Posts Tagged ‘Kuala Besut’

First diving course, lunch in Thailand, visitor from Norway

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

I am currently sitting on a bus on the way to the airport in Kota Bharu. I’ve spent most of the day in buses, going to Thailand for lunch, and then back into Malaysia with another 90 day visa period. My cousin Gaute is arriving soon, and together we will race to Kuala Besut to see if we can make it in time for the last boat to the Perhentians!
In the last few days, I’ve been teaching my first courses, an Open Water course, an Emergency First Responder course, and started a Rescue course. My OW students were two sweet and laidback Danish girls, maybe even a little too laidback, as the course took 5 days to complete instead of 3 and a half… 😛
I am currently carrying too much cash for comfort, as I have withdrawn cash from six different cards, to bring back to people on the island. Fingers crossed that I don’t get mugged before I’ve handed off the cash, 7500 RM is a lot of money!
I’ve worked long days and had little sleep for a bit too long now, so today was a nice change, a dry day spent snoozing on various buses. When I say dry, I mean that only in the sense that I haven’t been diving, though, ‘cuz on the boat to Kuala Besut this morning I got so soaked with sea spray that I might as well have been… I dried off soon enough, of course, in this heat that’s just a matter of minutes, but I’ve spent the rest of the day caked with sea salt. 😉
Now I am really psyched to recieve my first visitor from the old country, can’t wait to finally show somebody from home how I live!

(Aargh, why is this bus half an hour late, at this rate we won’t make it in time for the last boat!)

Return to Paradise

Friday, April 16th, 2010

I’ve been nagging about this in my last three posts, but just to confirm it: I’m back in the PERHENTIANS! I came on the first boat this morning, and I’ve settled in above the dive shop, in one of the three rooms upstairs. Three of the people who were here with Sunlight last year were already living there when I arrived, Wan, his brother and another fellow I haven’t met before are sharing one room, Emma and Bob are sharing another.

On my way here from Bali, I had two nights  (or rather one and a half) in Kuala Lumpur. My plane landed at twenty past midnight, and by the time I found a guest house, Reggae, it was 2 am. On the first floor of Reggae Guest House was Reggae night club, but luckily they turned off the music by the time I turned in a little before 3. It was a little expensive (and a lot loud…) so I moved the next morning, down the street and out of earshot, to Wheelers guest house. The price was about half, but it was definately not worth it, as it turned out the place had bed bugs. 🙁 My suggestion: never ever stay in Wheelers guest house in KL.  I had a nice day before, though, as I met up with Ali and Sundar again, same as last time I was in KL. We spent the day around Bukit Bintang where Ali lives, and went out to eat at an Irish pub.  (the Beef and Guinness Pie at Finnegan’s is brilliant!)

Yesterday my flight from KL to Kota Bharu was delayed, so I didn’t make it to Kuala Besut in time for the last boat and had to spend the night.

I went over to Panorama today, where Emma is working as a divemaster this season. She was out diving, so I was just hangin’ around until she came back. When she arrived, I was sitting with my back turned, behind a one of the pillars supporting the deck above, and one of the other Swedish girls there told Emma in a serious voice that some very weird guy had been asking for her. Her expression of utter bewilderment turning to recognition as I peeked around the pillar was priceless!

There seems to be a little challenge to overcome before I can get started in setting up here, but I hope it’s nothing big. Sunlight has three years left on the lease of the place, but there are some details of the agreement we need to go over with the owners of Moonlight and the owners of Sunlight divers, and then the real work sets in. 🙂 I am itching to get started, so I hope it won’t take too long. I’m waiting to hear from Richard before I start contacting the people that need to be involved, don’t want to step on any toes and blow up possible deals in my first days here… 😉 It feels good to be back, though, and I do hope the good feeling about working out a nice deal here will prove to be right!

Farewell Perhentians and Sunlight Divers

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Uncle Travelling Gjerulf will travel once again! I have lived in Moonlight Chalets on Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil for two months and ten days, but tomorrow morning I head out to Taman Negara. The boat leaves the island at eight, and my bus from Kuala Besut to Taman Negara leaves at ten, and if we keep to the schedule I’ll arrive around four pm. That means that most of my birthday will be spent travelling, but that is only fitting. 🙂 I haven’t decided how long I’ll be staying in Taman Negara, but I’d like to do a proper jungle trek, so possibly a week. After that I head out to Kuala Lumpur.

