We arrived in the Perhentian Islands 5 days ago, an arduous journey that involved a taxi to the Penang airport at 4:30 a.m., a flight to a city on the eastern coast of Malaysia (that we had to re-book because our scheduled flight had been cancelled without notice), a 1-hour taxi ride to a small port town and 2 boat trips.  Once we arrived at Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil, we started looking for a place to stay.  This was a bit of a challenge since one was full and a couple of others were on the verge of collapse.  Finally, we found a place (which broke Shanna’s new rule because the shower was…lacking) and unloaded our heavy backpacks.  Perhentian 020.JPGSoon, a nice lizard (who we named Ernie) came to visit us in the bathroom and ended up staying overnight.  It’s days like that one that reminds you that long-term travel isn’t always bliss; in fact, it can be really hard and stressful at times.

I heard about the Perhentian islands back in 1996 when I was traveling through Malaysia.  They were legendary for their beautiful beaches, clear water and excellent diving.  Perhentian 019.JPGWe’ve found this to be true.  The water here is the clearest I’ve ever seen, even clearer than the water in Thailand.  Similar to Thong Na Pan in Thailand, the beach is very mellow with little to do other than sit on the beach, eat and drink at the few beach cafes and scuba dive.  Perhentian 013.JPGIn fact, most everyone here – including us- came to dive. 

Shanna signed up for an intensive 4-day scuba diving course.  I’m happy to report that she passed with flying colors.  The scuba course also allowed us to meet some other travelers (including Paul, Phillip and Andy from England and Paul from Austria).  Perhentian 001.JPGWe really enjoyed getting to know them and celebrating Paul from Austria’s birthday here in the Perhentian islands.

While Shanna took the course, I read, hung out on the beach and went on three dives (I was certified in Thailand 11 years ago). The diving here is exceptional.  During my dives, I saw thousands of fish decorated with bright, vibrant colors – and even a few sharks (luckily, none attacked me).  I’ve been fortunate to have been diving in many places, but the diving here is near the top of my list.  If you’ve never been diving, I highly recommend it.  There’s something so peaceful about it.

Tomorrow, we’re off to explore the jungles of Borneo.