Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200604 2 Malaysia Brunei

SUNDAY 16 APRIL cont – Jacks calls in to see if we
want anything before he heads off to golf.  I retire
to bed at 9pm but am still awake when I hear him
return with his friend John.  Once I hear that he is a
Manchester United fan and talking football with Steve
I decide to stay put!
KOTA KINABALU 2
MONDAY 17 APRIL – I have a good sleep and am awake at
6am.  As part of his business Jacks has to call on
clients and luckily for us he is heading into the
mountains today.  We first call into his head office,
Shell, before driving up the coast then turning
inland.  We soon begin climbing and get fleeting
glimpses of Mount Kinabalu on both sides of the car as
the road twists many times.  At 4095m it’s the highest
mountain in South East Asia and most people visit
Sabah in order to climb it.  We are not most people so
don’t have to make the grueling walk up today and then
a 3am start to make the summit tomorrow morning.  Most
days cloud cover rolls in before 10am so you have to
be lucky to get the views anyway.  Admission to the
park is RM15 (GBP 2.30) tourists, RM3 (45p)
Malaysians.  Jack’s drops us off and we visit the info
centre for a map of the walks.  We want to do the 11am
guided walk and the ranger suggests we first follow
the Kiau (village) View Trail which will take us about
1/2 hour and link up with the other walk.  We begin with
a steep uphill climb and sight the biggest mushroom we
have ever seen.  It looks like a large upturned white
paint pot lid on a stalk.  Well half and hour passes
and we are still scrambling up hill, reach a viewing
point but with no visibility due to the dense growth
of the forest!  At one point we stumble upon a group
of bird watchers and probably disturb their find.
We’ve noticed lots of birds but only their interesting
and varied calls. Well I don’t know if we are slow or
things got lost in the translation but the trail turns
out to be almost 3km long and takes us just over 1
hour.  It’s after 11am so we begin to walk back along
the main road to the lower visitor centre but luckily
intercept the guided walk.  The ranger has just
stopped to give a talk and we hear that she will be
taking you along a track and pointing out the
vegetation that you can see on all the other tracks in
the park – no thanks.  There are a few pictures in the
visitor centre and cabinets with displays of animals
and butterflies.  Steve spots a big attractive
butterfly on the floor that must have fallen out of
the display.  He bends to pick it up and it flutters
off.  There’s very low cloud over the mountain and
nothing else for us to do so we head to the restaurant
where we are to meet Jacks.  Prices are incredibly
high and chatting to the waiter he suggests we go to
the restaurant outside and opposite the park entrance
where he used to work.  It’s much cheaper and has a
better menu.  Intercept Jacks and he’s finished work
and ready to take us touring.  At Nearby Kundasang
there is a war memorial to the Death March from
Sandakan, unfortunately they are now charging RM 10
(GBP 1.50) admission, the first time we have seen this
at a war memorial.  A bit further on we pass a golf
course where extra distance is to be gained during
play due to the high altitude.  Mesliau Nature Resort
is another access point for climbing the mountain but
there is nothing else to see.  On the way back to the
city Jacks takes lots of detours to explore the more
remote villages, we see children struggling home from
school with heavy back packs and people packed into
the back of 4wd’s for lifts plus dozens of Catholic
churches.  Dropping down to KK we pass through heavy
rain then emerge to the heat. Jacks calls in to a hot
bun shop, the traditional mid afternoon snack.   Hot
bread rolls are served straight from the oven filled
with butter, soya bean or ground nuts.  The place is
packed out and surprisingly cheap RM 7 (GBP 1.10) for
3 drinks and 4 buns.  Back at Jacks place I do a load
of washing before cooling off in the swimming pool.
Steve commandeers the remote control to watch
football.  I have mentioned to Jacks that I fancy a
traditional steak for tea but not at a touristy place.
 He knows just the spot and again takes us into the
back streets to a coffee house.  From the menu I
select a thick garlic steak RM 18 (GBP 2.70) and Steve
and Jacks go for lamb chops RM 12 (GBP1.80).  At those
prices I am not expecting much but am pleasantly
surprised to find we get excellent meals with French
fries, macaroni and baked beans!  Steve & Jacks get 3
chops each and struggle to get through them.  The
restaurant also does Chinese meals and has some
specialties.  Steve shows me a tank with toads waiting
to be cooked, brings a hole new meaning to "toad in
the hole"!
