Marta's Photo Album of Malaysia

Malaysia - East Coast
May 2005

Getting there
We departed Johannesburg on the services of Malaysian Airlines at 13H40. Just before takeoff we were handed warm towels to freshen up before the flight that would take nine and a half hours across the Indian Ocean to Kuala Lumpur. After takeoff we were served refreshments and some nuts. Shortly after that we were served dinner. We had a choice of either a spicy chicken dish or lamb or fish, this was accompanied by a choice of wines and non alcoholic drinks. During our flight we enjoyed a selection of the latest movies as well as games on board. Before we realised the time it was breakfast and then landing in Kuala Lumpur. We landed smoothly and safely at 06H40 and made our way into the exceptionally modern Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

We transferred through passport control and made our way to the counters for our boarding passes for our following flight to Kota Bharu which was scheduled to depart at 07H30. After an enjoyable flight we landed at 08H30 in Kota Bharu. We collected our luggage which had been booked directly through from Johannesburg and were instantly met by our tour operator. We were then transferred to the Mersig Jetty and boarded our ferry to Perhentian Island Resort.

Perhentian Island Resort

Perhentian Island is an island paradise with a private beach surrounded by white sandy beaches and has many surrounding islands which offer stunning adventure options and activities. The accommodation comprises a choice of comfortable chalets, rustic in style. The scenery is breathtaking, with endless views of the turquoise ocean.

The diving was conducted around depths of 18 - 20 meters and it proved that a variety of fish life and prolific coral growth could be observed at these shallow depths. We encountered black tip reef sharks on more than one occasion.

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Blue Coral Island Resort -Lang Tengah

We transferred southwards from Perhentian Island to Lang Tengah which by speedboat took approximately thirty five minutes. Here we encountered a tropical paradise with a small resort with its own private beach. The accommodation was once again rustic in style and many of the chalets overlooked the beach or the sparkling swimming pool.

We were able to do shore entry dives in addition to boat dives. The diving near the resort had amazing boulders under the sea and the fish life was varied and prolific. The gorgonian fans were amazing and the diving mostly multi-level. We went out by boat to the deeper dives sites of around 30 meters plus, here one could enjoy the landscape of huge boulders covered in colourful coral and many a nurse shark could be observed sleeping below the rocks.

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Laguna Redang Island Resort - Redang Island

We took a day tour from Lang Tengah island to Redang Island, which is also a marine park. The boat ride was approximately 30 mins in total. As we approached the island we spotted a luxurious tradtional Malay style hotel. This being the Laguna Redang Island resort. We were made most welcome by the staff who are always smiling and make an effort for all their guests. The resort has 212 guest rooms most large in size and all tastefully furnished in Asian style decor with cream and wood throughout. There is a spectacular pool with a Jacuzzi attached.

The dining area overlooks the South China Sea and offers an enormous buffet with a tremendous variety of food which is freshly cooked on a daily basis. There is a selection of Asian and Western dishes with an abundance of fresh fruit daily.There is an a la carte restaurant where one can enjoy Italian food as well as order a traditional steam boat which is full of a variety of the freshest seafood I have ever tasted. There is a bar which has an excellent and varied selection of cocktails, beers and wines from Australia and the prices are reasonable during happy hour.

The beach is spectacular with cool white sand stretching as far as the eye can see. On the island one can go for long walks along the white powdery sand beach and pop into the surrounding little bars that are scattered within the smaller more rustic retreats. There is one particular little bar that is built on boulders overlooking the ocean where one can have sundowners whilst enjoying a spectacular sunset of the South China Sea.

The Padi dive centre is the most superior on the entire island. It boasts brand new equipment which can be rented at around R70.00 for an entire kit per day which saves lugging your own. The instructors and dive masters are the finest I have seen and the briefings very through and well explained. The boat is to die for, large luxurious and hard bottomed with a change area as well as ablution facilities. On the front deck one can suntan en route to the dive sites.

The dive sites are normally a 15 to 30 minute boat ride depending on the site. The soft and hard corals are pristine and the variety and numbers of fish was awesome to say the least. We encountered bump head parrot fish, kingfish, stingrays, shoals of trevally , numerous nudibranches ,turtles and the black tip reef shark. Overall the visibility was around 15 - 30 meters and the water like a warm bath and the diving fantastic.

