It's been awhile since my last update. Had been busy redesigning my corporate website. I still have not visited Redang this year. Reading the comments in the Forum and the email which some of you have kindly sent me, I'm itching to go but it looks like the only window I have to visit is in October after Sarah's primary school leaving exams. So it looks like it might be a repeat of last year's 'just-made-it-before-season-closes' trip. Hope the monsoon rains don't come early!
I read with concern the recent news that developers are planning to build a marina on Tioman island to boost tourism there. It's encouraging to note that this news has not gone unnoticed. Many of the local environmental organizations, visitors and even islanders are making their objections heard. I may be a small, tiny voice but I would also like to urge the authorities to seriously consider the impact on the marine environment from a helicopter view which involves scrutinizing the entire process involving clearing and construction to the maintenance and day-to-day operations. Any of these phases executed poorly can threaten the health of the coral reefs there.
A search function has been added to this website and is available at the toolbar on the top of each page. With the site growing in content, hopefully this makes it simpler to locate the specific information you are looking for.
Finally posted our latest Perhentian trip report in the Diary section with a more thorough review of Tuna Bay Resort as well as our experiences snorkelling there. With schools holidays in Malaysia and Singapore over, things should be quieter once again in Redang.
Just heard news that Wisana Beach Huts is still in business. I don't have any contact information at the moment but will let you know once I find out. Anyone knows anything about this resort, please email me or post on the forum page.
It is common for turtles to lay their eggs on Redang beaches since Redang happens to have the largest turtle rookery in this area. It is however less common for turtles to come up on the beaches around Pasir Panjang since these are well-populated, although they have laid their eggs before in the quieter parts such as between Redang Holiday and Coral Redang. So there was some excitement when witnesses observed a green turtle laying her eggs on the beach near Laguna Redang's jetty in May. The eggs were then transferred to another location on the beach near the More More Tea gift house for protection from natural predators like monitor lizards. If all goes well, the hatchlings should appear sometime in July, which will be quite a spectacle for witnesses. Many of these hatchlings get eaten by predators and only a few ever become adults to continue the cycle of life. So when we help to increase the number of hatchlings, we are increasing their chances of survival as a species. All sea turtles are endangered, and we should do what we can to save these lovely and gentle creatures, such as not eating turtle eggs.
Just returned from Perhentian with the family and friends this morning after a wonderful 4D/3N stay at Tuna Bay Island Resort, the same resort I stayed last month on my dive trip. This time, I did 2 dives and followed the snorkelling trips the rest of the time. Some of us though the snorkelling was even better than Redang in that we got to see large green turtles (as big as those I saw in Sipadan), hawksbill turtles, adult black-tip reef sharks and many colourful hard and soft corals. As they used speedboats for the snorkelling trips, we spent more time in the water and less time travelling. Since each speedboat could take only a few passengers, it also meant less time waiting for people to get up and down the boats when snorkelling. With the savings in time, each snorkelling trip could cover 3 sites, so in just 3 days of snorkelling, we covered 8 different sites around both Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar, with a repeat visit to observe the large green turtles in front of Perhentian Island Resort. The best part was that despite June peak season, Perhentian did not feel crowded. With smaller resorts spread out over many beaches, even the beach in front of the 44-room Tuna Bay Resort was relatively quiet with few people though the resort was up to 80% occupied on some days. So for those looking for a quiet, peaceful getaway during peak holiday periods, you really should consider Perhentian. Will be updating the diary section with a more complete review and comparison of both Redang & Perhentian after I get back from KL end of next week.
As in Redang, I also observed the handiwork of litterbugs in Perhentian. There were plastic bags, mineral water bottles, discarded boxes, cans and other litter floating on the sea and on the beach. We even observed some guests washing their clothes with detergent outside the chalets (and probably just discarding the water into the ground, eventually ending up in the sea), and we saw snorkellers step on coral in shallow waters at the house reef. This really shows that despite constant reminders about Perhentian being in a marine park, with park regulations posted in front of many resorts and beaches, it is really difficult to change the attitudes of visitors. With little enforcement and few offenders being caught and punished, there is little progress in this area. Even when resorts are responsible in how they run their resorts, having more irresponsible visitors will simply accelerate the deterioration of the marine park environment. This has always been my primary concern especially in Redang, where crowds get bigger and bigger each year. I can only urge travel agents, resorts and concerned visitors to make every effort to spread the message to all visitors to be responsible and follow park regulations. However, the government and marine park authorities must take the lead, for without enforcement and punishment, I fear our best efforts may be in vain.
