Star Date:  June 2018
Malaysia: Perhentian Islands, Kota Behru


Hello Dear Family & Friends!



"Selamat tengah hari!"

(Good day -Malaysia Bahasa)








” Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
— Ralph Aldo Emerson


Malaysia, My Second Home.  Holding this visa for 10 years we decided to explore our new 2nd home.  Starting in bustling Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital rich in cultural diversity, we headed north. We chose a new region surrounding Kota Bahru.  Few tourists land here and we spent several days just enjoying the laid back pace.

Cultural travelers find that Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu have a distinctively Malay vibe that’s managed to remain fairly undiluted despite the nation’s headlong rush to prosperity. Nature lovers are drawn to explore the vast and as yet largely unspoiled expanses of jungle that make up much of Kelantan’s interior.

There are hundreds of beautiful islands within Malaysia, not all offer a place to stay overnight. The islands of Malaysia are divided in the islands at the western peninsula, the eastern peninsula and the islands around Borneo. All are equally stunning, though diverse. Most popular islands are Langkawi, Penang to the west, Perhentian, Redang and Tioman off the eastern coast. Around Borneo you have Lankayan, Selingan, Mataking and  Sipadan.

Langkawi, Penang and Pangkor cannot be compared with islands at the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, but they all are equally beautiful on their own. Penang is renowned for its busy, engaging, multicultural atmosphere, Langkawi is known for its beautiful landscape and wildlife and Pangkor is still the quaint island as it was years ago.

Though Malaysia’s east coast is beautiful, containing many lovely beaches and quiet kampung (villages) well worth visiting, what brings folks back to the region time and again are the tantalizingly beautiful islands offshore.

Northeast of Peninsular Malaysia, nearby the city of Kota Bharu, there are two small islands that form the Perhentian Islands. The names are Perhentian Besar, the larger of the two and popular among couples and families with children, and Perhentian Kecil, the smaller island and very popular among budget travelers. Both the islands have plenty of accommodation available, ranging from ($15 -$75).  There are also luxurious resorts that offer cabanas complete with air-conditioning, but at many simple lodges you will have to do with cold water and a fan. There are no (internationally renowned) hotels. Perhentian is most popular because the great places for diving and snorkeling; in most cases you can enjoy the underwater world right in front of the resort. These islands of the Terengganu Marine Park are well-known for the stunning clear waters, fantastic coral reefs and amazing marine life.  It is also very popular because the island is easy to reach; though during the monsoon season (October to March) practically the whole island is closed to tourists. Living on the edge at times we decided to risk the trip in the beginning of this sometimes devastating monsoon season.  Tourists were gone, prices lowered and thanks to the grace of Mother Nature we appreciated a week of sunshine before the torrential flooding rains arrived.  Hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and just doing nothing we enjoyed this little tropical paradise.

Back towards Penang, 5 hours to the west, we stopped in Butterworth to enjoy Nine Emperors Festival, and vegetarian feasts with our dear friends Claire, Ron, Boon, Ms. Goo.  During our stay we also attended Boon's school fair, real dive headlong into the culture and peoples of Malaysia; plus excellent tasty Chinese vegetarian food.   Just a 10 minute ferry ride back over to the island of Penang we felt like we were going home. Good friends, mouthwatering food, colorful culture, stunning scenery, interesting diversity Malaysia, Our Second Home, has so much to offer.




And so it goes.........................................Next spinning the globe and landing in exotic Kashmir, high in the Himalayas.  Until next month let's remember in our hearts that every day is the best day in the year.  Thanks for keeping in Touch!  Take care and Enjoy Each Day!



Love, Light & Laughter, 


xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph





Travel notes:


1 United States Dollar equals

4.17 Malaysian Ringgit

Kota Bahru:

Bus  Transnacional - to Kota Bahru

G Home Hotel on the river - Lovely fruit markets nearby.

A-01-05 Pelangi Mall  Phone# 6097472219

Kuala Besut - pier fishing village to catch speed boats over to Perhentian Islands


Perhentian Kecil:
Senja Bay Resort/Camp
Coral Bay
Pulau,  Perhentian Kecil
09-6911 799
Price determined by season.


Getting to the Perhentian Islands:

To travel to the island you will have to take the bus, train or airplane to Kota Bharu or Kuala Terengganu (quickest way is via Kota Bharu). There are daily flights to both cities (Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Firefly). The bus is by far the cheapest way to get from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu. From there on, you can take a bus or taxi to Kuala Besut; where the ferry to Perhentian departs almost every hour. The taxi is the easiest but also the most expensive method of transport to Kuala Besut (RM70 from Kota Bharu, RM110 from Kuala Terengganu). There are also minivan services from numerous popular places to Kuala Besut; for example NKS in Taman Negara arranges transport from this national park to Kuala Besut. Similar operators offer transport from Cameron Highlands to Kuala Besut.

