Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. Yes. A particular black fish was biting our ankles while we snorkelled over the coral. Not just at one of the beaches, but at several of the beaches we snorkelled at.
This is our fourth visit to the Perhentian Islands. I won’t repeat what I wrote in previous blogs. But since our last visit two years ago it has changed a little.
- The marine park tax has gone up a lot. You pay this just before you enter the jetty to board your boat to the islands. For foreign adults it’s RM 30, for foreign seniors (over 56) RM 15. Soak the foreigners (pun intended).
- On the stretch of beach where we stayed on the larger island, Perhentian Besar, comprising Abduhls, Tuna Bay, Coconut Cosy etc. it was only at the latter you could buy (Tiger) beer, which was RM 11. Tonic water costs 5, and 1.5 litre bottles of water are RM 4. At Kuala Besut beer costs RM10. In Tesco, aboutRM8.
- Some construction is going on at Ayumi, and with Tuna Bay having a larger deck.
- While we were there it rained a little during the day, in the afternoon, but most rain was at night. Mostly it was cloudy, with occasional sunshine. At first we were disappointed, but actually it was very comfortable. We didn’t have to worry about sunburn, it wasn’t too hot outside, and yet the sea was just as warm, and snorkelling just as good. The only downside with the weather was that photos don’t look as bright. Oh, and we got drenched on the boat on the way over as we were closest to the bow because we got on last.
- You can take a water taxi to the other island.
- If you want to have fruit or vegetables you can go to the local village, which is almost on the tip of the smaller island, Perhentian Kecil. The village is also the start, or end, of a 3.2 Km walk between the village and Long Beach. See this blog.
There are small convenience stores at the resorts, but if you want fruit and vegetables a visit to the fisherman village could be worthwhile for you. Best done at the beginning of your stay.
There is an easy 3.2 KM walk along a paved path from there, on Perhentian Kecil, the small island, to Long Beach.
If you are staying on the big island you can get a water taxi across. The minimum number of persons is two.
The path is a bit undulating, and hasn’t been maintained, but mostly it’s in good condition. There’s even a toilet block along the way.
Going clockwise from the village by boat
Easiest is to drive there. There are car parks available at the ferry terminals. There are also buses and maybe minivans. Or a twice weekly flight (Tuesday & Thursday) on Berjaya Air from KL to the tiny airstrip on the island.
My GPS really did not want me to go there, and was determined to direct me to Lumut. You simply go straight instead of turning right to Lumut at the big shell sculpture.
On the island you can rent a bicycle, a motorbike or a car from the ferry terminal. Touts are waiting outside to do just that. Or you can just catch a taxi. If you want to see the sights of Pangkor renting a motorbike or car for one day is enough. Otherwise, a taxi will do.
The 10 best things on Pangkor in order of increasing interest:
10. Drive around the island – costs RM70 by taxi – about 40 minutes without stops.
09. Dutch Fort. Something to see near the town and ferry terminal.
08. Fu Li Kong temple – has a mini Great Wall of China. it’s quite fun if you happen to be nearby.
07. Jungle walk – presently under repair and due to reopen in three months, or so I am told. I am also told the walk takes about two hours.
06. Pasir Bogak beach – four minutes and RM10 from the main wharf by taxi. Quite a nice beach.
05. Walk to Giam Island at low tide from Coral Bay beach. About 10 minutes walk through shallow water. The trick is to wear flip flops to protect your feet from the rocks. Without flip flops it may take over 20 minutes as you have to tread very carefully. For the sandy parts you can take off the flips flops, of course.
04. Chinese temple – Lin Je Kong. Perched on the rocks at the northern end of Coral Bay, in a perfect setting.
03. Fresh fish – BBQ’d fish (ikan bakar) at Nipah Bay. Often Malay restaurants don’t sell beer (a couple of years ago they did) – but you can buy it at the convenience store and bring it to the restaurant.
02. Beach – Coral Bay – just past Nipah Bay. A lovely beach with clear water literally a few minutes walk from Nipah Bay. There are cafes on the beach with nice food and beer, and sun lounges, and showers you can use after a swim. And great sunsets.
01. Hornbill feeding – you can feed wild hornbills. This is really the best thing. For directions on where to feed them and videos of hornbills see here.
Note that you can do the 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 best things just by catching a taxi from the ferry to Nipah Bay – where there is also the most accommodation. ( 12 minutes and RM15 by taxi from the main ferry terminal.
I made my third visit in late February, 2016. The more I visit the more I like this island. My blog from my first visit tells you more details, and not much has changed. Except it has improved. It’s cleaner, and monkeys are less of a problem. Again we stayed at the Anjungan Beach Resort and Spa. Their breakfast is now good, and their Internet speed and coverage is better. The staff are now much better and more knowledgeable.
