Leaving Taman Negara behind, the next stop was to the islands for some (more) R&R and snorkelling. A short journey by bus and a 40 minute ferry ride was all it took. Once again, the roads were filled with trucks carrying giant logs :(. The scenery (when it wasn’t Palm trees) was stunning though – giant limestone mountains that reminded me of the floating mountains in the movie Avatar. Stunning. The Perihentian islands are made ofislands including the aptly named big island and the small island. We were going to be staying on the big island.
Where am I staying?
We got picked up from the ferry by the hotel shuttle boat. The hotel, Arwana Beach Resort, is literally on the seafront, and first impressions were very good. Beautiful lobby, beautiful pool (but why would you want a pool when the sea is a minute away!). The state of the rooms however was very very disappointing. And the ones I saw were all the same. The rooms were cleanish, very tired, with torn sheets, springy mattresses and lumpy pillows. The bathroom was horrible. Everything was worn out and tired and grubby. I found out that the owners decided the lobby needed renovating before the rooms – can’t understand why. DO NOT STAY HERE. HORRIBLE.
- Grubbiness factor: high. I shudder when I think about the room. Thankfully I only used it for sleeping. Vile.
- Bed: 2/10. Viler
- Shower: 1/10. Vilest.
A big shout out to the shoddy housekeeping. They totally didn’t clean my room one day and the next, they made the bed and did nothing else. Do not stay here. Disgusting.
What did I eat?
Breakfasts in the hotel were as expected – limited options again, and another recurring theme – the only fruit available is watermelon. Seriously? I need a market stop soon. Breakfasts were coffee (not bad) and either beans on toast or PB and jam on toast.
Lunches? I had an epic veggie lunch at a roadside restaurant on the way to the island. Buffet again, but this time enough for me to eat. Green beans, turmeric cabbage, masala potatoes, pickled veggies and rice. So much variety, very very tasty – I could have eaten it again and again.
Other lunches were at the most amazing restaurant on the big island – B’first cafe. Virtually everyone I met (locals and tourists alike) recommended this place. So I had this stunning stunning veggie mango curry. Whoa!! Stunning curry sauce, crunchy vegetables and big chunks of mango. Perfectly balanced flavours, and a very generous portion. Super delicious. I had that a few times. And their fresh juices were stunningly amazing. Fresh fruit, no sugar – I couldn’t get enough!
Another lunch? I decided to go to a restaurant next door for a pizza. Deep crust, nice tomato sauce, sad selection of vegetables, included canned mushrooms. Eugh. I only had half. Their juices were great, especially a cucumber and lime juice. Yum yum.
Dinners were ALL at B’first. Mango Curry, sweet and sour vegetables, vegetable Tom yum soup. I cannot tell you how consistently good all these meals were. Not just mine, but everyone else’s. Perfectly balanced, everything was just right. I kid you not. Other than the snorkelling, this was the highlight for me. There is also a little bar next to the restaurant owned by Jim called, well, Jim’s Bar, and they made really good cocktails – the pina colada was particularly good.
What did I do?
Snorkelled. Shark Point, Rawa Island, and a few other stops that I have forgotten the names of. The weather was great, blue skies and fluffy clouds and the sea perfectly warm. The visibility was slightly hazy, but I still got to see so much – coral, clams, lists of sea cucumbers, tropical fish, turtles, sharks. I need to invest in a GoPro but for how you’ll just have to take my word for it. Some of the points were pretty shallow and some in deep open water. All stunningly beautiful. Our guide was also an underwater highlight – he could make bubbles, rings and shapes (think smoke rings) underwater, he was like a dolphin….amazing to see.
The rest of the time I would just chill on the seafront and read and relax. The views were lovely and I enjoyed people watching. There were chances to take take water taxis to other parts or other islands, but to be honest I was quite happy where I was and didn’t feel the need to explore. I also had massages every day. There was a decent spa in the hotel (thankfully – less time to spend in the room) so I took full advantage of that too.
Other than the grubby hotel, I loved the islands, snorkelling and food. I was also there over the weekend and it was nice to see the locals coming out to the island for the weekend. Fun for all!