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Perhentian Lokkawi - A travel report by Amelie Soulard
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Perhentian Lokkawi,  Malaysia - flag Malaysia -  Sabah
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islandrat's travel reports

Seaside Relaxation

  4 votes
When was the last time you felt powder-white sand between your toes? Perhentian Islands, Kecil and Besar, may be the relaxation getaways you have been looking for. 5 Senses’ editor proposes a complete seaside relaxation program.

I prefer to warn you first. The night-bus ride from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut is exhausting and uncomfortable. The thirty-minute speed-boat trip is hard on the back and buttocks, as the sea is still rough early in the season. I reached Perhentian Kecil Island out of breath and short on sleep. But I suspect a conspiracy. It's all part of the plan: Arriving feeling like a flat tire to more greatly appreciate the magic relaxation process that operates on these paradisiacal islands. Don't get me wrong. There is no spa or massage salon of any sort on Pulau Perhentians. Still, the Islands propose a complete relaxation program that makes wonders. Beach Meditation and Yoga at Dawn Monsoon has just ended and, on Long Beach, the wind is a fury. It gives the waves a perfect curl. Situated on the east side of Perhentian Kecil and facing the big island, Long Beach is the ideal sunrise-watching spot. As the sun appears on the horizon line, I sit down on the cold sand in a lotus position. I can't detach my eye from this round fire rising. I focus on the warm feeling it projects on my skin. The breeze is caressing and strong enough to tangle my hair. I don't mind, it makes me feel alive. I am not the only hypnotized soul on the beach. Surfers join me and seem to pay respect to the new day before gliding the waters on their board. I try to empty my mind and let my ears fill with the sound of crashing waves. Thoughts come and go in my head, but I don't try to retain them. Problem-solving and mental rumination are useless here. Problems don't reach us in this island paradise. Time stops. Totally immerged in the present moment, I don't even realize that the sun is already high in the sky, and before resigning from my spectator's position, I perform a salutation to the sun. Diving and Snorkelling Later in the afternoon, I embark with Warda, the Dutch manager of Sunlight Divers and her friendly and experienced staff, for a dive. Sunlight Divers just opened at the end of Long Beach, beside Moonlight Chalets and provides brand-new diving equipment and the complete range of PADI diving courses. It's been almost two years since my last descent, and I feel quite nervous to meet the underwater world again. As the boat leaves the beach at great speed, memories of previous dives come back to me. I can smell the blue again. I reconnect with the milieu. As I perform my back-roll entry in D'Lagoon, the water closes around me and I begin to relax. Scuba-diving is really a Zen pursuit. Everything is done in harmony with the sea. Diving is all about merging with the liquid element, becoming a fish for a moment to enjoy fully the experience. Breathing is deep and slow, arms are kept close to the body, as in a sign of respect and submission. This idea is to minimize the energy loss and to save oxygen. Movements are slow, harmonious, and minimal. The kick has to be fluid and is often unless, as the body drift slowly with the underwater currents. We must follow the waves without fighting their movement. We see, breathe and exist in a forbidden universe. We don't touch anything, we don't take anything. We just exist. Under the surface, I feel privileged. Reading in a hammock or long chair To deconstruct the diving and snorkelling experiences, nothing is best than to sit in a hammock to read a good book. Don't forget your sunglasses and sunscreen. Stocks are limited on the Islands and essentials may get costly. Many chalets provide hammocks for their guests' pleasure. At Aur Beach Chalets, on Coral Bay, you'll find immense long chairs that will do just the same good. Grace-matinees and after-noon siestas on Coral Bay The path leading from Long Beach to Coral Bay is sinuous, but easy. As you reach the top of the hill and wish you had taken a bottle of water with you, the trail finds its way down to the beach. The jungle smells like warm honey. On the West side of the island, the sand is covered with pieces of coral. Smaller, Coral Bay beach offers a magnificent view on sunsets. And if you feel adventurous and don't get scared by a little bit of climbing, you can make your way to Romantic Beach, isolated and superb strips of white sand, hidden behind big rocks, where all (snorkelling) lovers will find their heavens. The Perhentians are one of the rare place on earth where doing nothing is allowed. On my first morning on Coral Bay, I slept late, very late. And I didn't even feel ashamed. The morning was fresh and bright through the window wide open. Later, as the sun got high is the sky and the day warmer, I returned to bed to benefit from the restoring power of an afternoon siesta. If you're a more active type of person, you may want to skip the afternoon nap and join locals and tourists alike for a beach-volleyball game. Dining There are numerous dining options available on both Perhentian Kecil and Besar. One of the most popular is the barbecue dinner. King fish, barracuda, squid, give the catch of the day a try. But don't forget: if you don't see any sharks during your dive, it's probably because it's grilling on a barbecue. Famous milk shakes and local cakes are musts that don't figure on the extinct animals list. Honeycomb Restaurant situated on Coral Bay offers a tasty clay pot curry. Panorama, on Long Beach, serves succulent vegetable tempuras. And after having enjoyed an excellent meal, nothing ends this relaxation program best than sitting on the beach to watch the stars. When the earth and the sky merge into the fresh and total darkness, you know you're in paradise.

Favourite spots:
D'Lagoon is a shallow dive site (maximum depth: 12 to 14m). It is therefore perfect for snorkelling as well. This coral garden bursts with colours and fish are abundant and friendly. The small bay is granted with a welcoming small resort, D'Lagoon Chalets, for those who are looking to escape away from it all. The day after, we head to the West side of the island. A small archipelago of rocks and trees face Coral Bay. Tokong Bopeng, Pulau Seringi, and Pauh Reef, among others, offer excellent diving opportunities. The Temple of the Sea is my favourite site. As we follow the reef, the Temple of the Sea appears in front of our eyes, overwhelming. It spreads across the vision span in a gigantic and impressive wall. I have to consciously remind myself not to hold my breath. This masterpiece of rocks, corals, and colours is surreal. Turtles often come eating on the top of hard coral bouquets. False Clowns dance in their soft coral house. Giant stingrays slowly progress away from us. Vietnamese Wreck and Sugar Wreck offer more challenge for advanced and experienced divers. The latter also host an impressive colony of King Fish. For non-divers and snorkelling lovers, a one-day trip will take you to exciting sites such as Sea Bell Rock and Shark Point and bring you to the Fishermen's village for lunch so you can enjoy some succulent traditional Malay food.

What's really great:
What did I prefer? Honeycomb restaurant on Coral Bay beach and its barman...we live a fary-tale love story since 2002!

Perhentian Islands ARE NOT in Sabah, but in Terengannu.
All kinds of accomodation is available on the Islands: from A-frame huts to cosy air-con rooms.

Remember: Alcohol is forbidden by Islamic law!

Published on Friday May 28th, 2004

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Fri, May 28 2004 - 03:34 AM rating by marianne

I enjoyed reading this. Would it be possible to insert a few paragraphs, this makes reading easier. You simply put

wher you want a brak. Let me know if it doesn't work.

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