Saturday, August 16, 2014

Redang to Perhentians Jul-Aug 2014

The rocks where we snorkeled one morning were just an outcrop near the island of Gelok.  We drift snorkeled with our dinghy in tow.  This one-tree island looked pretty cool, I thought.
 The one-tree island from another vantage as we motored back past it on the way back to Terengganu.

We rented a car with a NZ couple from Ajax to do a 'visa run' up to the border of Thailand.  We needed to restart my 90-day allowance again by leaving the country.  When you come back in, you get another 90 days on your visa.  I was on my last day when we drove to the border.  This little river is the dividing line between Malaysia (on the left) and Thailand.  You can see some local boats have been beached on the banks for quite some time...
 Heather, Jason, and Mark walking across the bridge to Thailand.
 A sign on the bridge in the middle, explaining the Golok Bridge is a joint effort between the countries.
 Once cleared into Thailand, we turned right around and walked back out of Thailand and headed back across the bridge and into Malaysia again.  Here is the Malaysia end of the bridge.  Welcome to Malaysia.
 Birds in cages were hanging at the entrance to the parking lot where we left the car to cross the bridge on foot.  Cars cost money to cross and clear in, and were just an extra hassle and expense.
 The parking lot where we left the car on the Malaysia side.  Bright orange puddles from the previous night's downpour.
 We love the spelling on Malaysian signs!  Spark plug becomes 'spug plug'.  And I'm sure Castrol wouldn't appreciate their oil's name being misspelled on this Ramadan Promotion sign.
 Our rental Proton car with the emergency spare we drove to the border on.  We managed to find the only open tire (tayar) store on the way and had to buy a new tire to replace the one with a punctured sidewall.  Jason had backed into a sharp corner of broken tile at the gas station where we'd stopped for a break on the way up.  We waited until after we got new visa stamps before dealing with the tire issue.
 Jason picking out the best of the used tires to replace the punctured one.  We got the tire balanced and mounted and were out of there only 40 ringgits out of pocket, about $13.  Malaysia still has tons of rubber trees so I guess tires are pretty cheap here, still.  Notice Jason has his long pants on to look respectable for Ramadan and for the border officials.

Once we were legal again in the country, we headed back to Redang from Kuala Terengganu and then on up to the Perhentians just another 20 miles further on.  These islands are the last stop before crossing into Thai waters and is as far as we would go.  With tales of corrupt officials demanding exhorbitant amounts of money to clear in and out and demanding bribes for the harbourmaster, we decided to pass on our original destination of Koh Samui.  We'd heard the waters were rough, stirred up and not good for snorkeling now anyway.  We will skip Thailand on the east coast.

Below is Jason leaning on a huge buoy on the beach on Perhentian Kecil (the smaller of the 2 islands).  This used to be/is a backpackers resort island.  There aren't any cars so folks use local boats to get around on the islands and between the islands.  YOLO is the only yacht here.
 We walked across the narrow waist of the island to Coral Bay on the other side, aka Aur Bay.  This was the start of the trail across the island.
 Coral Bay on the west coast of Pehenetian Kecil.  It too was populated by small resorts for backpackers with local boats dotting the beach.  The water here has more coral than the other side, but most of it is dead near the shore.
A dive boat at the jetty in the shallow water.  At least it's clear.
Looking across Coral Bay at a small resort from the jetty .
 Another view of the beach at Coral Bay from the jetty.
 The island still has rubber tree plantations like these.  Most have been cut down for resort accommodation, but once rubber was king here in Malaysia.  Now, the huge tracts of rubber trees like this are being cut down and replanted with palm oil trees to make more money for the owners.

 YOLO in the background off the Long Beach shore.  Local boats came screaming in through the swimmers and snorkelers and other boats so we decided to stay waaaaayyy off to one side to avoid the traffic as much as possible.  We still got rocked all day with boat wakes.
 YOLO at anchor off of Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia
 Long Beach, full of tourists and local boats waiting to take them elsewhere.  At night the music here was so loud I couldn't sleep, even with earplugs!  The beat pounded til after 3 AM every night.  We could watch the fire dancers who started at 10 PM each night, twirling batons of fire on the beach.  The water here gets so shallow near shore that many of the larger boats can't get close enough to pick up or drop off passengers.  If they don't use the jetty (it may be a private one for a particular resort), the smaller local boats come out and the people transfer themselves and luggage to the smaller boats to get to shore.  I wonder how many backpacks or suitcases end up in the water???
 Muslims swimming and snorkeling in full cover-up mode.  I don't know how they ever get the salt out of their clothes.
 The shoreline just north of Long Beach, just beyond the jetty here.  A protected space where folks could snorkel in the shallow water.
 A fishing boat loaded with bags of garbage being taken off the island.  The local boats ferried it out to the garbage scow to be taken away.  In the background is D' Rock Garden resort, on one end of Long Beach.
 Across the channel on Perhentian Besar (Big Perhentian island), we found this little cove with a pretty white beach.  We anchored here for several days.  During the day, local boats dropped off loads of snorkelers, day trippers to the beach and divers.  Boats zoomed back and forth all day, every day.  We snorkeled across the narrow space to the rocks on the right and I was nearly run over by a boatload of snorkelers leaving the beach at full speed.  The boat driver yelled at me for being in the water when it was "time to leave" and asked me if I "want to die?"  I suggested perhaps he could slow down just a wee bit... he left in a huff, but we didn't snorkel from the boat here anymore.  We took the dinghy and/or snorkeled inside other areas roped off with floats.  Of course, the boats just zoomed around the end of the floats to get to the shore to drop off/pick up people, and we got scolded for being in the water where a boat wanted to cross over the float line to get to shore.  Only in Malaysia....
 A closer shot of the beach where we anchored at Turtle Point.  Unfortunately, we saw three guys load a boat full of bags of sand they dug from the beach here to use in construction on the other island.  The boat was so full, we were afraid it was going to be swamped and sunk before it ever got off the beach.  That day, the waves were rolling in and breaking on this shore and the guys were up to their chins in water before hefting the bags off their shoulders into the boat.  The sand surely was wet with salt water before it got used.
 The granite boulders that line the edges of these islands.  Jason thinks they look like Disney manufactured them.
A distant view of the other beach at Turtle Point, where the turtle conservation huts are.  We took the dinghy over and tied it up to a line of floats offshore that we thought marked a swimming/snorkeling area.  We got yelled at to move to let a boat cross over the float line to get its tourists to shore.  At night, even in the rain, we could see the turtle monitors keeping a watch on the beach with their flashlights.  A big sign on the beach says people aren't allowed from 3 PM to 8 AM to allow the turtles to come ashore and nest.  The beach here has lots of blue coral chunks washed ashore--very pretty.
Several times we were invited ashore to see the turtle rangers' operations.  They would stop by in their boat on the way to the beach for the night and motion us in.  Eventually, we made it and watched a man dig up baby turtles from a nest where they'd been reburied inside a net pen for safety.  Many of the baby turtles didn't make it out of the sand and the nest and broken eggs stunk.  But we let a bucket oft hem loose into the sea one evening, so I hope a few make it back as adults to continue the cycle.

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