After my unsuccessful quest to watch a Premier League match in my one night stay in Hong Kong, I wanted to see what the soccer world had to offer in Malaysia. In terms of trying to find soccer, Malaysia was a game of two halves; the hustle and bustle of the city and the peaceful tranquillity of the islands.
After three planes in 24 hours and a surprisingly accommodating night in an airport, I headed to the Kuala Besut jetty to board the first boat to the Perhentian Islands.
From my research before arriving at the islands, I knew it would was very remote, but didn’t imagine anything compared to the reality. Electricity was turned off after 7pm. There were only three boats to mainland per day and you couldn’t book accommodation. The only way to guarantee a bed for the night was to get the 8:30am boat to the beach, then it was a free-for-all between me and 20 others to try and find a room.
I sensed that I wouldn’t be getting my usual daily fix of soccer whilst on this tiny stretch of beach.
After two days of waiting, Saturday finally came around. As the island was so small and everyone either didn’t speak English or wished me ‘good luck’ when I asked where I could find WiFi, I challenged myself to simply find out the day’s results; something that I could usually muster up in a matter of seconds back home in England. Even a task that seemed so simple took hours of searching.
I stayed on the smaller of the two islands, Perhentian Kecil, where there were only two beaches with places to stay or eat. The only TV screen I managed to find was one being used to show a safety video for scuba divers going down to the reef.
On Perhentian Kecil, there’s a routine that most people stick to: Wake up, swim, snorkel, trek through the jungle and party on the beach at night. Unlike most other beaches where you spot a volleyball game or people playing catch, there were no signs of any ball games anywhere.
The restaurants claimed to have WiFi, but were pretty hesitant to give out the username or password. After trying Mie Goreng (a traditional Malaysian dish) from four different shacks, it took me until the Tuesday to finally pick up one bar of WiFi. It was a painful wait trying to load BBC’s soccer page, but it was worth it considering my team Middlesbrough had ended their Sheffield Wednesday hoodoo with a 3-1 win at Hillsborough.