“I booked a hostel for the first night, but I don’t really know what waits for me. I think I booked a tent. Also, I didn’t get any directions, so I’ve no idea where to go once I reach the islands.”
When I travelled in Malaysia in 2018, I was planning to stay on the west coast, but after seeing the forecast I hopped on to a bus headed to the east coast and booked a tent from a beach for two nights from the Pulau Perhentian Besar – there were two online reviews about the Perhentian Cabana hostel/campsite and no information what so ever but I thought I might as well go and see.
“My bus arrived at Kuala Basut Jetty at 4 am so I had to sleep on a bench until the first boat to the island left at 7 am. There is a marine park fee you should pay when visiting the Perhentian islands but there was no one collecting the fee in the morning. For once I would not have minded paying an extra fee!
I had no idea where my accommodation was supposed to be, but this is a tiny island and the locals pointed me in the right direction. After all, I was looking for tents on the beach, it wasn’t a very difficult orienteering exercise. Soon I had a better understanding of my accommodation: simple toilets and a cold shower. Sleeping mat, pillow, and a sleeping bag – and of course a tent.
I walked to the other side of the cape to Teluk Beach soon after arriving and was sunbathing before 10 am. At first, it was just me on this lovely, small sandy beach. I let little fish bite and tickle my toes as I read my book.”
When I arrived, the staff was rather rude and odd. There weren’t many guests at the tent village and the whole island was eerily quiet. However, I chatted with the owner of Perhentian Cabana in the afternoon and soon understood the situation.
“The island is quiet now but on Friday it will be full of Malaysians. It is the end of the Ramadan holidays and Malaysians will come here to celebrate. The whole island is fully booked for the weekend.
The Ramadan also explains the grumpiness of the staff: they are all fasting. I had forgotten the whole Ramadan because it was not very visible in Thailand or in Penang. Now I feel guilty eating during the day! The owners of this tent village close their restaurant at sundown to cook for the family. At 8pm they open again for the guests. I think it is brilliant – family first.”
- What: Tent hostel, Perhentian Cabana
- Where: Pulau Perhentian Besar, Malaysia
- Why: affordable accommodation, something different
- Note: very simple living, thin mattress and cold showers