I’m keen to keep myself busy whilst I travel, staying active by hiking and exploring. The islands on the East coast of Malaysia: Perhentian Besar/Kecil, Kapas and Tioman all have their own niche of activities to appeal to those like myself, as well as the regular sun worshipping visitors. I didn’t make it to Redang, but it sounds like it’s best for flawless beaches and resorts.
The first week here was spent on Perhentian Besar (big island) volunteering on a turtle conservation project, which deserves a post of it’s own (to follow). After that, Perhentian Kecil (small island) lured us in with its cheap accommodation and the same turquoise waters.
After a few days of R and R, it was time to explore the circular loop around the island. Unlike most hikes this was a remarkably easy and enjoyable trail, taking in each of the beaches along the coast. It’s marked out by a well maintained, paved, pathway. At least for the most part…
The South East section between the village and Long Beach, which isn’t finished yet, treated us with a surprise bush bashing session. I was well coated with mosquito repellent ahead of this expedition, or so I thought. About ten minutes into the dense jungle, it became evident that there was no proper path here, and the repellent was some what… useless!
It seems funny recalling the story now, but at the time it was a concern that we might actually be lost, and getting more lost by the minute, as the sky began to darken. I was scratched, bleeding and covered in ant and mosquito bites, and therefore we had no choice other than to turn back and reclamber over the rocks we had ventured along to get here. Well timed of course, the sound of thunder and the heavens greeted us as we emerged! But, we soon dried out during the taxi boat ride across the bay, and a short hike over the island.
Fortunately our next stop, on Kapas island, was completely uneventful. We arrived late afternoon, proceeded to explore the beaches via the nicely laid out sets of steps along the coastline, and found ourselves sipping a beer before sunset. Really, it was a lovely walk and very peaceful, although I’ve heard it’s best avoided at weekends when the locals descend.
Another opportunity presented itself over on the village of Juara, on Tioman island, to volunteer with turtles. We could have stayed much longer.
A few days afterwards, recovering in Salang, on the North of the island, soon had us back in the thick of the jungle once more.
This time we were attempting a hike from Salang to Air Batang, unknowing that it was approximately 5 km of what turned out to be a difficult ascent up and over to Monkey Bay. After sustaining a knee injury in Taman Negara a couple of weeks earlier, this wasn’t going to be easy.
Well worth the effort however, we were rewarded with monkeys, flying limas, lizards, skinks and the usual bugs and mosquito’s. I emerged unscathed and unbitten for once, although we ran out of water and almost suffered from dehydration instead.
You see, island life doesn’t have to be all hammocks and sunbathing. Of course we spent a little time enjoying that too, but the hiking adventures were unforgettable.
I highly recommend a visit to the Perhentians or Tioman. Both are fairly easily accessed and fortunately are not accustomed to the crowds that the East coast islands of Thailand experience.