I'm sneaking a few quick minutes away from the hot, mid-afternoon sun to post this. We arrived on Pulau Perhentian Kecil (the Small Island) in the southern tip of the Gulf of Thailand. It is paradise. The water is unlike anything I have every seen. On the edge of the sand, the water is crystal clear. I can see the blue painted on my toenails peeking out from the sand on the sea's floor. Looking out in the distance, I can see the colour change from a translucent teal green to a vibrant blue, like a glowing pitcher of blue kool-aid.
The boat ride out was a bumpy one as we sped along in a large motorboat over the waves. As we approached the beach, two smaller motorboats came to fetch us and take us up on to shore. We got soaked from the splashes of the waves, but managed somehow to keep our backpacks relatively dry. The four of us managed to get one of the last rooms at a hostel at one end of Long Beach (the name made me expect a stretch much longer than the one we arrived at). Our room is on the second floor of a chalet-type hut and one of the rooms has a balcony that looks out on the rest of the beach.
Long Beach is a backpacker style locale that has about 300 yards (I could be really off on that measurement...) of white sand. Scattered along the beach are a variety of hostels, restaurants, diving centres, and beach umbrellas. The view from our side of the island is Pulau Perhentian Besar (the Big Island). The vibe is laid back, but the hosts are welcoming and jump at the chance to help. There too many restaurant tables for visitors to fill, so while the beach is smaller than other I've been too, it feels unpopulated especially during the day when many tourists are out diving or snorkeling.
It's hot here, but without the unbearable humidity. There is a constant, gentle breeze and the water is warm enough to walk right into but cool enough to still be refreshing.
Before heading over to the islands, we spent a couple days in the Cameron Highlands. We took a surprisingly luxurious bus (for only 35 Malaysian Ringgits ~ $12 CDN) from Kuala Lumpur to Tanah Rata. It is a busy tourist town amongst in the forested mountains, surrounded by strawberry farms and tea fields. It felt similar to a ski town like Banff, though surrounded by jungle instead of snow. We took one day to do absolutely nothing except read and drink coffee at the Starbucks down the way. The next day, we took a Rainforest tour and walked their mossy forest, drove to the highest point of the highlands, and toured the Boh Tea Plantation, a 200-hectare region that makes the most tea in Malaysia.
It rained on and off the entire time we were in the highlands, but it was a refreshing change of climate from the hot and sticky Indian weather. It is now Monday and we are going to be on the island until Saturday morning. I don't plan on accomplishing anything except for reading and eating. Maybe another snorkeling attempt... maybe.