"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Aerial view of Tioman Island in Malaysia.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island, Malaysia.

May 2015.

In the spring of 2015 I was walking on air. Prior to my arrival in Malaysia, I had never been to a bona fide tropical island. But now I was embarking on my second island paradise of the month. On Pulau Sibu, the mantra had been purely sea, sun and serenity. This time though, whooshing towards neighbouring Tioman Island in a speedboat, Lisa and I felt ready for what would be a weekend packed with adventure. After all, this was the largest island on the southeast coast of the Malaysian Peninsula

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

We jumped off on Tioman’s western side at Kampung ABC Jetty. Quite possibly bewitched by a Sibu Island spell, Lisa and I hadn’t planned a single thing for the trip. In fact, we’d even neglected to sort out a place to stay. “We’ll find something” insisted Lisa, “and we’ll be able to negotiate a local rate”. Wise words, as it turned out.

Mokhtar's Place Tioman Island Malaysia.

Tioman Island, Malaysia.

Mokhtar’s Place was a thirty minute walk from the jetty in the island’s ABC neighbourhood. As soon as we caught sight of its wooden chalets, set tastefully around a pretty garden, we knew we’d found our place. Mokhtar himself showed us around, a short, stocky man in his late 40s with a full head of unkempt hair and a toothy smile. How I wish I’d gotten a photograph of him. He had an easygoing nature, with no interest whatsoever in giving us the hard sell. Paying him for three nights, I enquired as to how long he’d been running the place. “Since 1970” he grinned.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Double chalet Mokhtar's Place Tioman Island

Mokhtar’s Place.

Much like the chalet I’d had on Sibu Island, my Mokhtar sleeping quarters were small but cosy and well-equipped. There was a small table, a bamboo chair, a couple of plug sockets and a mosquito net around the bed. Running water was a bonus too as frankly, for the price, I’d felt there were no guarantees.

“Be careful of monkeys” laughed Mokhtar, “better not feed them, you know, too greedy”. It was only then that I noticed about half a dozen long-tailed macaques lazing around the garden. One of them, a splendidly fluffy looking creature, let out a long yawn, showcasing an impressive set of fangs. Yes, better keep my distance.

Yawning monkey Tioman Island.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Keen to explore, Lisa and I wasted no time in setting off to discover our local neighbourhood. The first thing that struck me was how much the locals took care of the place. Following the spotless path to ABC Beach, I marvelled at all the lush palm trees, the pruned hedges and the swept lawns. 

ABC Neighbourhood.

ABC Village Tioman Island.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

What’s more, local business owners had come together to install giant recycling stations. There was one for cans, another for paper and a huge vat for glass. This was a pride in one’s surroundings that, in my experience, had been severely lacking in many of the beach communities I’d visited across Southeast Asia. 

Recycling on Tioman Island Malaysia.

Doing the cancan.

What’s more, there were some lovely outpourings of art. This old boat for example, no longer in use, had been painted and now lies permanently grounded to the side of the main path. 

Painted boat Tioman Island Malaysia.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

It didn’t take us long to reach ABC Beach. Delightfully, it lay perfectly empty. Not what we were expecting at all from the most popular island in the region. Thus Lisa settled in at a table right on the sand, while I strolled off to check out the sole bar-restaurant.  

ABC Beach on Tioman Island.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

It turned out to be a pizza joint called Sunset Corner. With plans to head out exploring for the rest of the day, we figured it was better to feed ourselves now. Happily, the pizzas came freshly prepared and piping hot. Washed down beautifully with an ice-cold beer.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Pizza at Sunset Bar on Tioman Island.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Post-lunch, we cut a deal with Mokhtar for a boat cruise around the island. I had never been snorkelling and felt this was the perfect time to make my long-anticipated international debut. The boat hire was a touch pricy, but soon resolved when three fellow travellers chipped in to say they’d be up for joining us. And so it was that we sailed off accompanied by John and Karen, a married English couple from Liverpool, along with a German solo backpacker called Amanda. 

A nostalgic look at Tioman Island Malaysia

Let’s snorkel! With John, Karen and Lisa (left) and Amanda (right).

I had read that the waters surrounding Tioman Island boast some of the best snorkelling opportunities in Malaysia. While I’m not in any position to confirm or deny this claim, it’s certainly not hard to believe. The captain confidently assured us that he knew all the best spots. And that, with no fast and high water currents to worry about, we could really take our time. 

I absolutely loved the snorkelling! Indeed I was left mesmerised by the seemingly infinite swarms of multicoloured fish darting around me in all directions. Best of all, there were even a few brief glimpses of a fascinating but elusive baby reef shark.

