Story by Serina Rahman
Photos by Safira Rahman
For the first time ever the MNS Selangor Branch held what will now be an annual event – Island Fest. In conjunction with World Environment Day, Pulau Tioman hosted this year’s event. Supported by the Tioman Development Authority and Marine Parks, and run entirely by MNS Selangor Branch volunteers (with quite a bit of help and guidance from VJ at MNS HQ), the Island Fest got off to a great start.
Pulau Tioman’s Marine Park grounds served as base camp for all the activities over the weekend. Visited throughout the day by tourists on snorkeling packages and others staying in resorts around Air Batang, this was the ideal place to set up shop. Other travelers and locals on Pulau Tioman made their way to the area either by boat, on foot or by bike to partake in all that we had to offer.
The goal of this year’s Island Fest was to highlight the diversity of Pulau Tioman. Famous worldwide as an internationally acclaimed dive destination, there is actually so much more to the island than what lies beneath its waters. MNS volunteers ran nature walks into the nearby terrain throughout Saturday and on Sunday morning to show visitors that there was a lot more hiding out in the lush greenery of the island than at first meets the eye. These walks were so popular they had to be done in three languages!
On Sunday afternoon, a special trip was organised by Beatle Yap (of MNS Nature Guides) to Juara, the bay on the eastern side of Pulau Tioman. Participants spent the night in Juara and explored a completely different topography – from mangroves to rocky outlets and the turtle hatchery – before trekking back to Kampung Tekek.
Especially popular at this event was the opportunity to try out rock climbing not far from the Marine Park grounds. Run by a local rock climbing expert, Drabi, participants of all ages attempted to scale a large granite boulder. Some made it, some cheated and some stayed suspended on the rock for quite some time before giving up and coming back down. Others went up by a back route and just abseiled down.
Of course the marine aspect of Pulau Tioman could not be ignored completely and other volunteers ran environmentally-friendly snorkeling sessions off the Tekek House Reef – the area that could potentially be destroyed by the planned construction of a marina.
At base camp however, things were alive and kicking – local and holidaying children (and some young-at-heart adults) clamoured to play a ‘fishing game’ (where they had to fish out rubbish and not marine life) and rushed to guess the number of fish in a photograph (two local children won huge Nestle hampers for guessing close to the actual figure). Both young and old queued up to get their faces and other body parts painted as well.
The merchandising volunteers ran a brisk trade and our exhibition material and photograph display by KL Kwang helped to reach out and educate those who stopped by to have a look.
All in all it was a great weekend – and a positive taste of bigger and better things to come… Many many thanks to all the volunteers who put in the hard work and hours to make this a success!