I’ve come to the end of the first part of my trip, and now move onto the middle part. I’ve said goodbye to my travel buddy of the last 2 months, Carolyn, and she’s heading back to Brisbane on Saturday to face whatever work carnage awaits in her absence.
Our last week together was in paradise. I have to say that Caro and I have been in some of the most romantic settings on this trip, it’s a bloody shame that one of us wasn’t a bloke. Anyway, our final week has been spent in Pehrentian Besar, a Malaysian island off the East coast. We stayed at Coral View Island Resort, which is highly recommended. The beach to the right of the Pro Dive Shop is picture postcard tropical, absolutely perfect. The sea was turquoise and you could see straight to the bottom. Fish life is plentiful. The dive shop here is friendly, the diving cheap and there’s enough moray eels, rays, angelfish, damselfish, parrotfish, stonefish, scorpionfish, turtles and sea cucumbers to satisfy any diver. And the diving is easy, for the most part there is no current, and you can literally just glide around spotting bamboo sharks hidden under rocks, petting pufferfish and getting up close and personal to turtles. We dived the best sites, Tukong Laut (I’m not getting the spelling right for this one) or The Pinnacle, Tiger Rock, Sugar Wreck (not to be confused, as I did, with Sugar Reef which is a bar in Soho in London) and plenty of sites around the islands. Even snorkeling you can spot sharks, bumpheaded parrotfish and rays. Our mornings would be spent doing a dive, the afternoons would be spent lounging on a beach, snorkeling or having a little kip, before heading out for the superb nosh served up at the Reef and Watercolours Resorts. There’s plenty of dive instructors to drink with: if liquor is your bag and you don’t want to sample the local tipples of monkey juice (as gross as it sounds) or the sweet lychee liquer, then get some duty free. Shove it in a waterbottle and carry it along to the restaurant with you to mix into fresh fruit juice: YUM!!! Also, if you read this and are planning to visit, bring sunscreen and any toiletries you need from the mainland – it’s expensive on the island.
The island is also home to the cute spectacled langur, or dusky leaf monkey, squirrels and several species of birds including hummingbirds. The forest is dense jungle, and it’s possible to walk to other beaches on the island although the mozzies are enormous and it gets so hot that any insect repellent is sweated off instantly, exposing sweet flesh as a smorgasbord to bitey things.
I’m currently sitting in Kuala Lumpur airport, ready to get on my flight to South Africa. I’ve got an action packed week ahead: South Africa to see my parents, England to see my dogs, flying to New York on 30 April. More from the Big Apple – Manzanites!! (my surname means Appletree!!)