After passing quickly through southern Thailand we arrived in the beautiful, friendly country of Malaysia and headed for the Perhentian Islands off the north-east coast. These islands are small and gorgeous with relatively empty beaches, jungle and turquois blue waters. Unlike many of the islands in Thailand that have been overrun by westerners and western culture, there are limits imposed by the muslim culture of Malaysia on the excesses of foreign behaviour. The most obvious is the conspicuous lack of alcohol and, when available, the inflated price. This seems to have deterred a certain type of foreigner and has left the islands with a laid-back, friendly vibe.
We spent most of our time exploring under the water by learning how to scuba dive. The sites are easy to dive and bursting with colour. There are multi-hued parrot fish, blue-spotted rays, huge green turtles, vibrant nudibranches and hundreds of other species of fish and coral. The underwater landscapes are surreal and make you feel like you’ve fallen into Wonderland. We saw shimmering schools of fish, iridescent reefs and a 90 meter shipwreck. On one of our day off we went snorkelling and saw black-tipped reef sharks and a 1m by 1m green turtle.
The prices on the islands are a little more expensive than what we’ve become accustomed to but the natural beauty and friendly people more than make up for the extra cost. We eventually had to leave because there are no ATMs on the Perhentians and internet is very costly but we think we might end up back on them at some later point in our trip.