Posted: 10 Jun 2011 04:11 AM PDT
Jisun and I decided to break out of our funk with a little trip to Pulau Kapas (Cotton Island) for some beach and hang out time. Before I get into the post, though, I have to admit that I forgot my waterproof camera again. About three years ago I visited Chaz and friends on Grand Cayman. While I was there I went snorkeling with Chaz and friends and sister (Chaz's sister of course). She had just bought a waterproof camera and I was green with envy. She took all kinds of awesome pictures while we were snorkeling and I vowed that I would get one. The moment I got home from the trip I ordered a diving camera which I then brought to Mexico for some scuba diving. I then put it into a drawer and never used it again. So I have this great diving camera and have only used it once in my life. That has nothing to do with Pulau Kapas but I thought about the camera at least a dozen times while we were there. Ack!
With that out of the way, let's talk about Kapas. It is called Cotton Island because the white sand is cottony, which seems kind of weird to me. Maybe it translates better in Malaysian, but either way the sand is really nice. Actually the sand is really nice on some of the beaches but others are covered in rocks. Since the island is only about 2km long and 1km wide you don't have to worry about the rocky beaches, though, because you can just walk for five minutes to a better one. But, on the nice, sandy beaches the sand is really, really nice. Jisun said it should be called Flour Island because she thought she could bake a cake with the sand. It is fine, smooth and soft. On top of that the water is crystal clear and the perfect temperature. The beaches near our house are like bathwater and it is a little uncomfortable that they are so warm. However, the water around Kapas is cool enough to be refreshing but warm enough that you don't cringe when jumping in.
As for the rest of the island, well the infrastructure is just about perfect. It is a protected marine habitat so that there is no more building allowed on the island. Right now there are seven 'resorts' on the island and that is it. The prices range from between about 25 ringgit (8$US) for a dorm bed to 300 ringgit (100$ US) or so for the nicest bungalow on the island (nearby Gem Island has a much more upscale resort, though). A great feather in Terengganu's cap is that the entire island is powered by a newly built solar hybrid plant that uses the jetty as a place to put its solar panels. As a side note, I find this pretty surprising coming from a state who's revenue is almost entirely generated by local oil production.
You can probably get the feeling that the island is a nice, low key place to relax and it is. There are very few foreign tourists who end up here, and in fact most of the visitors are day trippers from Kuala Terengganu. Even with people coming for a day trip, the three days Jisun and I were at Kapas were not crowded at all. This is during the peak season and in the middle of the school holidays, so I imagine that it is a great low key hangout year round.
Jisun and I ended up staying at the new Pak Ya Sea View and Restaurant. Their name pretty much explains exactly what they are, which is a restaurant and seven sea view bungalows. Seaview actually might be a little bit of a misnomer because when I hear 'sea view' in a place's name I automatically assume that the only view of the sea you might have is by standing on the balcony and craning your neck. On the other hand, Pak Ya is dead on the beach with all seven of their bungalows on the sand and directly facing the ocean. Here you can see a picture of Jisun sitting at the restaurant part of Pak Ya Sea View and Restaurant and conveniently behind her you can see our 'sea view'.
The bungalows themselves are basic. We paid 70 ringgit a night for two nights (the owner said it is 80 for one night) and got pretty much what 17$ will get you. We had a small A frame bungalow with a bed and a fan along with an attached bathroom. There was no mosquito net but they did give us a mosquito coil to burn while we were sleeping and that is good enough for me. The restaurant side offered basic Malaysian fare with the cheapest prices on the island. You are looking at about double the price of the mainland, but it was still cheaper than any of the other restaurants that we checked out. All in all, I would say that Pak Ya is a nice, cheap option and it is very close to the jetty for convenience.
As for what we did on the island, well I spent most of my time sitting on the lounge chair that was conveniently located directly in front of the bungalow as seen below.
Aside from chilling out we did a fair bit of swimming and Jisun had her first ever snorkeling experience. Jisun's first time ever swimming was about a year and a half ago in Thailand and she is getting to be quite a swimmer. Unfortunately as mentioned above I didn't bring my underwater camera so there aren't any great coral shots, but we did see tons of cool fish. Jisun was happiest to see the clownfish living in the anenomes and I was most impressed by the silver ray.
Finally, I even managed to learn something important on our little trip.
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