Broken boats, Broken bus, everything is broken. (Bob Dylan)
Bearing in mind the boat had broken down a couple of days leaving us stranded between the Perhentian islands and the mainland, this is all I needed! Taking the night bus from Kota Bharu to Kuala Perlis all started off really promising, a nice Indian-Malay guy chatted to me at the stop giving me advice on visa etc was really kind and wished me good luck on my travels (obviously not enough luck!!). The bus arrived on time.. and left on time! Great! I snuggled down with my towels as blankets, ipod and various other time-wasting paraphernalia, but within an hour we were tilting quite severely to one side (I was on the top of the double decker) stopped at an empty car park. After one hour, we found that the suspension had gone. We spent a further 3 hours waiting. But credit due to the bus company, they did actually have a mechanic call out company, he even had a uniform on, which somehow made me feel better about it. However, it actually turned out to be quite a positive thing. I made friends with a Malay man who owns Tropicana on Perhentian (Where I stayed, he said he recognised me!) and studied at Cambridge and interestingly had worked with Cherie Blair- says she is very nice and at one point sued the government! He was with a girl from Chile, who was backpacking but had met him in Perhentians. Also met a really lovely boy from Pakistan who spoke amazing English with such a nice noble accent, travelling with his parents, telling me about his schooling- all taught in English, says it is more developed than you would think, mostly private schools! I learnt a fair amount about Pakistan on this journey! So when the bus was finally fixed, our new little group all settled back and the rest of the trip went very smoothly, reaching the dock in time to catch the next boat, after a little breakfast trip to get some Roti Pisang.
Finally fixed, and on our way, arrived in good time for the 8am ferry. In the pouring rain, we made our way through the dock past a huge Langkawi sign, the name means 'Brown eagle' I was told by the Malaysian man.
He had decided to hire a car so luckily jumped in with him and didn't have to pay for taxi- stayed at Geckos 15rn dorm- friendly funny staff. Met two girls in the local shop Irena (UK) and Nathalie (Guernsey, yes its not part of england... it has its own currency and goverment!! ;) ) and ended up spending the next few fun filled days together. We took a stroll along the road and beach, we weren't overly blown away by anything we saw immediately, and it all seemed quite spread out. There was a cool beach bar, and a bit of watersports going on on the beach.
That night we met Michael and a random dutch guy and went for amazing indian at 'Tomato' for so cheap, just endless help yourself 'Nasi campur' curries, which tasted so good we just couldn't stop eating. We then went for a few drinks at the beach bar. Following day we met up a bit late, our plan was to try to hitchhike to the cable car which was meant to be 'a must see'. We didn't want to pay the crazy taxi rates and there were no buses. After a realising we were on the wrong side of the road when a lady stopped for us, we tried to ignore the crazed stares by the locals, maybe people don't do this much here! Finally managed to flag two Malay guys (who we suspected may be a gay couple) down going the correct way, who took us to the waterfalls and cable car, they were so friendly and actually took us on the walk themselves and told us about their culture and life on Langkawi. They were really happy to hang out with us and they were great helping us down the waterfall to show us the secret part at the bottom which none of the tourists had found, holding out water bottles and shoes whilst we slipped and slithered around on the green rocks, they seemed to have it mastered like pros.
Malaysian Beiber time!
Oh and I forgot to say, earlier that day we were just walking around the streets aimlessly looking at different shops, and met a Malaysian guy behind a little bracelet stall, and he was asking us loads of questions and then asked if we wanted to go on a cruise on an old schooner yacht the next day because he works on it, and his boss apparently loves him and he can invite anyone he wants. We all kindof agreed to it, but weren't sure if it was legit, and it would also mean we had to wake up for 8am after a heavy night to come.
That night we had sooo much fun, we went out with all the Malaysians we had met, they are all such great characters: Sam the hilarious poncy attention seeker who works in our hostel, Joe the awesome Rasta who sings in the band, the Malaysian Justin Beiber lookalike. They all have high tops and flat caps, and really nice attitudes, you can tell you are on a small island- and the island vibe is so chilled out and everyone knows everyone. We seemed to just fit right in! We went to the beach and Nat got her fire stick out and joined in with all the other Malaysians throwing fire around and breathing it. It was a great show and I was so jelous of Nat for being able to do it. She tells me all the men love it.
The Old Schooner and the Open bar
The following morning I dragged myself and Irena out of bed, Nat didn't make it, and we nearly didn't bother as we thought the whole thing probably wouldn't happen but we managed to meet the bracelet stall guy (Ian) and he was actually there waiting. We were a little worried this might be really dodgy and he just wants to get a load of girls on a boat away from the shore. We made a pact that if we got there and it was all men then we wouldn't go, but were glad to see a young couple waiting to go on the trip too. We relaxed it was actually a normal trip, and also felt a little bit bad for doubting him.
