Friday, July 8, 2011

Paradise Island, sea cucumbers and dive dive dive.

We finally left the hotel at about 8pm after playing Taboo in the hotel lobby. The bis station was mental, so it took us a while to find our bus among the throng of prople and other buses that took up all the road in and around the bus station.

Add captionOn the overnight bus


The overnight bus drive was pretty cool. First, as we had booked the bus 2 days earlier, we had the best seats – the first 4 seats on eth top deck f the double decker coach. Plus the seats were large with a really good recline, so that it was actually possible to stretch out and get quiet comfortable. Apart from one stop in the middle of nowhere, where there werent any cold drinks or decent facilities, we drove right through the night arriving at the Kuala Besut and the boat dock to the Island. We were offered an immediate boat trip, but decided to take our time and book accomodation on the island before leaving the mainland as we had read stories about people who had ended up sleeping on the beach without anywhere to stay. It turned out to be a good choice as we got a 4 person room, with aircon and a fridge for under our daily budget (£10 a day each) We got the next boat over at 9am and enjoyed the wind in our hair as we blasted across the ocean towards the Perhentian Islands.
On the speedboat to Perhentian

Getting off at the jetty

The beach we landed at was gorgeous, with a long curving beach and 5 or 6 little resorts along the bay. We liked it as soon as we saw the jetty, which was twisted out of shape and looked ready to collapse, but fitted perfectly with the relaxed atmosphere and laidback attitude we wanted. Each of the resorts/chalets is no more than 10-15metres from the sea and or hut, even though is not a sea view, is only 25 metres from the sea. We concluded the morning with a sleep under the shade of a big palm tree as the sun rose high into the sky. Later in the afternoon after spot of lunch me and Buffy took a walk down the beach (about 100m) to one of the dive schools, that are recommended here. We asked if they could fit us in for a dive course starting tomorrow – Unfortunately one started today, so we started almost immediately, with two 45 minute videos and some homework to do overnight – Reading the first two chapters of the PADI dove course book and answering the test questions. It turned out to be reasonably simple stuff, so we also had time to sit on the beach eating dinner, listening to some cool relaxing music playing at one of the beach bars, while we enjoyed a couple of cool cold beers. It had been a long day, so we all went to bed reasonably early, only waking up when the air-con got so cold we had to turn it down.

At 9am, me and Buffy had got up and were back at Dive School, ready to do more classroom stuff – but we were surprised when we donned our dive gear and along with the 3rd student, Lesley, we motored around to government beach, where we did a 40 minute dive, taking us through the basic dive skills and even stopping for some cleaner shrimp, to swim up to and clean our hands. It was a cool start and after lunch we headed out again for a 2nd dive, descending to about 9 metres and spending 40 minutes under the water this time. It is really good fun and we are looking forward to more dives over the next few days. After a couple of hours of more videos and a couple of check exams, we finished for the day at about 6.30pm and then returned to the hut to meet up with Nicki and Joel, who had spent the day just vegging out and relaxing. There was an all you can eat barbecue on the beach tonight, so we went along to that and had a couple of beers whilst playing a daft wordplay game on our balcony before eventually having a late early night.

In the morning, me and Buffy were in the sea again by 10am, completing another phase of our scuba dive course. It was a short morning and after lunch we were out again, this time at a different site called 'Shark Point', where we had a little test on our skills and also met a sea cucumber, which shoot out their intestines as protection, which Buffy found out, when they stuck to her hand like glue. We also saw a fish that lives in harmony with a shrimp and our first Turtle, since we arrived here. We also finished ou theory lessons and took our exam which we all passed with no problems. While we were diving I had had a few problems equalising my ear pressure, so in the evening I wasn’t feeling 100%, a little headache and slight nausea meant that after a little pizza for dinner, on the beach, (Which we waited nearly an hour to arrive, but was delicious) I headed to my bed and a nice relaxing night in the air-con room, while Joel, Nicki and Buffy sat chatting and playing guitar on the balcony.

The next day was our last day on the diving course, so after kitting up, me, Buffy, Leslie and Tamara the instructor blasted across the bay in the morning and around the island in the afternoon to 2 new dive sites, where on both occasions we descended to 18metres and spent nearly an hour underwater exploring rocks. Coral and the seabed, seeing jellyfish, shrimps, barracuda and hundreds more interesting and unusual things that live under the sea – In nearly didn’t do the scuba dive course as I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but it is a lot of fun and we are now a qualified open water scuba divers!! We may well do some more diving as we continue our trip around Asia.
Getting ready to dive

All kitted up

Flora bay dive school

Map of the islands

On the boat back to the mainland

The taxi to Mr Lees

In the evening we had a beer with Tamara and thanked her for the course before dinner and some more word games before bed. I woke up a lot during the night, with hot and cold sweats, a little nausea and headaches. I don’t know if its from the diving or just a bug, but today as we left the Island by speedboat, I decided to take it real easy for the next day or two. I hope it isn’t from the diving, as that would spoil it a little, but we will find out if and when we do it again. For now, we are holed up in a lovely little guesthouse in Kota Bharu, called Mt Lee's Guesthouse. Mr Lee is ace! He went out and sorted out bus tickets for us tomorrow and has just run everyone else into town in his car, while I rest for the afternoon. Its a lovely little house with free wifi and comfortable beds. We are already missing the Perhentian Islands and Flora Bay, but this is a great place to get over it all, before we head west tomorrow and onto Georgetown, Penang.

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