Chasing Memory

I was in the Philippines for the entirety of September 2015, returning at the end of the month. One of the driving factors that compelled me to want to visit this astounding nation was the lure of the islands and the ocean. This post isn’t about the Philippines, though. It’s about Tioman Island, Malaysia and how this exotic little dot in the South China Sea created that lust for placid, breathtaking, turquoise water that I crave to this day.

I had a need to try to recreate something from memory that, regardless of how hard I tried, even in the near-unlimited oceanic options in the Philippines, was simply impossible to do. Thus, Tioman, for the time being, resides in my mind as the ultimate island getaway, with spanning, empty beaches, pristine waters, superb seafood, some of the best snorkelling the planet has to offer, and a sense of peacefulness that is hard to match, to say the least.

I’m sure having Teresa, Desiree, and Mary there as well greatly added to that essence. Despite some of the questioning looks from our sisters at the guesthouses we chose to stay at, or some of the food we decided to eat, our thoughts on Tioman were unanimous: paradise at its finest. All four of us clicked on that concept.

We took an overnighter from Butterworth to Mersing, which rests on the opposite end of Peninsular Malaysia. I’m sure we passed through Kuala Lumpur again, but we were all fast asleep on the nice double-decker bus we rode through the night. Mersing didn’t seem like it had much to offer us, but that was fine. We walked for about half an hour before we came to the port where a large ship would take us across the sea to the west side of the island.

There are numerous ports on Tioman and the ship tends to stop at several along the way. Our desired destination was on the opposite side of the island, facing out towards the open sea, a little village called Juara. We landed at Genting then negotiated with a 4X4 driver to take us across the rugged, jungle terrain to the other side. It took about half an hour to forty five minutes and wasn’t too expensive considering that we all pitched in for it. There is only one road going through the centre and the surroundings are lush and beautiful.

When we made it to Juara, we jumped off of the 4X4 with our backpacks and walked up and down the single dirt road in search of a place to stay. We made it to the very northern part of the village and worked our way down, finally settling on the very last place we found, a cluster of huts whose insides were nearly brand new, very clean and very spacious. All of our options were right on the beach. It was just great; we had everything we needed within a two minute walking distance from fresh seafood, a sparkling ocean to swim in with a dock anchored about a hundred metres out, and a clean white sand beach. Paradise at last.

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Tioman was a standard-setter, a place that holds a firm grasp on my emotions and has created some of the most defining moments in my memory. Any attempt to match the feeling that it gives me is likely a futile one, and that’s quite alright. It’s an additional motivating factor (as though I need another) to continue to explore this Earth in search of places that bring me peace and happiness. Strolling down a clean, deserted beach is as good a place as any to plant the necessary seeds for this and I’ll probably always continue to chase the memory that this beautiful tropical getaway has thankfully brought me. Wait till I tell you about the next few days here…

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