Snorkelling off Tioman Island in Malaysia.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

After three spells of snorkelling in various locations, the captain whizzed us off to a tiny stretch of beach on the uninhabited Pulau Tulai. Better know to visitors as Coral Island. We were pretty far out from Tioman at this point, around eight nautical miles from the west coast. 

Coral Island.

Exploring Coral Island Malaysia.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Here, our captain encouraged us to jump out into the sparkling shallow waters and splash our way onto the beach. The whole scene was utterly Elysian with a deep blue sky, light green water, pale yellow sand and an engulfing silence. This is why I travel, I remember thinking, as the five of us stood there on the beach lost in our separate thoughts.

Moored off Coral Island Malaysia.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

“You gotta swim to the Batu Malang Rock” our captain insisted. “Maybe the best snorkelling!” We all exchanged looks, thinking that a) this was a bold claim and b) that the rocks looked like they were miles away.

Snorkelling off Tioman Island in Malaysia.

At Coral Island.

Nevertheless, we all headed out there with our goggles and flippers, making surprisingly short work of the swim. The formation (which translates as Unfortunate Rock) was a sight to behold, while the snorkelling itself was splendorous.

Diving just a few meter underwater, I found myself face to face with so much kaleidoscopic sea life I hardly knew where to look. There were butterfly fish, fusiliers, clownfish and angelfish. Less charming, but no less captivating, a swarm of needlefish and an occasional bulging cuttlefish. 

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Snorkelling around the rocks near Coral Island in Malaysia

Batu Malang Rock.

Eventually, we called it a day and returned to Tioman. Buoyed by the magic of the day’s events, we all agreed to meet back up at ABC Beach in the evening. As we arrived, Lisa and I caught the last traces of sunset.

Sunset over Tioman Island.

Sunset over ABC Beach.

That night we got chatting to a bunch of travellers, all hailing from different countries. At some point talk turned to the island’s so-called best jungle hike; a rough-and-ready trail that connected the nearby community of Tekek to Juara Village on Tioman’s eastern side. Immediately, Lisa, John, Karen, Amanda and I agreed that we would tackle the hike the following day. Moreover, a friendly German guy called Joe (pictured below in the cap) asked if he could come along.

Making friends on Tioman Island.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

The six of us set off the next morning, bright and breezy, armed with rucksacks packed with water, suncream, mosquito repellent and pastries purchased from a mini market. Once again there was a palpable sense of adventure in the air. What awaited us in the jungle? we pondered.

Setting off from Tekek.

Jungle hike from Tekek to Juara Village

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

The seven kilometre jungle trail was pleasingly wild. In the beginning there was a clear path to follow, though that soon petered out. In its place we found ourselves clambering over rocks and ducking under fallen trees. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we didn’t encounter any other hikers along the way.

Jungle hike to Juara Village Tioman Island

Somewhere in the jungle.

It was a fun afternoon full of camaraderie and chat about our recent travels. Secretly, I discovered that with my knowledge of Dutch, I was able to understand much of what Joe and Amanda discussed amongst themselves in German. Back in English meanwhile, John and I chewed the fat on all things Liverpool and our mutual love of The Beatles.

Jungle hike Tioman Island Malaysia.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

When silence descended between us, we drank in our surroundings. High above, an array of coquettish birds exchanged calls across the thick jungle canopy. A dense green roof that, thankfully, protected us from the worst of the burning sun.

Jungle canopy Tioman Island Malaysia.

Protected by the trees.

Elsewhere, there were scuttling spiders, bothersome bugs and mysterious rustlings in the bushes belonging to god-only-knows-what. Later, around halfway through our hike, I happened upon a millipede. The poor thing seemed quite vulnerable as, with seemingly much effort, it hauled itself forward in clunky, laborious waves.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Giant millipede Tioman Island Malaysia.

“You put your right feet in… you put your right feet out…”

At last we were closing in on Juara Village. However, we hadn’t anticipated making a fascinating and unusual pitstop. Visit Mouse Deer Farm, announced the weathered sign. “What is a mouse deer?” asked John. Nobody had an answer.

Mouse Deer farm sign.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

A few minutes later we arrived at said farm and knew we had to investigate. A volunteer was on hand to deliver a warm welcome, before leading us through a simple office area into a large garden compound.

Mouse Deer Farm Tioman Island.

Mouse + deer = ?

Here, he gave us a brief overview of the Mouse Deer, or the chevrotain, to refer to its proper name. These small hoofed ungulates, round of body, spindly of leg, indeed look like a cross between a mouse and a deer. “They are very nervous animals” the guide chuckled, taking us to see some of the farm’s curious residents. “Usually they live alone, sometimes in pairs”. 

