Jungle Island Paradise
We crossed the Malaysian border by bus without any probelms, a 3 month visa was stamped into our passports. As our bus reached the first town in Malaysia (Johor Bahru) we knew we had to get to the long haul bus station where we were planning on getting a 4 hour bus to Mersing on the South East of the Malaysian coast, just a small fishing village where tourists only really go to for transport to the various islands of the coast, our choice of island was Palau Tioman.
There's not much to say about Mersing itself as we only stayed one evening, but I have never seen as many cats in one area as what i saw in Mersing! Maybe it was the smell of fish which attracted so many, we would soon discover that there were many cats throughout the whole of Malaysia that were not in any good conditions at all. A very sad sight to see and we felt they were treated as pests and vermin, similar to how rats are considered. When I get home I know I will be making sure Timmy and Monty know how good they've got it! :)
To get to Tioman Island we were at the pier at 8.30am only to be told it wouldn't be leaving until 11am, but actually we didn't depart until 12pm. This was the first sign that efficiency wasn't a main priority here in Malaysia like it is in Singapore. The boat ride was fairly smooth and we were in awe at the sight that was to be our home for the next few days. The part of the island that we chose was a good pick. It was quiet, but not too quiet and for half a km from left to right of the pier had around 12 resorts ranging in standard and price. After a bit of hunting around we found a hut of a fairly good standard, looking right out to the sea when you opened the front door and all for a price of 30 ringgit (6 pound) a night :)
This was a time to relax and enjoy being in a place of paradise. It was a great way to begin SE Asia adventures as we were being introduced to many new things. Just some to mention from the wild life would be monkeys, 3 metre long monitor lizards, giant milapedes, purple crabs, snakes and of course cats. A new obstacle to negotiate was the incredible humidity. This has been experienced right from landing in Singapore and at times was such a struggle. This was more so felt on our first jungle trek from the west coast of the island to the east coast. A 3 hour walk that was uphill half the way. The jungle trek was spoilt a bit however by the concrete steps that had been built going up the hill on the first half of the trek. It didn't exactly feel like we were getting in touch with the wild and natural jungle as we climbed man-made concrete steps. With the jungle being so dense there was no chance of even the slightest breeze to help cool you down or dry you off. I have never been so wet all over from sweat. I could actually ring my top and sweat would srip from the cotton!
There was some cursing along the way but the beach we reached on the other side was postcard perfect. White sand, crystal clear waters and blue skies I felt it challenged even some of the beaches of Fiji. The first thing we did was to order lunch at the beach resturant. I ordered a fairly basic chicken, vegetable and rice dish and Fay had a noodle soup. Half way through our lunch Fays eyes popped wide open and was trying to say something but couldn't find the breath to speak. At first I thought she was choking but was proved wrong when her hand started flapping at her mouth. Yep, she had eaten an entire chilli! She finished off my beer and her coke desperately trying to cool down the inferno in her mouth and throat, but it hadn't helped. A Malaysian woman on the neighbouring table had noticed Fays panic and handed over half of a whole cucumber and instructed Fay to eat it. Sure enough soon after Fay devoured her free appetiser the fire in her mouth subsided. I was just hoping that the same thing wouldn't happen later when it came out the other end, not sure how a cucumber could help then!
Even with some limited internet resources on the island we were able to skype home on the day of my birthday. An image I don't think I'll ever forget - sitting in a small wooden hut opening out onto the beach, palm trees through the window infront of us on an island thousands of miles from home but still able to hear and see my family on a computer! Fay did amazingly well at getting together small presents with her extremley limited resources . The gifts were a white tank top with a Tioman Island design on it, a pack of spicey peas, peanuts and a picture of a cake as she was unable to get a real one despite her effort, and of course the watch she bought in Singapore bought with the birthday money from Nanny Borg :) The little birthday holiday on Tioman Island was funded by the Borg parents...Thank you all! Of couse we also managed to find a bar on the part of the island we were on which also had the cheapest beer we would ever find in Malaysia costing only 2.50RM a can, alsewhere in Malaysia we would only find bottles for 7RM. For reasons unkown to me beer on Tioman was thankfully duty free :)
This was certainly a birthday to remember and one I know I will never forget, Thanks Fay for making it a special birthday, we had so much fun!