Dear Grace,How are you and your family getting on? I hope everyone is fine. I await with eager anticipation to share with you that I spend a family vacation on a tropical island ended up with this wonderful holiday trip to Tioman, a popular Malaysian island resort which shot to fame as the island of Bali Hai in the Rodger’s & Hammerstein movie of ‘South Pacific’.
First day that we started our journey, we boarded the high-speed ferry from Kluang ferry terminal in Malaysia for the 2 hour journey to Tioman. I was so excited to be on my first boat ride but the excitement soon wore off once I was in the open sea with nothing much to see except the monotonous scenery of mainland Malaysia in the hazy distance.
Out in the open water, the sky was blue and cloudless but in the distance, clouds hovered above Tioman. As we neared the island, visions of the legendary Bali Hai from the movie ‘South Pacific’ fleeted through my mind. Before long, the huge island of Tioman loomed before us, rising out of the water majestically with its peaks (some rising as high as 1000m) towering over us and surrounded by an emerald sea.
We arrived at the jetty in front of Berjaya Tioman and had to clear immigration officials who had set up desks at the front and rear of the boat. After a long wait, we finally cleared immigration and boarded another boat which brought us to the jetty at Kampung Paya, where we got down and walked to Tioman Paya Resort, which would be our home for the next 4 nights. We had booked a 3 days 2 nights full-board package with two additional nights “free and easy”.
We visited the Tioman Marine Park. As it was a half-day trip, the resort provided packed lunches. My first experience seeing the fish’s close-up was exciting. I had amazed that the fishes didn’t have a natural fear of humans, unlike most terrestrial animals. They would hang around snorkels waiting for handouts and were even willing to be hand fed by visitors. Other fish species that weren’t interested in bread simply swam around or were busy feeding on algae off rocks and corals.
After visiting the Marine Park, the boats dropped us at Berjaya Tioman Island Resort where we had the afternoon free. The resort was big and had all the trimmings of a luxury resort: airstrip, golf course, shops and landscaped gardens. However, I noticed that the waters in front of Berjaya were full of dead coral rubble and there were few fishes here. Probably there is a sign of over-development in this part of Tioman. There was also a sign on the beach warning visitors to beware of jellyfish, although I didn’t see any during my stay here. They were probably seasonal.
During our “free and easy” part of the stay, I snorkeled around the house reefs at Paya beach. It was fascinating to observe the fishes and I also noticed a lot of black sea urchins on the seabed or wedged in rocks and crevices. They looked intimidating with their long spines and I had to be very careful not to touch them especially in shallow water.
The Tioman Paya resort that we stayed was quite nice with its timber chalets blending into the surrounding. The air-conditioned rooms were clean and comfortable with solar heaters mounted on the roofs for hot water. Our particular chalet was located next to the forest. To get to the beach or main dining hall, we had to cross a little wooden bridge built over a river with mangrove trees fringing its banks. Monitor lizards would occasionally make their presence felt when they splashed into the water. There were many of them here and some were quite big. Each morning they would lie on the grass on the resort grounds, basking in the morning sunshine and running up the nearest tree when we approached too close. Meals were served in the common dining area, which also housed the other shared facilities, like TV, newspapers and other reading material. An ala-carte menu was also available.
After 4 nights in Tioman, we reluctantly boarded our boat at Paya jetty which transferred us to the main jetty at Berjaya where we caught the high-speed ferry back to Kluang. My first holiday island trip had been a lot more enjoyable than expected, and I now looked forward to my next island destination that is Pulau Redang!Well, it’s time to end this letter, and more will follow. Also, I would like to hear from all of you too. Take care!