There were only two ferry trips from Mersing (read here) to Tioman Island on Malaysia Day (16th September) – 7am and 11:30am. The reason, apparently, is because unfavourable tidal range at certain times causes the river mouth to be too shallow for ferries to leave the jetty. Bluewater Express is the only ferry service from Mersing to Tioman Island, which we’d purchased through the internet for RM70 for a roundtrip (Tip: it is advisable to purchase online to avoid any disappointment at the counter once the tickets are sold out).
As we wanted to spend more time in Tioman, we took the 7am ferry to Tioman and returned on the 8am ferry (another ferry was at 6:30am) the following day. The entire check-in process was frustrating, whereby we were required to collect our official tickets at the jetty at 5am. Then, proceed to another counter to get our boarding passes and subsequently, two other counters to remit taxes for the national and marine parks (RM5 each). Imagine the headache of lining up all over again at 4 different counters, which explains the 2-hour check-in duration. In short, the system in place leaves a lot to be desired.
It started raining heavily the moment we boarded the ferry, but it still departed on time. The journey to Tioman would take another two hours. The first stop in Tioman would be Kampung Genting, followed by Kampung Paya, Kampung Tekek, Kampung Ayer Batang and Kampung Salang. It is interesting to note that none of these kampungs or villages are connected by road, hence the many ferry stops. So, be doubly sure of your hotel’s location unless you want to end up in the wrong kampung and pay extra for a private boat to send you to the right kampung.
Hubby got us a superior chalet at Berjaya Tioman Resort via Agoda for RM479.93 inclusive of taxes. As such, we disembarked at Kampung Tekek, where the resort bus was already waiting for us. Kampung Tekek is, in fact, the largest village and functions as the “capital” of Tioman.
Fortunate for us, we were allowed to check-in as soon as we arrived and that was just about 9:45am. I suppose some guests would have already left by then (last ferry out was at 8am). At that time, we were extremely hungry and since we were going to leave very early the next morning, we negotiated for our breakfast to be changed to that same day. Having done that successfully, we only had half an hour left before breakfast ended.
The sun was almost at its zenith when we finished gulping down our food, so we decided to take a nap before venturing out to begin our adventure on this island. It was almost 3pm when we went out again. The compound on which Berjaya Tioman Resort occupies is sprawling (a paradise of its own), thus making it somewhat tedious to walk around, not to mention walking out to Kampung Tekek “town”. In fact, you can just spend your entire time within its compound that’s equipped with all sorts of facilities – swimming pool, tennis court, 18-hole golf course, games room, spa, pub, etc; if you’re just in Tioman to unwind.
We had initially planned to go to Kampung Juara that’s situated 7km away on the east coast of Tioman – facing South China Sea. To do that, we had to traverse the hills and thick forest in the middle of the island. It shouldn’t be a daunting task considering there’s now a new concrete road connecting Kampung Tekek and Kampung Juara. The resort offered to rent us a bicycle for RM20 per hour, which we figured would eventually amount to a lot of money as it would probably take us 3-4 hours to complete this adventure.
Another viable option would be to rent a motorcycle, in which case we were offered RM70 for a whole day with free petrol – that’s what we settled for. There was no need for a license and we needed not even wear helmets when riding in Tioman. If you’re staying in Berjaya Tioman Resort, there’s a “Transports Counter” right in front of the main entrance to the resort. They also offer taxi services if you prefer to be driven around.
The last hubby rode a motorcycle was 6 years ago when we went around in Pangkor Island. Mind you, he doesn’t own a motorcycle license though he knows how to ride. After a lapse of that many years, I was definitely skeptical on riding pillion this time. However, I finally gave in after being convinced that there wasn’t another cheaper and more efficient mode of transportation to Kampung Juara. After several hiccups at the beginning, hubby eventually managed to “perfect” his riding skill. We rode all the way up till the summit of a hill, going through certain sections with a 40-45° incline. Thereafter, it was a downward drift towards Kampung Juara. Right before arriving, we passed by a mouse-deer farm but it was closed. The entire journey to Kampung Juara took us approximately 40 minutes.
We spent another hour riding along Juara beach and stopping at various chalets, while enjoying the scenic view of South China Sea. 1511 Coconut Grove was where we wanted to stay initially had we had 2 days in Tioman, but since that wasn’t possible, we had to shelve that plan. In my opinion, it’s probably the best chalet in Kampung Juara.
Further south on that same road is Juara Turtle Project, if you’re particularly interested in turtle conservancy. There’s also a jetty which was the only way out of Kampung Juara before the concrete road was completed. Despite being pretty secluded, this kampung still manages to offer a variety of accommodations and foods.
From Kampung Juara, we rode back to Kampung Tekek and went for a joyride in its quaint “town”. There is just one main road in Kampung Tekek, through which vehicles ply north and south. Along it, we passed through several eateries, chalets, dive centres and at least 3 duty-free shops. Despite its small size, this “town” is not lacking in all the necessary amenities such as a clinic, police station, school, bank and airport. Yes, you didn’t read wrongly! Tioman has its own airport and if you’d like to fly into the island from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah (Subang) Airport, you can book your tickets via SASair. To my knowledge, this is the only airline that still flies regularly into Tioman (Berjaya Air only provides charter flights).
At the northernmost end of the road is located the Taman Laut Tioman (Tioman Marine Park), opposite which is an enclosed lagoon where people are allowed to swim and snorkel freely. What impressed me most was the clarity of the water here. You can see all sorts of fishes swimming, right to the seabed, even from atop the jetty.
Nearby is GoDeeper Tioman Chalet which captivated our attention, so much so that we were tempted to have tea at its cafeteria. Each of its room is uniquely made out of huge concrete culverts stacked one above another. Hmm, we should’ve booked this place instead.
We then proceeded to Vision Commerce duty-free shop to check out its merchandise. Hubby wanted to purchase a 5-litre box of red wine, but we left that shop empty-handed as each person is only allowed a maximum of 1 litre. The sun was about to set by then, so we quickly rode to a nearby vantage point that granted us the most spectacular view of the sunset. After spending some time admiring the beauty of God’s creation, we proceeded back to our resort and spend some time sauntering along the beach.
When the sun had gone below the horizon, we got ready for dinner and ventured out on the motorcycle again. We were torn between two adjacent restaurants – Sarang Seafood Village and Warong Syahirah, both of which have pretty good reviews. With such a dilemma, we had light dinner at the former and had grilled squids at the latter. The food at Sarang Seafood Village was just too pricey for its average taste. Warong Syahirah on the other hand, was more reasonable in price for its superb taste and its cook was even nicknamed “barbecue king”. I’d highly recommend Warong Syahirah!
It was indeed a tiring day for both of us (woke up at 4am in Mersing) and we retired to bed early that night. We had to be at the jetty by 7am the next morning for our ferry, which departed at 8am. We’ll definitely be back again some time in the future, perhaps staying at Japamala Resort by Samadhi or Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort that time.
Well, there were a few things that most people would do in Tioman, but we didn’t – snorkelling and diving. Tioman, just like any other islands in the east coast of Malaysia, is the perfect place for these activities, but unfortunately I can’t swim. Hopefully one day I’d be able to muster the courage to do them.
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