Protecting the Mouse Deer in Malaysia.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Straight away we could see how wary the mouse deer were of us. First their eyes darted from person to person, then they’d scamper away to hide in the shrubbery. Primarily herbivores, the mouse deer live on a diet of flowers, leaves and other plant material. “Many breeds of mouse deer are protected in Malaysia” the volunteer explained. It was the usual story of course, an unhappy concoction of shrinking forest areas and an inability to evade predators, both wild animal and human.

Mouse Deer Farm.

Chevrotain Mouse Deer

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

“We don’t ask visitors to pay an entrance fee to visit our farm” smiled our host. “But there is a donation box if you want to support us”. He also showed us a few of the compound’s rubber trees, which they used as a further source of income. Seven years later, I’m not sure if the farm is still running. They have almost no online footprint, not a website, Facebook page, Instagram account, nothing.

Rubber tree Tioman Island Malaysia.

Rubber from the Mouse Deer Farm. 

Bidding farewell to Mr. Mouse Deer Farm and his furry friends, we walked the final leg of the trail into Juara Village. It was way more developed than ABC, with restaurants, cafes, shops and guesthouses abound. After a short vote, we headed for the main beach in search of a restaurant for lunch.

Exploring Tioman Island in Malaysia.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make a note of the restaurant’s name. But I do have a shot of my delicious Chicken and Seafood Coconut Soup. It was both creamy and spicy, a fantastic reward for my efforts in the jungle.

Chicken and Seafood Coconut Soup in Malaysia

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Our table was right on the beach. Hence we decided to hang out for a bit and order some drinks. Some of us, including Joe (pictured below), even opted for a quick swim before we reconvened for the next part of the day’s adventuring.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Juara Beach Tioman Island.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Our main reason for coming to Juara was to visit its famous sea turtle sanctuary. With happy, full stomachs we mapped out a route through the village. While ABC is exclusively geared towards tourists, Juara had some delightful residential lanes with characterful wooden houses. Many of them sat in pretty gardens home to tinkering wind chimes, sleeping dogs and bulging jackfruit trees.

Jackfruit tree Tioman Island Malaysia.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

On one such road, we stopped to marvel at a magnificently sinister collection of sleeping bats. There were over fifty of them wrapped up on the various branches of a skeletal fir tree.  

Sleeping bats Tioman Island Malaysia.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Juara Turtle Project is a volunteer-driven sanctuary dedicated to the protection of Malaysia’s endangered sea turtle. Launched in 2001, its primary aim is to preserve Tioman’s precious turtle nesting sites, along with their surrounding ecosystems. 

Welcome to Juara Turtle Project.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

At the time of our visit the group had around 200 volunteers. One of them, a friendly American woman from North Carolina, welcomed us into the complex for a free tour. Taking us through a large garden and onto a deliciously quiet beach, she gave us an informative overview of the sea turtle’s unenviable plight. 

Juara Turtle Project.

The peaceful beach at Juara Turtle Project on Tioman Island

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Surprisingly, to me at least, we learned that of the seven species of sea turtles remaining in the world, four are found in Malaysia. According to our guide, numbers had plummeted dramatically over the past fifty years. And guess what, that age-old pantomime villain the human was to blame.

Free guided tour of Juara Turtle Project.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Fishermen, for example, had killed hundreds of thousands of sea turtles. Sometimes by accident, as they scoured the sea with their nets. But often from targeted campaigns in order to sell their hauls to Chinese restaurant owners offering turtle soup.

Turtle soup in Singapore.

Turtle Soup: Singapore style.

Photo courtesy of Chensiyuan.

Furthermore, poachers are known to sweep the region’s island beaches where sea turtles nest and lay their eggs. They then sell the eggs to customers far and wide, many of whom are based in Honduras where some consider turtle eggs an aphrodisiac. They end up served as hors d’oeuvres with alcoholic drinks, if you can believe that. Nowadays, the good folk at Juara Turtle Project snatch up these beach eggs and transfer them to the project’s onsite hatchery for safekeeping.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

Sea Turtle hatchery Juara Turtle Project.

Juara Turtle Project.

Once born, the volunteers soon release the babies back into the sea for a life in their natural habitat. Therefore, visitors won’t actually get to meet many turtles in the sanctuary itself. Still, we weren’t completely out of luck, as our guide took us to see Jo, a full time resident. Poor Jo is blind and unable to live in the wild. Consequently, she resides in a large tank in the project’s garden. 

Jo the blind Sea Turtle Tioman Island Malaysia

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

The team also does a fine job of keeping the island as clean as humanly possible. In fact, they regularly organise beach cleaning days and hold workshops to raise awareness about the evils of plastic pollution. Oh, and drop your cigarette butt on their beach at your peril! 

No Butts Tioman Island Malaysia.

Juara Turtle Project.

