Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tioman Island’s Jungle; a world of unexpected surprises

If anyone asked me, I’d say Tioman Island’s jungle has more to offer than its beaches or diving sites. That…plus the fact that I don’t dive 

Anyway, this tropical island’s jungle really packs a punch. The first time I visited the island was for business and I flew in by Berjaya Air. To date, only Berjaya Air’s special (small) plans can land and take off from the tiny airstrip on the island.

As the plane approaches the island, I couldn’t help but notice the vast greenery that still carpets the island. Besides well known beaches and dirt cheap beers, Tioman is in fact rather contrasting to Langkawi in terms of development (buildings, malls, roads etc). Tioman in a way is rather under-developed. In my books, this is good news. There is only one main road in the main village of Tekek. There is no proper paved road that connects the many villages on the island. The tallest building on the island probably belongs to some resort. There are no petrol stations. Fuel is sold in recycled mineral water bottles. One can literally count the number of cars on in any particular village. No shopping malls. No cinemas. No bowling alley. This place is amazingly ‘preserved’ considering that its one popular holiday destination.

It was a business trip that visit, so I did not have much time or opportunity to venture into the jungle. However, I did manage to convince one of the resort’s staff to give me a first hand tour of an old abandoned jungle trail. The trail used to be part of the resort’s activities but it has been abandoned for quite a while due to safety reasons.

The trail starts somewhat near the marine center of the resort. A flight of steps that later leads into the bush. The jungle is different. Except for the additional markers of arrows and ropes built in when the trail was operational, the jungle looked really pristine. One thing that really stood out about the jungle is the numerous large stones strewn all over the place

The huge rocks seem to be stacked one on top of the other, creating cave like features that required crawling and some maneuvering to pass through. The ‘caves’ we were told are favorite haunting places for snakes, porcupine and bats. One surprising thing we found out was that Tioman island is actually free from wild boars. For an island with a majority of Malay (Muslim) inhabitants, this is rather surprising.

The trail took us about 1 hour to complete. It was a real eye opener that walk. Tioman jungle can only be described as different and mysterious. Probably mysterious enough to entice me for another visit.

NOTE:Find out more about this tropical island of Tioman by scrolling the ‘Label’ section on the right hand side of this page.