This is a travel blog for desktop travelers and other ramblers who want to know the world just a little bit better.

Right now I am living in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where I'll be settled for a while. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Almost Paradise II - Perhentian Island

The next day we decide to rent a sea kayak. We want to see the northern part of the island which is not yet accessible by foot, only by sea. I have never kayaked in the ocean before, but I figure it must be like canoe. We get our snorkel gear, paddles, life jackets and shove off. Either I am paddling inefficiently or there is a strong current because I tire soon. Being from Ohio, I try to summon my inner- Shawnee Indian. Call me Orange Jacket. I dub my squaw Swims with Sea Turtles.

Sea Kayak
We make it around the top of the island. The coral here is not any better. We do see two really large round fish. I do not know their name. We paddle down to turtle point and the fishing village. Mika jumps out to try to see a turtle while I hold onto a buoy. No luck. I paddle to shore for lunch pulling Mika who is holding onto a rope.

The waves are larger than before. We try to leave the village, but we cannot get the boat into the sea without a lot of water entering the kayak. One fisherman tells us that the waves are too large right now in direction we are headed. We should wait one or two hours for the sea to calm down. After the fist hour taxi boat drivers are pulling up on the beach all saying we need to wait another hour. I want to leave our kayak in the fishing village, walk to our hotel with our gear, then continue on to Coral Bay and tell them we will paddle back in the morning. I am a land animal after all. Walking is an innate characteristic. Mika wants to wait out the waves. Finally, after 90 minutes one man comes out of nowhere to our rescue. He says that only one corner now is bad near the village, and the rest of our way will be smooth paddling. He also explains reading the waves and right after a large wave crashes is when we need to shove off. At his signal and with the help from an old man, we rush the boat into the water and start paddling frantically. I do not even have the chance to thank them except for a quick glance back. Nor the time to teach him how to get his car (a rental I presume) moving again when stuck in snow and ice.
The waves are not huge by any means, but they are big enough. We are rockin' and rollin' without any music. And each passing boat causes more action. Mika worries about being too close to the rocks while I worry about being too far from the shore. Water is coming in the boat. Saying "a lot" would be an exaggeration, but enough is in our kayak that we stop at the first beach before Coral Bay to empty it. We arrive exhausted. I want to kiss the beach. I also change my Native American name from Orange Jacket to Arms Tire Quickly.

View Larger Map

The last day, Thursday Aug 11, is our final day in tropical paradise. I am worn out. Red from the sun and sore from the kayak. I spend most of the afternoon in the shade of our porch writing this blog. Mika snorkels right off of our beach and has a good outing. She spots a stingray, Napoleon fish, baby sharks and an octopus. In the evening I head to he village to get some dinner. Ramadan has started and our favorite lady with rice and fish is not open. So our dinner this evening basically consists of traditional snacks - dates, coconut-based sweets and a salty crepe.



At night we borrow a guidebook to figure out where we are going tomorrow. For the long-term travelers (not just us) this discussion is as common as one discussing dinner plans at home. Instead of "Honey, what do you feel like for dinner? Thai or Vietnamese?", we may say, "Honey, where do you feel like going? Thailand, Vietnam or Southern Malaysia?" Backpackers here talk about going to Singapore as nonchalantly as they would going to see a movie. We choose Thailand and may return to southern and western Malaysia on our way back to Indonesia.

The next morning our boat taxi picks us up right on the beach to take us mainland.

The International Rambler Rant:

In Bali many people say, "it was so different 20 years ago". In Perhentian Kecil people say, "it was so different here 10 years ago".

The local people here are very lucky. Mother Nature has given them a very small, beautiful island with white sand beaches, dense jungle, coral gardens and diverse marine life. A place that people will spend a lot of money to come visit and to see these things. But to me, it really feels like Perhentian Island is struggling greatly to develop properly.

This year they built brand new brick paved trails through the jungle. They really are great. It is so easy to access distant beaches and the village. But the paths are littered. Besides the usual plastic bottles and other inorganic debris, there is scrap metal and paint cans left from the project. The trails also pass unfinished and abandoned hotel projects. Somebody also took the time and energy to put two large windmills high up on a hill on the northern end of the island. Renewable energy here (everywhere really)is a brilliant solution, but they don't work. The island's two main beaches have white sand, but they are usually so full of taxi and tour boats that swimming is uncomfortable. Snorkelers skirt along the edges of the beaches. For me, the saddest part is to see the coral dying. Solutions to garbage is actually easy. Educate, pick it up, reduce waste, done. But coral does not come back easily. This is our main reason for coming here to see what is happening under the water. Construction waste, poor sewage lines from hotels (yes, our poop), and fishing, taxi and tour boats are all contributing factors. Of course, being from the US or Europe just seeing any tropical life. Having the opportunity to see a sea turtle in the wild is amazing, so people and money will always come. But what happens if the turtles are gone?

To be honest, I am not sure if I am being too picky or unrealistic. But with a few simple measures Perhntian Kecil really feels like it could be pure paradise - complete with modern facilities. Right now, though, it feels they are heading in the wrong direction. I just hope they get it sorted out before completely killing the Sea Turtle that Lays the Golden Eggs.
Turtle eggs sold in a market 45 min. from Perhentian
Follow this link to read my first post about Perhentian Islands

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