Tioman – A Trip to Remember

Story by Malini Madiyazhagan
Photos by Khor Hui Min and Gary Phong

The Rafflesia on a vine, hanging in mid air, which we were fortunate enough to see on Tioman by Khor Hui Min

We were fortunate to see this Rafflesia – Khor Hui Min

I do not think 500 words will be enough to describe to you the adventures I experienced on this 4-day 3-nights trip (11-14 April 2009) to Pulau Tioman. What enticed me at first was the desperate need for a getaway in order to temporarily remove myself from the daily routine of work, work and more work. I chanced upon Hui Min’s invite for this trip – the phrase “promising an unforgettable experience for naturalists and city slickers alike” enticed me and I signed up straight away.

The trip began on a Friday night by bus en route to Mersing. The journey (all 10 hours or so in total) to Tioman was long but anticipated. We had to take a ferry ride from Mersing to Tioman Island, and then a 4-wheel drive ride from our stop at Tekek to Juara, on the other side of the island . It was the 4-wheel drive OR a 3-hour trek to Juara. Obviously, the decision was unanimous for the former. Thank goodness, as we had to conserve our energy for what was coming next!

Our activities for the next few days ranged from sea adventures to land adventures. The afternoon of our arrival, we received a complimentary crash course by our very own Wee Liem on snorkelling. I had never snorkelled before the trip, and Wee Liem’s do’s and don’ts were much appreciated. All were on board for the test snorkelling in the water that afternoon, and I speak for everyone on the trip when I say we could not get enough of it! The underwater world is one that is truly magical. While we were busy learning snorkeling, Hui Min, Lee Sah, Wong, Yong and Haryati went to Tekek School for the annual Marine SIG Kelab Pencinta Alam programme there. The kids truly enjoyed the entertaining talk on birdwatching by Haryati, besides the poster-drawing competition, tea break and beach cleanup.

The most exciting game of scrabble, or vocable, ever by Khor Hui Min

Most exciting game of scrabble or vocable ever – Khor Hui Min

Some of us spent our first night on the island night-trekking in search of mousedeer. I believe this was the most talked about activity on the whole trip, and one to never forget about. The trek began at the resort, where we had to climb 4 (very steep) hills to an entrance in the forest. This trek lasted close to 2 hours. Then we began our 1.5 hour journey into the forest with 5 very able guides in search of mousedeer. We must have been a very lucky lot as we managed to see many other animals besides the mousedeer – from snakes and forest rats, to a chameleon and semut api (fire ants), which we painfully could not avoid. The only thing which we anticipated to find, but thankfully did not have to encounter were the leeches. But we were prepared in advance with our leech socks pulled up high and tucked into our dependable adidas kampung shoes. (Thank you Gary on your insight on this!) The trek left us thinner and exhausted, but very satisfied with ourselves. One accomplishment in this lifetime accounted for!

The second day was an all-day snorkelling agenda. We started the day with a beach cleanup and duty free shopping at Tekek, after which we hopped from the marine park to coral island, despite a gloomy rainy day, and braved the drizzle by swimming amongst the corals and fish in the sea. Our night activities were pleasantly memorable – 30 people dominating a beach front hall with lots of booze and board games at hand – I shall leave the rest to your imagination due to my word limit constraint.

The third day heralded a trek to a waterfall in Kampung Asah and the much awaited Rafflesia walk. This final trek in search of the Rafflesia was easy in comparison to the night trek on the first day. Our advantage was that we had daylight and a 4-wheel drive to take us to the entrance into the forest! We ended our final night at Juara with a BBQ and karaoke session. A perfect conclusion to a memorable adventure.

The final day of the holiday was spent mostly travelling back to the mainland. By this time, I had made 29 new friends, learnt more about the sea and land and couldn’t wait for the next MNS getaway! Tioman, to me, was truly a trip to remember.

Our group of 30 enthusiastic and friendly people by Gary Phong

Thirty enthusiastic and friendly people – Gary Phong