I’ve been staying at the tropical island of Pulau Tioman, 54 km off the eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia since Monday. It takes a three-hour ferry ride from the nearest mainland town, Mersing – so the isolation is pronounced. This is the largest of 64 volcanic islands that make up the Seribuat Archipelago. It has a strong Polynesian feel with loads of hibiscus flowers, steep green peaks and turquoise water. Monkeys are everywhere. In the 1970’s, Time Magazine ranked Tioman as one of the world’s most beautiful islands. Indeed, the Hollywood musical South Pacific was filmed here using the location as the mythical Bali H’ai.
What is great is that the island has not gone the way of Thailand’s unrestricted and unplanned growth. Tioman still retains an intimate, friendly village atmosphere. As is the case everywhere in Malaysia, most of the shopkeepers are Muslim and the women wear modest headscarves. Plenty of diving and snorkeling exists (although the visibility has been limited during my time here). There’s lots of jungle to hike and plenty of unspoiled beach destinations. A real slice of paradise!
My home on Tioman – Bamboo Hill Chalets
Views from within Chalet #5
Of course, lots of monkeys trying to steal whatever you have.