Story Behind the Photo: Perhentian Paradise |

Story Behind the Photo: Perhentian Paradise

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28 February 2011

After two weeks of traveling through the country, Malaysia didn’t appear to be exactly what I had expected it to be. I must have had images in my mind of other South-East Asian countries like Indonesia, Laos or Myanmar, but Malaysia was nothing like that.
Arriving in Kuala Lumpur didn’t give me the culture shock I’m used to when going on inter-continental travels, it appeared to be a - relatively - clean, safe and modern city with as greatest tourist attraction the Petronas Towers.

No, Malaysia was not what I expected it to be.
There was a lot of family tourism, especially in the surroundings of the island of Lankawi or Singapore, and the between the major tourist locations was not the expected jungle but huge palm oil plantations.

But what I’d maybe expected the least were the Perhentian islands. This is a mini archipelago located on the east cost of Malaysia, formed by the islands Kecil and Besar.
These islands are a natural park, so visitors must pay five dollar entrance fees, but this also means that it’s subject to a strict regulation. The most important rule is that no motorized vehicles are allowed. The few people who actually live on the islands provide food, lodging or diving lessons and travel by foot or boat.

The genius about these islands is that there is a cheap one (Kecil) and an expensive one (Besar) for no particular reason. A direct consequence is that on Kecil you find mostly hostels while on Besar there are resorts. To summarize, Kecil is for backpackers.

Since Perhentian islands are located in a strict Muslim part of Malaysia, there it is a serious problem to get your hands on some booze. Often there will be a guy on the beach selling cold cans of beer that cost about the same as a medium lunch but from time to time the government executes a raid and the booze supply gets dry, for a couple of days at least.
This means not many parties.
Which isn’t always a bad thing.

It’s a typical bounty island.
A great place to relax.
An amazing place to dive.
The best place to dream away with a good book.
But after a couple of days the travel bug starts biting again, making you call for the next boat taxi to get you back on the road.

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