As for the the snorkel test, I survived, although my rib came out the other end a little worse for wear… The first thing we had to do was get dressed up in clothes that were supplied by the instructors. We then had a quiz about obscure diving knowledge, where for every question not answered, or answered wrong, we’d have a shot of monkey juice. (Orang Utan, a local fortified wine) Then came some charades where the three of us were miming different fish, and competing against everyone else, with the punishment for us if the others guessed it first being another shot of the monkey. This was followed by an obstacle course on the beach, and finally the snorkelling itself. The mix was evil, but Rich spared us his home brew, so we all survived. The rib, which I’ve kept bruising when it’s just about healed, bruised up in the end of the obstacle course, where we had to wrestle our way past the instructors to get to the finish line… 😛

I love the island, and the crew here, so I’ll be back!

Diving with a cracked rib

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Approximately a week ago I was diving the Sugar Wreck, and my hand slipped while I was pulling myself up into the boat. I put a little to much weight on my chest, and there was a popping sound accompanied by a sharp pain. When I got back in the boat I tried to lift another diver’s scuba unit out of the water, and the pain was suddenly so strong I had to struggle to get the unit into the boat…

Since then I’ve been feeling quite useless, seeing as I can’t do any heavy lifting. I was also a bit curious as to whether there are any negative effects of high nitrogen levels on healing bone, but there are none, so I keep diving. For the first few days, under water was the only time breathing didn’t hurt… It got a little better, and I tried to carry some cans of fuel for the boat, and now it’s worse again… 😛

All in all, though, I’m having a great time. It’s extremely busy here now, so it’s not every day I can dive, since all our equipment is in use, or the boat is full or something similar, but it’s good to have a break from the water every now and then.

Yesterday I had a bit of spare time, so I did some research on the Sugar Wreck. What I found was quite sparse, but apparently she is the 3,500-ton M/V Union Star 17, which had run aground on Pantai Sri Tujuh, and was dislodged Dec 13 2000. She was then sent on her way to Batam in Indonesia for repairs, but she sank between 4pm and 5pm on Dec 16, six nautical miles off Kuala Besut, due to a leak. The captain and 16 crew members were rescued in their life boats by marine police. About 1,000 tons of sugar were transferred to the M/V Union Star 20. 

I have not been able to find out who owned her, but it would be cool to find someone who has blueprints. 😉

Seven hours to get cash from the ATM

Monday, July 27th, 2009

I am feeling more and more as a part of the staff here at Sunlight, and that feeling was especially strong yesterday. I ran out of cash a while ago, and while I can write everything on my tab at Moonlight, where I’m staying, I don’t have a tab anywhere else yet. Eventually I had to go get some cash, and the island I’m living on is remote enough to not have a single ATM. There’s one place where you can get some cash, but they charge 10 percent for the service, just because they can. 😉 In order to get my Divemaster license, I also needed to have a physician’s signature on a paper that says I’m fit for diving, so I really needed to take a trip to the mainland.

Yesterday I organized to not assist any dives, and off I went at eight a.m. First I have to take a taxiboat out to the speedboat, and then the speedboat to Kuala Besut on the mainland. At the jetty in Kuala Besut I found a taxi that could take me the last fifteen kilometers to Jerteh, which is the closest place with an ATM… I had my own cards to withdraw money from, and a handful of other cards from other people working here, so that when I was done, I had about 15 000 NOK in my bag. With the shopping I had to do, my visit to the doctor, and mailing the camera I’ve been using, and which has stopped working, back to Norway, I wasn’t back on Long Beach till three pm.

But, returning to the reason I started writing about this, feeling part of the community here; when I was going to get the boat back out to the island, I didn’t buy a ticket, and when I was stopped and asked for my National Park pass, I just said that I was working at Sunlight, and they waved me past. 😀 On the boat I paid the “local price” directly to the captain, instead of the more expensive tourist ticket at the ticket office. On the boat I also sat with the crew, and helped out a bit with loading and stuff. It was a bit weird, but a good feeling of belonging anyway 🙂

A more average day on the island starts at a little before eight, because the shop opens at eight. Just about then the first boat from the mainland comes in as well, so people start arriving. It’s quite laidback around here, so the things that need to be done in the morning are just done as people kinda feel like it. There’s sweeping sand off the floors, putting out buckets for people to wash the sand off their feet when they come in off the beach, and emptying, cleaning and refilling the pools that are used for washing the salt off masks, snorkels, fins, regulators, BCDs and computers after every dive. Then during the day, I study dive theory whenever I’m not out assisting on a dive. The shop closes at seven, and in the evenings, I spend time with students and staff, or after a day with too many dives, just lay vegetating in front of the TV in the “lounge.”

