After spending two days (which really felt like three since we’d arrived at 7am after taking a 10 hour night bus from Mersing) in Kuala Terengganu enjoying the air-conditioning at the Space Inn (cheap and comfortable if you need a place to stay on your way to the Perhentians), the food in China Town, getting some exercise by the bay, and the Monitor Lizards we found in the drains it was time to explore a new place.
Next up… the Perhentian Islands, specifically Perhentian Kecil, the smaller backpacker paradise. So, we packed our bags that evening and bought fruit and crackers from a neighborhood fruit stand for breakfast to prepare for the early morning ahead.
The alarms went off at 6:15 am and wowza did it feel early. After no alarms and a nice sleep schedule for many days, we were a little lazier than usual getting out of bed.
After a few yawns, we enjoyed our fruit and crackers, checked out, and walked to the bus station. We knew there was a bus to Kuala Besut (the port town from which you get to the island) at 8 am that you paid for once you were seated (10.80 Ringgit or $2.57 per person), but did not know what terminal to go to, or what type of bus it was going to be. Basically, we were going in blind. Luckily, we arrived at 7:25 am with plenty of time to look around. After assessing the situation, scanning the front of every bus, and asking around we found the right one! We set our bags below and sat right next to the open double doors halfway down the bus.
Within minutes we were pulling out of the station nearly 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time (good thing we got there early!). For a minute we thought we were just moving terminals as the bus driver didn’t shut the front door or the door right next to our seats. TJ, sitting on the outside almost got up to shut it but realized no one else was moving and none of the locals looked surprised or alarmed. So we left it alone. A few minutes later we realized it would probably be open the entire bus ride (which it was), but it provided some great airflow on an otherwise hot and stuffy bus.
Rarely does it seem like people enjoy waiting for buses/planes, let alone sitting on them for hours. However, as our grand adventure through SE Asia progresses we’re coming to like them more and more. Probably in part because they’re inevitably where you spend a great deal of time during a year of travel, but also because they’re a great time for introspection. There’s usually no wifi, not a lot to do, and if we’re talking buses, Alli can’t read or look down at anything as she gets car sick. It’s kind of lovely to sit with no requirements, nothing to do and just enjoy the passing scenery while you process and marvel at all that you’ve done in the last few weeks and what lies ahead.
After almost two hours (during which thankfully no one fell out of the open doors of the bus) we arrived in the tiny town of Kuala Besut ready to find a boat to take us to the island. After paying 70 Ringgit a person for round trip tickets ($17) and 60 Ringgit a person for conservation fees ($14) we boarded a small boat with our bags and were off… or so we thought.
After maybe 4 minutes of coasting away, the driver got a call and we did a giant u-turn and headed back towards the dock. We all looked around a bit confused but decided to go with it. Upon return, we picked up four locals and many bags of food they had with them. Now it all made sense and we headed off again… just kidding!
Two minutes later we headed back towards the same dock again but instead stopped at some boats all resting together and a few locals got off the boat (including the driver?) and different ones got on. The ones who got off proceeded to climb over several boats that were all tied together to make it back to land, and all of a sudden we had a new driver and we were on our way again, for good this time.
Turns out the first driver had a boat license and was thus cleared by the dock to drive everyone to the island. The second driver who ended up actually making the journey with us while the licensed man returned did not. I guess we were living life on the edge! Nevertheless, we arrived on Long Beach 30 minutes later, climbed over all the boats tied together to get to the dock and stuck our feet in the sand. Then it was off to find lodging for the night as we hadn’t booked anything in advance! I broke one of my few guidelines on this trip as this is a mostly a walk in lodging island. In this case, it turned out for the best 🙂 !
After settling in for a day we set out to explore the island! First stop? The hike to the Windmills and the amazing staircase leading you to the Blue Lagoon. An adventure of a lifetime 🙂 !
Check out our Exploration Guide for the full inside scoop on Perhentian Kecil!
Share this: Let us know if you have any questions in the comments and be sure to share the stories of your adventures with us on Facebook and Instagram (tag @LifeIsMeantForExploring we will see it). Have fun exploring!