KOTA KINABALU 3
 TUESDAY 18 APRIL – We again get up in time to hitch a
lift with Jacks on his way to work.  He drops us at
the ferry terminal where we sign up for the Manukan
Island ferry.  There are not enough people around for
the boat to run to a schedule so you put your name on
a list for whatever island you want to visit and when
they have enough people the boat leaves.  Off shore
are 5 islands that make up Tunku Abdul Rahman National
Park and "Survivor" TV was filmed on one of them.
Just before 9am there are 11 of us ready to go.  RM 17
(GBP 2.30) + RM 1 (15p) port tax.   From the boat man
we rent snorkel and goggles RM 10 (GBP 1.50) before
making the 20 minute crossing to the island.   There
are lots of colourful fish around the jetty and a
board showing the types we should see out on the reef.
 We pay the RM 10 (GBP 1.50) park admission fees then
make our way along the beach.  Casuarina trees provide
shade and there are plenty of picnic tables available.
 The far end is recommended for snorkeling so we pitch
ourselves near the dive school.  Steve goes out first
and report quite a variety of fish and reasonable
coral.  I agree when I go to snorkel floating on my
plastic air bed, luckily I did as I come back with
jelly fish stings on my arms and would not doubt have
had more if I had been swimming.  The lifeguard treats
them with Stingose spray and they soon stop itching.
Walking round the area I see an empty swimming pool,
overgrown tennis court and sparse exhibition hall.
The dive school gets business when a tour boat
arrives.  "Finding Nemo" is done on a kind of
underwater Jet Ski with your head in a Japanese pearl
divers style helmet, at RM 250 (GPB 38) for half an
hour.  You only go 5m deep and to an area where we
have snorkeled above.  Mid afternoon some divers
return with a turtle that looks very sick, no one
seems to know what to do with it and we suspect that
turtle soup may be on the menu after the tourists have
left.  The return boat arrives at 3pm and Jacks meets
us at the ferry with the obligatory stop at a "Kadai
Kopi" on the way home and amazingly the prices are
getting lower, 3 drinks plus 2 roti for RM 4.50 (70p).
 No wonder no one cooks at home.  Jacks family have
invited us round for an evening meal and we cross the
city to a smaller village where the rest of Jacks
family live in separate houses on one piece of land.
His mother Catherine speaks no English but sisters
Agnes and Margaret do as do Margaret’s children
although they are very shy with us.  We are treated to
an excellent Chinese meal with rice, stewed beef, and
pork in bean curd, prawns, whole fish and vegetables.
It’s a charming and interesting experience for us and
apparently also an honour for them. 
KOTA KINABALU 4
WEDNESSDAY 19 APRIL – Jacks heads off to work leaving
me to bring my E-mail up to date whilst Steve lies in.
At 12.00 Jacks returns to pick us up and we go to the
airport where we have a fast check in.  There’s time
enough to spare for a last visit to a coffee shop for
a meal.  Jacks drops us off, although we have only
known him for 4 days we hit it off immediately and
feel like old friends.  We are flying Air Asia again
and these flights were free with us just paying RM 40
(GBP6) per person tax.  It’s a 2 hour flight to THE
PHILLIPINES where we land at Clark military airport
about 2 hours north of Manila.  Contrary to
information given there are now money changers, an
ATM at the airport and also an Air Asia shuttle bus
service provided by Philtranco costing PHP300 (GBP
3.30) to Manila.  Approx 90 Phillipine Pesos = GBP1.
It’s a comfortable air conditioned bus with the
obligatory noisy video. We’ve picked up a tourist
information brochure and have to laugh when we realise
that a sticker on the cover is amending the 1,107
islands to the correct figure of 7,107.    In American
style everyone (or nearly everyone) drives on the
right hand side.  Another legacy from the Americans
are the Jeepney taxis.  Based on a land rover they
have been extended on the back to make a kind of bus
and many are extravigantly decorated and very
colourful.  Poverty abounds with shacks
underneath the motorway bridges and beside rivers.
