My Asian life is a wonderful and at times overwhelming experience. I never expected that everyday life in a 25 million-citizen metropolis like Shanghai would be so energising yet demanding. Ultimately, this hectic lifestyle tends to take a toll on me and nourishes my urge to get away from it all by immersing myself in nature and following the rhythm of the sun. For me, vacation starts when the sound of crashing waves wakes me up, while the touch of a light breeze against my skin puts me to sleep.
An island where all these dreams come true is Pulau Tioman, just off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
It is well known among divers, but less popular for sun worshippers like me. The journey to the island was the first stage of a much needed deceleration. After my delayed arrival at Johor Bahru airport, I rushed to get a taxi to Tg Gemok. After a short night’s rest, I was excited to get on the first ferry to Pulau Tioman. With the sun kissing my face, I boarded the ferry and after one hour into the crossing, Tioman’s unique silhouette started to appear on the horizon.
My excitement level rose steadily as I drew closer to the island. More and more details of its landscape became apparent and it dawned on me how surprisingly untouched this teardrop-shaped jewel of an island is.
The first stop for the ferry was at the northern part of the island, where the sea was incredibly clear and small boats that were passing by seemed to hover over the water. It took another hour of cruising down the coastline before I finally reached the last stop: Jetty Genting. Upon my arrival, my hotel had already arranged a pick-up via a small boat, which took me even further south, away from the village and into my hidden paradise.
The second phase of deceleration hit me when I set foot on the stairs of a long wooden jetty with a hut and a palm-frond roof, which seemed to lead straight into the rainforest. It took me a few minutes to fully take in the picturesque mix of elements, where entire mountains were covered in rainforest, only interrupted by narrow strips of powdery white sand and massive boulders. It was only when I got closer to the shore, could I make out the individual wooden chalets tucked away in the lush greenery.
Once I had settled in, it didn’t take very long before I developed a desire to explore my surroundings. Literally a stone’s throw away, I found the first of many deserted beaches. The only thing I could hear was the sound of the waves and the dispute of a monkey clan higher up in the tree canopy. At that moment, I felt as if I had the entire island all to myself, with no one to disturb me and nothing to worry about.
For the rest of my time there, I started each day watching the gorgeous sunrise. This was followed by taking a hike to the nearby waterfalls and beaches, snorkelling with sea turtles and colourful fishes at the coral reef at the end of the jetty, and kayaking on the crystal clear waters. Then I wrapped up the day by feasting my eyes on the beautiful star-studded night sky, which never failed to melt all my tiredness away.
When the day of my departure arrived, I realised that I hadn’t looked at my watch or mobile since I set foot on the jetty! I had just enjoyed myself, lived in harmony with nature and left feeling truly reenergised for whatever challenges to come.
All images belong to Cynthia, subject to copyright.