22 Feb - 10 Mar 2013 Pulau Tioman

Southeast Asia
Flawed-Democratic Federation of Malaysia
Pahang Darul Makmur
Pulau Tioman
Kampung Salang
Ella’s Place +6094195004
Basic but adequate and spacious double-bed beach cabin with fan, private bathroom and veranda in top location: just 10 m from the waterline of the emerald blue South China Sea, clean sandy beach under coconut palm trees and unobstructed sea views (a Chagos-like paradise) for only MYR 37.- or US$ 12.- per night; but no wifi.
Basically friendly but rather indifferent, thick-skinned Malay staff.
Beer: 330/355-ml cans of tax-free, just cold enough Asahi, Budweiser, Carlsberg, Heineken and Tiger (all with 5 % alc./vol.) for MYR 4.- or US$ 1.30 per can in the kampung's grossly overpriced duty-free shop.

Click below for an interactive road map of Ella's Place in Kampung Salang, which we would recommend, and for directions:

Being heartily greeted and bear-hugged by good old friend and reliable dive buddy Azmi and his son Ezzaq, both from Azmi Dive Centre +60133882438, later exploring Kampung Salang, a rugged fishing village with beaches of white sand where holiday-makers in budget cabins/chalets/resorts have become the profitable catch of the day (visitors usually outnumber villagers) and discovering the best fish BBQ at the Mini White House CafĂ© (sizeable trevallies, tunas and groupers for plus/minus MYR 15.- or US$ 5.- per fish, grilled to perfection in banana leaves over a fire of coconut shells, served with steamed rice for MYR 2.- per helping and all kind of deliciously cooked local veggies for MYR 5.- per plate).

Lazing away the day under coconut trees, relaxing on the porch of our prime-location beach cabin, only 10 m from the still rough South China Sea (no need for air-con), sipping tax-free G&Ts whilst listening to Amy Winehouse’s Rehab and reading the usual page turners about our only life (e.g. Wilbur Smith, James Clavell, John Grisham), spotting interesting guests who arrived at our digs by air (e.g. the infamous Tioman fruit bats [Pteropus hypomelanus], which rest in the palm trees on the beach), over land (e.g. wanton long-tailed macaques [Macaca fascicularis] which loot the trash cans for French fries) and by sea (e.g. a large green sea turtle [Chelonia mydas] which came ashore during the small hours to lay about 140 eggs into the sand next to our cabin and which will probably never learn that the villagers immediately afterwards emptied out its nest), and watching the sun set behind the monsoonal clouds of the equatorial horizon, straight ahead of us (…thus calling it “another tough day in Southeast Asia”).

DM Konni: Exploring together with PADI MSDT Azmi, PADI Instructor Ezzaq and PADI DM Sonia from Azmi Dive Centre +60133882438 azmi_dive@hotmail.com the most exciting dive spots off Kampung Salang, a perfect u/w playground for both beginners and advanced divers with Azmi Dive Centre being a perfectly safe and cost-effective dive base for divers of all ages, from the East as well as from the West.

DM Konni: Teaming up with dive buddy and fellow u/w photographer Azmi, experimenting with her new external u/w flash Ikelite AF 35 (flooding a Canon PowerShot S100 in doing so) and checking out the shallow coral gardens, rocky points and deeper seascapes off Kampung Salang for attractive and colourful u/w models, both small and large; many thanks, Azmi, for being such a great and resourceful dive buddy and good friend!

DM Konni: Scubadiving leisurely the warm waters of the South China Sea in the vicinity of Coral Island and falling in love with two particularly beautiful dive sites: (i) unspoilt Fan Canyon, depth 10 – 30 m, with fragile gorgonian fan corals and plenty of colourful soft coral, and (ii) fishful Batu Malang, depth 6 – 18 m, with blue-spotted stingrays (Neotrygon kuhlii), lionfish (Pterois andover) and various sea turtles.

Meeting Grahame, the Dive Guru of Tioman Island, an experienced PADI Master Instructor who has been freelancing with a diversity of dive shops in Kampung Salang and Kuala Lumpur for over ten years, one of Malaysia’s first digital u/w photographers and book authors, and exchanging information about our mutual passion for attractive models, both u/w and top side.

Matt: Hiking along the island’s northwest coast (following the power lines overhead through the rather dense coastal jungle, no guide necessary, no leeches) from Kampung Salang via Monkey Bay/Beach (1 hour) and Kampung Air Batang (2 ¼ hours) to Kampung Tekek (exactly 3 hours from Ella’s Place at Salang to Tioman Airport), passing impressive rainforest trees (huge dipterocarps with high buttress roots as well as pulai trees, sea-apple trees and ficus trees), avoiding fierce four-legged and two-legged predators such as water monitors (Varanus salvator) and smexy brides (Homo sapiens), spotting playful black giant squirrels (Ratufa bicolor) and being spotted by foraging long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), thereafter replenishing at  the well-stocked Chinese duty-free supermarket Vision Commerce at Kampung Tekek  (330-ml cans of Chang Classic Beer for MYR 2.10 per can, 1-litre bottles of genuine King Robert Scotch for MYR 32.- per bottle and 1-litre bottles of original Gordon’s London Dry Gin for MYR 35.- per bottle) and, eventually, hitching a ride back to Kampung Salang on cargo coaster “Asia Kargo II” for the nominal bribe of just MYR 20.- (no passengers permitted, according to Tekek’s speedboat mafia which charges outlandish prices for even the shortest trips).

Taking uneventfully the speed ferry “Bistari 1” (Bluewater Express, +6077994811) from Kampung Salang to Mersing (c. 30 nm, 2 ½ hours, MYR 35.- or US$ 11.30 per person), thereafter the Transnasional express coach from Mersing back to Kuala Lumpur’s South Integrated Terminal aka Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (350 km, 5 ½ hours, MYR 22.40 or US$ 7.20 per senior citizen), and eventually the KTM Komuter train to KL Sentral (MYR 1.- per person).

"Witness the man who raves at the wall
Making the shape of his questions to Heaven
Whether the sun will fall in the evening
Will he remember the lesson of giving?

Set the controls for the heart of the sun.
The heart of the sun, the heart of the sun.
(Qu Yuan

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

Recommended gear – click below for your Amazon order from Germany:

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From the 2013 Moral Travel Compass for Our Grand Children's Journey of Life:
It’s bad to throw away;
It’s good to recycle.
Keep your bearings!