19 Nov 2007
Seaview Hotel, Pasir Bogak, Pangkor, Malaysia
A$42/£18 night
4°12'32.24"N 100°33'31.14"E
1 Room chalet


We booked into the Seaview before arriving so we would have a base for our first night on Pangkor. We ended up staying 4, but only because it was the best of a bad bunch and we found a wireless internet signal. On arrival at the ferry jetty, the island's pink taxi vans ferry you to your hotel at fixed, very cheap prices. The price to get back to the jetty is also fixed, and doublethe amount! There are no buses on the island, although it would take less than a day to do a full circuit on foot, about an hour on a motorbike with a few stops.

The Seaview consists of about 30 chalets and what appears to be a big dorm for mass bookings of school kids. On arrival at Lumut to catch the ferry to the island, a tout told us he could get us a 10% discount. Keeping this in mind, we asked for a discount when we arrived - we had booked by phone and not paid anything. They were very reluctant and wouldn't move until I said I would have a look at what neighboring hotels were offering, then they told us we could have the pool/sea view chalet for the same price, which works out at a 20% discount. If we hadn't been so insistant, we would have got nothing - they pointed out that it was school holidays, but we didn't need to point out that they weren't even half full.

The chalets are very basic but clean. Our upgraded chalet had a queen and a single bed (the cheap ones are identical but with only one bed and a view onto the back of the other chalets), a table and stool, a wardrobe and a television that only picked up 2 local channels - one with reception so bad it was unwatchable and both of them local only content channels that don't have English programs and news. While I like a firm bed, this was a bit of a joke. The cheap mattress was saved by a solid base, but nothing could have saved the pillows. They were hard and lumpy and extraordinarily heavy.

There were no luxuries such as a telephone, fridge or kettle, but there was a flask which you could get reception to fill with boiling water, and the air conditioner was effective.

We checked out the neighboring hotels which were a lot more basic and old and not so well located. The whole area is swamped with mozzies and sand flies both inside and out - obviously a problem as a big can of spray is left in each of the chalets and restaurants put a mozzie coil under the tables at night.

Hotel room

Breakfast wasn't too bad - the tea had an odd taste to it and the coffee was brewed and brewed and brewed. On sitting down we were presented with toast and jam and then a choice of fried or scrambled eggs or omelette with a couple of chicken sausages - being freshly prepared the eggs were good and I have to say that the omelettes were excellent. There was also rice, noodles, and other Asian breakfast choices.

There was internet access available at A$3.30/£1.40 per hour, but they told us it was very slow and we should go to the internet cafe over the road. Just as well we sniffed out a freebie signal as we didn't see the internet cafe open in the time we were there.

Canoe hire is available, as well as a couple of other water and land based sports and board games, but I don't know what if any charges were applicable.

There were a few mini marts selling basics, a lot of shops selling beach clothing and souvenirs and quite a few restaurants within a two minute walk. This is the place Malaysians come to for their holidays, and as such the English language newspapers were few and far between.

All of the eating options within walking distance (a handful of food stalls, canteens and local restaurants) are Chinese although the hotel did a very nice fish and chips for not much more money than outside. Service wasn't quite Fawlty Towers style, but it was reminiscent. Pangkor town is a pleasant 3km away - about 40 minutes walk but with footpath almost all of the way. Town consists of a few more mini marts and a lot more beach wear and souvenir shops. Of particular interest are the dried fish shops - eaten from bags like crisps or nuts, dried fish is hugely popular here. There is a big industry on the island in drying fish and the shops sell packets to take home as well as different bigger varieties (which I would say would have to be used for cooking) hanging up and smaller ones in buckets and baskets for nibbles. And no, we didn't try any - it really has to be smelled to be appreciated.

So, I hear you ask, why did we stay four nights in such an expensive (for what you get), basic chalet? In a word, location. The Seaview is right on the beach - a nice clean beach, safe for swimming. Pasir Bogak is called the biggest swimming pool in the world. It quite probably is. And no television or other distractions meant I got time to update the web site and Peter lazed around the pool with his Ipod and chilled. There really isn't anything else to do here, but it's a great place to do it.

Not sure if I would come back again, or recommend it to others, as this beach area really isn't geared up for westerners. Possibly - basic and lacking in some of the comforts as it is, it makes you relax because it's about all you can do.