To get the bad vibe from the weekend, it was time to head closer to home: Pulau Tioman or Tioman Island.
Still under development, Tioman is a densely forested island is sparsely inhabited, perfect for a quiet getaway.
1. A Dragon’s Tale
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful dragon princess, she left China on a journey to Singapore, for her arranged wedding. The journey was long and towards the end of her flight she grew very tired. She noticed a beautiful island through a thin veil of clouds below, and decided to rest her weary body for the night. She lay down gently to the caress of the sea and the cool sprinkle of the waves. So enchanted was she that she stayed forever and ever, never leaving her beloved island.
The high ridge takes the form of her backbone and the clouds that circles around the twin peaks on the Western ends are said to be smoke breathed from her nostrils.”
2. Getting There & Around
You can either take a getty from Kampung Gemok, or Mersing, or get a flight with Berjaya Airlines.
My trip was a 4h drive from KL to Mersing, and then 1.30h by boat, takes you from the vibrant city, to a paradise in South China Sea. The getty drops you in your hotel/resort/bungalow beach, and continues its journey to the next beach.
The trouble was the way back to Mersing, our beach was the last stop from the way back, so, by the time the getty left the previous beach, it was already full. And since they sold tickets, without checking availability, we were scr*wed. From the 3/4 daily gettys to Mersing, only the first one actually stopped in our beach, all of the others… Didn’t.
So eventually we had to get s boat to Kampung Gemok, then a pay 60 RM for a taxi to Mersing.
My advice: come from Kampung Gemok, there are more boats.
To travel in the island, you have two options: boat or hiking in the jungle.
Yeah. There are no roads.
They overcharge a LOT for a boat trip from one beach to the other, so you must negotiate.
Hiking should be a great experience, there are many many animals in the jungle, and the view should be spectacular. Unfortunatelly i didn’t try it this time.. I was still a bit sore from my adventure in Phuket!
We stayed in these little “chalets”, in a place called: Genting Bayu Chalet, paid 350RM for 3D2N, getty, food and snorkeling included.
So you get cheap cheap.
Obviously this is Asia, so the quality standards are quite different.
The staff was great though, the scuba instructors were always mingling and very friendly, and we would usually hang out with everybody in the ‘eating porch’. And we ended the last night with a barbecue.
You have other accommodations, but if you’re looking for anything closer to Europe/Western standards, you’ll have to pay around 450RM per night, nothing included.
The beach is just in front of the chalets, and there are amazing corals just meters away..
The jungle is also very close to the chalets, so we had lots of monkeys checking us out, around breakfast time.
Due to numerous coral reefs that surround Tioman, the main activities are scuba diving and snorkeling. I had never seen coral reefs, so its normal i got super-excited, but i have to say: it was A-f*cking-MAZING. Can’t quite explain the feeling of seeing corals for the first time. Nor the feeling of having them 40 cm away from your belly, or 40-cm-from-scratching-the-hell out-of-your-belly.
The crystalline waters, the silence and the (almost) complete absence of cellphone network, makes it impossible not to relax in Tioman. So thats the other activity you may find in the island: relax.
5. Flora & Fauna
Obviously a dense and everlasting green jungle occupies 90% of Tioman. The villages/beaches are in the coastline, as if they requested permission from Mother Nature to get them a bit of space.
In our snorkeling ventures, we sawClownfishes in their anemone houses, Regal Tangs, Manta Ray, and tons of fishes with incredible colors. The scuba divers also saw Sea Turtles and a Whitetip Reef Shark. Yes! Basically we were inside the movie Finding Nemo.
Tioman is also well know for having a large concentration of Monitor Lizards. You will also find a great amount of Crab-Eating Macaques, also known as Long-Tailed Macaques, and domestic Cats.
Yeah, i know.
You’re ok with the huge lizards, cats and macaques… But no one told you there were crabs!!!
6. Eat & Drink
Food in Tioman, as in all Malaysia, is fantastic. Though in Tioman is cheaper to eat seafood. The villages are quite small, since they are found between the beach and the dense jungle, so you don’t have many options. Chinese, Malay and some stalls with burgers cover Tioman’s options for food.
Another great thing about Tioman is that its duty free, meaning – beer as cheap as 4RM.
I bet only you were only now convinced to visit Tioman!
Fun Fact: pork is FORBIDDEN in the hole island. The local Chinese have to go to the mainland eat it.
Overall, the island is amazing. Completely worth it.