Was up at the crack of dawn to catch the 7am bus to Jerantut... waited a bit and assumed I'd been told the wrong time and it came at 7.30am instead, then it ticked towards 8am. Quite a crowd was growing by this point. Seeing as the bus to the jetty for the Perhentian Islands was leaving Jernatut, which was two hours away, at 10am, had pretty much given up on even getting out of the jungle. It wasn't until 10am that a rickety local bus spluttered it's way up to us, obviously with no explanation as to it's three hours lateness.
Finally made it into the main town and waited at the station playing cards until 4pm for the train to Kota Bahru where we'd have to stay overnight. The line we were on is dubbed the Jungle Railway and it was beautiful whooshing through the jungle, but the wow factor didn't last long as I was counting down the seven hours remaining in a train carriage without windows or aircon. Didn't make it to KB until gone 11pm, and after having to direct the taxi driver using our map to a hostel he'd assured us he knew when we got in, we finally found the right place. It was a hole, in fact, worse than a hole, and I'm pretty sure there was stuff growing on the bathroom walls and I'm not convinced the mattress was originally black.
Made a speedy exit the next morning for the jetty where we awaited a massive palava about trying to get a speedboat, which appeared to be being organised solely by a local woman with her handbag who looked more like she was on her way grocery shopping than running a business. Getting there by speedboat was a pretty hair-raising experience, we had a sadistic driver who then stopped 20m from the beach and said we had to pay for a water taxi boat to take us ashore, blimming cheek.
Off came the flipflops as we made our way across the glistening white beach and through the undergrowth to some dorm rooms we'd been told about, minding not to step on any monitor lizards along the way!! We got there just in time as they had two beds left in one dorm room and one in another, which seemed perfect.
This is where it got interesting... I go into the dorm with one bed, letting the Argentinian girls take the one with two, and hear someone in the shower. After a few minutes I realised from the noises that it's just not someone in there washing their hair, herbal essences or not. Decide to leave said copulating couple some privacy, returning 10 mins later to open the door and see Mr. Irish standing there. Definately not what I'd expected, especially given our previous flirtations!! Managed some awkward small talk than I decided to find myself somewhere else to stay, and ended up in a pretty basic bunglow right on the beach, with an abundance of mossies and general wildlife.
I spent five glorious days sunbathing under palm trees and swimming in the clear blue South China Sea. I did some incredible snorkelling off the beach with the most beautiful rainbow coloured fish (appropriately called parrot fish as I later learned), baraccudas and black-tip reef sharks, the most incredible moment being when I swam alongside giant turtles.
After the Argentinian girls left I spent the day with a beautiful Chilean guy, we had lots of fun snorkelling and feeding the fish together, and then towards sunset he taught me how to do salsa in the sea - very Dirty Dancing! Also bumped into some great girlies I'd met in Halong Bay, Vietnam, so hung around with them playing cards one night. Of course I also had delicioso food there, great bbq squid, roti, fried rice, all sorts of yummyness.
The last few days I had some me-time with Anna Karenina (we've had a relationship across five countries now) and reflected on the time I've spent travelling. In the evenings I sat on the beach and star-gazed, it's the clearest sky I've ever seen; the plough's upside down here! I also saw two shooting stars which was rather special. I honestly can't think of a better way I could have ended this adventure, it was pure paradise...