Ahh Tioman…the island of dreams…. the reason for the whole trip! Yes, it was the most important place in the whole holiday, at least for my husband. And to be frank, it was everything he promised. This island is paradise for those who love their holiday to be leisurely stroll on beaches and snorkelling in unspoilt coral reefs.
But I am jumping ahead. Let’s start with how we went there. For starter, we had to get up at around 4:30 AM!! And then got ready, had cup noodles for breakfast and then asked the concierge to get us a cab. The cabby was quite chatty, on the way he pointed us different buildings, told us little about Singapore’s history and was most polite. The bus stand was near the Singapore flyer and it looked eerie in the early morning light.
The bus stand was empty; we were the first to arrive. Slowly people started trickling in; met two nice Chinese girls who were also going to Malaysia for a holiday. The bus left promptly on time and it was within hours we were in the crossing Johor Bahru. Here you have to collect all your luggage, go up to immigration and then get down to the other side and again board the bus. It was a little chaotic on the other side as because there are so many buses waiting, so be sure to know your bus number and name. It is easy to get confused here!!
Loved the countryside of Malaysia, especially the palm tree plantations. We stopped for dinner in a place called Kota Tinggi. There was only one restaurant (named Restorant Chee P.K.) and it was very unique, at least for us. While in others, you pay for your food coupon before or after you had your food; here there was a fantastic spread of all kinds of food starting from rice (as usual), chicken, fish, pork, eggs and various kinds of curry, chicken fry, noodles, buns, sausages…you get the picture! And what you had to do is you pick up what you want, then go to counter, pay and start eating. We had a blast; the children loved their noodles, eggs, sausages, and we gorged on the softest pork buns (my mouth is watering when I remember those). And of course, “Kapi” to wash them off. Well I had iced tea as did the sons.
We reached Tanjuk Gemok around 11. As for the tickets to the ferry, you can’t book it before. Each hotel had a quota of ticket, and we showed our hotel booking confirmation on the ticket counter. We had booked ticket on the 4’o’ clock ferry, but as we had reached earlier, my husband changed it to the 2 PM one. We also had to pay for a marine conservation charge. While waiting for the ferry, I did a little shopping and bought some fridge magnets. The ferry was comfortable, they put on nice music and it there were food available on board.
When we reached the island, it was about 4 PM. When we came out of the jetty, we didn’t find any local taxis or such to take us to our hotel. But then we spotted a shuttle for Berjaya Resort (the hotel Selesa Tioman was within the huge Berjaya Resort property) and asked if we could hitch a ride. Turns out, they were waiting for us!! It was a kind of open shuttle and it took us first to the reception area of Berjaya (loved this resort as we went passed their cottage, the golf course and other areas) from there another smaller shuttle took us to our condo.
The suit was quite large, with a fully functional kitchen at the entrance, then two bedrooms (both with attached bathrooms) a large sitting area and a small balcony.
Now here I have two tips to share; first one, never ever leave any of the two doors open because there is a monkey problem!! You will be warned by that when you are given the room keys, and it is written on the instructions in the room and you will get first-hand experience very soon if you are not careful. My husband was bowled over by the view from the balcony, and he had gone in to get some attachments for hardly 5 minutes within which one monkey came and went away with a pack of half eaten chips, within 10 minutes of us checking in!!! Next day, I had kept my swimsuit to dry on the balcony, and one monkey ran off with it!! I don’t know why; it couldn’t fit him or her in any manner!! They also stopped us from having our morning cup of tea in the balcony to fully enjoy the view. Just look at the gang on the terrace looking down on us at the balcony!
We had checked in around 5 PM, and the only thing we could do is rest. The boys went for a swim while Susanta took the shuttle to Berjaya to go to the market. He got a hired vehicle from the main gate to go to a market we had seen while coming. He returned with bread, cup noodles, cold drinks, eggs and more. And some plastic disposable glasses and dishes. It is regarding the last item, I have tip no 2; if you plan to eat pork or drink alcoholic beverages, you are requested not to use the hotel dishes or glasses. So, make sure you have disposable ones (the hotel provides that too), if you want that chilled beer or some pork sausages.
The dinner was fantastic; they had a huge booking and so the dinner menu was extra special. I especially loved the chicken drumsticks. Spicy and juicy, the fries were a foodie’s dream. There were prawn and eggs on the buffet as well, so you can say we had more than a hearty dinner!!
We got up so late next day that we missed the early morning snorkelling tour! But the breakfast made it up for it; there were the staples of bread, cornflakes but what I liked was the Nasi Lemak which came with little friend fishes and peanuts!
So, we went in our room, did some photo session by the pool and left for the snorkelling centre (again within the Berjaya property) around 1:30. It left around 2:30 for Renggis Island. In the meantime, I waited in the deck while the boys went down to the beach in the front of the pier. The water was so clear, you could see the shadow of the boat on it!! Yes, my featured image is not photoshopped; it is a real picture of a boat! Now you know why I called this island a Paradise! Some more tourists came and off we went.
And then it was live National Geography/Discovery show!!! This was my fifth time snorkelling and the best till date. The water was crystal clear, and there was no current (which is why I put it over the Bali sites where there was nasty current). The depth was not that much as well, my husband’s feet was touching the corals in some area if tried to dog peddle. And look at the variety of fishes we saw!! Not to mention the sea urchins, which looked scary!! We stayed about 2 hours and came back around 4:30. It was worth every penny we spent on it!!
We boarded the shuttle for city and got down at the gate because we had seen two eating joints just outside the gate. One was Chinese while the other was Malay food. We went to the Chinese one and ordered fried rice, and a chicken dish. And some coconuts. We first ordered three rice, the quantity was not enough, and we were hungry after the swim. So, we ordered some chow Mein as well and the fantastic red chilli chicken as well as a dry chicken with capsicum. It turned out the waiter was from Bangladesh and so was happy to find someone speaking his tongue and helped us talk with the owner/chef and make the dishes to our liking. We liked the place so much we had lunch there the next day as well, and even packed two serving of the chicken to eat later!!
While walking back to the reception area of Berjaya, we saw quite many monitor lizards which were quite plenty in the island and the resort area.
Waited in the lobby for the shuttle to our hotel, and I checked the gift shop. They stocked essentials as well, and I picked up some. Returning home, we slept till it was time for dinner. Second day dinner was quite a downer from the previous night; there was no buffet but set menu. They were good, but I wanted some more of the previous day’s chicken fry!!
Thanks for reading such a long post. If you are planning to go to Tioman, feel free to ask me about it.