The moment we touched down on the smaller Perhentian island (Kecil), Laura, Erika, and Christina went walking along the beach looking for a place to stay. I sat on a sandy slope watching the neon blue water and minding the backpacks. Behind me, an Australian gal started yelling at her group of friends walking up the beach. “I sold your passports!” she yelled, “So it looks like we have beer money.” They laughed and she said, “Not like you care though, by the looks of it you could stay here forever.” I was excited, because that was exactly how I felt.
After the cold, rainy, smoggy, Cameron Highlands, we knew we needed something different, but we didn’t have any kind of plan whatsoever. Different ended up being the exact opposite: fine white sand beaches, young global population, amazing snorkeling and diving, and quiet secluded beaches. Then she said, “Did you hear the news?” Her French and British friends laughed at the word “news,” and said no. She said, “Apparently, Osama Bin Laden is dead.” WHAT? Confused looks all around, including me, who asked, “You serious?” She said he was killed in a firefight a couple hours ago and then finished off with, “Not that anyone cares what’s happened to him.” The group looked at one another, and the Frenchman said, “F*&K him.” They walked off, and for some reason I felt an incredible rush of disbelief and strange guilty pleasure. What was a super happy feeling of being disconnected from absolutely everything, suddenly had me wishing I could watch TV. That lasted about 10 seconds until her sentiment rang true in my head.
We stayed in a little bungalow just off the beach. It was just okay, but reasonably priced (and included 2 free dinners) so we didn’t complain, until the second night. Erika woke up at 3 AM saying, “Oh God, I think something just crawled in my ear!” I turned on my headlamp and gave it a good look. Nothing. We went back to bed, but I kept slapping myself, thinking I was the world’s best mosquito killer. I never usually get them if I can’t see them. The sleep was hardly that, and miserable, until Erika said, “This is crazy, WTF is wrong here!” We turned on the lights and there they were, hundreds of little flying ants/termites in the air, all over us, the bed, our bags, and the floor. Christina, who had been sick, was out of the room, dressed, and with her bag, in less than 10 seconds. Erika and I in confusion and sickness of what we were looking at, packed, cleaned up, and just left. It was 630AM and we walked out of the Long Beach area, over the mountain to Shari-La in Coral Bay.
A third the price, 100X better, and from that point, it’s useless to say anything more than we met awesome people we chilled with the rest of the week, drank smoothies galore, snorkeled at every opportunity, and had the most relaxing time of our lives. While snorkeling, we even had frequent sightings of a blacktip shark as big as Erika about 20 feet offshore a couple of days in a row. Nuff said, we’ll let the pictures do the talking.
** Traveler’s Tip: Long Beach is where the action is at night, but it’s loud and everything is more expensive and rundown. Coral Bay is a ten minute walk over the hill (bring a headlamp at night), has cheaper, nicer accommodations (especially Shari-La which also has two dorms), better diving people (Quiver), food (Mama’s and Maya’s) and snorkeling (the quiet beaches on the other side of Shari-La on your way to Romantic Beach). Walking to D’lagoon is fun and takes about an hour with a killer view, jungle trek, and tiny little beach with solid snorkeling awaits you as well as a smoothie or milkshake. We recommend not doing the hike during the hottest part of the day as there is not shade on the trail. The boat taxi to D’lagoon is RM10 one way, but the effort has its rewards. As for fruit shakes all over the island and Malaysia, ask for very little condensed milk/sugar, they tend to be way too sweet. Oh and try the stingray at Mama’s….more on that in Foodie Friday.