Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Voluntouring in Bubbles Dive Resort, Perhentian Island.

Voluntourism has been in my bucket list for quite a while. Volunteer + Tourism = Voluntourism. It is volunteering while travelling. So when I found out Bubbles has Turtle Conservation Programme, it didn't take me long to decide where should we be going during the mid year school holiday.

Kids have been counting days, hours and minutes for this trip. It's going to be their first snorkeling trip. Oh well, it's the first for me and Mr O too. So finally we went there during the last week of the school holiday.

Can u see the excited face?? She's so fascinated by her "fire ball" hair ;-)
 The boat ride was about 30-40 minutes. Luckily nobody got sea sick.
Bubbles Dive Resort is very secluded. It's located at Tanjung Tukas, in the southern end of Pulau Perhentian Besar. It's a low density resort. So it was really great coz I hate crowd. Especially the school holiday crowd.

The main attraction here is the beach. The water is so clear that u can just snorkel off shore. Which was great for somebody who cannot swim like me....ha3. But it was great for small kids too. The beach has decent corals. And lots of fishes. We saw fishes, black tip sharks, sting ray and clam too. Not to mention u have the beach all to yourselves. Coz Bubbles is the only resort there. So u can snorkel anytime u want.
We went to a few places to snorkel. including the marine park. If u go to deeper place, u have higher chances to see the turtles and other type of sharks. But I still feel the best snorkeling experience for us was the one right off the beach.
The room at Bubbles is clean and spacious. They have basic facilities and air-cond. But don't expect fancy schmancy hotel accomodation. Food is OK. Service is good.

Little Missy was pretty upset coz there's no bath tub. She was like..."Ummi, can we change to another hotel?" ..wakakaka. Of course that was before she snorkel & clown fishes playfully hit her goggles. We didn't have an underwater camera. Which is a bummer. But now I can understand why my diver friends can't stop diving. The view under the water was so awesome. To a noob like us, it was out of the world. Medina kept screaming in auto rewind mode ""This is the best day of my life!!!" ;-)

Another great thing about Bubbles is the nature surrounding the resort.
We have lots of fun watching the birds and other animals. Learn loads of new stuffs too.
Purple throated sunbird (male).
Fish poison tree flower. Poisonous to the fish. Only blooms at night.
U can also go jungle trekking. The trail was marked. So it was pretty easy. Just look for the yellow mark on the tree.
 There were 2 options to choose.
View from the top.
But I was glad these girls chose to have their afternoon nap instead of jungle trekking. 
Coz I think the track would not be so easy to them. Especially younger kids. It took us almost 2 hours to complete the trail. It would definitely be much2 longer with them in tow.

As part of the conservation programme, kids did turtle watching. Briefing on turtle watching by Garreth. 
Hajar & Luqman patrolled the beach at night to watch out for the turtles. I zonked out much earlier with Medina. Kids learned conservation work is not as fancy as it sounds. Lots of hard work. And doing stuffs that other people do not fancy doing. Like cleaning up the beach. And some mundane boring stuffs too. So u need to be really committed. I found it's great for them to get to know people like Garreth. Luqman kept telling me how much Garreth loves doing what he does. How passionate he is with his work. etc etc etc. 
 Keep the rubbish away from the sea.
They also learned a bit about coral and reef conservation.
On our 2nd day in Bubbles, Mr O & Hajar had a pleasant surprise during their morning walk. They found a green turtle laying eggs.
Due to the low tide at night, the turtle came up early morning. Which is great coz u can see her in action clearly.
Hajar was beyond ecstatic to see the turtle live. And she is very3 passionate about the turtle. Which makes her extremely upset when the crowd get a bit too noisy & too close to the turtle. 
The rest of us were not so lucky with the turtles. We were asleep in the room. So we miss the fun. We were hoping there will be more coming. But the following few days were very2 low tide. No turtles for 2 nights in a row. But God listens to my little girl's prayer. On our last night there, one of the volunteers knocked our room at 1 am. It was a wet night. So we thought it was very unlikely the turtle will come up. But she did. And we were over the moon. Yeayyyyy!!! :-) 

BTW, the red light that u saw in the pic i.e the shorter of the two..was Medina's head light. She proudly stood there with the red light to watch the turtle while mumbling "This is amazing" 100X.
It was a very long process. It took about 3 hours for her to complete the whole process. Finding the right spot, digging, laying the eggs, burying, disguising the spot and finally swim back to the ocean. 

Once the turtle finished, the volunteer dug the hole and rescue the eggs. It was easy if they catch the turtle from the very beginning coz the volunteer will mark the location of the eggs when the turtle started. But it can be almost impossible to find the eggs if u miss the turtle. Coz they disguise the spot so well. 

The eggs were kept in the hatchery. In 2 months time, u will see hatchlingssss ;-)
It was very spiritual for me to watch the turtle trudging her way on shore to lay eggs. Of course I have seen them in the hatchery centre. But it's not the same with watching a turtle out in the wild. It was such a fitting finale to end our holiday. 

Happy faces ;-). Alhamdulillah.
I feel voluntouring makes the whole holiday experience more rewarding. It gives us opportunity to give back.  And it let us step out of the box. Beyond the typical glossy travelling brochures. It gives u insights how u can contribute towards a sustainable livelihoods. Not to mention, it's a great learning experience for me & the kids. 

It took a while for kids to grasp the concept. Why do we need to pay them to work for them?? To be honest, it took a while for me to convince Mr O too. To them it should be the other way round ;-) Voluntourism is quite common in the West. I think it's catching on in Malaysia too. I explained to them that the money that we paid goes into funding the conservation efforts. Though it might look quite a huge sum of money, conservation efforts do need funding. So it's our small contribution to support them. While holidaying with a cause. 

We will definitely volunteer again. If u know any interesting voluntouring opportunities for family, do let me know. 


  1. Love it so much. Love the way you raise your kids, it's amazing and they are lOvely! :)

  2. Hey there, I am going to Bubbles with my children to do the same! So great to read your blog :) how old were your children when you went? And what month did you go? We are so excited to do it at the beginning of April!