Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pangkor - more of day one

As you can tell by now, Pangkor is an island. The sun was shining bright and the turquoise sea so inviting. We had lunch at a hut overlooking the sea.
By comparison, what a dump KL is.

Simplicity at its finest, even plain old mee rebus (blanched noodles to the uninitiated) tasted like ambrosia. Of course seasoned with the salty breeze and set against a gorgeous backdrop of sea and sky, what’s not to love?

Teluk Nipah has a lot of budget hotels. Upon returning I was told that another great place to stay is the Nipah Bay Resort. But that’s for next time.

The main road is a narrow strip flanked by souvenir shops selling garish Hawaiian shirts, humble food stalls and boat operators who will take you anywhere and everywhere for a fee. The road is narrowed to a lane with the pink mini vans hogging both sides the road. Good if you wanted to catch a ride around the island.

As the evening approached we caught a cab to Pasir Bongak, another popular beach. Since it was too early for dinner we decided to go on a boat ride. Ouch it was expensive. After a little bargaining, RM90 bought us an hour’s ride. To our defence we didn’t really know any better, having just arrived.

We had to charter the entire motorboat. Fine, it was large and had a roof but we could have gotten it cheaper at Teluk Nipah. It would have been more worth it if we had a large group with us.

I have not experienced taking a motor boat ride before and it was thrilling! Wind racing through our hair, face rosy with spray, and with the sea expanding all around us, wow, that sure put things in perspective. For all that the planet offers, our personal troubles are so insignificant, it make one rethink the meaning of life.

Anyway back to our ride, the boatman took us across to Pangkor Laut to view the sea lodgings of rich and famous. A small island on its own, it is home to one of the Malaysia’s and perhaps the world’s most exclusive and luxurious resorts. Patrons include Pavaroti among others. The chalets are on water, supported by stilts. There is even a helicopter pad for the Tan Sris and Marquises who are not inclined to travel by boat.

While our dinky little boats were allowed go close enough to view the island, naturally we could not land. Yet if I had the cash to splurge in a USD1000 chalet, the last thing I want to experience is plebeian tourists gawking at me through my windows. Tsk Tsk.. Remind me to never make bookings there. Ha!

Sam, our boatman then took us around the islands, past the familiar beaches to Turtle Bay. We did not spot any leatherbacks but according to Sam, during the egg laying season, turtles lay their eggs on the shore and anyone who finds a nest can do what he will with them eggs. I was about to rebuke this practice but seeing that he is local, I am a tourist, he is manning the boat and I can’t swim to shore, I wisely kept my mouth shut.

There is a rock formation that does look like a turtle’s head too. We were to be introduced to many other rock formations in the shape of other creatures, some that stretches the imagination so far that it borders on the ridiculous. A rock is a rock for god’s sake. I see no elephant/mermaid/whale.. sheesh.

We traveled on and watched monkeys, visited Coral island and even fed some fish. Coral Island is opposite Teluk Nipah. It is a very small island with just a tiny stretch of beach but it remains a favourite destination as it is shallow with calm waters. On the other side of the island, water runs pretty deep but a good place for snorkelling as there are plenty of fish.

When we got back to Pasir Bogak we had dinner at this restaurant which was pointed out to us by our taxi driver who assured us that it catered to mostly locals and that sounded good to us. Sam, out boatman, touted his “friend’s shop” but we gave it a miss. Bet he gets a cut. He is hardly the independent gourmet.

Anyway for dinner we had crab curry, assam prawns and white snapper. Bill came to RM55.00. It was a very enjoyable meal indeed.
I had a good feeling about this vacation.

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