In the previous article I visited the historic town of Melaka, which you can read about here. From Melaka my next destination was to be the East Coast Island: Palau Tioman. To get to Tioman I needed to cut across the peninsular, and the best way to do that was to catch a bus to the coastal town of Mersing, and then to catch a ferry from Mersing to Tioman itself. This article describes that journey.
I spent my final afternoon in the provincial city of Melaka, enjoying an ice-cold juice to take away some of the heat of the day. Some fellow travellers and I would be making the journey to Tioman together. We checked out of our hostel, and made our way through the historic town towards a small bus station called Jalan Kubu. This bus stop was suggested to us by a local as all buses bound for the Melaka Sentral must pass here, therefore you don’t need to wait too long for a bus. Almost exactly twenty minutes after we arrived, a bus rolled up. We paid the fair price of RM1.50 for a ticket, and climbed onboard.
Soon enough we are pulling in to Melaka Sentral, the major station in the town which hosts busses from all the corners of the country. We wondered through the large station, looking for the S&S booth, for they had the next bus bound for Mersing, our destination for the day. We bought a ticket for RM25 and made our way to the platform. The bus was already there, so we climbed onboard and sat in our designated seats.
The bus took five hours to cut from the west coast of the peninsular to the east. We travelled through the afternoon, evening, and well in to the night. The bus made pretty good time, only stopping twice for cigarette breaks. The driver, a young man of twenty years, spent most of his time on the bus talking away in to his mobile phone, a common occurrence when travelling on buses in Asia.
Before long the bus arrived at Mersing’s main station. Mersing is a a small city known for being the gateway to Tioman island. We arrived at 11pm and the first order of our arrival was a meal so we found a local restaurant where we both had “Local Fried Noodles” with a side of chicken skewers. After our meal we wondered the streets until we found a hotel that was still open, where we checked in to a room with two beds for 55 ringgit.
The following morning we woke up bright and early, to catch the first ferry of the day at 10am. After checking out we walked through the town to buy our ferry tickets, stopping once to buy some pastries on the way. The ticket vender was easy enough to find, but on the way out a man stopped us and says we need a permit to visit the island. The situation seemed sketchy because of the way the man was lurking at the front of the building, waiting for us to come out. Yet, we paid the bill anyway. Later we learned that it is completely unnecessary, which would have saved us RM30. The ticket for the ferry itself was RM35. From the ticket vender we continued on our way to the ferry, just a short five minute walk away. Here we were greeted with a long line of at least one hundred people. Standing in the queue we hear a guide tell his group that they need to convert their ticket in to a boarding pass at yet another booth. Confused, we do same, paying yet another RM21.20, bringing our total bill almost up to RM90. This is very expensive, at almost AUD30 for the trip out to the island. Again, later we learned that neither this fee nor the national park entrance fee was necessary. It’s a shame that these people are here ripping off both foreigners and their own countrymen.
The ferry was close to an hour late once, so we eagerly board once it arrived. We moved in to our allocated seats and settled down for the ride. The boat took about two and a half hours to reach our destination, Air Batang, or more commonly known as ABC. It was a lovely trip out two the island, riding on the perfect blue South China Sea, cutting through clusters of islands. It was a bright and sunny trip, yet pleasant, spending some time out on the deck, and some time inside reading a book.
We arrived at ABC at around 2pm. It had grown to become an absolutely spectacular day with crystal clear and mirror like water we could see the coral on the bottom of the ocean with amazing clarity. We also had clear blue skies, lined with long, whispy clouds and of course the island itself was a beautiful thing to behold, for it is amazingly pristine and undeveloped. A thought passed through my mind that I could spend quite a lot of time here.
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Walking to Monkey Bay
In the next article I hike the jungle between a series of four bays on the spectacular Tioman Island. Read about it here.