I try to make it a point to go for a backpacking trip at least once a year. It isn’t the same as taking trips to a single place at a time. That would be a called a vacation. A backpacking trip for me requires three things – careful planning, energy and minimal luggage. A vacation is when I go to a certain place to relax, unwind and not think of anything. A backpacking trip, on the other hand, requires a go-go-go attitude. When I come home from a vacation I am usually refreshed, slightly tanned and energetic. When I come home from a backpacking trip I am usually sunburnt, bruised and have had very little sleep.
This time around we decided to explore East Java and Bali. I had been to Jakarta and Bandung earlier this year, and so this wraps up my ‘Visit Indonesia Year’ plan. We wanted to cover as many places possible, while also having enough time to explore them. Here’s the map of our route throughout the trip.
Lima Island. Beautiful on land and in the sea.
Beautiful long beach.
Gorgeous delicate corals.
It’s always easy to say that you love the sea, the beach and the island. But you have to stay long enough at one to see whether you really love it, or you’re just a tourist looking for something new. A weekend might be fun, but a week? Maybe you’ll grow tired of it.
I had to go to Redang Island to look at some rock outcrops (I’m a geologist), and I stayed there for a week. During the week I have concluded that the way outsiders see the island and how the locals see the island is completely different. We think of it as a retreat, as an escape and as an exciting place to venture to. The locals see it as home, which means the beach is not that exciting and the sea means a lot of hard work and a source of income.
Redang consists of a chain of islands, the main one being of course, Redang Island. I was there on a work assignment, and since my job is to observe fresh undisturbed rocks we had to go into the unchartered territories around the islands (which are the best parts, in my opinion). Redang Island is largely accessible by boat or plane, but to get around the islands you’ll have to hire a boat. My favourite island would have to be the Lima island, named for the five small hills that make up the whole island. The island itself is spectacular, and the corals below the emerald green sea surface – breathtaking!
If you’re looking for a livelier side of a beach vacation then you might want to head to Long Beach, which is the noisier part of Redang. There are shops and a more extensive choice of resorts as well as a dancefloor, but personally I felt like it was too noisy, what with the over excessive booming of club music and all.
Redang is a great place for a weekend retreat, although I spent about a week there, so I had enough time to soak it up for as long as I wanted. I just hope that unlike most of other beautiful locations in Malaysia, it will not be too industrialized until it turns out to be just another touristy location with contaminated nature and too many people.
Where to eat: If I’m being honest, I mostly ate the hotel food. But if you take a walk down the common road you’ll see local seafood restaurants and small stalls selling seafood-associated goods, like Keropok Lekor which is amazing stuff!