As you might see, the time for writing blog updates is limited, and even if I did have time they would probably be more of a dive log than a travel log. 😉

Perhentian Islands in Malaysia

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

July 6
When I woke up yesterday morning, it felt as if I was in the middle of an earthquake… When the next flash and boom came a few seconds later, I realized it had been a clap of thunder, but it had been so loud it rattled the doors and windows in my room! The rain came shortly after, and lasted until late afternoon, so I spent the day doing some reading, and when I’d finished Anna Karenina I went to a bookshop and sold it, and bought The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Eon. I don’t often read sci-fi, but Eon is pretty cool. It’s written in ’86, and set in 2010, so the setting is a bit odd. 🙂 The Soviet Union is still going strong, and so is East Germany, and the much dreaded nuclear war that we were all afraid of in the late eighties had happened in 93!

In the afternoon Helena came over from Tim’s, and told me he was finally starting his tattoo. We had dinner, and then headed over to watch Tim having pain inflicted on his shoulder blades with a foot long stick of bamboo. 😉 On our way there we met a couple of Swedes from Piteå, that we’d been talking to a few days ago, and agreed to meet up with them at the Reggae Bar after we’d been to offer Tim some moral support. We spent the night partly at the Reggae, and partly at the tattoo parlour, until I had to head to bed. I was getting up at seven thirty, so I needed my beauty sleep. 😛

This morning Helena woke me up at seven twenty, I packed, and we had breakfast at Garlic, where I’ve had the greater part of my breakfasts on the Island. She followed me to the boat, and we said bye and see you later. I’m going to write her an email once I get onto the Perhentians, and tell her where I’m at, so she can come meet me in a few days.

The Piteå guys were also on the same boat, but they were headed to Koh Samui, and then Koh Pha Ngan for the full moon party. I got in a minibus in Krabi, and was taken to Had Yai, where I changed into an older minibus with less leg room and without aircon, but I was happy, because they weren’t playing insanely loud concert videos with Thai music… 😮  I got to Sungai Golok on the border around seven thirty, left Thailand and entered Malaysia very easily. As I came out of the immigration office, I spotted three people just entering, and fingers crossed, I was hoping they were going to Kuala Besut as well. It turned out they, Dean, Rachel and Nathan, had in fact also come from Phi Phi today, and were also headed to Pulau Perhentian, so we’re now sharing a taxi. It’s a 110km taxi ride, but with four people in the taxi, it’s cheaper than the bus, at 25 Ringit per person, or about 40 NOK. I am now at GMT +8 instead of GMT +7, so it’s getting kinda late. I’m guessing we’ll be in Kuala Besut around 11pm, so I hope there are open guesthouses! The first boat to Perhentians leaves at 8am tomorrow morning, and I don’t want to spend the night on the pier… 😛 It’s also been raining  all afternoon and evening, so it’s very wet, but it’s also a bit cooler and refreshing. I definately won’t need any aircon. The last few nights I’ve actually woken up early in the morning and I’ve had to turn off the fan! I suspect I will have to get heated blankets and hot water bottles for my bed when I eventually return to Norway…

July 7
We arrived at 11pm like I thought, and when we’d checked into a guest house, had dinner and gone to bed, it was half past midnight. I got up before 7 to take the first boat out to the Perhentians, and had a gorgeous trip out on a little speedboat, with the sun just up over the islands. Dean turned out to have taken his DM licence on the Perhentians a year ago, and I think I want to use the same outfit. 🙂 It’s on Long Beach on the smaller Perhentian, and it’s called Sunlight. I’m staying at the Moonlight Chalets, which cooperates with the Sunlight Divers. I spoke to the owner of Sunlight today, at the Coral Bay, opposite side of the island from Long Beach, and she said I just had to tell her when I was ready to start. I’m spending some time with the instructors and divemasters here, and I’m going to do a couple of fun dives tomorrow, and if nothing extreme happens to put me off the course or the people, I’ll be spending at least the next six weeks here on the Perhentians! 😀 I also might work here after.

PS: My foot is healing nicely.