25 December 2010

Pulau Payar: Trip Review

This is a wrap-up and overall review of the Pulau Payar trip I went on, courtesy of Langkawi Saga Travel & Tours Sdn. Bhd.

There are basically 2 categories of travelers - those who love long vacations (14 days in Europe) and those who prefer shorter sojourns (a weekend in Bali). Obviously you can't have too many long vacations but you can definitely afford several short holidays in a year. This is where Pulau Payar fits in - a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of Penang into more relaxed surroundings.

In honesty, your experience on this trip will very much depend on the weather (what trip isn't?). It was unfortunate that we met with rough seas on the ferry ride there. Seeing our conditions, the crew quickly distributed black plastic bags for us to puke into. I didn't vomit but I kept my eyes tightly closed and focused on how the catamaran swayed up and down.

I was still a little dazed after reaching the platform, and the fact that the platform is out in the sea and has a slight wobble didn't help. The inclement weather worsened and poured buckets of rain on us. Luckily it cleared up in 30 minutes and we had decent sun for the rest of the day.

Again, due to the fact that it rained cats and dogs earlier, the water was pretty murky and I couldn't see right to the bottom when I snorkeled. The same was true for the underwater viewing tunnel. Having been to Redang Island, I do not see as many colourful or varied corals. As of the time of writing, global warming has caused some coral bleaching. As a precautionary measure the authorities have closed off certain parts of the marine park to preserve them.

What our tour guide Jafri mentioned is true though - what Payar Island lacks in corals, it makes up for in marine life. I definitely see more fishes, and they are bigger too. When I was at Pulau Redang, I remember catching a glimpse of a baby black-tip shark at a distance and tried to get closer to no avail. But over here in Pulau Payar, you can see so many of them easily in low tide:

I would like to give kudos to the buffet lunch as well. I didn't expect such a large variety of food, and quite decently cooked too. Don't expect Michelin-star quality, but at least it's not under/overcooked, too oily, too dry, too spicy... etc. The braised lamb was tender and delicious, and the spaghetti bolognese sauce was tangy enough to my liking (meaning they didn't skimp on tomato puree). The local kuih, however, was not too my liking and the fried fish nuggets were a bit bland.

I felt much better after getting to the island - the solid ground helped me regain my sense of stability. The sand on the beach is quite fine grained, so you can walk bare-footed but watch out for dead corals and sea urchins. Jafri even managed to catch a sea cucumber (not the edible type) just a few steps into the water.

In conclusion, Pulau Payar makes for a great day trip from Penang when you want to get close to sea life without having to cross the peninsular to the Perhentian Islands. And Langkawi Saga is running a promotion for locals, so it's even more affordable for Malaysians to see a side of their country without burning a hole in their pocket.

Many thanks again to Langkawi Saga Travel & Tours for sponsoring the trip for me and and other bloggers.

Check out my other posts on Pulau Payar

1 comment:

Alan said...