Friday, June 22, 2007

The Paradise of Redang Island

Arriving in Malaysia, at the new LCC terminal. What does this mean? Low Cost Carrier Terminal! It's the Luton of Malaysia, as can be seen by no gangways into the terminal, instead walking across the tarmac, then an exposed walkway with a fan blowing in a seemingly futile manner every few metres. The luggage belt looks efficient but unattractively bolted together. Anyway, bag out, through the efficient passport control and customs, then out. And stop. Listen. Nothing. Not one tout. Not one cry for taxi. No one grabbing my arm! God bless Malaysia!

There's a bus to KL Sentral (Central) Station, where my hotel is. 9 Ringgit (1.50UKP). The bus is air-conditioned, clean and modern, and glides into Kuala Lumpur along clean well-signed motorways. The bus beeps its horn once all the way in, just to say hello to a fellow bus heading the other way. Tonight I'm staying in the Meridien, a lovely hotel, which I’ve stayed at a few times in the past, sitting behind the station, in an interesting tower, the base of which is shared with the Hilton.


The Meridien

I meet up with an old friend of mine, Janet, in KLCC.



Next day I want go to Cathay to change my tickets (or rather sort out the mess now that Cathay have suspended flights to Sri Lanka). Their city office is closed but the airport ticket office should be open. So train to KLIA to find Cathay. Their ticket office is shut! So that’s 40 ringgit wasted on this journey then. Over to LCCT for my AirAsia flight to Kuala Terengganu (with my brother Hedge joining me later on Malaysian Air).


Mee Ayam, spicy fish noodle soup

I manage to check in to AirAsia by moving almost anything with any weight, except liquids, to my hand luggage, which of course was still coming on the flight with me. Through security, which you can walk around if you so please, scanning my main bag, and noticing that security were not even watching the x-ray screen, just peeling “checked” stickers off a paper reel to put on bags coming out of the machine. Then find my bag is 16.0kg – which is not acceptable (15.9 is), so I have to repack, remove a sock, and then go back through the farcical security before finally getting my boarding pass.

Terengganu, find a hotel, Seri Malaysia, then back to the hotel to meet Hedge. We head out along the seafront to get something to eat. There is an area with lots of eateries just past Chinatown.


Late evening dining


Keropok, fish and sago pulp steamed fried thing


Hedge’s reaction on trying it

Next morning we take the boat out to Redang Island. Despite it being a hot day, the boat is freezing, with a powerful air-con unit blowing straight at us.


Arriving..

We are transferred on to a landing craft, which covers the last few metres to the beach, and are met by a couple of Coral Redang (our resort) staff, who try to take our bags off us, and walk us the few minutes to the far end of the beach where our resort nests. This turns out to be a fairly good spot, as it’s away from the bigger noisier resorts on this side of the bay, with their loud karaoke and disco playing every evening (still walking distance if you feel like that sort of thing though).


Home for the next week


Our beach


And looking the other way


The bar

We check in sitting at the poolside bar sipping a cool glass of orange juice, then because our room is not quite ready (it’s mid-morning), we head over to the dive shop to find out when we can start our PADI Open Water course, which is of course the main reason we’re here. Ayie is our instructor, he’s from the mainland but has been living here for over 10 years. We fill out all the safety disclaimer forms. It would seem that we’re signing away a lot of rights. Hedge is worried about his sinuses blocking up – one of the questions on the form. We agree denial is the best policy, as answering yes to any of the questions means a doctor needs to be consulted etc. We’re issued with our PADI books – I point out to Hedge that this is yet another thing he’ll be taking home with him!!


The Dive Centre

Our room is ready now, so we head round there, and agree to come back to the dive shop after lunch to do the PADI videos. Our room is at the back of the resort, a sort of semi-detached chalet, facing back on to the jungle or thick vegetation behind, leading up a hill.



According to one of the web reports of the resort, this means we’re the front line when the creepy crawlies come out at night. Never fear!



Our room is nice, with simple d├ęcor, aircon and a fan, with ensuite bathroom. The temperature is great when you come out of the heat, but overnight we find it a bit cold, and end up switching off the AC most nights.

Our stuff dumped, it’s time to hit the water. And I’m taking my camera in the plastic camera case I bought in Japan. We don’t have a remarkable level of confidence in it working, it seems so flimsy. Hedge seems happy to let me test it out first before risking his camera in it. We borrow masks, snorkels and flippers and head round to the part of the beach that is marked out so boats cannot enter (given the amount of traffic in and out of the bay, it’s worth sticking to this area, especially if snorkelling and not watching out!).



The water temperature.. is absolutely lovely. Not hot, not cold, just… perfect. So refreshing! We’re soon in and paddling out to slightly deeper water.



There’s coral straight off from the beach, but it’s not as good as that those that can be found by boat. The fish life, however, is truly remarkable, and this was why I chose to come back to Redang.



It’s almost intimidating when one is paddling along, turns and find literally hundreds of fish right behind you, following you in the water, whether out of curiosity or hoping for something to eat, I don’t know. Except the small cleaner fish, who do tuck in to me especially on a regular basis! Ouch!


Say cheeeeglugluglgug


Hedge gets close up to the action


The blues


Looking back to the resort

Lunch is a buffet in the dining area opposite the pool.




Lunch…


..with a view

The food is quite good. Not quite the marvellous treats I’d been expecting based on one web review, but edible. One can also order comfort foods off the Al la carte menu, like chips and club sandwiches, but we agree to stick to buffet for the first couple of days at least. It turns out that the food is effectively chicken, beef, squid and some vegetables, with a random sauce, which rotates between dishes. So one day the beef will be with black bean sauce, the veges fried, the chicken sweet and sour and the squid chilli, the next day the chicken chilli, the beef fried, the vege sweet and sour etc etc. Either way, we’d opted for a food-inclusive package, so buffet it was!


Hedge studying

We have a quick snooze before our afternoon session begins back at the Dive School, and by now both of us have splitting headaches. Only later do I twig what is happening – we’re both massively dehydrated. Anyway, watching 2-3 hours of boring padded-out videos about PADI was just what we needed in this sort of mood. It was torture!! Ayie kept asking us whether we wanted to continue the next day. No, we’ll finish this now!


Back to school


The torture


The drooping eyelids

Finally it was over, and we could retire back to our rooms.


The map of dive sites around the island

After dinner and a quick beer, we retired to study our PADI guidebooks, which of course meant sleep!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

can we have some more pictures of girls half dressed, instead of boys half dress