Thanksgiving had a double meaning for us this year, as it was our first break from teaching since the September 29th excursion to the Banyan Tree. Although it was the monsoon season, we decided to chance the weather and headed to the Island of Tioman, an Island off the eastern coast of Malaysia. Tioman's main attractions are diving and golf, two activities the frequent rain and rough seas severely curtail. Our intentions were quite different, rest and relaxation. We picked the only true resort on the island, the Berjaya Tioman resort, and set out on our "R & R " quest.
We began our trip at the tiny Seletar airport, located on the north central coast of the island of Singapore. It is a tiny commuter airstrip. As we boarded the pride the Berjaya fleet, a two prop plane, I was dismayed but not surprised to see an autographed picture reading "Best of luck to Berjaya Air--Wilbur and Orville." We bravely boarded for the 40 minute flight. Flying in to Tioman resembles the approach to the Costa Rican Island in Jurassic Park. We banked sharply as we approached the island, close enough to the trees to wave to the monkeys. This barnstorming manuever was followed by a rapid descent and a quick stop on one of the world's shorter runways.
We were met at the airport by the Berjaya Resort Jeep and escorted to the reception area, a large chalet-styled structure with an enormous veranda. As you can see from the picture at the right, Tioman is largely a rainforest that extends almost to the coast. From there we were driven to our chalet.
The chalets were four unit affairs, facing the beach which was about 50 meters ahead. Each chalet consisted of a room large enough to accommodate a king size bed, a dining table and a small living room set. Since this was the off season (the ferry from Singapore stops operations November 1st due to rough seas), we were able to secure the deluxe chalet for about 320 ringgitt (85 dollars a night).
The beach is immediately in front of the chalets, and Tracy wasted no time slipping into "Asian mode," grabbing a good book and heading for the warmth and tranquility of the beach. The beaches are Tioman are rather narrow, but ring the entire island. Our reward for braving the monsoon was a nearly deserted beach, and an empty string of chalets. It was a peaceful retreat!
Although we went to Tioman simply to relax at the beaches and dine on seafood, there are a myriad of things to do there. The pool area, shown to the the left, is next to a large open air restaraunt. The picture to the left shows the scenic golf course, sandwiched as it is between the beach and the rainforest. The resort also offers bike rental for touring the island, sailing and jetskis, fishing trips, horseback and burro riding, snorkeling and diving trips to nearby islands, as well as treks through the rain forest. It would be hard to be bored here!
Our final night we dined at the Chinese restaurant that was located near inside the visitor's center. Fearing that Malaysia might be oversupplied with seafood, driving down prices and leaving villagers homeless, we plunged into calamari and springroll appetizers, followed by sizzling shrimp and grilled sea bass. And since nothing succeeds like excess, we topped the meal off with toffee bananas. Following this sumptous meal, we retired to the Karoake room. One of the highlights of the evening was Tracy singing a duet with the house singer on Lionel Ritchie's "Endless Love." All in a night's work. Guess we better head home and recover!
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