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