Our Pre-Perhentian Island Adventure! (& Gloria’s take on the train)

Inside sleeper train

Inside sleeper train

Hey everybody. Cate posting. After our wonderful six days in KL, we took an overnight jungle train to Tanah Merah, and from there we drove to the Perhentian Islands, composed of a small island (Kecil) and a big island (Besar).

I really enjoyed our time on the train even though we had no space for luggage – so we had to throw our bags in our berths. When the time came for us to go to sleep, we curled up our legs and dealt with it – and a very small amount of water (thank god it was an overnight train, otherwise we would have been parched).

We had been told that when we arrived there would be lots of taxis that could take us on the one-hour drive to Kuala Besut.

There were none.

My Dad tried to get us a taxi, but we were instead offered the option to be taken in a van (not a licensed taxi).  I’m sorry, but this van was pretty beaten up – so at first we said no. Apparently, we could get a taxi, but we would need to take two, and we didn’t want to be separated. So we decided the van it was.

We arrived at Kuala Besut which had a few shops, restaurants, and a travel agency that would organize our trip to the islands. After a quick bite to eat (accompanied by a cat who stole Meskie’s hard boiled egg when her back was turned and tried to eat Cen’s rice), we hopped onto the boat that took us to the Perhentians.

Having a bite at Kuala Besut while we wait for the boat

Having a bite at Kuala Besut while we wait for the boat

Five words: THE BOAT RIDE WAS AWESOME! We went really fast and the driver even made the boat jump up and down.

It was a bumpy 30 minute ride

It was a bumpy 30 minute ride

And now we are living the life on the islands!

Cen is planning to post next about the fabulous islands. Goodbye for now!

And now Gloria’s tongue-in-cheek take on the overnight train

Unlike Cate, my experience of the overnight train was more akin to a descent into the second level of hell, not a fun ride to our next destination. Karl says this is just a tad exaggerated (or something along those lines), but I have ample evidence to back my claim:

–          Coffin-like berths, or perhaps I should say sarcophagus-like berths since we had to store all our belongings with us, apparently for use in the afterlife. This required creative sleeping positions throughout the course of our descent journey.

–          Loosely (and I mean l.o.o.s.e.l.y) connected train cars, resulting in lots of swaying, jerking and bumping, along with metal-on-metal sounds, seemingly foreshadowing an inevitable derailment.

–          Disgusting bathrooms that only worsened over time, along with interesting methods of use (footprints on the toilet rim??) Of course the other toilet had no seat at all, which seemed more appealing as the night wore on. (Cate agrees with this bullet point)

–          Never-ending stops throughout the first few hours (past midnight), with new passengers announcing their arrival with boisterous chatting and laughing, completely oblivious to the fact that the closed curtains along the length of the car meant “We’re sleeping here, people!!” I did poke my head out one time and scared the heck out of a poor innocent toddler, who probably now thinks that white women are witches from Dante’s inferno.

–          With the exception of a man blazing through with a food cart at the start of the trip, no access to refreshments or clean water. As our last bottle dwindled to mere millilitres, there were heated discussions about who had taken the most sips and who was deserving of the last few drops.

–          No announcements or external indication (a lighted map, maybe?) of where the hell (pun intended) we were. The length of each train stop varied wildly, with some being less than 30 seconds and others longer than 30 minutes. So we didn’t know if we could leisurely gather our belongings or if we had to make a mad dash. Heavy backpacks make mad dashes a little challenging.

–          Did I mention we arrived two hours late? This despite a helpful man telling us we were 20 minutes from our destination about, oh, two hours previous. Time is fluid here.

–          Perhaps the late arrival explains the complete absence of taxi cabs at our stop. There we stood, sweaty shadows of our former selves, trying to figure out how we would get to the boat launch an hour away. Another “helpful” man spotted us right away and offered the assistance of various “friends.” Karl, thinking he had any shred of bargaining power, asked if these friends operated a licensed taxi cab. The man, probably stifling a cackle, said his friends were reliable (despite the run down minivan from the eighties suggesting evidence to the contrary). After some, ahem, bargaining, we set off in said van with an octogenarian who proceeded to play chicken with oncoming dump trucks, cars and motorbikes for over an hour. (Ok, he actually drove relatively safely by Malaysian standards – just wildly by our straight-laced Canadian style).

But I kid, I kid… ‘cause instead of arriving in hell, we made it to paradise in the Perhentians, with the finest sand and the clearest water I’ve ever seen. All’s well that ends well. The end!

The view from our beach hut

The view from our beach hut

Categories: Kids Only, Malaysia | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Our Pre-Perhentian Island Adventure! (& Gloria’s take on the train)

  1. Dawn Loyie

    Wow! And the adventure has begun! Thank you guys for sharing your stories with us. I look forward to reading your posts with anticipation. Love the beach view. (We’re up in the Yukon right now, enjoying the midnight sun.) Dawn

  2. Trudy (Sybil)

    I am shaking my head right now.

    You guys are just so (blo*dy) AWESOME.

    Gloria, you are a riot. Laughed out load about

    “- Coffin-like berths, or perhaps I should say sarcophagus-like berths since we had to store all our belongings with us, apparently for use in the afterlife.”

    For good gracious sakes Gloria, I hope you have either a journal or some kind of electronic device (I am so old I can’t mention one by name – g-7, nano, pea pod something). Take down what the kids say – they are still so little and out of the mouths of babes.

    I am going to follow you with great fervour . I so envy you. 8 months of awakening to the world with your entire family.

    And your journey on the train makes me think of something I read about Buddhism. I am paraphrasing, but it basically said in part, “in the depths of despair, bliss.” Meaning I guess that even in despair there is enlightening. Gee I haven’t even had a glass of wine of anything!

    You guys are really living life right now.

    The website is so great!

    OOps gotta go back and do a poster about tell tale signs of rectal cancer – I’ll keep followinggggggggg


    • Marguerite

      Gloria… I was laughing so hard reading this! Boy I miss you!! This does indeed sound like the train trip from hell! But the end result was worth it and you have a good story to boot.


  3. Pingback: There is a gecko in my toilet (and other tales from Penang) | The Fab 5 on the Road

  4. Pingback: A 100 days on the road! | The Fab 5 on the Road

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