The real adventurous travelers might like the 'Jungle Train' between Gemas and Kota Bharu. Stops nearby Taman Negara are Jerantut & Kuala Lipis so travelers can easily combine both a trip to this popular national park with a train ride to Kota Bharu in order to visit Perhentian Island. Some describe this trip as really basic, where even the 1st class sleepers are in poor state. Nonetheless, the experience is great and you will not see that many other tourists taking this route to Kota Bharu.

In case of bad weather the boat will not leave. Unfortunately the locals may have a different definition of bad weather then we do. We travelled to the island once around 4pm; just ahead of a heavy storm. This was not a pleasant trip. It is better to take the boat at Kuala Besut in the morning or early afternoon. The weather conditions then are usually better, and it is also less busy, so you won't be traveling on a crowded boat. Also, there is some difference between operators; some fill a boat easily with 20 people and their luggage, other have a 10 person maximum. We traveled once with the big Tuna Bay ferry; it was the most pleasant ferry trip so far.

Below a list with attractions on the island:

  • On both the islands there are a number of hiking trails, there are no roads however. The trails are light and usually don't take more than 30 minutes to complete. Perhentian is too small to spot real wildlife, but there are monitor lizards, monkeys, fruit bats and some species of birds on the island. Because walking in the heat is not very pleasant for many, you can take water taxis to return to your resort after the hike. When going to secluded locations, come to an agreement on the pickup for the return trip.


  • Perhentian is famous for its great snorkeling possibilities. A lot of resorts on the island have their own house reef; this means that you can snorkel directly in front or within walking distance of your resort. On the Perhentians there are dozens of diving schools. There, you can rent diving goggles, an air tube and flippers for a small fee (usually around RM15 per day). With this equipment you can snorkel in front of your bungalow. Sadly the fish in front of the resorts often are very spoiled. This means that, as soon as you are in the water you will be surrounded by small (and sometimes also large) fish that expect you to feed them. Also, the coral reefs near the resorts usually are less beautiful, because boats regularly pass by to drop people off at the resort.















The stunning Perhentian Islands, E. Malaysia.


Hiking through the thick jungle.


Trails circle and criss-cross the islands.


Crystal clear turquoise waters, with a
handsome "Aqua man".


Muslim women swimming in full
"swimming costumes".


Snorkeling is fantastic!


White sand beaches encircle the islands.


Beautiful butterflies.


Most butterflies get away before you
can photograph them.  The bright blue
morpho and green Luna Moths delighted
us but eluded the camera.

A cheeky green chameleon.


The shores are full of large but harmless
monitor lizards.


A friendly little squirrel lived near our lanai.


The view from our basic bungalow.


The only way over to the islands is by open
speed boats.  When Monsoon season hits
the islands are shut down.


Kota Behru, N. E Malaysia.


Colorful options in the 'hijab' store.


Murals depict racial rioting and violence
during which many lost their lives.


Malaysians, of all colors and religions, have
historically lived side by side in peace.


Continuing to Butterworth, on the
N.W. shore, across to Penang.


We visited Tow Boo Kong, the Nine Emperor
 Gods Temple of Butterworth.


Exquisitely decorated.


We celebrated the Nine Emperors Festival
with our friends from Butterworth.


Chinese Opera and fire walking.


A very exciting and colorful Festival, starting
and ending with large processions to/from the
ocean on the first and ninth day.


Thousands attended.


This Festival features vegetarian street
stalls everywhere.  We love that.


Being vegan we are allowed to enter the
innermost rooms of the temple,
reserved for vegetarians.


A fun night out in Penang with Claire, Boon
and Ms. Goo.


Love is everywhere.


Joseph's fruit to make our daily
fruit salad.  Worth a photo!


Pitcher plants ARE carnivores.


Framed at Boon's school Fair.


Tasty Chinese and modern food.


Bao - steamed buns in creative shapes.


The ferry over from mainland Butterworth
to Penang Island.


Boy Scouts on the move.


Koi ponds in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's
capitol 5 hours to the south.


New friends.


The twin Petronas Towers, stand 452 mt tall.
They were the world's tall
est until 2005.
The 828-metre (2,717 ft) tall Burj Khalifa in
Dubai has been the tallest building since 2008.


A happy couple strolling the park beneath
the Petronas Towers.




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