So we got on the little motor boat to take us over to this huge old wooden schooner moored out in the bay, which later found to be 40 years old, and 75 ft. The interior was very quaint and mostly all wooden. The funniest thing was when we got onboard we were given a menu with a whole page of different drink options, I almost just shut it without reading it properly as I definitely didn't intend to spend any money that day. But as I was about to close it, I glimpsed the sign at the bottom, 'all drinks complimentary all day' !!!!!!!! I had to double take… NO WAY!! Not only had we not paid a single ringgit for this trip… but there was an OPEN BAR!!! I glanced at Irena and it was clear she had just seen it too. We couldn't contain our excitement and were trying really hard not to look too shocked because the other Italian couple had clearly paid a lot for this trip and we should probably already known about this. We sat at the front of the boat on these outdoor beds with the comfiest pillows and the best views- we were in heaven!
We sent a message to Nat who was suffering from a hangover in bed, just to rub it in a little. The scenery was beautiful- loads of individual small islands and huge mountains and we got up really close to most of them- looked very much like the bay of islands in New Zealand and lush green. Within the first hour Irena was a little ill and the Pina Coladas we had been sipping on didn't help much.
Never trust kids with coral
We went a very underwhelming beach because the wind was too strong to go to the beach they normally dock at. But the highlight was when we got surrounded by little Malaysian kids when we were swimming. They were all staring at us in the water and one little 12 year old had a huge lump of coral, almost as big as him- we thought he might want to throw it at us, maybe we had invaded their private island? They certainly looked a little menacing, well as menacing as 12 year old Malaysian potential ASBO holder can be…that is.. a lot! But they came in peace, and they just wanted to talk to us. They taught us some Malaysian . I wanted to know why they weren't at school on a Friday! But found Malaysians have Friday and Saturday off school. The 18 year old girl was so cute and told us this was here whole family and they come over by boat all the time to play.
After our little cultural experience, we got back on the boat, talked to Italians for a while, they were really interested in Sipadan and the manta rays etc. Had some beer and amazing lunch and headed back. Ian was fine not pushy etc just nice. That night we had a few drinks and tried to have an easy one, but still ended up at Sunbar and danced the night away.
Private Island beach party
Following day way the beach party for one of the local boys birthdays! Fun!! Nearly lost all my stuff due to huge waves and my clothes were soaked. The boat took us over to a little island with no1 else on here, just a little straw hut and some huge speakers the boys had taken across. There was great music, unlimited beer and spirits and BBQ food. Aussies, Malays, Kiwis, and an idiot British guy who was really rude to some of the girls and everyone basically hated him by end. Everyone else was really fun, and the Kiwi couple were awesome. We danced around, did a few hand stands. A particularly amusing incident of me trying to go for a wee in the sea semi dressed in some kind of privacy further down the beach when two guys came over and decided to try to strike up a conversation, completely oblivious. Its really hard to try and act casual in this situation so I basically fell into the water with my clothes on and got coral cuts all up my foot! They still dont know why I was being so weird.. unless they read this blog!
We left the island very late that evening, it was a mental boat trip back, the boat was definitely overloaded and im pretty sure everyone was intoxicated but luckily there were no disasters in the middle of the night. We had our last meal at Tomato, and last time we would be with Irena, we going to take it easy but went to Babylon beach bar for a few drinks and we were then dragged to Sunbar again, One of the boys had a chewing gum joke electric shock thing, that when you take the gum it sends an electric shock down your arm, which certainly caused a stir.
Mafia and the Getaway Car
We danced all night to great live reggae band, left at closing time 4am, and then sat on a bench, dancing in the shop, all cars stopping to take photos and chat. If we had been in London or anywhere at home, this would be worrying but we just flagged the cars down or people just pulled up on motorbikes to take photos of us, it was so bizarre but really funny. Then there was a really big silver car with 4 really smartly dress black guys pulled up, and they got out and tried to chat us up. Now this was weird and they had a strange vibe to them so I just made everyone keep walking and told them to go away, but one of them followed us all the way and the car was just following us crawling along slowly, again at home we would have made a run for it, here Joe seemed to think it was normal. Anyway Joe told us to come back to the bar and he would drive us home so they couldn't follow us and find out where we live, we were joking that it was a Mafia car and we had to get Joes get away car which was one of those awesome huge warrior black 4wd cars. He got use home safely and we had a few hours sleep and got up the next morning to catch the boat to Thailand!