which we went to this time, and Perhentian Kecil (the smaller island).  Perhentian Kecil has more budget accommodation and more eating establishments.

Google tells me that if I drive to Kuala Besut this will take 5 ½ hours. Because it is too dangerous to drive while dark, the earliest I could leave home would be about 6.30. So perhaps a night on the east coast, and then a boat the next morning, or a later boat to the islands, as arrival would be about 12.00.

Returning one could take the 8AM boat to the mainland and comfortably drive home during daylight hours.

Another alternative is a bus to Kuala Besut, but these travel at night, and I think this is too dangerous.

So good marks to Tuna Bay Resort for their travel and transfer arrangements.

Signs of Queensland 2014 – 5/5

Gee - I hope they open early, then - but they appear to

Gee – I hope they open early, then – but they appear to

the council owned camping grounds

the council owned camping grounds

birds just wander around - it's nice

birds just wander around – it’s nice

very very sweet chocolate frogs

very very sweet chocolate frogs

moo

moo

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steep

steep

and who would ride a horse on a footpath?

and who would ride a horse on a footpath?

no idea what that sign means

no idea what that sign means

railway crossing

railway crossing

Glass House Mountains Tourist Drive - with no signs telling you how to get to the Glass House Mountains

Glass House Mountains Tourist Drive – with no signs telling you how to get to the Glass House Mountains

This guy was a famous TV wildlife presenter. He wasn't eaten by a crocodile - but stung by a stingray

This guy was a famous TV wildlife presenter. He wasn’t eaten by a crocodile – but stung by a stingray

the big chainsaw

the big chainsaw

beer prices - they have increased a lot

beer prices – they have increased a lot

In the UK they make such signs fun - in Australia it's imposing authority with no sense of humour

In the UK they make such signs fun – in Australia it’s imposing authority with no sense of humour

the big lawnmower - not something you see every day

the big lawnmower – not something you see every day

don't believe it - we never found them

don’t believe it – we never found them

well, we did, but we had to use a detailed map

well, we did, but we had to use a detailed map

a mountain

a mountain

mountain

mountain

mountain

mountain

hmm - a big pineapple and banana

hmm – a big pineapple and banana

the big lawnmower again

the big lawnmower again

the big lawnmower again

the big lawnmower again

and we passed the big chainsaw for the last time

and we passed the big chainsaw for the last time

sunset in Maloolabar

sunset in Maloolabar

sunset in Maloolabar

sunset in Maloolabar

our last moon in Australia

our last moon in Australia

Jucy Lucy - they rent campervans - they call them campas.

Jucy Lucy – they rent campervans – they call them campas.