Tioman Island 2
The day dawns cloudy and windy. The temperature has mercifully dropped markedly and it is more conducive to outdoor activity. We go for a walk along inside the resort itself. The grounds are pretty, sandwiched as they are between the beach and the ocean and the hills. A golf course is laid out just below the mountain and some golfers are out taking full advantage of the cool weather. The clouds are, however, dark, pregnant with the promise of rain.
We wait near the gate for our transport. Here there is a tiny stream which carries the rain water down from the hills to the sea. A battered wooden bridge spans it. And just below it is a colony of water monitors. We count one, two, three, and finally six of these magnificent creatures in the water; one of them crunches a fish it has caught. Life must be easy for them in these fecund waters.
We go to the jetty at Tekek, where we board the speedboat which will be our companion for the day.
It is small, but the outboard motor is powerful and we cut through the bay easily, turning towards the Berjaya Resort and then onwards to circle the island. As we pass beyond the resort, the island appears uninhabited, the forests reaching down to the sea, with occasional strips of sandy beaches. It is easy to imagine what the Chinese seamen had seen centuries ago when they sailed past. After about 30 minutes of everchanging landscapes and the now dark sea, we dock at a jetty which seems to end in the jungle. Our laconic boatman gestures at the land. “Waterfall” he says. This place has the best view of the dragon’s horns which are the trademark of Tioman Island. The waters around the jetty abound with fish: multicoloured and numerous. The jungle starts as soon as the beach ends, a concrete path has been laid out for the convenience of tourists. We climb steadily adjacent a river that trips its way down to the sea. A rustling attracts our attention. A monkey swings past; as it disappears we notice a squirrel, a giant squirrel. It does not fit the description of either the black or the red giant squirrel. For the moment it must stay unidentified. As we plunge deeper into the jungle, the sound of water intensifies and we are at the waterfall. It is a beauty, cool water rushing down a fifteen foot drop, forming a beautiful pool at the bottom. I cannot resist the temptation to dive into it. It is cold; the water raises goose pimples on my skin. But it leaves an exhilarating feeling.
We can hear thunder; we reluctantly abandon the swimming pool in the jungle to return to the bay. We start out to the Juara Village, the rain starts as we roar over the waters, first small drops then larger ones which seem to pierce us as we sit huddled under the inadequate canopy of the boat. But the feeling is unique. The trees are shaking in the wind, the bamboo stems are bent to the ground. We can see a huge dark cloud not too far away. It is obvious that a fairly severe storm is moving our way. It is touch and go. We reach Juara just before the rain does. We repair to a local restaurant to have lunch.
It rains in buckets. First the distant coast disappears from view, then the jetty and finally we cannot even see the beach which is but metres away. The rain is a roar on the tiles of the restaurant we are sitting in. Several of the locals crowd in as well, as they chat and await the end of the shower. Visibility is zero. All we can see is a solid curtain of rain. Rivulets appear around the slightly raised foundations of the building where we shelter. Suddenly, the rain stops. The water drains off in a jiffy and the greenery looks even greener.
We take off again in our boat this time to Monkey bay. There is beach here, but we tie the boat to a floating buoy about 200 metres from the shore and plunge into the sea to snorkel once more. The waters here are even more crowded with fish. For the first time in my life I have fish all around me when I swim. They touch me as they swim, it is ticklish, but fortunately these fish are not the biting type.
It is difficult to stop this heavenly fun, but stop we must and then we push on to the Marine Park. Our circle of the island is almost complete and we can see our chalets in the distance. Here there are larger fish, less colorful, but even so very attractive. There is a bit of a crowd here, splashing all over the water, sometimes frightening the fish away. We lose track of time, but suddenly as we surface we notice that the storm clouds are almost upon us. The ocean has turned an ominous dark colour and white topped waves warn of a storm to come. The boatman is apprehensive. He calls his office and after a quick conference it is decided that we should not brave the waters anymore but complete our journey by road. A car is sent to fetch us and we return to our hotel, tired, hungry, but fully satisfied.
The rain continues all evening; however it stops conveniently at dinner time. We troop off to a seafood restaurant just outside the resort premises. Heavenly prawns, fried rice and an ice cream cost us peanuts, but fill us with a sensation of peaceful satisfaction.
We have a flight to catch next morning. We spend the morning lazing on the beach. My wife and daughter go swimming but I have had my fill. I read, enjoying the fitful breeze which is coming off the sea. It is warm again today, yesterday’s storm may never have been. The flight is on time, we are in Subang by 2 PM and back home early enough to beat the office time traffic.