Pulau Tioman

Tioman beaches - Salang Beach, Monkey Bay, Panuba Bay, ABC, Tekek, Genting, Juara

The beginnings of Tioman

For updates on Tioman dated : November 2008 revisit , click here

Imagine... A long time ago, when the world was filled with strange plants and creatures, shrouded in thick fog, ...where lands were vast - covered in ice and the sea levels were low. The islands on our east coastal shores were peaks or slopes of mountains, majestically overlooking the rough, pounding waves far below.

Then the earth started to warm up and the ice began to melt. Low lying areas were flooded and peaks were isolated from the mainland and so became islands.

Tioman today sits 30km away from the mainland.

39km long and 12km wide, Tioman was once a monsoon shelter for merchant ships, war ships, a haughty bunch of pirates and a few families of fishermen. The first written record of Tioman was found in the journals of Arabic merchants who came this way some time before 1,000AD. The Indian, Persian and Chinese traders followed suit.

When the South China Sea route was &;discovered&; by eager merchants from China, many locations along the Malaya Peninsular finally opened to traders. One of them being Tioman. Not only was the island a perfect shelter from the monsoon storms and an ideal place to stopover for fresh water and wood, but the people also traded with these foreign merchants. The Chinese wanted sea produce and camphor wood; the Indian traders loaded their ships to the brim with betelnut, found in abundance on the island whilst the Arabs were in search of scented woods (such as aloe wood, camphor and sandalwood), for ivory and ebony, rice, gold and bamboo. The seafarers also used the island as a navigational marker - the point to turn north east for Cambodia upon identifying the island. It was noted now from abundant evidence that many of these traders set up camp at Nipah beach.

But it was not all dandy for Tioman. In 1830, pirates marauded the island and took away 70 locals for the thriving slave markets. Fear sent the remaining villagers scampering off to the mainland leaving the island uninhabited until 15 years later when the waters in the area were rid of pirates.

Slowly, villagers trickled back and life returned to its island pace. However, in 1926, an outbreak of malaria killed many islanders and once again, the island was abandoned. Many of the homes of villagers were left derelict and the lands that they made a living from were reclaimed by the jungle. During the 2nd World War, a small detachment of the Japanese army was sent to set up a watch base on Tioman. After the war, Tioman fell into oblivion until it was rediscovered by movie makers. Fame and fortune followed suit and Tioman became the Paradise Island of Bali Hai in the musical &;South Pacific&;. The listing as one of the top ten islands in the world by TIME magazine in the 1970&;s made the island popular beyond its dreams and visitors have been pouring in since to savour that little piece of island paradise.

Tiong- Man (My bird)

flying fox hide away in trees during the day and come out to feed as dusk falls

The island was so-called Tiong-man by an early island inhabitant. &;man&; means &;My&; in island dialect and &;Tiong&; means mynah bird. The local islanders love keeping Jungle Mynahs ; unfortunately for these birds, they can never keep themselves away from trouble and because they are masters at mimicry, their skill has become their curse.

Tioman has a wonderful flora and fauna diversity. Biologists have found the forested area on the island similar to that on the Peninsular but yet with subtle differences. Perhaps with the absence of large predators, species on the lower ranks of the food chain were able to flourish in this relative isolation. Most common are the macaques, pythons, mousedeers, monitor lizards and flying foxes. A recent study noted that 22 amphibian, one non-marine turtle, 32 lizard and 26 snake species contribute to the fauna on Tioman where its interior encompasses 5 major vegetation zones and is ideal cover for such a big variety of species on an island. The mangrove swamps on Tioman are one of the last remaining original swamps that used to be aplenty on the mainland but has since been cleared for development. These swamps are incredibly rich with fauna: land and water.

A dragon&;s tale

Once upon a time, a beautiful dragon princess left China on a journey to Singapore for her scheduled wedding. The journey was long and towards the end of her flight, she grew very tired. She noticed a beautiful island through a thin veil of clouds below and decided to rest her weary body for the night. She lay down gently to the caress of the sea and the cool sprinkle of the waves. So enchanted was she that she stayed forever and ever, never leaving her beloved island. The high ridge takes the form of her backbone and the clouds that circles around the twin peaks on the Western ends are said to be smoke breathed from her nostrils. The early Chinese traders referred to Tioman as the 'island with 2 horns'.

Women travellers please take heed!

If you're travelling on your own or with a few fellow women travellers, please try not to take privately arranged snorkelling trips or tours while on the islands. Private boat operators may approach you and offer cheaper rates than what the resort can offer, but it is at your own risk. Best to stick with the resorts and make sure that the boatmen that is providing the service from the resort is validated by the resort itself. There have been several unpleasant accounts of harrassments and indecent proposals.

Thank you.