Please be informed that Pulau Sembilan (Pulau Lalang) has been closed down to visitors with effect from 1 Apr 2017. Reopen date yet to be confirmed.
I have long heard about this mythical Blue Sand (or more commonly known as 蓝眼泪) showing up at one of our islands but have never really given a serious thought about it until I saw a Facebook post surfacing at about three weeks ago. I have always thought that those photos are highly photoshopped until I watched this promotional video of the island:
It was a simple decision.
Let's go to Pulau Sembilan!
Pulau Sembilan is an archipelago of nine islands located at the West coast of Perak, Malaysia. Sembilan is the Malay word for "Nine". As Pulau Sembilan is under the conservation of the State, only registered travel agencies are able set up their base and bring tourists to the islands.
We booked our 2D1N trip to Pulau Sembilan with Nine Island Agency as they offer fullboard packages which include meals, two-way-boat transfers and overnight stays at Pulau Lalang, one of the nine islands of Pulau Sembilan. Check out Nine Island Agency Facebook Page here to book directly with them.
As they do not have a website, communications with Nine Island Agency was by phone and text messages. I liaised and booked our stay with Ms. Wendy Heng who couldn't be more helpful throughout the entire booking process. She recommended the last weekend of May for us as they expected large volume of Blue Sand during that period.
You will need to make your way to Sungai Burung Jetty for boat transfer to Pulau Sembilan. One way is to take a bus to Teluk Intan Bus Terminal (the nearest terminal to the jetty) and then take a taxi to Sungai Burung Jetty. We took a Star Mart Express Bus on Friday after work from Golden Mile Tower (Singapore) to Teluk Intan Bus Terminal. Our bus departed at 10pm and it took us approximately eight hours to reach Teluk Intan.
Wendy was very kind to arrange a taxi for us to travel from Teluk Intan Bus Terminal to Sungai Burung Jetty for boat transfer to the island. All arrangements were done over Whatsapp and I was glad that everything turned out well. The taxi driver was an elderly uncle and was quite chatty. The one-hour drive to the jetty didn't feel long at all. We passed by quite a long stretch of Malay kampungs before arriving at Sungai Burung Jetty.
The original plan was to have lunch at Sungai Burung before setting off for the island. However, Wendy suggested that we take an early boat since we arrived so early in the morning. Not a bad idea!
Taking an early boat means that we had the entire boat all for ourselves!
The boat ride took about 40 minutes and waters can be quite rough. So those with sea sickness please beware!
Due to conservation laws of the State, resorts are not allowed to be built on the island. Hence, overnight stay on the island has to be under tents ala camping style. We had nasi lemak and mee goreng for breakfast before exploring the beach. They served hot Milo and coffee as well.
Although the beach was quiet in the morning, we did notice quite a lot of dirty items being washed up the shores. Not too sure where were they from, but the beach was littered with bottles and some of those with hermit crabs on them. And there were also a few broken glass pieces so please be careful when you walk along the beach bare barefooted. Fortunately, the people of Nine Island Agency were very swift to clean the beach. We saw everybody, including some kids busy clearing the mess on the beach before the next batch of tourists check in. If we had stuck to our original schedule and arrived after lunch, we would not have noticed these behind the scenes hard work to keep the island clean.
The beach of Pulau Lalang was pretty long and narrow. Sand was on the coarse side and water was not as clear as what I saw at Pulau Rawa. But wave was definitely stronger here. As we explored the beach, we found a secret spot tugged behind the West side of the island (away from the tents). The view here was quite scenic as we saw the other 3 nearby islands at the back of Pulau Lalang. Here is also the spot where you can catch the beautiful sunset view.
As we approached noon, the island began to spark into life as tourists checked in. I would say about 90% of the visitors here were local Malaysians.
