Island hopping Malay style
Tioman, Johor and Terengganu, Malaysia, 2008-08-30 12:00 by Martin and Laerke
Malaysia; somehow western tourists have forgotten about this jewel, it might be because of religion or the slightly higher prices, but we love it. The Malays are so relaxed, not in your face all the time. They can seem a bit uninterested compared to the rest of Southeast Asians, but it might be because their whole economy is not pegged on tourist money. As Lily speaks some Indonesian (which is close to Malaysian), it makes it easier and more interesting to travel - though most people do speak fairly good English, so anyone would be able to get around with no problems. We crossed over from Singapore and expected to take a bus north relatively easily – but we were wrong though. Normally it would be no problem, the bus companies even refer you to their competitors if the competitor has a more convenient bus schedule, but there were one slight detail we had missed – it was the dreaded school holiday!!! This means loads of Malay people travelling around the country; which again means filled busses and sold out hotels. So we ended up waiting seven hours in the Johor Bahru bus station, camping out at MC Donalds (they had aircon)! In the end we got the bus to the port for Tioman Island, where we had to stay the night. It wasn’t bad though, as we got some good food there.

On Tioman Island

Tioman Island is nice! Though the main drags are less so – so after some days in one of the more popular beaches, which are easily accessible, we took a boat around the island, to a less developed beach! It was paradise: Relaxing pace, few tourists and therefore a great small community with local flavour and pretty cute tourist accommodation. There wasn’t a lot to do but wander around, follow the headland to the adjoining deserted beach or read a book. We felt creative and build a sandcastle; good fun! But in that process we discovered a snake in the paradise – sandflies! At first you don’t notice, small bites on your back slowly turning red in the evening...then all hell is loose and the itching begins. Luckily we had Tiger Balm which could soothe a little, but still it really itched – much worse than mosquito bites and it didn’t matter if you didn’t scratch! Well, lesson learned: Don’t linger in the sand, if sandflies are near!

The sandcastle

Next stop was further up the east cost of peninsular Malaysia, a small island called Pulau Kapas. Again we were in paradise – the snake here were the last remnants of Malay holiday makers, all sporting red or orange lifejackets, which unfortunately had small whistles attached! Luckily the school holiday ended soon after our arrival and all went quiet. Strolling along the beaches we scaled headlands and bypassed them through the sea, to be met by small bays of secluded beaches all with clear azure waters and pure white sand. Having a private beach wasn’t half bad!

A small bay on Pulau Kapas

The next paragraph is Laerke writing about her birthday:
When I woke up on my birthday, Martin had decorated our little hut with Danish flags and he had picked me a bouquet of beautiful, exotic flowers. He had found the only place on the island where Frangipanis grow – my favourite flower (then my heart melted a little). Later we trekked to a deserted beach we had previously discovered. It was so picturesque, with crystal clear waters, white powdery sand and palm trees hanging over the beach. We swam snorkelled among colourful fish and just lazed the day away. In the evening we had delicious food and had fun playing games with some fellow travellers and one of the bar staff. Before heading to bed, we lay down on the beach and glanced at the clear, starry night sky – a perfect day.