Traffic is horrendous and noisy too with everyone
honking their horn.  Admitedly we have arrived in rush
hour, after landing at 4pm, but it’s still a shock to
us.  Nearer to Metro Manila the slums give way to high
rise and modern shopping centres.  The bus stops at
Megamall and we venture into the cool interior and
work out our rendezvous spot with Beth.  Through
"Friends Reunited" Steve has
recently made contact with
Adams classmate Terry and we are here to visit him and
his family.  Terry’s plans have changed and
he is away on business until Friday so we are to be
met by his wife.  We notice that even in the mall at
the fast food outlets most meals cost around GBP1 and
other goods seem very cheap.  Beth arrives and
introduces herself.  She has come straight from work
and looks very smart in a business suit.  During the
journey back to their home we learn that she is
Filipino, has a daughter Carline aged 19 and another
daughter with Terry called Stephanie 8.  Beth copes
amazingly well with the traffic, often 5 lanes of cars
squeeze into 3 traffic lanes and it’s every man for
himself.  It takes about 1 hour to get to Paranaque
where they live in the village.  Their maids Lot and
Annie cook a roast chicken dinner and for me,
tradional English pork sausages.  They have satelite
TV and Steve is able to get up in the middle of the
night to watch his football – is there no escape?
MANILA, PARANAQUE
THURSDAY 20 APRIL – Terry & Beth are having some
renovation work done and the builders are hammering
away by 7.15am, better at getting Steve up than any
alarm clock.  We have bacon at breakfast and then join
Beth for the journey to Malate where she works.  She
drops us at the old fortified town of Intramuras where
we are immediately inundated with offers of taxi,
tricycle, guide, and "you want to buy…" calls.  We
enter Fort Santiago PHP 40 (45p) and explore the area
before emerging into the old town and heading to the
cathedral, more imressive outside than in.  We don’t
have a tourist map and cannot find the tourist office
so are stuck in a catch 22.  Make our way through the
old town, noting that a golf course surrounds the
outside walls, and into the comparative peace of Rizal
Park.  We spot a sign offering reflexology massage
very cheaply and find ourselves in a small cave with a
shrine area where there are chairs and massage tables.
 For PHP 75 (85p) each we have a seated upper body
massage and it’s really rather good.  Guards stand in
front of the main Rizal Statue and occasionally march
around.  We’re by the waterfront but find out there is
a library at the other end of the park on the main
road.  Make our way there passing lots of people
sleeping in the most strange places including drainage
channels.  Outside the library seems to be
like a job centre with dozens of people holding up
boards showing their skills or lists of staff
required.  Every time we enter a building we have to
fill in and sign a visitor book and the library is no
exception.  We can find no useful information but do
learn that the tourist office is 1 block further up
the same street.  We plod on and eventually find it in
an unmarked building where again we have to sign in
then make our way to room 106.  We are rewarded with
one map but no other information.  Surmise that if
they want to have tourists visiting they need to
improve the visitor relation situation dramatically. I
observe that at the petrol station the pump hangs down
out of the ceiling giving them much more space. We see
a couple of fire engines racing past, they are painted
with fancy graphics and Chinese writing, aparently
they are free lance and won’t beging to put the fire
out without advance payment. We’re hungry and thirsty
so stop at the Asian
equivallent of MacDonalds before walking back to the
waterfront and picking up on the Bay Walk.  The water
is filthy but this doens’t deter fishermen or young
lads from swimming in it.  It’s a pleasant but very
hot walk along the front and I am glad of my umbrella
for shade.  We can see that there are dozens of
restaurants which must open at night.  Witness an
accident where a truck drives into the back of a car
that has stopped at a red traffic light.  The truck
driver is very angry despite it being his fault,
luckily Police soon appear on the scene.  We have a
look in the casino and also the museum PHP 50 (60p)
but find it is more like a gallery.  At Mocha House we
have iced coffees and relax reading the papers for an
hour before walking all around the harbour area.
There’s a park where youngsters can hire bikes by the
hour.  At one point we manage to get ourselves into a
furniture trade show.  Beth picks us up from a cafe
for the journey back. We’ve expressed an
interest in local food so Lot has cooked us 2
tradional dishes, one with prawns and the other pork
and both very tasty. 
