Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pangkor - last entry

The next day, taking a cab, (no way were we going to cycle up there. Nope, never, forget it) we explored the town and boy it’s small! But certainly not without character. It plies the tourist trade and naturally the seafood of course.

Dried fish.
Fried fish.
Salted fish.
Satay fish
and that is not discounting the variety of squid, anchovies and almost every other sea creature except for a dugong.

Loud Hawaiian shirts still blinded us from the rows and rows of souvenir shops. And as tradition dictates, we tourists got Pangkor T-shirts. Have to stimulate local economy while were there ma.

Lunch was steamed prawns in rice wine, a vege and more crabs. Shucks, if I actually stayed in Pangkor, my blood vessels would just go pop from the cholesterol. A sleepy town on a weekday, I have a feeling I will be back.

In the afternoon, we took a 5 minute boat ride across from Teluk Nipah to Coral island. A round trip just to the island cost RM20 for the both of us.
And to think the boatman at Pasir Bongak wanted to charge us RM100 for the exact same trip just to drop us on the island!!! I can understand RM100 for island sightseeing but just to drop us off? So be warned!

Anyway, the waters at Coral island are very calm and very shallow, perfect for non swimmers. Floating is as easy as pie. Water was clean and we could even make out our feet. There are no toilets, food stall, changing rooms on the island. We found out the hard way. And at the shoreline, there are lots of shells, so slippers are advised.

We almost didn’t want to go back but as the sun was setting and we had the jungle survival skills of Singaporeans, so we did go.

But return to the island we did, the next day for a bit of snorkelling. Boat ride to the island with gear cost RM30 each. The snorkelling spot lies on the other side of the island as we were told we can’t get to it from the beach we were at yesterday due to the rocks. Later we found out that it IS possible to walk from one beach to the other. But we were warned that it was slippery and better not attempted with just slippers on.

Water was deep and the current felt stronger than the day before and it was a bit scary. It is always scary when you have no control as to how far the water will drag you into the sea. With orange lifejackets on we braved the waters and fed potato chips to the fishes. (we forgot the bread and it was either Mr Potato or my Oreos. And I liked my Oreos.)
Well it’s not as if the fish would mind the salt.

We were the earliest ones there and while it was cool to have the whole place to ourselves, it did strike us that in case something goes wrong, there was nobody there to help us. Well the boatman just dropped us off and would come collect us at a designated time. There was no safety instructions, no net, no lifesaving equipment and in our case, nobody around at all.

So when another young family was dropped off by their boatman, we were happy.
THEN came another small boat.
Then two boats full of Chinese tourist.
Then three more.
Then a group of students from a teacher’s training college.
Sigh. Our large school of fish who were initially quite contented to swarm us with their company quickly abandoned our affections for bigger chunks of bread. Those ingrates!

After striking up a friendship, one of trainers of the above-mentioned college was kind enough to bring me with her into the deeper parts of the water to see more fish. I stayed for a while before I chickened out and swam back closer to shore. My swimming skills are only fit for a kiddie pool and this was a bit overwhelming for me. As you go deeper the water is not as clear and not as many fish as what I experienced earlier by the beach.

The time was about 11 am only and even then K got really toasted in the sun. His bare arms turned an angry crimson, although he sun did also give him a very rosy flush across the face which made him look like he was perpetually blushing. No such luck for me. I just look like I the “before” model of a skin whitening product. A deep dusky tan. It sounds better than it looks, trust me. Well the other kids had long sleeved shirts on, with long trousers.

We rushed back to the hotel where we quickly checked out before 12 pm. With Hornbill, for every hour you overstay, you get charged Rm10. Anyway, we proceeded to Pangkor Island Resort on the other side of the island. Previously Pan Pacific, we wanted to try this place to see if its beach was really superior. They have this exclusivity rule where visitors can’t even enter their resort even to view it unless they are staying at the hotel or willing to pay RM60 to enter the grounds. So we were expecting a lot.

There was a promotion on. RM338 per night, inclusive of a buffet dinner and breakfast. It would have been cheaper if we stayed 2 days.

Anyway we opted for the garden view. Of course the sea view would have caused even more damage to the purse.

The rooms were quite old but with all the predictable comforts of a typical hotel room. Definitely more TV channels and tastefully decorated. And unfortunately for me,I found an unwelcomed jungle gecko IN my room. Oh I hated it. Whenever the plastic bags rustled, all my hairs stood on ends.

The room was right beside a jungle and everything was very green. We took a lot of photographs here, not so much of the sea or the greenery but of animals!
It was monkeys galore at the back of the resort. They have become so much apart of the place that they have even been labelled as an attraction! We were strictly warned to LOCK the windows and doors and these furry mammals have been known to make themselves quite at home.

The resort even had hornbills. We caught one having a good scratch.

I enjoyed the pool and the walks around the grounds. The stretch of beach looked inviting but the waves were beginning to act up and with K sporting unfashionable sun burn, we did not venture into the sea. Coral island was far calmer.

With plenty of Chinese tourists the buffet dinner was quite good, if you like that sort of thing. I missed my chilli crab to be honest.

I still have not made up my mind whether I would stay there again. Comfortable yes, but being a resort all on its own, it lacks the earthy simplicity that is Pangkor. It is a taste that permeates the soul. At the resort, well, it’s a resort with all you can want. Hmm

We left the next day. The resort even has its own ferry service to Lumut. Imagine that. At Rm8 it was cheaper than travelling to town to catch the ferry.

It was a very enjoyable holiday. While the fish/corals/attractions are not as impressive at the other islands it has its own charm to which I think I have fallen for.
It was a good break.

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