We arrived in Singapore on Sunday evening, spent Monday recovering from the Journey, then got up at 5.30AM to set off for Malaysia and Tioman Island on the Tuesday morning with Grandma and Grandpa.Tioman Island is 56km off the coast of Malaysia and was voted by Time Magazine (in the 70’s) as one of the top 10 island destinations in the world. It was also the setting for the movie “South Pacific”. It’s probably not moved on much from this time and is a little old and run-down now in places, but on the whole it’s a fantastic place to visit and we had a relaxing and enjoyable time.Singpapore is of course literally just off the coast of Malaysia, seperated by a couple of 100 metres of water, so it was simply a case of going through a “drive through” immigration / customs process to cross the bridge from Singapore into Malaysia. It’s almost exactly like a McDonalds drive through, except you can’t get fries with your passport stamps!
Unfortunately this photo is not very clear because of the light (it’s still before 7AM) but you can see some of the thousands of Malaysians who walk across the border to work in Singapore every day crossing here.The drive north (around 2 hours) is mostly through a rural agricultural area and lots of Palm Oil plantations. Malaysia feels very third-world and poor in comparison to Singapore, everything is older and much more run-down. After this drive, we arrived in Mersing where we caught the ferry.
The high speed ferry is quite comfortable, although we had a giggle at the seats which have been taken from an airplane, they came complete with the call button, light switch and radio controls (all non-functioning) and the warning to stow your tray table on take off and landing.
Once arriving on the Jetty in Tioman, it was then a short bus trip to the resort.The Berjaya Resort where we stayed was very comfortable and reasonably modern (in a last updated in the 80’s kind of way), but importantly everything was clean and functional and the air-conditioning worked.
The main pool was fantastic and here you can see the primary dining hall behind it and the mountains at the centre of Tioman behind that. Tioman is mostly uninhabited, mountainess jungle, with a few villages and resorts scattered around the outside, accessible only by boat.
Looking out to sea from the pool.There is a lot of animal wild life, including Jungle Squirrels and Giant Black Squirrels (really), both of which we saw in the wild on a Jungle walk that Dad, I and the kids did after getting up early one morning. There are also lots of large Monitor lizards, which you see very regularly cruising the lawns of the resort digging for bugs, and Long Tailed Macaques which are just everywhere.
Ella watching the last of a troop of Macaques, which had been on the roof of this villa, sliding down a palm tree like a firemans pole.
Tioman has been part of a marine sanctuary since the 70’s and the surrounding sea life and coral reef is in excellent health. We snorkelled off the shore to the reef line several times and also took the kids on a glass bottomed boat tour, where we tried to photograph this feeding frenzy of fish after we threw in some bread.
Jasper loved the Palm Trees and could always find a large palm leaf to amuse himself with or one of the many coconuts which they seem to be forever cutting down so they don’t hit the guests. At one stage we had a large collection at the door to our villa which he wanted to bring home to Australia with us.
Of course the climate is quite hot and humid all the time, but it’s surprising how quickly you get used to it. It’s also great for these Hibiscus.
The kids swimming improved no end in the few days we spent in the pool and they loved playing with the mask and snorkels. You can see the swim-up bar in the background here, something we loved as well, there is something very decadent about drinking alcohol while still actually sitting in the pool.It was a really great break and has made a nice segue from London to Melbourne, having something like this in-between is really helpful, not just to recharge, but also to make the mental adjustment between life in London and now looking forward to life in Melbourne again.We have five days to go here in Singapore before heading off to Melbourne which we will no doubt fill with things to do, as well as more relaxation and swimming at Grandma and Grandpa’s.