MANILA 2, PARANAQUE
FRIDAY 21 APRIL – Beth goes to work, Carline to
college where she is studying nursing and Stephanie
stays at home as it is school summer holidays.  I go
for a wander round the village and notice lots of
small shops and a varying standard of accomodation.
Next I join Lot for a trip to the market.  We take a
tricycle and it’s an interesting experience.  It’s a
sidecar on a regular motorcycle and this has 2
forward and 2 rear facing seats whilst the motorcycle
seat is extended backwards to create 2 more seats.
It’s only PHP 5 (6p) for the ride of about
2km.  I enjoy following Lot around the market and into
a few shops where prices on all but imported goods
seem incredibly low.  In the afternoon Beth picks us
up and drops us at a shopping mall whilst she
fetches Terry from the airport.  The mall is very
noisy with music blaring from tanoys all over.
Clothes in shops are just a little cheaper than
England and I would have had a manacure and facial had
I seen the beauty shop and realised how cheap
everything was.  Beth picks us up with Terry in the
driving seat.  We chat on the way home then settle
down for the lads to do lots of reminising.  We get
on very well and cover lots of other topics before
heading out for the evening.  We go to a Chinese
restaurant and meet up with Austrian born Thomas, his
wife Vicky and their two boys Lucas and Stefan.  The
meal is good and the restaurant modern.  Once they
have finished
eating the kids sit around playing with their parents
mobile phones!  Afterwards we are all
invited back to Thomas’s where we sit outside chatting
and drinking until well after midnight.
MANILA 3
SATURDAY 22 APRIL – Beth has a meeting to go to so
Terry and Stephanie take us out in the car. Our first
stop is the huge Chinese cemetery, rich families have
mausoleums and many are like mini apartments with
kitchens, toilets and seating areas.  We’re heading
south of
Manila to Tagatay.  Lake Taal is a big lake with a
volcanic
island in the middle and within the volcano another
lake.  We have drinks at Josephine’s restaurant with
superb views.  Next Terry drives down to the lakeside
where we find a village strewn out along the shores
and lots of fish farms in the water.  Returning to
Manila he gets a bit lost but we pass through lots of
very interesting country villages before reaching the
main highway.  We stop at the Gourmet Cafe for a snack
and I chuckle to see lettuce leaves used as a table
decoration in place of flowers.  When we get back
Terry cooks up a delicious roast lamb dinner complete
with Yorkshire puddings.
MANILA 4, PARANAQUE
SUNDAY 23 APRIL – We are all up at 6am for the drive
to Angeles where Terry is president and chief
instructor at the flying school.  En route they stop
at Cinnebun to pick up swiss roll style buns made with
tons of butter and sugar.  The airfield caters for the
families who hang around whilst their husbands fly
with a swimming pool and lots of bamboo cabins
round the side.  They mainly fly ultra lights and
Terry shows us through the hangers and points out the
one we will be going up in.  It’s my turn first and I
don earphones and a helmet then take up position
behind
Terry.  Take off is very quick and smooth and we are
soon flying over beautiful countryside with lime green
paddy fields, deep wide rivers, classic ox bow lakes
and Porac River silted up with volcanic ash
when nearby Mount Pinatubo blew in 1991. It feels
quite different to being in an enclosed plane and a
little scary when you lean out to wave at people
below.  Steve really doesn’t like the take off part
but settles in to his flight and even does a buzz over
some locals on a lorry.  We join Stephanie in the pool
whilst Beth catches up on some sleep and Terry checks
out the planes.  Heading back to Manila Terry takes us
on another detour following the silted river and
alongside the makings of a brand new highway.  Once we
are back in the city we go to Fort Bonifacio area for
a snack at an Italian restaurant before visiting the
nearby impressive American cemetery.  We’ve a couple
of hours at home to get showered and changed before
heading out for the evening.  Their friend David
Charlton, a multi millionaire from Sunderland, has
included us in a dinner party.  Having made his money
in beauty salons owns a 7 storey building
in Makati called the David Salon block.  His penthouse
apartment is amazing with a roof top swimming pool and
stunning views.  Other guests include Thomas and
Vicky, Dillip, Mark & Emmy, Bill & Pepis and all their
children who are usually out of sight on the play
station or in the gym. I’m the only European wife but
find the others easy to talk to as everyone speaks
American English.  The meal is served around a huge
circular table with a lazy Susan.  It’s another
delicious roast dinner with even better Yorkshire
puddings.  They are a great group and jokes bounce
around the table and we feel very comfortable.  The
drinks flow and the men get quite merry and don’t want
to leave but most people have work to go to tomorrow
and we get away around 1am.
