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Rantau Abang

MALAYSIA | Tuesday, 27 July 2010 | Views [560]

I wrote this last week on the beach, but had to wait till we had internet access to post it. _____________________________________________________________________________________

It’s getting to that stage in our trip where I can no longer keep track of what day of the week it is or the date. I know we’re still in the month of July and I have a vague idea that it is somewhere close to the end of the month, but that’s about it. The days are all blending together; Monday and Friday feel exactly the same, which is quite surreal.

My view at the moment is uninterrupted beach and a vast blue-green sea, stretching out infinitely, making it possible to imagine why people once thought the world was flat. I can see a boat far out on the horizon and the faint outlines of two islands.

We’re in the little town of Rantau Abang in Terengganu, which is a coastal town. The beach in Rantau Abang is only one of a handful of other beaches in the world where the giant Leatherback Turtle comes each year to nest. Other than the Leatherback, the beach is also visited by the Green, Hawksbill, and Olive Ridley Turtles.

We had very optimistically hoped to be able to see a nesting turtle since it is currently the nesting season, but the chances of that happening are slim to none. Not only does the beach stretch for 15 km, but the numbers of turtles coming on shore to nest are so low, (most turtle species are endangered, and the Leatherback turtles are critically endangered) they are pretty much at zero. It’s a very depressing statistic considering that there were around 10,000 nestings per season in the 1950’s. The staff at the chalet we are staying at were telling us today how, just 20 years ago, you could see the turtles coming up on shore right outside the chalets. The beach would be full of people but the turtles would be completely unperturbed by the crowds.

Still, coming out to Rantau Abang hasn’t been in vain – this is the first, and probably the last time that we will have a beach all to ourselves with no tourists in sight, where the sound of the waves crashing onto shore is not drowned out by a cacophony of reggae or hip-hop beats, where the beach is dark at night, illuminated by the moon instead of thousands of twinkling disco lights from beach bars, and where there isn’t the constant roaring noise of motor boats or the overwhelming smell of petrol. Our chalet room is cheap, only RM 40 per night and we’re in no hurry to get to a new destination. And on that note, I can’t ignore the water any longer; I’m going swimming.

Tags: i heart turtles, isolated beaches, no tourists, rantau abang



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