Our blog which is now focusing on our travels in Europe during the Winters and working across the UK in the Summers.
It also has all our adventures from travelling India and South East Asia in 2018, the Philippines in 2020 and Sri Lanka in 2021/22
I don’t think any of us got more than a couple of hours
sleep that night but after a quick coffee and final pack we jumped in a taxi
for the bus depot. It was about 5 hrs to the ferry port at Tanjung Gemok, but
the bus was really a luxury coach and we’d booked the front seats again so Jane
and I managed to snooze in air-con recliner seats for most of the journey.
We’d picked the ferry that left from Tenjung Gemok due to
better online reviews and travel times but we still had a couple of hours to
kill once arriving at the port. It was very quiet when we got there and after
paying the standard National Park entrance fee for Tioman we settled ourselves
in the large waiting area. The peace was shattered shortly after as about 30+
English speaking young teenage school children arrived to take over the area.
They weren’t there long but it made amusing and horrifying spectator sport as
they formed little clichés and tested the patience of their teachers, before
heading out on their boat. Looked like they were in for an amazing school trip
wherever they came from.
The boat journey was an uneventful 2 hr trip, in which they
showed one of the family friendly Resident Evil films in the main seating area
– there doesn’t seem to be a watershed for films in public areas anywhere in
Asia. Arriving at Tekek, the 3rd stop on Tioman island, you find
yourself looking at crystal clear water and an island covered in lush green
There isn’t much to see as you get off the boat. There were
a few restaurants by the port and one road leading off in each direction. A
10-15 min walk along this road and we arrived at Swiss Cottage Tioman resort.
This is a beautiful resort with wooden buildings nestled in green gardens and glimpses
of a white beach a few feet away. The rooms were spacious and all had a balcony
seating area, plus there was a large communal seating bit with games, books and
access to an honesty box cold drinks fridge.
The resort is also home to around
13 rescue cats, some very friendly and eagerly seeking laps, whilst others were
happy just to sleep on your balconies, breakfast table, pathways or anywhere
that took their fancy. Paul and I had decided to see if we could cope without
aircon in a beach front bungalow, but what we hadn’t realised is that this room
had completely open ventilation widows for all the mosquitoes and bugs to get
in as well. We trialled it for one night but after being eaten alive that first
night we changed to a terrace aircon room (these all had mesh over the vents
and windows), which only added about 20 steps to our beach commute but halved
our total accommodation cost.
The reason we’d booked Tioman Island was because of the
snorkelling it offered straight from the beach – they even have a good dive
school located on their premises. We didn’t swim that afternoon but relaxed and
went for a wander to check out the local restaurants. Tioman is a duty-free
island, so we’d passed a couple of duty free shops, another couple of resorts
and about 4 restaurants on the walk here. If the restaurant doesn’t sell beer
they normally don’t mind you bringing your own, and at 70p a can of beer or just
over £1 a bottle of cider that’s what most people do.
The first day we had a lazy day on the resort beach, swimming
on the house reef and learning the tides for the best / safest swims. It was
amazing the amount of different fish, rays and corals we could see only a few
metres from our rooms. It gets very shallow near low tide and Jane had to tell
some people off for standing on the live coral shelves but in general there
weren’t many people sharing this oasis with us. We also spotted a Monitor
lizard strolling through the gardens, and we’d been warned not to leave things
out as a troop of monkeys lived nearby and often raided the balconies.
after this day on the beach that we noticed some oil spots on our feet and
assumed that this was because we’d swam near the boat lane for the scuba
school. After Jane went for a beach wander to investigate what she discovered
was that the tiny black pebbles on the shore left by high tide were actually
little nuggets of oil. Further up the beach these had joined up to form little
The dive school was closed by this time so we had no-one to report to
and no way of clearing this up ourselves so had to leave it until the following
We also spotted a rather sickly-looking ginger cat, that looked like he’d
been playing in this oil and had it all over his paws and face. After much
discussion with the owners and staff we were informed that he was very old and
currently being treated for a skin infection as well as recovering from
horrific cuts and wounds. We nick named him Ed Shereen cat (or scruffy) and
kept a close eye on him throughout our stay but he didn’t get any worse, so I
assume he’ll pull through.
The next day I woke up feeling rough and full of cold, but
we’d booked what was supposed to be a shared snorkel trip around the island. I
also went down to see if our oil was still present on the beach and although a
couple of tides had dispersed it, it was still there. I told the Dive school,
who were very concerned and said it wasn’t normal and they would report it to
the reef watch team.