MANILA 5
MONDAY 24 APRIL – Terry works from home so I join him
in his office using the spare computer and leave Steve
to have a lie in.   After our evening meal we go to
the Australian style Outback restaurant for drinks and
as usual end up having a late night – not sure how
Beth copes with having work as well!
MANILA 6
TUESDAY 25 APRIL – Beth heads in to work and Terry
puts in a few hours at home.  We say Goodbye to the
maids Lot and
Annie and will now have to get used to being plain
Glen and Steve instead of Ma’m Glen and Sir Steve!
Will also have to stop leaving dirty clothes on the
floor for the maids to pick up and wash. Terry drives
us to Mega Mall where we connect
with the 12.00 bus to the airport. There is a big hold
up on the motorway and we
don’t arrive until 2.30pm.  It’s a bit of a farce with
the security guards checking our passport and ticket
before we even get into the terminal.  No point in
putting them away as they are required at the Air Asia
check in desk (free flights again just PHP 785, GBp
8.50 tax) , a desk where they check our visas, when
we pay the terminal fee PHP 350 (GBP 3.80), when we
show the guy the fee sticker, at passport control, and
at the securtiy section!  There’s a
duty free shop and along with cigarettes and perfume
they sell odd things such as:- packs of 48 household
soap, leather gloves, porridge, huge jars of cloves,
every kind of tinned spam meat I have ever seen, photo
frames, pots and pans racks, a few pieces of bed linen
and bags of plastic fruit!  Our 1630 flight leaves on
time and even passing through a lightening storm does
not delay our landing in MALAYSIA at KL LCC terminal
at 8.30pm.   Catch the Sky Bus RM 9 (GBP 13.50) to KL
Sentral where we are met by our Hospitality Club host
Joanne.  Her English is perfect and she is really
friendly.  On the journey to her home we immediately
notice the contrast from The Phillipines, Malaysia
being much cleaner, more modern, less traffic and
minus the obvious poverty.  Joanne lives with her
parents.  Sister Jasmine and her
boyfriend Alex are there to greet us and before we
know it we are back in the car heading out to eat.  We
enjoy different types of roti, Hawaian with pineapple,
sausage and cheese and nan bread with garlic and
double cheese all washed down with buckets of fruit
punch – splendid.  Check out the nearby copy DVD shop
before returning to meet Sindy & Andy, their parents.
Another great Hospitality Club stop.
KUALA LUMPUR, DAMANSARA JAYA
WEDNESDAY 26 APRIL – To begin the day Jasmine takes us
out for breakfast but I can’t quite face the noodles
and rice dishes that everyone is eating and settle for
fruit juice – I had indigestion most of the night and
can only conclude that eating spicy food just before
going to bed is not good for us westerners.  When we
get back Joanne is ready to take us into KL on her way
to work
and drops us at Sentral railway station.  It’s an
enormous station, very modern and just like an
airport.  With persistance and after being bounced
around between about 6 desks we finally get the train
and bus information we want.  Outside we find
excellent signs leading us across the roads to the
Lakes Park where we stroll along admiring the scenery
and watching many people at work keeping it tidy.  At
the far end we cross the road to the sculpture park
then make our way up to the huge and impressive
National Monument.  It’s very hot and we’re whacked so
stop a taxi and eventually negotiate the price down to
the RM 15 (GBP 2.25) that Jasmine says we should pay
to get back to their place.  We’ve been given a key
and are greeted by their delightful dog Fifi.  Now I
am not a dog lover but this one is a bundle of soft
fur, never growls barks or jumps up and performs great
tricks.  We’ve been instructed to make ourselves at
home so Steve relaxes in bed whilst I use the
Internet.  We’ve been warned that it rains at 3pm and
true to form the sky darkens and we get a heavy
downpour with thunder and lightening.  The rain is
torrential and this explains why there are signs on
the roads directing motorbikes to shelters.  Jasmine
calls in to see if we are OK or need taking out for
food.  She confirms that eating is that national pass
time and if anyone is feeling tired they just go out
to eat, unlike westerners who would probably take a
nap.  Amazingly though the majority of people are
slim.  In the evening Andy and Sindy take us out to a
Chinese restaurant with Alex, Jasmine and her god
parent Sue.  They order many unusual dishes for us to
try and I surprsingly like the thin squid rings cooked
in honeyed seasame seeds.  Later on Alex and Jasmine
take us for a ride out to Putra Jaya, the 5 year old
new business area with superb buildings and bridges.
