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Everybody makes mistakes… To leave George Town (West coast of Malaysia) to the Perhentian Islands (East coast of Malaysia) we probably will have to take a night bus. But Jurgen goes to Komtar (the highest building of Penang) with the idea of finding a day bus because travelling at night with two kids might be a bit harder. When he comes back, he is so happy… he found us 4 tickets for a daytime bus. The next morning we get up at 6 o’clock because the bus is leaving at the bus station at 8 am. Once we arrive there, we don’t seem to find the bus. Jurgen goes to the office where he bought the tickets and comes back with a frown on his face. The bus is leaving at 8 PM! We try everything but apparently there is not a single bus going to the Perhentians leaving George Town during the day. We decide to go back to the hotel and spend our day there, working, reading, playing, … Just no idyllic beaches yet, but a not so comfortable night bus ahead of us.
Because we have to take the night bus, we arrive at 4u30 the next morning in Kota Besut and our first boat only leaves at 7u30. We just need to hang on for a little bit longer before we have our reward. From the moment however we get on the speed boat and sail the South-Chinese sea, we remember why we went through this all. The kids love the speed boat and are laughing the entire trip, to the hilarity of the other people on board! Our stay for the next few days is situated on the northern part of Pulau Perhentian Kecil, the smallest island of the two. Lagoon Beach is a private beach with just a few bungalows and a small restaurant. What more could you ask for?
Our resort turns out to be a hit! Completely like you imagine it to be. Little huts right on the beach, palm trees with a tropical jungle just behind it and lots of lovely corners with shade to enjoy the sea and the beach. You can rent snorkelling equipment for only €3/$4 a day, so it doesn’t take long before we head for the water. The kids love it and we get to see a lot of tropical fish and a little reef shark. We even get a live show when a giant lizard walks across the beach.
The restaurant of D’Lagoon has some delicious food and great juices! It is a bit more expensive than on the mainland, but that is just normal if you realise the amount of effort it takes to get all the stuff over here.
At our resort, we can book a different kind of tours. We decide to do a 5 island snorkelling tour. Armed with our snorkels and cameras we soon dive into the water. And we immediately get to see a huge sea turtle that is eating at the bottom of the sea. Everybody is thrilled because it is the very first time for us we get to see this amazing sea creature! When the turtle swims to the surface to breath just next to Yuna, we see the animal from really up close. A fantastic experience and the girls are impressed.
Unfortunately, we notice that a lot of the coral is dying. Probably due to the growing tourism, pollution and global warming.
We get to see some more amazing fish such as the clownfish (Nemo), rays, parrotfish and a reef shark. It really was worth it, this tour. And again, everybody makes mistakes… The second one is that we were so busy protecting the girls against the sun, we completely forgot to protect ourselves. Our backs were completely burned, with a very painful result that we could enjoy for a couple of days. Now the kids understand why we always say that we must be careful with the sun and protect ourselves!
Discovering Pulau Perhentian Kecil
We want to discover the island a bit and decide to take some walks. From our resort, is it only a 15 minute walk through the rainforest to Turtle Beach. A beautiful small beach without any buildings, just sand, palm trees, jungle and water. An ideal spot for the drone and we end up with our first drone images of a stunning tropical island. After some more snorkelling, where we don’t see any more turtles or sharks unfortunately, we go back.
Our other walk goes to the Windmills on top of the island. We did underestimate this walk a bit because it turned out to be a walk of more than 30 minutes in the scorching tropical heat. We barely had enough water with us. But the view on the top is breathtaking. The water has just the most amazing colour of blue and long stairs go all the way up to the sea. Another moment that will linger in our memories!
Yuna and Hanne also meet a French boy and they play for hours at the beach. Which language they use, we don’t know, but they have a lot of fun! They clearly enjoy playing with someone of their age.
Homestay with Tom and May May
Through Couchsurfing, we could stay Tom and May May in Kuantan for two nights. She is Chinese Malay and Tom is from Angers (France). They have a little kid Lya who is two, what our girls find fantastic of course! There is really not so much to do in Kuantan, so we decide to stay home and just relax, do some homeschooling and talk to Tom about his adventures in Australia and Malaysia. They turn out to be entrepreneurs, as they have had a beach bar and a coffee bar in the jungle.
May May wonders what a really typical Belgian dish is, and Jurgen decides to make them a chicken ragout with fries. The kids are so happy to get one of their favourite dishes and our hosts also really like it. Luckily :-). Together we go to a local market and for ice cream at the beach. A nice ending to our very enjoyable stay!
We take the bus from Kuantan to Mersing, where we can take a ferry to Tioman Island. That is until we discover the last ferry already leaves at 13u, and we won’t be in time. Luckily there is just 1 other ferry, leaving from Tanjung Gemuk at 17u. Again, we need to wait for a couple of hours, time to support the local shops :-).
Bushman Chalets Tioman
After a boat trip of about 1,5h, we reach Terek, the little capital of the island. We stay at Bushman, a resort at the other end of the island where there are fewer tourists. They come and pick us up with a huge jeep, which the kids are really enthusiastic about! With some hills up to 45%, it turns out to be quite an exciting ride. Once we arrive at Bushman on Juara Beach, the view is again breathtaking. Our little house is right at the beach, under some palm trees and with the sea just in front of us. The rooms are also less basic than the ones at D’Lagoon. Life is good!
There is a little restaurant where they have some delicious dishes. The rest of the beach is almost deserted. The rain season is almost starting, so we are here at an ideal moment. No rain yet but the big crowds have gone. By the end of October, most of the resorts just close. We enjoy our stay and it is one of our more idyllic spots for homeschooling!
Next to the rooms of our resort, a river coming out of the jungle mounts into the sea. The ideal playgrounds for our kids. They play for hours. It is a shame the internet wasn’t working really well, because otherwise, we could have easily spent 2 weeks here while working, teaching and playing. We did have to look out for the sandflies, however, because there are numerous on the beach and they get us really itchy bites.
The Juara Turtle Project
Juara Beach is divided into a northern and southern part. Our resort is just in the middle, so after a short walk on the rocks, we reach the longer southern part of the beach. There is also a turtle sanctuary there. Every day they scan the beach (at 6u and 23u) for new nests. Female turtles come on the beach to leave their eggs. Unfortunately, there weren’t any for the moment, but we get an extensive explanation of how the centre tries to help the turtles. Humanity and trash in the sea are the biggest enemies for these amazing animals. Only 1 out of 100 turtles survives its journey back to the sea. After 25 years, the turtle comes back to the same beach where it was born to lay its own eggs. The numbers are alarming because year after year they find fewer nests on the beaches. But these volunteers are trying to do their very best! The French kid we met at D’Lagoon was also a volunteer here for 4 days.
This stunning beach is also known for its big waves during the rainy season. Surfers from all over the world come to these beaches. The waves don’t reach their highest peaks just yet but are enough to give the kids a lot of fun. And also drawing in the sand is a big hit. After almost 1,5 month we finally drink our first beer… it tasted very good ;-).
The islands of Malaysia were fantastic! We only got to discover two, but it makes us want to discover others. We will be back! But now, back to the mainland for ou flight to Borneo!