Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kuala Terengganu and Pulau Kappas

Terengganu is one of the most pious and conservative parts of Malaysia. The entire prayer is given over the loudspeaker at the mosque, not just the call to prayers. We were very grateful for that, because our hostel was just down the street from the main mosque and we were able to use the voice from the mosque to find our way home when we got lost in town. We were there on Friday, the Islamic holy day, so nothing was open. It was a nice chance to just relax and rest and have some down-time. We went for a walk on the beachfront, tried some new foods: Delicious soup (wow, Malaysian food is GOOD!) and "ABC" (a strange mix of ice, jello, beans, creamed corn, syrup, and some other unrecognizable things...see the picture). We met some new friends and lazed around a bit.

The next morning we took a bus out to Marang to catch a ferry to beautiful little Kappas Island, just off the coast. While it is the off-season (because of the rainy season) right now in most parts of Southeast Asia, it's the high season along Malaysia's Gulf Coast, so it was a little hard to find accomodation on Kappas. We met up with some other backpackers in Marang: Nina from Denmark, Marilyn from Australia, and Berten and Thomas from Belgium. They were cool folks, so we stuck together and found some bungalows that were not too unreasonably priced (for the high season...we have gotten spoiled with low-season low prices for accommodation elsewhere!) The snorkeling on Kappas was good. The reef was not very healthy in many places, but the fish population seemed to be doing well, as did the Jellyfish! Nina and Marilyn and I went out to a remote beach on the north side of the island and swam through huge school of fish. There were hundreds of little fish and they kept circling us, coming right up to our snorkel masks to look us in the eye. Every once in a while they would take a nibble at our legs or back. It was the coolest experience! The fish were no more spectacular than the ones I swim with in Majuro (if anything, they were less colorful), but in Majuro they all just swim away as soon as they see you, but these guys just hung out all around us for about 30 minutes.

We spent the rest of the day at Kappas and half of the next day, and then headed back to Terengganu to catch an overnight bus to our next destination: Penang.

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