The pink Putra Jaya mosque looks stunning lit up at
night as does the whole area.  It’s almost midnight
when we get back as Justine gets a bit lost on the
badly sign posted roads.  She avoids even longer
delays by driving the wrong way up a 3 lane road,
reversing back to an exit on the motorway and jumping
a number of red lights!  Dad Andy is fast asleep on
the massage chair with the surround sound TV blasting
away.  He must remain that way for the rest of the
night as it is still very noisy at 2.30am when I get
up for a spell to use one of the two computers that
are left on permanently.  Joanne is also wandering
around, seems to be the done thing in Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR 2
THURSDAY 27 APRIL – We get up early for Jasmine to
take us to Sentral station along with Susan who works
nearby.  From there we walk across to the monorail and
RM2.50 (38p) gets us a ticket to Titiwangsa (sounds
very rude when they say it over the speakers) which is
also Pekeliling bus station.  Catch the 9.30am coach
towards Temmerloch RM8.50 (GBP1.30) but ask the driver
to drop us at the Mantabak road junction.  We are
dropped off at 11.30am and a taxi RM 6 (90p) get us to
the station in time for the 11.55am train.  The mail
train aka "jungle railway" is a slow train making 64
stops en route to Kota Bharu and takes 10 hours for
this part of the journey.  It arrives on time and we
board to find 3 carriages, two with air-con that
doesn’t work and one with fans that don’t work!  Opt
for the fan option as the windows open wider.  We chug
off and within minutes have gathered speed only to
begin slowing down for the first station.  As the day
progresses we get deeper into the jungle and the
standard of stations drops to often just a sign with a
track leading off into the forest.  On the other hand
some of the bigger ones have beautiful flowers, huge
fish tanks, cafes and shops.  We arrive in Wakaf Baru
at 10pm and luckily have booked our accomodation. We
are greeted by a man holding a sign "Welcome Steve and
Glen".  Ideal Travellers House is in nearby Kota Bharu
and we are soon checking in to our RM 30 (GBP4.50)
clean but spartan room – double bed, basic bathroom
and fan.  We pay the RM10 (GBP1.50) for train station
pick up and buy a beer to drink in the garden before
settling in to bed.
KOTA BHARU, IDEAL TRAVELLERS HOUSE
FRIDAY 28 APRIL – At breakfast we meet fellow
traveller Kirsten from Germany.  She also wants to see
the bird singing competition so we walk up together.
Dozens of caged birds are hung up in rows and it’s
obviously all very serious.  We ask about it and get
taken to the president Khoh who speaks excellent
English.  He explains the marking system in great
detail and gives us loads of info.  We must be
interested students as he asks if we can spend more
time with him so he can show us the bird hotels around
town.  We are all in agreement so first he takes us
for breakfast then we return for the results of the
competition.  On of his birds "Maradonna’ has had a
placing so he is happy. Birds nest soup is a
speciality in Asia and the nexts sell for US$3000
kilo.  Instead of collecting the nests from caves many
people have now bought buildings and converted them to
"bird hotels".  Khoh points out one that was sold for
RM 1.5m and now houses nothing but swifts.  In the
daytime they fly out to the paddy fields to feed and
just return at night so for the owners of the building
the overheads are nil but the rewards great. He drives
around the city pointing out many other bird hotels
that we would never have spotted otherwise.  Next we
go to his Chinese house where his wife is teaching
students Mandarin.  It’s a fascinating place and he
has so much to show us.  Then he drives us north to a
temple "Wat Phothivihan", near the Thai border, with a
huge 40m reclining buddha.  It’s so big that there is
a room underneath with niches for ashes and a library
within the body.  On the way back to the city we stop
for a Chinese duck meal.  Khoh will not let us pay for
anything at all.  As an ex teacher he obviously gets
great pleasure from educating us but also explains
that the Tourist Office give the bird club money to
promote to city and this is what he is using along
with his prize money.  He drops us in the city where
we buy a new SD card 512mb RM 110 (GBp16.50) for the
camera – the one that took a swim has now failed on
us.  Most shops are closed as Kelantin is a 90& muslim
state and Friday is prayer day.  In the evening Khoh
picks us all up along with his wife Mau Ween.  They
take us to the night market where he selects lots of
local foods then takes them to a nearby coffee shop
where we buy drinks and eat the food.  He is most
appologetic that the birds nests have all sold out.
