Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pangkor Island, Malaysia

Getting There

Imagine if you could travel back in time to Hawaii before mass commercialization? This is kind of what Pangkor reminded me of. Getting here is not easy, there are no nearby airports and we took a 3 1/2 (which ended up being 6) hour bus from the Malaysian mega-city, Kuala Lumpur to get there. 

The 30 minute ferry ride was one of those moments where you ask yourself, "so this is how i die?" The ferry was in rough shape - like it had been decommissioned 30+ years ago.. yet somehow got a second life here. 

At the ferry's initial stop, we had no clue if we had reached our destination - and people were quickly piling off the boat. Pat (my step dad) stood up and someone quickly said to him as he walked by - "Next stop." with a smirk. It's the one time where being a clear tourist comes in handy!

After getting off our stop - we quickly realized that here on Pangkor there is only 1 cab service and they are ALL pink vans! What a trip. We quickly piled in all of our crap and off we went to our hotel.

Checking in we hit our first snag; they couldn't find our reservation and also appeared to be fully booked. We later found out that the person that had made the reservation for us had been fired. "So what are we suppose to do?" The front staff gave us 2 options. Option 1: Stay in their massage room (no b.s.!); Option 2: Stay at the next hotel over. 
Before making a final decision, we opted to view both options (Thank God). The next hotel had the most disgusting rooms we had ever seen! We're talking torn, dirty sheets and the works! Oh, and the massage room...IT WAS A MASSAGE ROOM! Who knows what had gone on in there over the years and the strong scent of massage oils was enough to give anyone a headache.

So, we chose  Option 3. My fast thinking Estelle asked the front desk about Pat's room setup and as it turned out he had an extra bed - so we had a little slumber party that first night!

About The Island

The main town of Pangkor is very small; and there were very few tourists and most the tourists were Malaysians. There were only 4 or 5 restaurants and it was more street food style - you wont find any nice restaurants here! If you come here - you are coming for the beach - Coral Bay Beach. 


And so, that is what we did! We walked the 5 minutes everyday and just relaxed on the beach. Sitting on the makeshift hammocks made out of fishing nets; read, swam and just hung out. 

We had noticed a sign at our little hotel that read "Karaoke 9pm" and I knew we had to "get involved"! Back in my hey day - I may have been known to bring my own karaoke machine to house parties, holiday events, and the works - but it had been some time since my last singing session! That night we came back and it was 100% the staff; and they were primarily singing Malaysian classics but were mixing in some Top 40 songs. They warmly greeted us - so, we all put some songs in and represented with some Classics from the US of A. I had to bring out my go to..."Sweet Caroline" and felt pretty good about it. I put in YMCA for Pat and when they called him up on stage - the crowd went wild (especially 2 male members of the staff) when he ripped his shirt off - holy cow! He quickly got VIP status - since he also dominated the dance floor with his "unique" Bollywood dance interpretation ;) All in all - so epic and such a fun night! 


On our second full day we decided to rent kayaks and venture to a small island not too far from Coral Bay. While heading back from the island, we got stuck in a tropical rain storm! The most ominous dark clouds emerged out of nowhere, and soon engulfed us and delivered torrential rains and powerful gusts of wind. So, we may have all panicked and then rowed as if our lives depended on it (which it kind of did) to the shore. We made it back safe and sound and no one; no one else could be found on the beach! So after docking our kayaks - we of course had to go for a nice little dip in the ocean with this ridiculously heavy rainfall - but something about it made you feel so very alive! We loved it! 





Almost as soon as it had arrived; the storm passed and that's when we decided to join Pat and Elise on their jungle tour.  It seemed like a good idea at the time but soon after entering the forest; and navigating barely recognizable trails, Estelle and I were swarmed by mosquitoes and got a little freaked out since we weren't taking our anti-malarial meds. So, we respectfully declined to go any further and got the heck out of there! Soon after Estelle, noticed she had a LEACH and panically wiped it off - then I looked down and noticed that I too HAD A LEECH and REALLY freaked out! Feeling itchy and disgusted - we then turn to see a pack of wild dogs barking at us from a distance and we retreated as fast as we could back to our hotel for a shower and to regroup! 



One of the things I liked about Pangkor was the wildlife. We had these amazing Hornbill birds that have these magnificent beaks and then of course the monkeys! They are the ones that really run the island and you could see them EVERYWHERE! In the hotels, jungles, crossing the powerlines over the road - so cool .. yet scary! Since its obvious how strong and swift they are.

Arriving as strangers - leaving as karaoke / dance party friends; we left Pangkor with some new friends at Nippah Bay Valley Resort...Until next time my friends!

Signing off, 

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