There was also a guided snorkeling trip to nearby islands which we went. I'm not sure whether we were unlucky or was it a usual thing, we couldn't see much during the snorkeling trip. The sea was chalky and we didn't get to see rich corals. After we came back from the snorkeling trip, we were served with fried keropok (fried prawn crackers) and red bean soup for tea break. The red bean soup was one of the best I've tried!
Everything on the island was very basic. The toilets and bathrooms are outdoors (fully enclosed not to worry but quite dirty), no hot water for showers and of course, no wifi. But surprisingly, we didn't experience sand fly and mosquito bites.
Dinner at Pulau Sembilan was served at around 6pm. We had seafood steamboat for dinner. We also ordered a couple of iced beers and ciders.
After dinner, it was the much anticipated Blue Sand Time! Everyone was waiting by the shore since 7pm for the Blue Sand to appear. These mysterious blue sands are actually a kind of bioluminescent planktons which glow is purplish blue when they are washed up to the shore.
It wasn't until about 8:15pm that we began to see the first blue sand. There were only very few but enough to get us excited.
But it was not the high volume Blue Sand that we expected. As we head back to the dining area to have some seafood porridge and listen to some live karaoke, the operators decided it was time to showcase what this island was about. They asked us to stand by the beach and switched off all the lights. I will never forget the magical scenes that laid before our eyes.
huge waves of blue sands!
My camera couldn't quite capture the actual scenes due to extreme low light. Fortunately, thanks to Chui Mei who was really kind to share her photos with me, I am able to post and share with you guys what we actually saw during that night.
Besides the amazing Blue Sands, we were also told that we could see the Milkyway from the beach!
you mean we could see our galaxy from here??
We looked up and with our naked eyes, we could see lots of stars above due to very minimal light pollution on the island. It was until I met Chui Mei that I was taught how to capture the Milkyway on camera. Although we couldn't see the Milkyway with our naked eyes, we could actually spot Scorpio and Mars quite clearly in the skies. The Milkyway is located somewhere below Scorpio. And with some manual long exposure settings on her camera, she was able to capture these amazing shots.
Being an amateur photographer myself, I was really glad to make new friends like Chui Mei who shares the same interest in photography. Do check out her Instagram photos here for more Milkyway photos around Malaysia.
It was such a wonderful night - having enjoyed the full blast of Blue Sand and also seeing the Milkyway right before my eyes for the first time. It was a moment that I felt so lucky and privileged as a Malaysian. We spent our night sleeping soundly in the tent. It rained in the middle of the night but our tent was strong enough and there was no rain water leaking or seeping into our tent.
We took an early boat out in the next morning as we had to catch a bus at 10:30am back to Singapore. We met the friendly taxi uncle again as he drove us from the jetty to Teluk Intan. I booked a Star Coach Bus which departed from Teluk Intan Bus Terminal to Concorde Hotel (Singapore). The bus actually stopped by a few more terminals after Teluk Intan and we also spent about half an hour dinner break at Yong Peng. So the entire journey back to Singapore took around 10 hours. I'd prefer to take a night bus and reach early morning the next day for work as the day-long-journey was quite taxing.
I thought it was a great experience staying over at Pulau Sembilan (Pulau Lalang). The Blue Sand is definitely something that you would want to experience at least once in your lifetime. Although Pulau Sembilan experiences Blue Sand all year long, I'd recommend to check with the agents on the expected peak periods in order to enjoy your first Blue Sand experience to the fullest.
Location: Pulau Sembilan, Bagan Sungai Burung, Perak
From Singapore: Direct bus (Star Mart Express) from Golden Mile Towers (10pm) to Teluk Intan Bus Terminal > Taxi from Teluk Intan Bus Terminal to Sungai Burung Jetty.
Return: Taxi from Sungai Burung Jetty to Teluk Intan Bus Terminal > Star Coach Bus from Teluk Intan Bus Terminal to Concorde Hotel, Singapore (Can alight at Woodlands)
Accommodation: Nine Island Agency
2D1N Package: RM290.00