in Malaysia/ThailandComments Off on Tioman


The work all completed and our land travel done we set out again from Singapore, eager to be back cruising.

Our intention was to go up the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia and into the Gulf of Thailand to Ko Samui, then across the South China Sea to North Borneo.
We stopped first in at Sebana Cove, a marina just over the strait from Singapore, up a mangrove lined estuary in order to clear into Malaysia once more.
Sebana is another of those resort/golf/marina developments built in the boom days before the Asian sharemarket crash, it continues, but barely survives financially.
For a yacht it’s a pleasant place to hang out, or to leave the boat as it is safe, clean and cheap, but there are no facilities for doing boat work of any sort. It does however have ferry service to Singapore with several sailings a day. They go to Tanah Merah, a short taxi ride from the MRT and Changi airport -a real plus!
From Sebana we turned left up the east coast towards Tioman, there was very little wind for sailing,but we were delighted with what we found up there.
Unlike the Straits of Melaka, the water was clean, there were little islands with nice anchorages, jungle covered, golden sand beaches and rocky shores. We had given up hope of finding cruising like this in Asia!


The islands are largely unpopulated, and also unlike Melaka straits there were few fisherman about, so not too many fishing nets and buoys to avoid, just the odd fish-farm serviced from the mainland.


After island-hopping for several days we came to Tioman, we had arrived in paradise! Our plans for a quick trip through and on to Ko Samui went on hold.
Tioman is the largest island of the Tioman archipelago and is the most developed, it is a major tourist attraction, but at a very slow pace.


It is jungle covered and hilly, with nice golden beaches, rocky points, coral reefs and pristine clear water.
People come to it by mainland ferry or to the small airport, there is a small town and a string of low-key resorts on the western side, on the east is another collection of small resorts, between them is a jungle walking track, -and a road only just being developed.
There are few vehicles on the island, but a lot of motorcycles, there are only a few kilometres of available road. Walking or boat is the best means of transport.
It is a relaxed way of life and nothing happens quickly, -or maybe not at all. It is predominantly Muslim, so there are few dogs, (good!) but alcohol is freely available as, like Langlawi it is a duty-free port. Even the Muslim restaurant owners are relaxed enough in their attitudes for some to allow BYO.
Although there is a large, busy Perjaya Resort and Timeshare, (they also own the airline), most of the resorts are small, sparsely occupied and apparently are able to survive that way, nobody seems concerned.


There are tracks through the jungle linking most of the resorts




making for good walking along pretty trails through rain forest and gardens.




The track over the hill is a proper jungle trail alongside a stream, there is plenty of bird and animal life, -many little pieces of nature of interest… (?)







though some, like this nest of 100mm long millipedes less attractive than others!
There are fresh running streams and waterfalls all over the island


and an abundance of water-monitor lizards


this being a small one, just half a metre long, but clearly they have no predators and there must be plenty of food for them; some grow to the size where they can be mistaken for 2-3 metre crocodiles in the streams.


We were at Tioman for Malaysia’s Independence day celebrations, and this being the 50th, it was a very special event. The small population got into the spirit of the occasion at an outdoor venue immediately alongside the marina, with many long speeches, concert and talent quest over 2 days.


The people decorated their motorcycles (and children their bikes) .


The whole town was closed, the pace of life moved one gear even slower…

We enjoyed Tioman greatly, -we were in the small marina there for a few days before moving out onto moorings, (they are provided by the National Park in the interest of preserving the coral). We could have stayed there a lot longer, but as it was we had deferred our trip to Ko Samui until another time in the interest of getting to North Borneo, we reluctantly left.

Our trip to Sarawak took about 3 days, we had enough wind to sail about half of the time which was rather better than some friends had fared, who had to motor for the whole distance.


It was generally hot and uneventful, although crossing the main shipping lane to the Singapore Strait at about midnight was interesting and kept us both very alert. It is like crossing a busy road with headlights coming at you from both sides, -and you’re moving at a snail’s pace!
We were pleased that the weather and visibility stayed good.
Once across that obstacle there was much less traffic, we sailed between the Anambas and other islands of the Indonesian archipelago, unfortunately, were not legally allowed to land there and it doesn’t pay to take liberties dealing with Indonesian authorities…

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