We got picked up for our snorkel trip and fortunately for us
as no-one else had booked that trip with that company it was just us 3 on our
own private charter. We were meant to go to 6 different locations but with the
seas very rough at Malang Rock our guide said it wasn’t safe to swim or anchor
the boat. We still saw 5 other locations all with beautiful coral beds and
shoals of fish. The dead and bleached coral surrounding the live coral is very
evident and you have to wonder how much longer we have to enjoy these
underwater gardens but there is also a lot of life there.
We all agreed that the best place we visited that day was
Renggis Island, which we could see from our resort but was too far to swim to.
It’s a tiny uninhabited rock surrounded by shallow reefs and wreaks that the
scuba schools visit. The fish there were phenomenal and we even saw black
tipped reef sharks lurking in the shadows. Some of the fish have gotten used to
being fed which meant that we all received some nibbles as they tested to see
if we had anything worth eating, especially as we had been collecting bits of
plastic as we swam round the rock so must have looked as if we had food.
highlight of this site for me was a massive shoal of little green / rainbow
/iridescent fish that swam close to the surface so literally surrounded you as
you floated amongst them – there were thousands of them. We tried to get
pictures with an underwater camera Jane had bought but it really doesn’t do it
justice. After about 5 hrs snorkelling I was shattered plus my cold was turning
into a fever and I was glad to be back in an air-conditioned room.
The next day I was feeling rank and so stayed in bed trying
to sweat it out, the others both had a touch of sunburn from the snorkelling
trip so it fitted with another lazy beach / resort day.
We’d been very lucky
with all the restaurants we’d tried, and although we were tempted to get the
expensive water taxi to the busier beach for the evening we decided against it
and ate local every evening.
4 days flew and before we knew it we had to leave our little
paradise which also sadly meant saying goodbye to Jane. It had been so nice
having another person around to chat to and remind us of all our friends back
home. The boat back to the mainland was easy and once back at Tenjung Gemok
Paul and I had a 5 hr wait for our bus to Singapore and Jane had a couple of
hours before her bus back to KL.
Just as her arrival
had brought tears of joy her departure brought tears of sorrow and we made her
promise to visit again as soon as she could. It had been amazing having a
friendly face there with us and saying goodbye made me extremely homesick. But
with Singapore fast approaching we couldn’t afford to wallow in sadness for
Yet another short monthly update, it's now 5 months (22 weeks) since being back in the UK so here is what's happened since last the last blog. We splashed out and got some new crockery and new saucepans, frying pan etc as we were fed up using the ones we had since getting Daisy which actually came with her! Daisy got a few more bits of work done for the MOT, including front brake pipes & hoses, caliper and the previously mentioned power steering issue was just a pipe which saved us a lot of money. Anyway she passed her MOT first time, with only a couple of advisories which will be sorted soon, so that's a relief and now means her MOT is a July date which suits us better as we will be in the UK around that time each year. So with the MOT done and the leak fixed, we took off up to the Peak District for an overnight stay at a pub campsite, just to get out of the city for a bit and also I had a couple of DIY jobs needing doing which required hook up. First up was a small
To get to Ipoh we had decided to do the 3hr bus journey. My sickness bands seemed to have worked quite well so far on other transport, and when you book online you can choose your seat allocation, so we got the front seats with a view to the front. Ipoh isn’t a huge fancy town but we had heard good things about it and it was on the way to the Cameron Highlands, so we decided to stop for a few nights. We were staying at the Ritz Garden hotel, which is a bit rough round the edges but was quite cheap and included a breakfast. It also had the most enthusiastic doorman ever, that dragged me off to show me maps and point out the directions you need to walk in for any of the sights. The hotel does boast of a pool, 3 bars, a library, a cinema and a gym but most of these rooms were locked and empty when we went for an explore, so not sure if they are really used facilities. After a settle in we headed out to figure out the town and to grab some food. The town is quite run down
So, we had arrived at Coron Port, but the island we were on is actually called Busuanga Island, the actual Coron Island is where most of the tours go to, more on that later. Coron is part of the Calamian Islands, of which form part of the Palawan area of the Philippines, where we will be visiting the popular areas of Coron, El Nido and then leaving via the capital city Puerto Princesa. This area is known for its huge expanse of islands, mostly formed with limestone and very similar to Halong Bay in Vietnam. Our first stop here was in the middle of the town, so it was a short tricycle ride at 120 pesos to our hotel, Balaibinda Lodge and we got checked in to our room. It was decent enough, with a little garden area outside and was clean and well looked after. Although one of the reception staff was a miserable sod, we had a pleasant time here for the 3 nights we had booked. We had arrived around 5pm, so we got freshened up and went for a walk around the town. To be ho