Monday, July 06, 2015

Marine Park - As Part of the Afternoon Snorkelling Session with Perhentian Island Resort [Malaysia]

Snorkelling is the most important factor why i am so obsessed with beach vacations; the evidence that i am on my third beach destination this year shows a lot of my love for the sea activity. 

Today, i shall touch on the first snorkelling expedition as part of the package i purchased with Perhentian Island Resort; details of the accommodation shall be shared in the next few days.

Travelling southwards on a speedboat, i have no idea where this "marine park" were going to be. From past experiences (in Tioman and Redang islands), i have a rough idea how it would be like.

We shall be brought to a jetty and i was right! Jeti Taman Laut Pulau Perhentian would in fact be the first jetty you would notice when you arrive at the islands from Kuala Besut jetty.

Jumping in, i was a tad disappointed with the underwater scene; as compared to natural corals, it is always less exciting to have them on human structures installed for the purpose to enhance the growth of the coral colony.

There was moment of excitement though; when i thought this was a jellyfish! 

From the water surface which was easily about 4-5 meters deep, i cannot quite articulate how big the clam was although the width must have been about three-quarter the length of my arm.

Swimming further from the jetty, the view changed to one of natural corals and it was with renewed enthusiasm that i forged ahead with naught a care for the rest of the tour mates.

Apprehension whenever i see a herd of sea urchins! I would not enjoy the pain that was said to be so intensive; it felt like a thousand needles are stuck in your skin. 

I noticed a familiar face that held my most favourite fish! 

Befitting its status as a marine park, the amount of fishes was really quite startling! 

Taking good photos can be quite difficult at this depth and not to mention the constant bobbing due to the life jacket can jeopardise the stabilisation of the camera. 

Managed some close ups though!

By the way, the clownfish, specifically the Clown Anemonefish, is my favourite fish; no doubt because of the insanely popular computer animated film during my time. Finding Nemo! 

Swam close to the jetty even though some of my tour mates were already tired out by the experience. C'mon, it was only about twenty minutes! Haha. Depth, as indicated on the ruler, was about 4.5 meters! 

School of small, silvery fishes; not sure what they are as i am not very well versed in them but i have the suspicion the species could be the ikan bilis that people in our region used for food! Sorry, the only way for me to remember fishes is to put them in relation to food, sadly.

Last photo as vertigo had gotten into my head. 

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Location
Marine Park of Perhentian Islands

Snorkelling Map for the Afternoon Session
As above. Tanjung Basi and Tiga Ruang would be covered in separate postings.


For my itinerary on the Perhentian Island trip, click here

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Saint John's Island (St John's Island) - Chief of the Southern Islands [Singapore]

About four months ago, i embarked on a virgin journey to two of Singapore's over sixty offshore islands; Saint John's and Lazarus Islands

There has been so much talk about the Southern Islands and as a true blue Singaporean; it's about time i should make my way there! The journey started by walking along this sheltered walkway from Marina Bay Cruise Centre (where there are ample parking lots) to Marina South Pier.

Unless you charter a personal yacht or boat, you may wish to note the ferry schedule as appended above by Singapore Island Cruise and Ferry Service Private Limited. 

Look out for the counter where you can purchase your tickets; note the striking orange booth as it's not really in the main complex per se. 

Ferry versus Bumboat; i still remember once upon a time when bumboats used to be the main ferry provider to the islands. They might not be air-conditioned but it was more exciting to take the bumboats; in addition, the ticket price was also much lower!

We were not the only one checking out the islands that day although from the accent, i figured most were foreigners! It can be frustrating when you hear locals complaining there's nothing to do in Singapore yet when you ask them whether they have been to treetop trail, national orchid garden etc, most would shake their heads. 

Thirty minutes later, we arrived at the jetty at Saint John's Island. As the island is now connected to Lazarus and Seringat Islands, this shall be our only stopover.

Beach beside the jetty; none of that whiteness and sandiness which would have made this place a good alternative if the snorkeling bug bites. 

Map - an essential tool when you reach a strange place. p.s. only helpful for those who can read maps effectively. Okay lah, you can also get some basic information on St John's Island. 

With no objective in mind, we decided to release the pressure in our bladder before us three musketeers deliberate on the next step. I was also delighted to see a cafeteria on the map! 

Guess most of the visitors who dropped off together with us had the exact same thought! 

I was keen to visit the offshore islands mainly because i have read somewhere that we could do snorkeling and the marine life was said to be pretty spectacular for a country with heavy ship traffic. However, the above sight kind of demotivated us from doing so.

God knows what stuff is in the drain that leads to the sea.

It was an official lagoon though....

The other side was much more soothing with plenty of greenery, picnic benches etc.

Further in were two long buildings that reminded me of the longhouses in Borneo. Housed within were just washrooms and for more pictures, please click here

Locals might still recollect the Singapore history taught when we were in secondary school. Saint John's Island was first designated as a quarantine station for Chinese immigrants and in 1930s, the biggest one in the whole wide world; a far cry from the relaxed atmosphere nowadays.

The washroom was located within this building on the hilltop. 

Staircase and the city skyline right ahead of us; for such a short distance, i am surprised it took us thirty minutes to reach Saint John's Island. 

