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One traveller's day-by-day account of a year-long journey through Japan, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada

fun to watch. But then you have to jump in such a boat in order to reach the shore (unless you prefer to get all your worldly belongings wet), and pay approximately one US dollar for a ten-second ride to the beach. Nice work if you can get it, as Billie Holiday once croaked.

We soon discovered it was high season in the Perhentians; every guesthouse we trudged into on Long Beach was full. Disappointed and desperate, there was one we hadn't tried to the far left of the beach. Called Rock Garden, I will henceforth refer to it as Rock Bottom, as that's what you have to hit to consider staying there. It's obscenely cheap and never full, so that tells you a lot.

We took a dilapidated shack and used the, er, basic outdoor facilities to freshen up, avoiding the dinosaurs on the way - huge monitor lizards, some about five feet long. Luckily they were more scared of us than we were of them. Notoriously camera shy, they dived into the undergrowth or up the nearest tree at the sight of a lens...

Finally we had time to appreciate what we had been transported into. Physically, the Perhentians were absolutely perfect. The water was a beautiful blue, the kind of blue crayon that you used when you drew pictures of your summer holidays as a kid (you knew full well