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Kayak Kaki Circumnavigate Pulau Tioman – The Journey

In July 2020, Kayak Kaki decided to kayak around Pulau Tioman during our off days in between working weeks. We took 3 days covering about 60km in total. Here’s an account of our expedition.

July 18, 2020

It was 9:30am when we got all our kayaks lined up on the shore and did our final check to make sure we got everything we need for the expedition. The weather was lovely and sunny.

We started our first few kilometres by paddling out of Juara Bay and up north along the beautiful coast of Tioman where there were neither villages nor phone signals. It was calm and idyllic. Luckily we got Sofia with her GoPro and videography skills to film the journey. We came across caves that we can kayak and swim through. Some of us took the snorkel and explored the cave. It was surrounded by tall granite walls and air filled with the smell of bat poop. Underneath the surface was a hidden pathway for many small fish. We swam out just to realize there were tonnes of baby jellyfish rubbing against us! The excitement didn’t stop there as we spotted boulders to climb up and jump off. The last jump was more than 2-storey high! Ella had to sit back and gather enough guts before taking the leap.

After about 3 hours of paddling, we stopped for lunch at Teluk Dalam. We had tapau-ed Mak Long’s Nasi Lemak and ate some dates and sugar crackers to replenish our energy. Of course, we never missed an opportunity for a quick group selfie.

We continued paddling for another 2 hours or so and had a few snorkeling stops before deciding that it was time to fill up our tummies since it’s almost tea-time. We landed at Kg. Salang for some burgers, keropok lekor and iced Milo. It took us just about an hour to reach the next bay, Teluk Berus or Monkey Bay to camp for the night.

With a few hours left of daylight, we set up our sleeping stuff, clean ourselves at the nearby river and cooked dinner. We were quite cautious with monkeys sneakily moving around trying to find the right moment to steal our food ration, hence, the name. Our expedition chef was no other than Madi. He (with the help of others too) prepared yummy Noodles ala Carbonara, sautéed sausages with eggs and mixed veggies. Erry managed to sneak out his mom’s (Mak Long) sambal ikan bilis for those who love the extra zest, not for the weak-hearted. We shared random funny stories of past experiences and reminisced good old times around the campfire until one by one surrendered to sleep.

July 19, 2020

Like any other day, Madi was always the first to get up to grind his coffee beans (yes, he brought his coffee grinder) while the rest continued to sleep until 8-ish. We packed away our tents and hammocks, had a great breakfast of scrambled egg, French toast and hot Milo. As responsible outdoor educators, we walk the talk by applying and reapplying our sunscreens regularly. Thanks to Matt’s coloured zinc sticks, not only we were protected from the sun, we looked absolutely amazing. We paddled out of the bay glancing back to see if monkeys had taken over our campsite. We then looked forward to our second breakfast.

We paddled past Kg. Air Batang and agreed to stop at Cabana in Kg. Tekek who was kind enough to allow us to refill our water bottles and lend a bike to get some energy drinks. Still full from the food we had at campsite, we skipped the plan for a second breakfast and headed towards Pulau Rengis, a spectacular little haven for snorkelers. Beneath the turquoise water was a vibrant city of corals and its busy dwellers. We tied our kayaks to a buoy and spent a good 1 hour exploring around the reef. We were thrilled to have spotted a hawksbill turtle (twice!) and black-tipped sharks among many other colourful fishes.

Feeling quite exhausted but happy, we carried on paddling to our next stop for lunch in Kg. Genting located southwest side of Tioman. We immediately noticed the heavier traffic on this waterways as compared to on the east side where there is only one village – Juara. After an hour’s rest we set off for Kg. Nipah, our second campsite.

We reached Kg. Nipah with plenty of daylight to play and chill. This remote place was well taken care of by Abbas who runs several small rustic chalets and also cooks for his guests. We were happy to know we had it all to ourselves. No other people, no boats or ferries can be seen, leaving us in peace with a full view of the open sea. Just us.

Hilda then decided to be extra nice and opened up a hair wash and head massage station for all. Laurent got in-touch with his inner monkey and got us fresh coconuts to drink. It felt very refreshing to properly rinse off all the salt and sunscreen after the prolonged heat of the day. We sat at the beach with our can of happiness witnessing the sun set. Truly a magical moment – a moment when we all were captivated, with the exception of Mamat, who was determined to get a jumping silhouette shot. As it got dark, we cooked and enjoyed dinner together underneath a sky full of stars. The sky was so clear that we can see the Milky Way and occasionally spotted shooting stars.

July 20, 2020

We were supposed to set off at dawn, paddling along the south part of Tioman and be just on time for the sunrise, but that did not happen. We took our time packing and loading our gear on our kayaks. Typical of Chadel, who would check on everyone’s health and well-being and ensuring the team was in good shape and spirit. It felt a bit sad to leave with this beautiful place. We made sure we captured some photos as mementos.

The cool gentle southern breeze welcomed us back on the water as we start our final day journey. We were grateful that the weather was on our side throughout our expedition which made paddling less exhausting. The stretch from Kg. Nipah to Kg. Mukut offered a dramatic view of the landscape. We kayaked past the luxurious private resorts and beaches on this island, wondering how much it would cost to stay overnight.

Mesmerised by the lush tropical rainforest backdrop and emerald water, we were taken aback by the strong smell of oil. A closer look at the water surface were oil marks and black patches floating along the sea. It stained our clothes when it seeped through the holes of our sit-on-top kayaks. It was so frustrating to see the damage the oil pollution had caused to coastal environment and marine life.

As we got nearer to Kg. Mukut, the famous Twin Peaks of Gunung Semukut also known as the Dragon Horns, slowly revealed itself from behind the mists and clouds. These two granite peaks sticking out from the south end of the island is a prominent landmark of Tioman which has its own legend.

We had a good nasi lemak, roti canai and kuihs for breakfast in Kg. Mukut – a small fishing village. Then, we paddled to the next bay where Kg. Asah is located and parked our kayaks there. We hiked for about 15 minutes to a welcome reward of beautiful cascade that drops into a pool of cool freshwater. Like little kids, we played, jumped and swam in the Asah Waterfall with pure joy in our faces.

Refreshed and rejuvenated, we made our way back down to the beach and took off. The southern wind which was going to help us was nowhere to be seen or felt. At this point, the heat really tested us. So we stopped at Penut beach for shelter and a tasty bread-dipped-in-curry snack break.

Gradually, the wind picked up its pace on the last few kilometres from Juara Bay, so Noel excitedly put up a sail using an umbrella to see if he could sail back with less strokes and using the paddle as stern rudder. At 3:30pm, the whole team reached Lagoon safely. Happy, relieved, proud, content, tired, stoked and hungry. We congratulated each other, shared hugs and said our farewells.

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