Having learnt that they just used the birds spit from
the next we are non too worried!  Finally he takes us
back to his modern house where we chat at watch world
news on the TV.  What a fantastic guy, it really was
our lucky day to meet him.
KOTA BHARU 2, IDEAL TRAVELLERS
SATURDAY 29 APRIL – Up at 7am to have breakfast before
our 8am taxi arrives.  RM35 (GBP 5.50) gets us to the
port at Kuala Besut where we have booked a fast ferry,
RM 60 (GBP9) return, to the Perhentian Islands.  After
the usual hanging around and delay our ferry departs
but not until we have been relieved of a further RM 5
(75p) each for a marine park ticket.  There are two
islands and we are going to the smaller one known as
Kecil.  There are a few places to stay and we opt for
the quieter beach at Coral Bay and are the first to be
dropped off.  A water taxi picks us up RM 2 (30p) each
and drops us on the shore.  The island is often full
at this time of year so Steve settles in a cafe whilst
I check out the rooms available.  I’m just about to
settle on the acceptable RM50 (GBP7.50) Aur Beach
chalet when a man in the cafe tells Steve that someone
has just vacated a chalet at his adjoining Fatimah.
There’s is a RM30 (GBPO4.50) room and just as good as
the RM50 one so I snap it up.  Again it’s a simple
room with bathroom but right on the beach.  We are
told to wait 5 minutes for the room to be cleaned and
1 1/2 hours later finally check in!  Race down to the
water where we wallow in the crystal clear waters of
the warm South China Sea.  It’s a picture perfect spot
and a better choice for us than the noisier Long Beach
on the other side of the island.  Snorkelling nearby
reveals an interesting mix of fish and some fairly
colourful coral.  Late afternoon we make the 10 minute
walk over the hill to Long Beach. It’s packed out and
music booms from all the cafes – not us at all.  Steve
is wanting to watch football so we trail along
checking out which bar will be showing it.  End up at
the Blue Roof restaurant high up on stilts with superb
views over the bay.  Most restaurants do a RM 15 (GBP
2.25) evening BBQ with all the freshly caught fish.  I
opt for butterfish and it’s superb.  Reading through
the menu I latch on to the milk shakes, Mars, M&M and
Snickers.  At RM 5.50 (GBP 85p) I can’t believe when
this 1 foot high concoction arrives – yummy.  By the
second football match is on I have tried many.  Steve
is gutted when at midnight they pack the big screen
away and close the bar – it’s only half way through
the Liverpool match!  Back at Coral Bay it’s clear
that the accomodation is all booked out as a few
unlucky souls are having to sleep on the beach.  It’s
very hot in our room, the fan only came on at 7pm when
the generator starts up for 12 hours, maybe the beach
is not so bad after all.
PERHENTIAN KECIL, CORAL BAY, FATIMAH
SUNDAY 30 APRIL – Get up late and breakfast at Mamas
cafe where the front tables have water lapping at the
legs.  Do an early snorkel as it gets too hot later in
the day. I freak out when we see 1m long fat Napoleon
fish, I return to the beach and leave Steve to
continue alone.  Spend the rest of the day sunbathing
under the shady trees, snacking and chatting to the
interesting fellow tourists.  Evening BBQ at Mamas,
sitting at our candle lit table watching the
lightening over the mainland – very romantic.  Shark
is good but prefer the butterfish. 
PERHENTIAN KECIL 2, CORAL BAY FATIMAH
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