Returned from Perhentian just over a week ago after 3 days of great diving and a comfortable stay at Tuna Bay Island Resort on Perhentian Besar.
My first impressions? I was not disappointed. Redang and Perhentian are both beautiful but in their own way. Located just 45 minutes away by speedboat from Redang and easily visible on a good day, Perhentian shares the same beauty and diversity underwater. Diving is equally good with slightly more varied offerings including 2 wreck dives. Although fishes appear less abundant, there are just as many species.
Redang boasts much better beaches and is visually prettier due to the many small islands surrounding it. It is comparatively more upmarket and commercialized and as a result also more crowded and noisier. There is no convenient way to get around and chartering a boat can be quite expensive. By contrast, Perhentian is more laid-back and has a charming kampung (village) feel - quiet, relaxed and informal with small resorts, dive shops and eating places spread out across the beaches on both islands. It's easier to get around as water taxis provide affordable and convenient transportation between beaches on the two islands. Click here for the full trip report, also accessible from the Diary section.
Although many resorts in Redang (and probably in Perhentian and Lang Tengah as well) are experiencing heavy bookings during the school holidays in June, we have been told that it is still possible to get rooms due to last-minute cancellations. A number of walk-in guests at travel agents have been able to get rooms at the last-minute, even during long holiday weekends. So for those of you unable to get rooms for your travel dates, you can put yourself on the waiting list, or just call the resort or travel agent to check for availability one or two days before you travel. Of course this assumes you are able to travel at short notice.
A new highway is being built in stages from KL to KT and eventually up to Kota Bahru, and it appears the Kuantan to KT stretch will open soon. This will certainly make driving to KT or KB much more attractive. AirAsia also looks set to fly from Senai to KT soon. With Terengganu increasingly focusing on tourism, there's the possibility that KT airport will be equipped with immigration facilities to handle international flights from places like Singapore.
While all these positive developments are good for Terengganu, the impact on the marine parks are less certain. Hopefully the relevant authorities will maintain a proper balance between tourism and conservation. For example, in East Malaysia, authorities are already taking steps to get the resorts to vacate Sipadan island in an effort to protect the marine environment there. Similarly, Pulau Payar on the west coast has no resorts and supports only daytrip visitors.
As you all know, one of the main objectives of this website is to promote conservation of the marine environment in Redang through education and awareness. Despite this being one of the most popular websites on Redang, the audience outreach is still fairly limited, and most visitors never ever set foot in these pages.
In order to extend the message of conservation to potential visitors, I have created a new downloads section which contains animated gifs, graphics and wallpapers of my own creation that are freely available for public distribution. We would like to encourage you to use these in your own websites or to pass it on to your friends who might be visiting Redang.
Thank you for helping to protect our little island paradise!
Redang seems to be even more crowded than usual with some resorts quite fully booked for the June school holidays. Wonder if that's because many families gave it a miss last year due to the SARS outbreak, and are returning in force this year?
As rooms were hard to come by for our June travel dates, we have decided to visit Perhentian instead. Since we've never been to Perhentian, it'll be a good opportunity to see how the beaches and marine life compare to Redang. From time to time, there have been visitors asking in the Forum about Perhentian vs Redang, so hopefully after this trip, we'll be able to provide some answers from firsthand experience.
In fact, if all goes as planned, I'll be making my first visit to Perhentian next week for a diving trip first, then return again next month with the family and a group of friends on a snorkelling package. So I'll be able to check out the place from both a diver's and snorkeller's perspective. Stay tuned to this site for trip updates after that.
It seems the last monsoon brought less rainfall than expected to the east coast of Malaysia and water temperatures seem warmer than usual. I've also been told that there are fewer fishes in Redang, especially at the Marine Park Centre. Hopefully this isn't a sign of another major El Nino coming up (some scientists believe the evidence for El Nino this summer is mounting). The large climate changes during the El Nino of 1998 wiped out 16% of the world's coral reefs but the impact was less severe in Redang compared to other places though some coral bleaching was observed.
It's a sobering reminder that whilst we make the effort to conserve and protect our reefs directly, we must take a more holistic approach in caring for the environment as many human activities can contribute to things like ozone depletion, global warming and pollution which indirectly threaten the reefs on a much larger scale.
