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Pulua Tioman

Written on: Thursday April 24th, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

Sitting on a neatly arranged and crafted veranda, surrounded by perfectly mown and cultivated lawns, carbon-copy wooden bungalows and with a basketball court in view, enjoying the escape from not having my bags hanging off me and indulging in some pinball on my lap-top was not how I envisaged my trip panning out. Adding a further twist, around the corner walks Robert Allen, a good friend from back home in London, sporting his Sunbury Sonics Basketball top, and providing me with my first familiar (pale) face since leaving home over half a year earlier (with the exception of Dave of course and an Irish girl I met in Bangkok who I used to coach at university). It was because of Rob that I happened to be enjoying my current surroundings. I was very kindly being treated to the luxuries and conveniences of the 5-Star Berjaya Tioman Beach, Spa and Golf Resort, quite ridiculous in comparison to my rock-floor cave dwelling in the middle of Taman Negara?s rainforest less than one week earlier. I?d very appreciatively accepted the free pick-up from the ferry terminal on arriving at Palau Tioman (voted one of the Top 10 islands in the world a while back in Time magazine), and then audaciously waltzed in, sweating from head to foot in my unglamorous backpacker fashion to the reception area teeming with honeymooners and middle aged eligible bachelors accompanied by their golf bags, and requested the resort shuttle bus to drop me off at Room 818, not that I had any idea of where that was. My incongruity to this environment sent the very courteous shuttle-bus driver in to immediate action, with his intentions to take care of my 5-star needs almost leading to him wrecking his back attempting to pick up my bag to place it on board his body kitted stretched gold cart. I wasted no time in trying to get Rob a tan and so after catching up on homely gossip we ventured out past the basketball court, private beach and heli-pad to the 18 hole Golf Club House, rented some clubs and set out to send golf balls deep in to the jungle surroundings, while maybe taking out a 6 foot monitor lizard or marauding macaque that seemed to frequent every hole. The course itself sits on the edge of the jungle and is dotted with lakes throughout making it a wonderful and picturesque backdrop to stroll around and wack small white balls in to the distance. As it was we didn?t get any further than the forth hole as storm clouds that had been threatening on the top of the mountain ridge above our playground made their way directly above us and unleashed one of the most incredible downpours I?ve ever had the displeasure of being caught in. The thing is normally when that sort of thing happens you?re generally not that far form some sort of shelter. We however were in the middle of a sizable golf course with our only shelter being the trees, which after a short amount of time had given up protecting us from the lemon-sized raindrops accelerating down towards us. With the rain not looking like it was going to let up any time soon, we made the collective decision to make a run for it back to the club house. Within five seconds of leaving the shelter of the trees we were completely drenched, more so than if we would have had leapt in to one of the lakes. For some reason on this particular occasion I had chosen to bring with me just about every valuable possession I had with me. In my pockets were my wallet, complete with sodden notes and credit cards, my IPOD, my waterlogged passport with the ink from the stamps running through several pages, my mobile phone and my previously water-damaged digital camera once again water damaged. After placing all said items of value in our little airing cupboard to dry out, at least my camera still turned on this time, despite the display on the back flashing like a nightclub strobe light. My IPOD however refused to respond. My music, providing me with a bit of home from time to time was gone. Bugger it, we went to drink beer. I actually felt quite bad at after convincing Jiame, Ari and Adriana to join me in Tioman, here I was disowning them for the comfort of duck-down pillows, hot showers and room service while they headed down to the loosely nailed together wooden shacks at Air Batang, further up the coast. With this in mind Rob and I headed off, brolly in hand to resist the still tumultuous rain, to party the night away with the Mexicans. Rob, in his good nature was good enough to invite them all back and after managing to procure a bootleg bottle of Jack Daniels and calling room service on several occasions to get more cups and mixers the party rolled on well in to the next morning.  A good start to Rob?s holiday meant us lying in bed most of the next day, enjoying cups of Tetley Tea, that Ari had somehow got hold of and munching on Mars bars and Dairy Milks that my Mum had sent over with Rob. That afternoon we decided to finish off our game of golf, this time hiring a buggy to tear around the course and terrorise the lizards in, but once again we didn?t make it round the entire way, stopped at the 17th as between us we?d managed to lose all 14 balls that we had. The highlight shot was at the 16th when I hit a drive with a 3 wood that Tiger Woods would have been proud of. It was as straight as Casanova, perfectly in line with the pin, sending Rob who had already made his way to the green scarpering for cover. However, it didn?t stop at the green but continued to sail straight over a good 100 yards further finding ground in the depths of the jungle, more than likely to be found and eaten several years later by a hungry and disturbed monkey.