Published: September 22nd 2009September 12th 2009
Tioman: An island off the east coast of Malaysia, it was depicted as the exotic "Bali Hai" in the musical South Pacific in 58', then in 1970 was voted most beautiful island, and rightfully so. I took a weekend trip with three other people and it was fantastic. We left on Friday morning traveled across the border to Johor Bahru (JB), Malaysia. We pulled into a bus depot in a public transportation bus from SG, as soon as the doors open I heard several voices yelling "Get off! Get off! Get Off!" I thought there was a fire or a bomb threat, but when I got off and took a second to relax I realized they were just cab drivers very AGGRESSIVE cab drivers! That was a little intense, but if you didn't make eye contact (which was impossible for me) it wasn't too bad, the cheap McDonald's made up for the shock once I finally got away from them. Got a big mac with fries for 6 malaysian ringgit (1 US$=3.6 Ringgit, do the math) which was wonderful. From there we took a 11 ringgit bus to Mersing (bus driver dropped us at a random gas station near the center
of town), and from there we took a 70 ringgit round trip ferry out to the beautiful island of Tioman.
At Tioman we got off the ferry onto a 100 ft. wooden pier at Panuba Inn. I had seen great reviews in my research so we tried it out, and it was very nice minus the slight isolation from most from the rest of the island. It had a nice beach and a comfortable rooms, but it was a 10 min. hike through the jungle to the rest of the chalets. We took that hike to meet up with some friends we had run into on the way to island. Going through the jungle was without a doubt, frightening. There was little sunlight getting through the trees and we were in a foreign land where the oppressing noises of unfamiliar animals was way too close for comfort. We made it through however and enjoyed a nice dinner in the company of a few others. Afterwards we took a night boat(taxi) back to our pier because there was NO WAY we were doing the same journey in the dark. That first night we got a few beers and then played
Happy, next time im gettin one
pitch for 2-3 hours for the remainder of the night, and at the end of the night we drew a card to see who would sleep by themselves in the single bed and consequently what lucky three got to share a queen size. I pulled an Ace baby, so therefore I also slept like a baby.
Woke up the next morning to find that two out of four of us (myself not included) could barely move, three in a bed had not been favorable to them. But we made it down for our complimentary breakfast which consisted of toast and Malaysian style noodles, SPICY. We then got out belongings, checked out and made out way through the path to where our friends were staying so we didn't feel isolated. Our next chalet was nicer and literally right on the water. So after we finally hooked up with the larger group, we decided that for the days activity we were going to hike a jungle trail over the mountainous island to the opposite shore. The sore and aching members of my crew decided no matter how much pain they were experiencing they didn't want to miss out; and so started
once again...next time
a 2 hr trek through the jungle. This trip was much less frightening as we were in a larger group and the path was much more distinguished. The trail was fantastic; in fact, there were concrete steps going up a majority of the path (God love the people that had to get the concrete up there). It was dark, the trees were massive, and green was everywhere. Halfway to the destination we emerged from the jungle and found a concrete laid road that went down to the other beach, we followed it for another 45 min. and ended up at the most beautiful beach I had seen on the island so far and also the most beautiful I had ever seen in my life. It was amazing, probably a mile worth of beach, with white sand and beautiful water, simply breathtaking.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to stay forever, and after enjoying a small meal we decided to make our way back, but this time, by cab. They weren’t really cabs, they were these two very nice trucks and we had a ball going up and over the mountain at 30 mph. It took about 30 min. to get across,
and on the way we saw monkeys on the side of the road, we yelled the girls in the truck ahead of us, and we ducked low tree branches.
When we got back we decided to go snorkeling. It was 6:15, the sun set around 7:45ish and the water was at low tide and CALM; so it seemed ideal. We (four of us) paid 10 ringgit for a mask, snorkel, and fins. It was wonderful. I have never done that in the ocean, and Tioman is a location for the best diving and snorkeling in the world. Typically you pay a boat to take you out to an island, but we didn’t want to spend that much money, so we decided to puts around the far end of the island, near Panuba where maps showed a lot of coral. The ocean is fascinating, I only wish I had a camera so I could have taken pictures and you could see exactly what I saw. I know for a fact I saw dead coral, live coral, sea urchins (they were everywhere), a stingray (a gray with blue dots), a titan trigger fish, a clownfish (Nemo!!!), a sea anemone, a threadfin
...and where are we
butterfly fish, a bicolor parrot fish (really pretty), and loads of others I couldn’t find online. I still really can’t get over it and I cannot wait for my next experience like that. The coolest part was being able to swim about 6 feet under so that you could see clearly under the coral and check out what was hiding under there. I had to do that to see the stingray, he was just hovering in a little alcove under a coral boulder. It was fantastic.
After our amazing underwater adventure we cleaned up and headed to a “grill” for dinner. There were numerous fish available on the grill, that day’s catch. I decided to try a few things with some friends and split the cost, we went with some barracuda, a medium piece of shark, and a squid. All of the above were enjoyable. The shark was a tastier version of swordfish, the squid was basically spongy chicken with BBQ sauce, and the barracuda seemed to combine all the best parts of every fish I have ever had and deliver them all in every bite. Needless to say the barracuda was my favorite, but they were all very
good. We all each got our own serving of Malay-style rice, once again Malay-style means SPICY, but it wasn't unbearable and was therefore very good. The best part of this meal was the price; I paid 13 ringgit for everything I had that night which is only $3.75 US!
For the remainder of the night we went to a bar (no indoors, completely open to the outside and the beach) 15 min. away from our chalets and we drank and partied on the beach under the full moon. There happened to be about 40 other exchange students that we met down there and it became a dance/picture fest down at the beach that went well into the early hours. I took about an hour to watch some tennis at the bar and talk to the owner which proved to be a great opportunity to connect with the locals. Listening to his life story, which he offered along with some great anecdotes, was fascinating and enlightening. I would share his story, however this entry is ridiculously long as it is. So the next day I got a thin pancake (similar to a crepe) with honey spread, it was good. The
Tried on some hats in the shops on the way to the ferry, this was one of the nicer ones
ride back as similar to the ride in, except we had to wait for a bus for 3 hrs in Mersing during which time we found a KFC with a jungle gym on the second floor. It was crazy. And that is how my trip to Tioman was.
Sorry for the length, but there was a lot that happened and I'm using this blog for my benefit too so that I can remember as much as possible. Also, I'm not sure I can load all the pictures, travelblog has been lame lately so it's not letting me upload all of them for you that don't have facebook. I'm going to try and find an alternative and I'll let you know when that happens.
There are more photos below