miércoles, abril 23, 2008

An island getaway at Tioman

[Japamala Resort, Tioman Island]

Blame it on writer's block... here comes the long awaited trip report. Three full days of complete indulgence and relaxation is how I would summarize our trip last month to Tioman, an under-the-radar island off the Eastern Coast of Malaysia on the South China Sea. The trip came about because I had to think of something unique for T's 30th. As I couldn't quite yet grasp his design barometer, so a piece of design junk was definitely out of the question. I thought hard and long, and since he had never been to any interesting parts of Malaysia, a surprise island getaway would be a novelty, I had hoped.

How should I describe this place that I finally nailed down? Japamala tries to be lavish yet laidback. With only 12 Thai-Balinese-styled chalets, the secluded resort made us feel like we were the only ones at the place. Service was impeccable with extremely well-trained and well-mannered Burmese attendants. After all, that's how you would coin a boutique hotel, wouldn't you. For me, it's that personal attention that matters. Here, you don't get noisy families and throngs of people everywhere at some of the mainstream hotels on the island. Along the sun-dappled beach on our side of island, we could kayak or swim out to see the colorful marine life underwater, or take a walk out to another stretch of sand for some solo sunning.

[Whole lobster fresh off the grill]

Apart from having time to just chill by the beach with a book and a nice cool drink, the retreat is sprinkled with what I call instant gratifications. You can get a Thai massage by a skillful Thai therapist on an open-air deck, or you can have a nice picturesque lunch at the bar-restaurant, pearched up on stilts 100 metres away from the shore. Pictured above, the kitchen serves up a casual Italian fare with quite decent pizzas, pastas and grilled seafood. It boggles my mind as to why the management didn't choose to focus on local cuisine, since most of the guests hail from international places. I guess the forgiving bit was that the seafood served are fresh catch of the day by local fishermen around the island. We had big tiger prawns, lobsters and fish such as sea-perch and grouper, locally known as Kerapu and Kerisi. And for the very least, the sauces accompanied are sprinkled with local flavors like tamarind, lemongrass and chillis.

The other restaurant at Japamala serves up scrumptious breakfasts and dinners that we savored daily. Thai and Vietnamese influences are heavy on this one since the resort grew out of the success of the owners' first Indochinese restaurant venture in Kuala Lumpur. We had some really good squid stir-fried, curries, and salads made out of local ingredients like cilantro, peanuts, and green papaya.

Dusk on the island -- the view of the restaurant on stilts -- is mersmerizing. Attendants start to light up candles everywhere on the wooden walkways leading to the chalets perched up on the hill. For the two of us, spending three days there was just about right given that all you do is to hone the skill of doing nothing. A time of rest, relax and reflection, can all be had at this tiny boutique resort if you're willing to forgo having to do different things on your vacation.

In the know:
Japamala Resort
Tioman Island, Malaysia


12 Hand-picked Olive[s]:

Blogger Mari picked an olive...

You're just trying to make us all jealous, aren't you?! ;-)

This looks like a little slice of heaven, but I was sold as soon as I laid eyes on the lobster.

8:43 p. m., abril 23, 2008

Blogger Celine picked an olive...

i'm feeling jealous and nostalgic just looking at your pictures

8:14 p. m., abril 24, 2008

Anonymous Anónimo picked an olive...

Yes, looks and sounds like a slice of heaven, indeed.


12:33 a. m., abril 25, 2008

Blogger rokh picked an olive...

you are many be 'green' with envy on your travels!!

4:53 p. m., abril 25, 2008

Anonymous Anónimo picked an olive...

love yr blog...love the pic!....glad u have a nice time at Tioman, Tony likes it?

11:13 a. m., abril 27, 2008

Blogger Katie Zeller picked an olive...

It's been far, far too long since I have seen a lovely ocean sunset...
I want to go to this place...

4:18 p. m., abril 27, 2008

Anonymous Anónimo picked an olive...

oh what a lovely photo!

11:58 a. m., mayo 05, 2008

Blogger www.ifoods.tv picked an olive...

I have just stumbled upon your blog. I love the clean design and fantastic photos. I am a blogger myself and always thought that design was key and you have certainly captured that! There are so many food blogs out there these days and being different to all the others is key. I have just started www.ifoods.tv which is a website for chefs, foodies and food bloggers to hand out, share recipes, photos and videos. When i was blogging I always thought i should be getting more traffic as my blog was getting lost in the masses of stuff out there so my new site is aimed at giving food bloggers and chefs a bigger platform! Hope you enjoy it and keep up the good writing and design here! I have now bookmarked you so will be regular reader, Cheers!

10:21 p. m., mayo 05, 2008

Blogger Celine picked an olive...

hey Kel, I hope you don’t mind, I’ve tagged you for Top 10 Pictures. It’s a really simple tag. Check it out here: http://blackcealt.blogspot.com/2008/05/ten.html

4:39 p. m., mayo 12, 2008

Anonymous Anónimo picked an olive...

Hi Kel,

I hope you remembers who I am... How hv u been in shanghai? Envy your being able to travel far and wide. You have a very nicely done up blog! Keep it going! Last but not least, keep in touch & take care!

Mui Lim

9:29 a. m., septiembre 19, 2008

Anonymous Anónimo picked an olive...

Sounds terrific!

A little recommendation, I found these to be so delicious and useful in my kitchen: http://bajoseasonedsalts.com/



2:54 a. m., enero 28, 2009

Anonymous Geoff Jonas picked an olive...

Mouthwatering pix :)

yes, if it's awesome beaches, deafening silence and exquisite lounging you're after, yes, Tioman will deliver. In spades.

But if I may just add a quick note to repeat Tioman visitors, or those wishing to visit its shores in the future.

Since we go to Tioman quite regularly, we're seeing more and more travellers, especially from overseas, arriving at the Mersing jetty too late to catch their ferry, because it's full. Some even told us they had to stay the night in Mersing. Obviously a bummer if your resort room is waiting for you in Tioman.

I think the reasons for the full ferries are:

1) The recent popularity boom Tioman has been enjoying.
2) The recent rule prohibiting passengers from sitting on the ferry sun-deck.
3) All other ferry types have discontinued, including the fast-ferries and the slow ferries, as well as the catamaran from Singapore

All of this has resulted in a higher chance of passengers left stranded during the busy holiday spells and weekends.

In light of this, my advice to those who've booked a Tioman resort, or want to go to Tioman during the weekend or a public holiday: book your ferry tickets in advance so you won't need to worry about being stranded at the departure jetty due to the ferry for that day being already full.

You can get tickets from the ferry operators direct, "Blue Water", or from "Tioman Ferry Tickets".

4:47 p. m., enero 19, 2012


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