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A Mini Guide to Perhentian Kecil

For many, the Perhentian Islands are paradise. Located just off the north-eastern coast of Malaysia, they offer the clearest blue water, white sandy beaches, endless snorkelling and diving possibilities, fresh seafood and beach bars.

But as with every paradise, it doesn’t always fit into the backpacker lifestyle or budget.

Here’s a few tips I picked up whilst there that may help you decide whether this particular paradise should be a stop on your itinerary too.

Getting There

Getting to the Perhentian Islands is more complicated – and expensive – than it may first appear. Initially you have to make your way to the jetty at Kuala Besut and buy return tickets to the islands, which usually cost around 70RM ($23) each for the fast boat, but you can sometimes barter the agents down to 60RM ($20).

Then just before you board your boat you’re required to pay a conservation charge of 5RM ($1.60) each which apparently aids with the conservation of the marine parks and coral reefs.

If you are staying on Long Beach, once you have completed your hopefully non-scary boat ride, you will be required to then pay 2RM ($0.70) each for a water taxi to take you right up to the edge of the sand (and even then, you may have to be prepared to wade through the ankle-deep water with your bags).

This involves transferring people and bags across from the larger fast boat to the smaller water taxi….slightly unnerving when you have all your worldly possessions and electronics with you, but the only choice unless you want to try and swim ashore with your backpack or suitcase above your head.

Mexico Travel: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Mexico Travel: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Let me preface this post by saying that I really struggled to think of anything bad about Mexico travel, which is why you’ll find that section below looking very sparse indeed.

Honestly, I even asked Scott to rack his brains and think of anything that really bugged us and got under our skin about the country during the three months we were there and he could think of nothing. That’s pretty unusual.

If you want a country that has it all, then Mexico should definitely be top of your list. It ticked every box for us in terms of cost, accommodation, beaches, history, food and weather. At times I would find myself annoyed by the heat, the smells, the noise…but then I left and I now miss it all. A lot.

I particularly miss the amazing markets and availability of fresh, delicious food. Sure, everywhere has markets and fresh produce, but they don’t have it at Mexico’s prices or offer the spiciness and complexity of Mexico’s street food. I now find myself wandering the supermarket aisles and balking at the price of vegetables. Such is life in Europe.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s my The Good The Bad and The Ugly Mexico Edition. FYI – I’m not mentioning the food in the “good” category because I think it goes without saying that the food is great. You don’t need me to tell you that.

Good

Bus Travel

This came as a big surprise. I didn’t expect bus travel in Mexico to be any better than Asian standards but boy, was I wrong. Most of the buses for travel between towns and cities are first class buses, meaning that they come fitted with toilets, DVD players and comfy seats as standard. And the standard only goes up from there. For some overnight buses (and depending on company) you will get large leather reclining seats, a goodie bag filled with drink and snacks and in-bus entertainment. I kid you not. There was only once we had to take a second class bus when we were heading from Holbox to Valladolid and even then, it wasn’t a totally bad experience. But overall, for the majority of journeys you will need to take around the country, you’ll be travelling in style and comfort.

Friendliness

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Mexican people are extremely friendly. The first day we were in the country, the chain on Scott’s bike broke and a guy came running across the street immediately to help us. Locals would stop and offer us directions (not always with great results – see below) and even offer tips or recommendations on what foods to eat at certain food stalls.

Mexico Travel: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Beaches

Who needs the Caribbean or Central America when there are so many amazing beaches in Mexico? Particularly in the Yucatan, the waters are blue and the sand is picture-postcard white. Every beach is Mexico is public, meaning that even if there is a hotel built on it, you can still take full advantage of it without being a guest. I love how Mexico allows everyone to be a part of its country and culture like this, just like they do with their music, fiestas and wedding processions. Nothing is withheld from anybody and everyone can join in the fun.

Waiheke Island NZ: Day Trip or Destination?

Waiheke Island | Confused Julia

After our time in Auckland, we took the ferry over to Waiheke Island and stayed there for two nights. It was summer, it was a weekend and there was a organized fun day going on at the main beach in town, Onetangi. This meant that this small but perfectly formed island was slightly overrun. It also meant that shops. restaurants and buses were operating under different hours, making getting around and eating out quite difficult.

Looking back, although I loved the beach and atmosphere of Waiheke, I’ve often thought that perhaps it could have been enjoyed just as much on a long day trip from Auckland. So I thought I’d break down what there is to do on Waiheke and how to get there, so that you can decided for yourself whether you would rather stay there for a night or two or simply make a long daytrip out of it while using Auckland as your base.

Backpacking Asia: It’s A Love/Hate Kinda Thing

backpacking asia
On my first visit to Sri Lanka back in 2008, I was shocked by the chaos, the dirtiness and the poverty on display in the majority of the country.

Granted, this may have been heightened by the fact that the country was still trying to get back on its feet after the tsunami, but it was still a shock to the senses. Before that I had only ever visited much more developed and Westernised countries and was somewhat unprepared. The travel brochures show you the gorgeous sandy beaches and the hypnotising temples; what they don’t show you is everything else.

Something about how foreign and exotic the place felt made further thoughts of backpacking Asia quickly creep into my subconscious. Which was why, two years later, when faced with several decisions on where to take my first solo backpacking trip, Vietnam was the only place that truly captured my imagination. That time, however, I was more prepared for what would await me when I arrived.

I now find myself back in Asia – Malaysia to be exact – and the same conflicting feelings from my first two experiences have resurfaced. If you have ever travelled around parts of Asia you will know exactly what I’m talking about when I say I love it and hate it in equal measure.