For security reason, no one had the permission to wander to the northern side of the island.

Pulau Bidong Island was open to the sea on the South side. C beach was in the South, which faced Kuala Terengganu City on main land Malaysia. Jetty, (the UNHCR area), was in the West.  Zone F beach was in the Southeast. Most of forbidden area (the areas facing Vietnam), were in the North, Northwest and Northeast. Anyone who was found in the forbidden areas could be jailed in the Monkey House for several days and have their head shaved against their will. I either didn’t care or I was stupid. Probably both.


The island was easily traversed by foot.  It did not have steep walls or hills. On the East side, which was from Zone F beach to the most northern point, I could not follow the edge because it was very rocky with large gaps between in the rocks. There were not a lot of people who went to the East and Northeast area because of dense forest. Those areas were also far away from the residential area, which was in the Southwest.

I could cut through the island from Zone C to the northern point, however, somewhere in the middle of the island the trees became so thick and I could easily get lost. Usually, I broke tree branches to mark my way out. Also, I felt very much danger around me in the dense forest. There were snakes, boa, and who knows what else.  I was only 15.

I enjoyed hiking by following the left (eastern) edge of the island from the Jetty area to the most northern point. The path was easy to walk on. However, at some points, I had to jump or walk up the mountain to circle a dangerous area. To get to the most northern point would take me almost 4 hours.

North South

There were some tunnels in the Northwest area. Have you seen Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks? We were in that situation except we had more people around us. Coconut trees were abundant throughout Zones A, B, C, D, and F, which were the residential areas in the South and Southwest. Wildlife, plant-life and life in general abounded on Pulau Bidong.

I roamed about 2/3 of the island except for the northern most point and northeastern area. In these 2 areas, the forest was very thick. Along the edge was very rocky.

The forbidden area and the untainted beach

There was a beach on the West side, that was completely untainted. It was located in the forbidden area, so there were just a few people who ever dared go there. That beach was so clean and the water was so clear that I could see for hundred yards.

Once there was a very big turtle came on the beach to lay eggs. It was so huge that I could sit on it. It is possible that it could have carried me out to sea.

I spent a significant amount of time at this beach even though it took me more than 2 hours to get there by foot. There was a very large stream running down from the mountain and it took me about 30 minutes to get up to the point that I could take a bath without being afraid of getting caught by the police task force, who usually patrolled along the ocean shore by canoe to catch trespassers like me.

Some days I also met UNHCR employees at this untainted beach.  I was not afraid of any task force personnel during those times. I was covered.

There were some full moon nights that were perfect for fishing for squids. I wandered towards the untainted beach by myself, without a flash light. The moon guided me through the thick darkness. Those nights were so calm and peaceful. I could hear all kinds of noise coming down from the mountain, the waves hitting the rocks and the wind blowing gently. The stars were so bright in the sky.

One time I was trying to get a squid off the hook of my fishing spear by feeling it. Somehow it got one of my fingers into its mouth and took a bite. I lost some meat. Goddamn that squid!

The stream in the middle of the island

In the center of the island there was a very large stream, where it says Kuala Terengganu. The trees there are noticeably greener there because of the water source. I enjoyed taking a bath there. However, there were some big Boas and I had to be careful not to step on any of them. Other than snakes, the stream was an amazingly relaxing place.  The water was very cool and clean, which made for perfect drinking water. However, it was too far away from the residential area for frequent visits.

I could fish anywhere I wanted to if I ignored the laws.  Zone C beach, Jetty area, and the area between Zone C and Zone F beach did not produce much fish. In order to get a lot fish I usually went in the Northwest direction.