A little trouble getting from Kuala Lumpur to The Perhentian Islands. Normally buses can be booked that day or even at the bus station right before it departs. That's what I was planning to do... However, I didn't take into account that that Wednesday was a national holiday so Malaysians would be traveling a lot after and into the weekend. I needed to book an overnight bus to Kuala Besut to take the boat to the island. The morning I planned to leave I went to book the bus but none were available... there weren't any the following night either. So I searched online and people said I could take a bus to Jerteh, a city about 20 mins away and take a taxi from there to Kuala Besut. I booked for that online, after multiple attempts and on different websites, departing at 10pm. I got to the station with about 10 minutes to spare. I had to get in line to get a separate boarding pass. For some reason I guess they couldn't find me in the system so I had to be personally walked to the gate and wait there until someone called me on and placed me on the last empty seat.
It was only supposed to take about 7 hours so I should've gotten to Jerteh around 5-5:30am but when I was checking my offline map we weren't anywhere near it yet. Around 6:30am, the driver came up to tell me I had to get off here. He didn't speak any English so we got on using hand signals. I got dropped off in a random city about 45 mins - an hour away from Kuala Besut. I thought I was taking another bus so I waited at the empty bus station until a taxi driver came and told me to come with him. He wanted me to pay 50RM but I refused because my max for a taxi from Jerteh was 20Rm. I bargained him to 30 because I refused to pay for more when I booked a bus to Jerteh, not this random city. He finally agreed and we were on our way. I got to the port around 7:30 and had to wait another hour for the next boat. The rest was pretty smooth sailing (pun intended).
The Perhentian Islands are known as a good and cheap place to get your PADI certification or other advance courses in scuba diving. For 1050RM or about $242USD, you get 4 days of scuba, 5 dives to become certified and 3 nights accommodation. It's a great deal because a night on the island is really expensive, starting around 50/60RM. I'm really excited to get certified so I can dive in other parts of SE Asia. Super excited for that!
There are two Islands, big and small. The big one is a lot more quiet with resorts for families and couples. The smaller one is a bigger backpacker, young vibe. At night on the beach there are tons of happy hour days and parties on the beach. So it can be a fun night out unless you have to dive early in the morning. Long Beach is the area I chose to stay at because it's the most lively. That helps because you don't have wifi or internet anywhere. I went to a cafe that's supposed to have the best wifi and it couldn't even load anything and took about 5 mins to send an iMessage. Other than that, it's a beautiful island with really warm water. Can't beat that! I will update you on how my diving goes!
Since I didn't have wifi or anyway to book my bus ticket online, I had no choice but to buy the marked up bus ticket price from the island. Online it was 50RM but in the shop they listed it for 58RM. However, when I went to buy it she told me that was the old price and now it was 61RM. No honey, I was not able to let her rip me off like that! Eventually she agreed and I paid 58, even though I still felt jipped. Everything was running smoothly. I took the last ferry off the island at 4pm and got onto the mainland around 4:45pm and my bus didn't leave until 9pm. I just wandered around the town, trying to find things to occupy me with. When it was around 9pm, I asked the bus driver of the company I was riding with if it was going the right way, to Penang. He said yes, put my bag in the storage and we were off. About 1.5 hours later, the bus stopped and the driver told me I was on the wrong bus. This has got to be a joke... because I clearly asked him and I also showed my ticket to 2 other workers before I settled on the bus.
My biggest fear was that I had missed it and now had to stay in that random town that night. I was very upset! Luckily the right bus was just behind and I got on that one. Now we were finally on our way, right? Wrong. 2 hours later, I got stopped again and was told to get on a different bus. You can bet I was very annoyed by this point. I don't mind switching busses if I was notified beforehand instead of woken up in the middle of the night. I felt like I was being herded around and thrown into one back after another. Ridiculous! But I guess I can't expect that much for a cheap bus in a 3rd world country. The good thing is I made it to my final destination so that's all I care about.