It was really sad to read in the Straits Times about the 16 mainland Chinese poachers from Hainan killing 160 turtles (Hawksbill and Green turtles) with cyanide just to sell them for 'ornamental' purposes. The turtles were caught off northeast Sabah, which is probably nearby Selingan island, a well-known turtle sanctuary. The worst part is that the cyanide used might have killed a lot of other marine life which these poachers were not interested in. Although some will call for harsh punishment for these poachers, I believe that equally responsible (but harder to punish) are those customers who buy these, whether to use as ornaments or to consume as aphrodisiacs or whatever. Poachers exist only because there is demand for their goods. I've stopped eating shark's fin as it's impossible to know whether they come from de-finned sharks (sharks that are thrown back alive into the water after cutting off their fins), or from sharks caught whole for their meat. As long as there is demand for shark's fin, the cruel practice of de-finning will continue. The killing will stop only when the buying & eating stops.
With Berjaya Air flying to Redang now, the good news is that the service is not restricted to Berjaya guests. If you are staying at other resorts, you can make arrangements with your resort for transfers between the airport (located near Berjaya Spa Resort) and the resort.
It's March! Monsoon is officially over and a new visiting season has begun!
Amconics Technology Singapore last month announced what must be one of the most affordable underwater digital cameras available today, their 2.1 Mpixel Cool-iCam AQ2100 which retails for S$399. The case is rated up to a depth of 30 metres which is sufficient for most leisure divers and snorkellers. With most marine packs, one of the biggest fear is leaks when the O-ring fails which essentially means 'bye-bye digicam'! At least with the low price of the AQ2100, if that ever happens, you'll suffer less heartache compared to losing an expensive digicam. For Cheez camera fans, this is the same camera as the Cheez H20 available in Japan as both come from the same manufacturer. So now you Redang fans can snap away to your heart's content above and below water!
For those of you looking for consumer digital cameras with marine packs (underwater housing), there are a lot more choices available now. In the past, it was dominated mainly by Sony, Canon & Olympus, but today alternatives are available from Minolta, Samsung, Fuji, Sea & Sea and Pentax. A good place to start searching for more info is at Cameras Underwater (look under 'digital stills').
It's official... Berjaya Air now flies daily between Subang airport in KL and Redang using their 48-seater Dash 7 aircraft. Schedules & fares are available on their website.
Ping Anchorage Travel & Tours in KT has now opened a branch office in KL. Contact details:
27A Jalan Wawasan Ampang 2/1
Bandar Baru Ampang, Ampang,
68000 KL, Malaysia.
Tel: +603- 428 05020 / 3020
Fax: +603- 429 11082
E-Mail: [email protected]
They have started their own coach services between KL & KT with 2 new 38-seater Mercedes coaches. More details available from their website. Recently, they won the Best Domestic Tour Operator 2003 award at the Malaysian Tourism Awards 2003. This makes it 3 times in a row for them! At the same ceremony, Redang Island won the award for Best (Natural) Tourist Attraction 2003.
The increasing popularity of Redang as a tourist resort also presses home the urgency of conserving and protecting its coral reefs and marine life if it were to continue to be one of the best natural tourist attractions. Reefs the world over are already under severe threat from global warming that some scientists believe the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs in the world will disappear by 2050 if global warming continues. So as we kick off a new visiting season to Redang, let us all do our part in protecting this island paradise!
According to an article in Today paper (29 Jan 2004), travellers in Singapore can now book Transnasional and Plusliner (NICE) coach tickets by phone through the new Coach Booking Centre at Ken Air (Transnasional) in Suntec City. That is good news for Redang fans as it'll save a trip down to Kallang Bahru ticketing office.
Just call 6836-9871 to book your Singapore to Kuala Terengganu Transnasional coach tickets or email [email protected] for more info. Customers can book their seats 2 months in advance and can pay at any DBS/POSB ATM or Internet Banking by NETs or credit cards to confirm their booking. The receipt can then be exchanged for the seat ticket on the day of travel.
With most resorts opening in just a fortnight (Berjaya is open all year round, Laguna will open on 20 Feb), it'll be a good opportunity to try out this new service. Currently, there's still no news about when Berjaya Air will begin flying to Redang. Will update this site if I hear anything.
We're well into the Gregorian new year of 2004 and the weather in Redang seems to be fair with little rain the last few weeks. A sign perhaps that the worst of monsoon season is over? In just a little over 5 weeks, a new visiting season will begin when resorts reopen their doors on 1 March. Let's hope this year will see an even greater effort and cooperation by the relevant authorities, resort staff and visitors to preserve the beautiful corals and marine life in this island paradise.
On this Chinese New Year's eve, we like to wish all our Chinese readers a joyous and meaningful reunion with your families and loved ones. And hopefully, no shark fins on the dinner menu too - save sharks, save money and give bigger red packets! :)