Redang Island, Malaysia: The Taaras Redang - Into The Blue

Redang Island, Terengganu, Malaysia

...or as it is fondly referred to by my family as 'How Jasiminne got bitten on the nose by a fish'.

It's simple really, just be vain and stupid enough to take off your snorkelling mask while holding a piece of bread in a coral reef inhabited by fish accustomed to being fed by humans. All because I wanted a glamourous photo of myself swimming like a mermaid queen (and no self-respecting mermaid would be caught with a snorkel and mask, unless she was wearing it ironically like a hipster Ariel) surrounded by my adoring fish subjects. So I took off my mask for the photo and lured the fish to me with some bread. One of them mistook my substantial nose for food and chomp

This would've never happened to Ariel...more evidence that I am not a mermaid. This is what you get for flicking your hair at your lifeguard when he asks if you want a life vest, retorting "Tak payah! Aku ikan duyung" (No need, I am a mermaid). Nature: 1, Jasiminne: 0.

Free nose jobs aside, Redang is a great destination for snorkelling and diving, with many parts of the islands designated as marine parks. The crystal clear waters there are the highest visibility in Malaysia especially in summer. The government has done a reasonable job at protecting the area by not allowing boats to land on the beaches, rather anchoring (on buoys, not reefs) some distance away and telling visitors to, well, literally go jump off a boat. Organic sunscreen is encouraged, well, should be enforced really, so as not to poison the waters. Picking corals, even dead ones from the sea bed, is forbidden and heaven help you if you even try to stand on a reef. 

Sadly there are ignorant (or apathetic, which is even worse) visitors who disregard all of that and over ten years have managed to cause serious damage to the reefs. They deserve to be bitten repeatedly on the nose by all the fish whose homes they've destroyed with their irresponsibility. 

The Taaras Villa is shielded from direct sunlight even in the midday, what a relief.

So I finally descended from my palatial perch to join the rest of the human race. I leapt off my villa on the cliff into the waters below. 

No, that's a lie, I was driven from my door to the beach, where a boat and two lifeguards were waiting for me.

Beach essentials; a 'jelly bag', the Furla Candy bag, Mozi coconut & pineapple hand cream that smells like pina colada (the only healthy way to enjoy a cocktail), an unnecessary (I have very straight hair) Tangle Teezer that I bought because it was all the rage, Percy & Reed hair oil, SPF 50 because I don't want to look like a leather handbag, and a Kodak disposable underwater camera.

Turquoise waters...

...and azure skies. 

Be assured that my pictures do the clarity and colour of the waters no justice, in real life they look like a desktop wallpaper. The whole time I was remarking, damn, the sea looks photoshopped...

This angle...if I dropped my camera into the sea, hitting my face on the way down, it would serve me right.

We were warned of triggerfish who will protect their homes at all cost, a visitor came too close to the coral bed it was living in and got nipped all over. Apparently he was covered in what looked like love bites, well, he could always tell the lads that he made out with an aggressive mermaid. Far less emasculating than being chased away by a little fish.

The waters were clear enough but somehow lacked the vivid landscape I remembered as a child. The lifeguards promised to take us to a better spot, so a few days later we took the boat out again and went to turtle bay, on the northernmost part of Redang.

This time I fed the fishes from a safe distance.

These dark shapes on the sea bed are not actually rocks but turtles.

The view from the boat. I think the depth was about 20 metres? 

The three turtle species that visit this bay are the olive ridleys, green turtles, and hawskbills. 

The beach itself is an destination for turtles to lay their eggs.

And mate.

I stumbled upon what I thought was a turtle giving another an affectionate piggyback ride. Only later did I realise that I had rudely intruded on their sexy times. Oh God, I've reached a new low...

Turtle angling for a threesome...? 

And then giving up.

The turtles are of course unafraid of humans, as they should be, and will swim up to you with curiosity. A couple swam up to the boats, stuck their heads out expectedly, and then nibbled some greenery that was attached to the underside. This makes for great photography. But of course this also means that should you cut a turtle off with the intention of taking a photo of it approaching, it will swim right into you and you have about three seconds to get out of the way of get knocked out. Rule of the road is, the bigger car is always right.

The variety of fish and corals at turtle bay is so much better but sadly I had run out of film by then. I recognised bivalves, baby sharks, clownfish, angelfish, parrotfish, razorfish, and moon wrasse. The rest I'll have to come back for, when I get a real underwater camera. A Go Pro even? And of course, when I have a diving license.

If you visit Redang, whether you snorkel or dive, please do so responsibly. Don't let your fins touch the corals, don't harass the wildlife, use organic non-toxic sunscreen, and for God's sake keep your mask on unless you want to get bitten on the nose by fish. 



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