Views from Swiss Cottage, Tekek, Tioman Island

That’s Pulau Tioman in Malaysian, assuming I’ve understood correctly. I actually spent a full week in Malaysia without one single guide book: it all came through the web and recommendations from friends (big, big ta out to once and future MSF colleague Ching, who doctored our patients in Nanning until just about this time last year and is now back in London – but who took time from her busy schedule to tell me about good places to let it all go in Malaysia), and I’m happy to say it worked out wonderfully.

Tioman Dive Center is located on the grounds of Swiss Cottage, and is the best and only necessary reason to stay there: the location is perfect, but otherwise the Swiss Cottage feels a bit like a campground: accommodations are basic and spare, and they pretty much leave you alone. Seems I may have gotten a few bedbug bites (at least, I don’t think they’re mosquitos), but other than that I’ve no complaints and many happy memories, as these photos attest: all taken from the grounds, or from the deck in front of my little room, where I watched the waves breaking 10 feet away every morning and evening.

So these were my days on Tioman: run in the morning and watch the sun rise. Go for the morning dive. Have lunch. Relax. Go for the afternoon dive. Relax. Watch the sunset. One evening: go for a night dive (very, very cool: finally saw photo luminescence, or whatever it is where you move your hand in the water and little bacteria light up and luminesce in little sparks in the water). Eat lots of good Malaysian food. Sleep well. Tough life, huh? I did complicate things a bit by signing up to get my advanced open water certification, but considering the dives I got to do, it was certainly well worth it!

If you’re wondering how I got that nifty angle on the sunset – like, not right at beach level, but sort of above the beach? – here’s the secret: I was in the tree house. 🙂 Though I got on my own case a bit about that fact that here I was on vacation – relax, right? – and what do I do but sign myself up for the Advanced Open Water Diver course, which meant theory readings on saftey and decompression illness and underwater navigation etc. But when you consider that the bulk of said readings occurred on this little platform, with the views you’ve just been seeing and many more, you’ll understand that it wasn’t all that painful. And the rewards…ah, those wreck dives. And the sheer coolness of seeing stonefish (highly poisonous, usually well camouflaged and just sitting on the ocean floor) hanging out a the hull of a wrecked ship at 30 meters beneath the surface. Sweet, huh?

Final Views of Tioman

Hard to believe that I only left Tekek yesterday morning, but there it is. Here are a few Friday shots to remember it all by: yours truly after his last advanced open water qualifying dive on Friday morning (the 30-meter wreck dive), the town mosque up in the hills near the start of the Tekek-Juara jungle path, and the view from my cabin deck at sunrise on Friday morning.