One can do a day excursion to Vietnam Island for a two tank dive where a packed picnic lunch is provided. This is upon request at an extra charge but will not break the bank. The island was used for the Vietnamese as a refuge during and after the war. One can see their temples and houses that are now mostly derelict a sad reminder of that time. It is interesting historically and it provides a break between the dives with a short easy walk into the jungle, followed with a snorkel or chill out on yet another white powdery beach. The diving around Vietnam island is interesting with large boulders, the occasional fish trap as this is not part of the marine reserve. One our first dive there we encountered a tunnel of shoaling barracuda and the underwater turned quiet dark it was ten star.

The activities range from fantastic scuba diving in tranquil waters that contain an abundance of corals and numerous variety of fish life. The dive centre is superior to most and extremely well managed with excellent staff and new equipment as well as a large luxury hard bottomed boat. There are numerous daily activities organised for children including non motorised watersports and jungle trekking.

A holiday here is not to be missed as it is the perfect location for a beach holiday being suitable for both romantic couples and families.

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Kuala Lumpur

We flew back to Kuala Lumpur on the services of Malaysian Airlines. We checked into The Berjaya Times Square which is a brand new twin tower design hotel. This hotel has 300 shops numerous restaurants and a fun fair within its own mall. It is also located in the heart of the golden triangle. The rooms were very spacious with an en suite lounge, dining room and the bathroom exquisite.

In Kuala Lumpur we shopped until we dropped. The electronic stores were amazing and the selection of sports goods and clothing huge and the costs were most affordable for excellent quality products. We viewed the Petronas Twin Towers which is 88 storeys high - currently it is the tallest building in the world.

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Japamala Resort Tioman Island

We transferred from our hotel in Kuala Lumpur to Subang Airport, where we boarded our flight on Berjaya Air to Tioman Island. The aircraft is an 48 seater Dash 7 and we landed comfortably after a one hour flight on the Island of Tioman. We were transferred by crew from JapaMala on a very large and comfortable speedboat to the resort, this took around thirty minutes.

JapaMala is a very exclusive and secluded resort set on a private island of 11 acres of unspoilt jungle on Lanting beach which is within the Tioman area. This boutique resort was developed by Federico Asaro - an Italian who has lived in Malaysia for 25 years. He is moved by a spirit of adventure and a fascination for exotic Asian cultures .The nine well - appointed Malay style chalets are built on stilts in and around the natural forest and rocks with most of them having spectacular views of the South China Sea.

Tamarind Terrace the resort's restaurant has an atmosphere of serenity and calmness and is finished in pieces from Thailand and local handcrafted furniture. Serving authentic cuisine freshly made upon each individual order, the menu consists of dishes handpicked from Laos,Vietnam and Cambodia with a strong Thai influence, with an extensive selection of wines hand picked by Federico to compliment the various dishes that are offered. The dining is alfresco by day and candlelit barbeques on the beach by night.

The activities include scuba diving around Tioman which is a marine park and there is no anchorage or fishing allowed. The fish life is abundant and the coral gardens are stunning - masses of staghorn coral, colourful gorgonian fans and beautiful sea sponges. The amazing underwater topography incorporates swim throughs amongst gigantic boulders. We spotted barracuda, stingrays and bumphead parrotfish shoaling, to name but a few. Turtles were seen on almost every dive. The are dive sites to suit all divers of all skill and experience levels.

One can also participate in fascinating jungle and cross island hikes. The resort also organises trips to remote beaches for snorkelling and other excursions.

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In Conclusion
Malaysia is an intensely beautiful and welcoming destination, with a huge variety of accommodation and activity options available - river rafting, mountain hiking, nature and forest trekking, orang-utan and other eco- tours and a variety of watersports, including deep sea fishing. Holiday packages can be tailored to suit any budget and activities arranged to satisfy your heart's every desire. Malaysia has something to offer everyone and promises to be an unforgettable experience!

With Special Thanks
This trip was made possible by the assistance of the following :

A special thanks to Tourism Malaysia for organising the trip.

A special thanks to Malaysia Airlines for the sponsorship of the tickets.

A special thanks to Berjaya Air for the discounted tickets.

A special thanks Perhentian Island Resort, Blue Coral Island Resort, Berjaya Times Square and the JapaMala for their kind hospitality, complimentary accommodation, wonderful meals and great scuba diving.

A special thanks to Laguna Redang Island Resort for hosting us for lunch and a complimentary scuba dive.