I am just back from a longer stay on Pangkor Island. The best thing there is being close to hornbills. Outside of a birdpark I’ve never been closer to them. And these ones live in the wild. Penang Birdpark at Butterworth is a nice place to see hornbills if you can’t go to Pangkor Island.
If you stay at or near Nipah Bay on Pangkor Island, your hotel may get a hornbill as a visitor. Or you may see one at the beach at nearby Coral Beach.
However, every evening for the last 14 years the man at Sunset View Chalet in Nipah Bay town has fed them at 6.30PM. On the main road through the town, find the Nipah Water Front Beach Resort and take the side road next to it. Two or three minutes walk down it you’ll find the Sunset View Chalet. Thirty or more birds will turn up to be fed.
By the way, the Sunset View Chalet man feeds the birds bananas and doesn’t charge viewers anything. In fact, he helps you feed them yourself. We gave him a small gift in appreciation.
In general I find it difficult to find out much about what is happening with trains in Malaysia. On Wednesday December 30th I saw an article in the free daily paper, The Sun, of which this is a small part:
The article later stated the government is considering a train line from KL to Kuantan on the east coast.
Kuala Besut, the harbour from which you catch a boat to the Perhentian islands, is about 350 KM by road from Penang. That’s a little over five hours drive, plus whatever time you stop for breaks – so I allowed six hours total. You can also go by bus, organised by talking to a travel agent or to bus companies at Butterworth or Sungai Nibong terminals. Finally, you can fly.
On our first trip to the Perhentians we drove: https://tropicalexpat.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/road-trip-penang-to-the-east-coast-of-malaysia-by-car-2/
For last year’s trip we flew: https://tropicalexpat.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/penang-to-perhentian-islands-on-firefly-planes-automobiles-and-boats/
This year we decided to drive again. The time taken is only slightly more than flying, but we can align our schedule to the hotel check-in time, and luggage handling is simply loading it into the car, and then dropping it off at the jetty. With a flight you load the luggage into the taxi at home, unload at the airport, load onto a trolley, load onto the airline conveyor belt, offload the luggage on arrival, load into the taxi, and then unload at the jetty. Three or four times more handling.
Boats to the islands leave quite frequently, although the return trips have a more restricted set schedule – 8AM, 12 noon, 4PM in the case of our resort.
Check in time at our resort was 2PM, so we aimed to be at the Kuala Besut jetty around 1PM at the latest, which would have us leaving home about 7AM at the latest.
Another parameter to bear in mind is that it gets light around 7.05 (on the equinox), and I believe it is better to either drive when it is light, or at least not hit the end of the dual carriageway until it is light. As it is about 35 minutes drive (45KM) to the end of the dual carriageway, then the earliest to leave home would be about 6.30AM. The reason for not driving in the dark is that some vehicles have no working rear lights, and it is possible to drive almost into their rear before you see them – especially if they are driving very slowly. So, the earliest to leave is 6.30AM, and the latest 7AM.
- I worked out all these timings as a result of the trip, and we actually left slightly earlier, at 6.10AM.
- But actually on Sunday there is quite a lot of traffic. Any other day would be better, but these were the only days we could get the hotel booking.
- We reached the bridge at 6.20, and were across it at 6.30.
- At about 6.45 we reached the end of the dual carriageway.
- At about 7.05 it became light, and we stopped a little later for coffee by the side of the road – from our thermos – our coffee is better than anything you can buy on the way
- We later stopped at a petrol station for a break
- And then we stopped at the summit hawker centre for more coffee and sandwiches.
- We arrived at Kuala Besut at 12.05PM – 360 KM later
- We parked at back of the hotel and walked to agent, who gave us boat tickets
- Their agent rode his bike to our car
- We drove to the jetty and unloaded luggage
- We left luggage with Mrs Tropical Expat and I followed the bike to parking and parked
- Then I rode on the back of the bike to the jetty and we boarded the boat
And a few other comments:
- Some bad drivers will not wait their turn. You wait until it is safe to overtake the slower vehicle in front, and just when you judge it is safe, one or more vehicles from behind overtake you and cut you off – in the end you miss the chance to overtake
- At traffic lights many cars will take the right turn lane and overtake you. If they are driving faster than you this isn’t a problem, but if it’s a slow car you have already overtaken once you might want to ensure they don’t succeed.
- The road marking engineers largely have little idea of their craft.
- Local traffic in the east may drive very slowly – about half the speed of through traffic.
- At least once every trip an oncoming car overtakes despite the fact there isn’t space, and forces you off the road
- Still, driving is easier and more relaxing than flying