Words that were noticeable from far; most islands have about the same appearance and having the words gave visitors the affirmation on the location!

Bloody cafeteria was closed for good - i was still thinking of buying some drink and snacks! Thankfully the great Kon had come prepared! 

Dead cockroach - just for the sake of posting.

Strolling to the far end of the island as we had nothing better than do with plenty of time to spare.

Compared to the overcrowded East Coast Park, i personally thought Saint John's Island would be a better option for families who are interested in picnics. 

Reason: lesser people! 

Campsites are available for organised groups and you may check out the details here if you intend to have a budget corporate getaway! 

The camps were popular with secondary schools in my days and more often than not, friends who went came back with stories of paranormal activity! 

Walking back to the jetty where we shall explore the other side of the island, including the connection to Lazarus and Seringat Islands.

Such a pity to throw away the portable BBQ pit; although it was a hassle to clean, you could most certainly reuse it as i did for mine. 

Snaking long, sheltered jetty - imagine if the jetty was elevated and supported by concrete beams, maybe it would attract more fishes and corals to make it their home.

Actually, there was indeed one that's already disused. 

The lack of fence / barricade means it would be quite easy to fall off the edge. Hence, do control your hyperactive kids! 

Not sure what this pile of stuff was; if there wasn't anyone around, i might have bent down and take a sniff to confirm what it really were. Guess we all have a rather good inkling of what it might be though. 

The hoarded up disused jetty we saw earlier.

Hopefully, this would open up to be an extra platform for visitors to jump into the sea! Nowadays, it's a must to hype up the excitement factor to draw in the young crowds. 

Will be beneficial to indicate on a sign that water level might be low. Oh, saw that road with people on it? That's the connecting road to the other isles.

Kampong houses that continued to be inhabited except for the first one. There's another one (not in the picture) that i explored at length and you may check out the photos here.

Interior - don't you hate washrooms that are situated at the back of the house? I am incredibly fearful that something in the dark would scare the hell out of me! 

Another path on our right that went uphill.

Curious to know where the staircase leads to? Click here

Mangrove trees and an educational information panel for your reading pleasure.

A one-eyed feline that appeared to be begging! 

Another kitty - that kind of posture give us the impression it had already passed on to the rainbow land, until it half opened its keys when i neared to double check. 

Surrounded by towering trees and a cloudy sky without the usual heat and humidity, what the group of Caucasians needed then would be an accordion to fill the atmosphere with melodious music.

Weird looking trunk / root; on second thought, this would work as a natural plank for tables! I must have been reading too much on renovation.

Continuing our way....

Pavilion next to the mangroves that was pretty well hidden from the jetty. Given Singapore's penchant for rain that comes unexpectedly, their existence would come in handy when the unfortunate happens.

The connection that makes it possible for us to travel on foot to Lazarus and Seringat Islands. Remember this photo; given the long term plan to develop the Southern Islands as an entertainment hub, i guess the rustic-ness would likely be removed in one or two decades. 

This much greenery; i believe the influential Nature Society would be up in arms if the development is going to be drastic. In the name of commercial benefits, i doubt the gahmen would give a hoot. 

Panoramic view - taken from my iPhone 6 which takes much better panoramas than my other cameras; the Olympus' method was rather cumbersome (a little shake would destroy it) while the Nikon requires me to stitch the pictures on Photoshop. 

Some called this a bridge although i preferred to use the official term; a causeway since it was more a paved road rather than a hanging bridge, which would have been more spectacular in my view,

One side faces the Singapore's city skyline whereas the other side would likely be more popular for nature seekers who are sick and tired of the urban lifestyle.

Another panorama - doesn't look like this exists in Singapore right?! At least we can still get to St John's Island; imagine how the other islands like Sisters' Islands, Sudong Island, Pulau Hantu etc would surprise us!

Kelongs in the not too far distance. 

The viewing platforms would be a great place for BBQ although it would be a chore to bring all the items over; this would likely explain why anyone would throw away a working BBQ pit in the earlier pictures. 

Under-passages for the seawater; guess this would help reduce natural erosion and assist to reduce the maintenance cost.

Not sure about you but i am a stickler when it comes to littering; things have improved over the past five years even though there is still room for improvement! 

We were too lazy to climb down for a better look! I would have loved to travel to the far end where i could possibly snorkel a bit. Maybe the mood wasn't right then; both Alex and i didn't have the urge to snorkel at all.


After checking out Lazarus Island, it's time for us to walk back to the jetty for our return back to mainland Singapore! As there was literally nothing to eat on the islands, our stomachs were already protesting like mad! 

Darn! Is that our ferry?!?! I am stickler for ferry schedule too and from the ferry schedule notice i was holding in my hand, i guess we were safe. 

The two guys in front of us didn't really care as they continued to walk on a leisurely pace.

Passing by the houses again; the one nearest to us was the abandoned one that i mentioned earlier. For more pictures of the eerie house, click here

This was a gigantic bench and there's only one! 

Whatever the case, food beckons! 

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Location
St John's Island

Map
As above

Ferry Prices
S$18 for an adult.
S$12 for a child (1-12 years old)

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