Waiting for the Monsoon

Off to Long Beach
  |  Gorp.com

Long Beach, where we were headed, didn't have a dock. Our ferry was met by a small outboard that shuttled us, packs nearly spilling overboard, to the beach. We took off our boots, jumped in the shallow water, and hauled the boat up onto the sand.

That was a week ago, and Jill and I still aren't sure how long we'll stay. We've decided to let the weather decide for us—we're waiting for the monsoon.

On the mainland, more than one Malaysian tried to dissuade us from coming.

"Don't go," they said.

"The monsoons are almost here. When they hit, you'll never get off."

The skies did look foreboding, etched with a dark streak on the horizon, but they'd been like that for days. But the sun was out and we weren't in any hurry to go elsewhere, so we paid the boatman 60 ringitt and boarded his rickety wooden barge. Paint was peeling off in the wind, and the engine coughed as we chugged across some of the bluest water I'd ever seen.

We arrived as most travelers were leaving. Many of the bungalows were closing down for the season, but those still open were only half-price. There's something to be said for traveling in the off season, even if you risk becoming a permanent resident.

The Perhentians are quiet to begin with, and since Malaysia is a Muslim country, alcohol is expensive and scarce, which creates a much mellower atmosphere than popular Tioman Island to the south or the Thai islands that party 24-7. Those looking for action might grow bored with the Perhentian routine—waking late, swimming in waters warm and clear as a bath, sunning on the beach until it's necessary to find sanctuary under a palm tree, finishing a book every few days—but we find it relaxing. Aside from scuba diving, the only exertion all week was watching my pineapple ripen. That, and the anxious guessing at when the storms would hit.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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