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From west to east

Island hopping across the Peninsular

Langkawi had been lovely but hadn't quite hit the mark for us.

Still keen for an island escape we decided to try out the Perhentian Islands. Several of our friends had raved about them, in particular the smaller of the two known as Kecil. The only problem was that the Perhentians are on the east coast and we were on an island on the west coast...and we had said we wouldn't fly again until we left Malaysia. As much as I d like to say that the reason we had chosen not to fly was all to do with worrying about our carbon footprint, the real reason was because we ve discovered that you can get more of a feel for the country and the people when you drive through a country than when you fly over it. This was something missing from our time in Borneo when found ourselves taking several internal flights and feeling disjointed from where we were so we started to plan our journey across the country.

Checking out several other people's travel blogs it looked like some people had had a few difficulties doing this route as you had to change buses at least 4 times along the way. One couple opted for a travel agent to sort out all their tickets and were told the follow on ticket would be waiting for them at each change. This worked to start with but then one of the tickets wasn't there so they had to pay more, then the bus took them to the wrong place despite them checking the destination with the driver so they had to pay more again for a taxi...you get the picture a bit of a nightmare.

After a few hours researching I found that there was actually a night bus from Penang which would take us all the way to the jetty at Kuala Besut, with no changes for £30 each! Result! Bus tickets booked, we organised to get the afternoon ferry from Langkawi to Penang. The plan was coming together. Getting the night bus would also mean we would get to the Jetty around 6.30am in plenty of time to be on some of the first speedboats to head out to the islands which should in turn mean first dibs on the available rooms.

On the ferry back to Penang we got to watch the film "Life of Pi", not necessarily the most reassuring film to watch whilst on a boat!! The special effects in it are amazing and we watched it on a crappy screen so can only imagine what it must have been like to see it on a big screen. Would still say read the book first!

Back in Georgetown in Penang we had about 4 hours to kill before our bus at 10pm so we found a restaurant to park ourselves in just over the road from where the bus was picking us up from. I made sure I had a big meal to keep me going as I didn't know when we d get to have breakfast the next day.

Back waiting for the bus I started to get a bit anxious when we were told to get on the same bus as people from another company. I double checked with the guy at the ticket office and was told that this was the bus to Kuala Besut and it went all the way, no changes. Then I double checked with the driver if the bus went to Kuala Besut, to which he shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't know whilst telling us to just get on the bus! He's the driver how can he not know where the bus is going! With no other choice we got on the bus and found people with tickets for the same seat number as ours, only they were going to Singapore!! As you can imagine its late at night, no one seems to know what's going on and potentially we were heading to Singapore so I was getting in a bit of a flap. What no one thought to tell us despite us asking several times was that this bus was just to take us to the terminal out of the town where we would get our actual bus....so we would need to change buses...sometimes it makes you wanna pull your hair out in frustration!!

So calming down we arrived at the terminal and were just told to get off and wait. I was not content with not knowing what was going on so went on a little mission to find someone who might know what they were talking about. Luckily I did and was given the platform number and the registration number of the bus too which made me feel a bit more confident. Several other people were bemused too as they came over to ask what info we had managed to find out.

Finally we were on our bus and the driver came round asking everyone where they wanted to be dropped off which put me at ease that we would get to our destination but I didn't think I would get a good sleep. I d read how cold the night buses can get and they aren't lying, it was freezing! Dan hadn't had time to get out a jumper whilst we were trying to sort out the bus confusion and so I shared out the layers I had and we huddled together for warmth.

Arriving at Kuala Besut couldn't have come quick enough and we were pleased to be out in the warm morning air and relieved at how simple it was to sort out our speedboat ticket to the island. We were joined by a little cat that wanted to crawl in our bag and come with us but we had to leave it behind as we joined other travellers waiting for the first boats. There were so many more people than we thought there would be but it seemed that most were either going to a different beach than us or to the larger island.

After debating going to Muri beach, mainly because there is meant to be a pet otter there to play with, we finally decided to go to the less remote Long beach which has more cafes and a few bars, and I think we definitely made the right decision for us. We dropped a couple off a Muri first but it seemed too small, then we dropped some people at the larger island which didn't appeal to us either but when Long beach came into view it was exactly right. Just realised that last bit was a bit like if Goldilocks was choosing a beach to stay at!

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White sandy beach and amazingly clear blue sea, we knew we were going to have a great time here....

Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 03:50 Archived in Malaysia

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