It was a long journey – a long, long journey. Never mind the fact that we spent 8 hours on the road from UTP to the Mersing Jetty in Johore, we spent another 2 hours in the ferry just to get off the wrong stop, whereby we had to wait another 2 hours to hitch another ferry ride (extra RM20 gone) to get to our destination: Tekek Village, Pulau Tioman.
Click here for photos from our island escapade.
Tekek Village is, as its name conveys, a village. If you have been to places like Pulau Redang before this (like me), you may be expecting a straightforward beach-resort layout upon arrival at the jetty. This is not the case with Tekek. The moment you arrive, you will be greeted with a rather modern-looking arrival/departure hall and dusty tar roads. Occasionally you will cross a wooden bridge or two (which I like very much as compared to all the concrete) and you will notice developments happening in the village (when we were there they were building a new school).
I’m not saying that there isn’t a beach-resort layout at all – but it only caters for certain resorts along the beach area, including diving centers. We didn’t manage to stay at that side of the village because it was the school holidays so most of the nice sea-view resorts were already fully booked. People there are generally friendly, and majority are made up of foreigners. You’ll see plenty of kids running around, and people on motorcycles without helmets (and sometimes without headlamps). It can get rather humid on the island, so best to leave your pair of jeans and thick clothing at home.
Oh yeah, Tioman has gigantic mozzies buzzing around at night, so be equipped with some repellant or long pants. One of the best options would be opting for an air-conditioned room in the resort you’re staying.
Transportation-wise, it’s a rather small village so you can basically get around by foot. If you want to travel further, then you can rent bicycles and motorcycles from the resort that you’re staying in. Of course, if you have the extra moolah and you’re staying in the more posh Berjaya Resorts, they will provide their own shuttle service for their guests.
Wi-fi is easily available in resorts and chalets. We stayed at Cheers Chalet, and internet was free – you’ll have to get the password from the people running the place though. Otherwise, they also have mini cyber cafes for you to reconnect to the outside world and make your getaway absolutely redundant.
As for ATMs and banks, there’s one in the village (or at least that’s the only one we managed to find), which is Bank Simpanan. Better than none, right?
Since it’s an island surrounded by crystal blue waters, it’s only sensible to provide snorkeling gear at every nook and corner. Yes, you can rent those from every resort as well. They can also help you arrange boat rides to different snorkeling spots at your own leisure.
It’s an island bursting with tourists, what else can we say? Food is expensive and only so-so. Even the Chinese seafood restaurant that we went to just a few shops away from our chalet was not impressive. Don’t expect much from this department.
But yes, there was one thing that stood out among the rest – the little grilling booth next (note: NEXT to, there’s another one in the restaurant itself but that one is overpriced and over-grilled) to Sarang Restaurant – grilled seafood that melt in your mouth for reasonable prices. Even as I type this and recall our grilled squid, I’m already salivating.
Pulau Tioman is a liquor and beer haven for alcohol fans, thanks to its various duty-free shops situated at every nook and corner of the island. Yes, that includes imported chocolates as well.
Waters and Sands
Coming from the West of Peninsular Malaysia, I rarely get to see clear waters along our coasts. My first encounter with the East Coast beauty was in Pulau Redang and I was greatly in awe of its crystal clear waters and fine, white sand. And Pulau Tioman does not disappoint either. In fact, at some areas, the water was even bluer than Redang’s! The seas are teeming with life, and you can see them just by glancing from above. Needless to say, it’s even more spectacular if you’re snorkeling or diving. I won’t bore you with wordy descriptions of Nature, just see it for yourself from the photos above.
We had some troubles adapting to the busy village lifestyle and humid environment on the first day, also probably because we were too tired from all the long drive, and the waiting and transit due to our own carelessness. But come Day 2, we fell in love with the island and its crazily clear blue sea. The boys went crazy with the alcohol, and we got some chocolates back to share as well. I wish there wasn’t so much development happening, but yeah, I suppose those kids need a school to go to. If I were to go back there one day, I’ll want to stay somewhere with a sea view for the more island-like feel. Tekek Village has its own charm and I found myself growing fonder of it (was quite reluctant to leave!) each passing day.
All in all, it was a great getaway with good company – and we miss the grilled squid terribly.