We stopped the car on the side of a mountain highway. There were no cars going up or down aside from the occasional cargo trucks. They sound like old grumpy turtles when they come round the bend into view.

1The view is enough to stop anyone in their tracks. It honestly doesn’t look or feel like Malaysia from up there. Only the weather and lingering haze acts as reminders of where we really are. We found this place while going through the winding roads of Gerik, Perak.

I’m a city girl. Born and bred in Kuala Lumpur. Never in a million years would I imagine myself travelling across the country to almost every state. I’ve always been a little oblivious to the fact that there are a lot more things to see in Malaysia than what is advertised. I can name the tourist sights but not local ones. I guess, that’s why I went on this trip.

First stop, the sleepy seaside town of Kuala Besut, Terengganu. Well, the Kuala Besut jetty to be more exact. Our actual destination is Pulau Perhentian. We get there and find out that technically we’ve missed the last boat but since there was another group that was late we could hitch a ride with them. The boat people were really friendly and it only took us about 30 minutes to get to the island.

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The boat ride was lots of fun since everyone was excited to finally be out of our car (which we named The Magic Bus). We laughed and joked about to the point where even the boat people laughed with us.

Cruising along the sea, with the wind in our faces and whipping our hair about, it felt like a movie. The sea was a blue I never thought possible in Malaysian seas. It resembled a dark teal. Once we got close to the shore, you could look straight down and see the ocean floor. I got really excited because I love being by the sea. The boat dropped us off at a floating platform not far from shore and the resort sent a small boat out to us. While waiting for the boat I had to hold in my temptation to jump in fully clothed. The water was just so blue and clean that for a second I actually didn’t mind swimming to shore. But with my camera strapped to my back, that wouldn’t have been such a good idea.

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The resort itself was quiet so after dinner a few of us (me included) decided to catch a ride to the more happening side of the island. It’s a long stretch of beach aptly called Long Beach. Dotted along it is bars and restaurants and the seating is mostly on the beach. We ended up at one with tiki torches and bamboo mats laid out on the sand. We got ourselves some drinks and just enjoyed the gentle breeze blowing in from the sea.

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The beach boys eventually came out and put on a fire show. As they moved to the rhythm of the music I wondered what would happen if I ever tried something like that. I would probably end up smacking myself on the head with a normal stick let alone one that’s on fire. They spun the sticks around with amazing speed and accuracy but there was a difference between the older guys and the young ones. The old ones did slower moves but they never faltered, whereas the young ones threw the spinning sticks high into the air. Some would end up in the sand and the guy would disappear, embarrassed.

One of the more interesting things was the boat ride back. The boat glided across the water in complete darkness and only every now and then would the boat man turn on a flash light to mark out the cliffs. Whenever the beam of light touched the ocean surface, a fish would jump out. It was amazing to watch and I also saw jelly fish that glow in the dark. They glow a faint blue when disturbed and with the water churning up from the motor at the back of the boat, there were plenty to see.

Climbing up the hills back to my room I could hear the distant calls of the jungle. The nocturnal creatures were waking up to play while I was ready to crash in bed. Instead of going straight to sleep, I decided to make use of the balcony and just lay on the hammock and star gaze for a bit. With no city lights for miles, one could look straight up and see the star filled sky. It was something I’ve only seen in pictures.

Pulau Perhentian is an island I will definitely come back to. With its clean waters and fine sand beaches, who wouldn’t? Now all I’ve got to do is start planning and convincing friends to come with me on another trip.