A mixed day. I woke up in my little house and had an uninspiring breakfast of bread, jam and biscuits, just enough to get me moving on the bike. The coastal roads again proved glorious. Some stretches were through forest, divided by small waterways and passing quaint wooden homes. I was curious to see a university wetland research station but when I tried to get a closer look I was stopped by one of Malaysia’s friendly signs showing an image of a trespasser with a gun held to his head. Then a guy emerged and told me to turn back. Turn back I did, continuing further along beautiful roads. I got pretty hungry but couldn’t bring myself to eat more biscuits, so I let my hunger grow until I passed a roadside fruit stall selling bananas. I bought a bunch of 12 for 5MR and immediately devoured five. I rode on to Kuala Besut and was surprised to find a bustling town complete with…can you believe it…a place selling cooked meals during the day?! I quickly devoured a massive plate of vegetables. As I hadn’t really done any research into Malaysia, I never knew that Kuala Besut was the departure point for boats heading to the Perentian Islands. I was alerted to this by a Kiwi couple at the café who said hello briefly before rushing off to catch their boat. The café had WIFI so I immediately did some research and was soon convinced to find my own way to Kecil Island, the smaller of the two islands that make up the Perentians. So followed an hour or so running between businesses trying to find a way across the ocean with my bike. Only one boat company was willing to consider taking me and my bike across. Because I didn’t want to buy a ticket from the office only to be refused passage by the boat captain, the two girls at the office kindly got who they referred to as the Boat Man to come and have a look at my bike and assure me there would be no issues. After a quick dash to a nearby shopping centre to stock up on camp food, I found myself shooting across the sea with my bike in tow. I landed at Coral Bay and rode (and pushed) my bike over the hill to the other side of the island where I found a place to stay along Long Beach.
My plan was to have a social night hanging out with fellow travellers before retreating to a place described on Wikitravel as Green Paradise Camp, where apparently you could set up a tent and have access to simple facilities for just 10r per night. I borrowed a local guy’s phone to call the guy who runs the camp, whereupon I learned that the information on Wikitravel is very outdated and what was originally a basic camp has since been turned into a slightly fancier place with tents provided on wooden platforms. Astonishingly, I wouldn’t be allowed to sleep in my own tent and I would be charged 50r to stay in one of his. This is the same price as a cheap bungalow on the island. Now I am unsure what I will do tomorrow. I think I will try and find another place where I can set up my tent. The most depressing thing is that I had only planned on spending the 10r a night on accommodation, so I didn’t bring much cash with me to the island and there are no ATMs here. Luckily, I bought a bunch of noodles and backed beans during my pre-departure shop on the mainland and I should be able to stretch these out for a few days. Whatever happens come morning, there are worst places to be worrying about these things than a small tropical island paradise!
As the evening wore on I began to regret my decision to stay at Long Beach (as opposed to the Coral Bay side of the island). I think I have been alone so much I actually don’t appreciate being surrounded by so many other people. It also doesn’t help that I didn’t bring enough cash to enjoy a drink at one of the bars, which would be the best place to make friends. Not to mention the fact that most people on this side of the island are part of diving cliques rather than being independent travellers who might similarly want to find a random person with whom to hang out. I ended up going to bed much earlier than planned.
|Distance ridden today||55.19km|
|Average cycling speed||18.3kph|
|Total distance ridden||11,420km|