That evening I was back on ABC Beach with a local kitty. She was taking a snooze right on my lap, having enjoyed some leftover chicken from my plate. Sadly my ten-day flirtation with Malaysia was almost over. The next day I’d be heading off on the long journey back to Thailand via Singapore. We had come to Tioman Island looking for adventure and had definitely gotten some… no butts. 

Sleeping kitten Tioman Island Malaysia.

An Adventurous Weekend on Tioman Island.

You can also check out my other travel articles from around Malaysia.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Travels logo travel reports and short stories.



    Ah I’m glad you liked Tioman, we definitely did as well. We stayed right on the beach at Juara, in a shack raised above the sand. Juara had some of the warmest seawater we’ve ever swum in. In those lanes you mention, several of the homeowners have a lean-to where they put out tables and chairs and cook a meal for anyone who wants one. No surprise that it was the best sambal in the world EVER! The one single downside of Juara was the nasty little sand flies who have a real taste for human shins. Other than that it was a very cool few days, especially as we’d just spent several days jungle trekking up in Taman Negara. Great to read this and bring back good memories.

    January 25, 2023 - 2:58 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ah fantastic, sounds like we both had great experiences on Tioman. I’m sure glad I evaded those sand flies, though dinner at one of the locals’ houses sounds brilliant. Good stuff.

      January 25, 2023 - 3:05 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    I really enjoyed this post, it always had me guessing what was coming next. The pictures of the ocean are stunning, I’d love to snorkel there too. The monkeys and thing with 1,000 legs freak me out but the mouse deer look so adorable.

    January 25, 2023 - 3:32 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Lyssy! The snorkelling was something else, I couldn’t imagine a better spot in which to make my debut. I am ok with monkeys, as long as they are at a reasonable distance. Generally I’m not a fan of insects, though I did feel a bit sorry for that millipede. The Mouse Deer, what a creature eh? Adorable as you say, but so fragile and vulnerable.

      January 25, 2023 - 5:37 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    For not having a plan or place to stay, you did remarkedly well Leighton and managed to create some great memories. Looks like there was much more to do on this island. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    January 25, 2023 - 4:24 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Tioman was a great time Allan, I enjoyed the contrast in tone to Sibu. There was so much more to do on the island that I could’ve easily done a few more days. But I was itchy to get back to Thailand, so off I went. Thanks for reading!

      January 25, 2023 - 5:40 pm Reply
  • Memo

    What a full experience. It’s like they took every tropical island adventure and put it in one place. I had heard of mouse deer but have never seen one. Their legs look so fragile. Snorkeling is always fun if the fish are plentiful. We took a bag of frozen peas to feed them one time. They would come right up to you. The turtle sanctuary was nice to see. Poachers are a tremendous threat. Some beaches have patrols of rangers to keep them away.

    January 25, 2023 - 4:42 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Memo, I’m glad you enjoyed this whirlwind tour around Tioman. There was so much more I could’ve seen and done if I’d stayed just a few more days. Where did you feed frozen peas to the fish? Those damn poachers. There’s an expression that includes “throw away the key” that springs to mind.

      January 25, 2023 - 5:45 pm Reply
      • Memo

        We were advised to take the peas to Hanauma Bay on Oahu. It was above a coral reef and filled with more species of tropical fish than I had ever seen before. Even saw a moray eel in one little pocket. Turtle egg poachers are a major menace on both coast of Mexico. Fortunately, lots of volunteers to save the turtles.

        January 25, 2023 - 5:53 pm
      • Leighton

        Cool, I can only imagine the incredible range of fish located in and around Hawaii. Glad to hear they also have such sanctuaries doing good work in Mexico

        January 25, 2023 - 6:05 pm
  • Monkey's Tale

    Looks like paradise Leighton, so great that the island is so clean, especially for Asia! I hope you didn’t try the turtle soup… Maggie

    January 25, 2023 - 5:49 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Maggie, yes Tioman Island is another form of paradise, albeit a different kind to the one I experienced on Pulau Sibu. Turtle soup isn’t actually available on Tioman Island and is generally frowned upon across the region thanks to efforts from sanctuaries like the one I’ve written about. I have never tried turtle soup anywhere in the world, but think I came across a restaurant or two in China that offered it.

      January 25, 2023 - 5:58 pm Reply
  • Stan

    wow leighton, you didn’t hold back on this island. an intense weekend of activities and with such great variety. the wildlife on offer is amazing and something i’d love to see for myself one day. until then, vicariously through leighton travels is the next best thing.

    January 25, 2023 - 5:50 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Yo Stan! Thanks, as always, for keeping up with these pages. The snorkelling was amazing, I only wish I’d done a bit more over the years.

      January 25, 2023 - 6:02 pm Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    Leighton, this was one of those posts that I didn’t want to end. Your visit to Tioman Island ticked every box of what we would love if we got to visit. Pizza on the beach? Yes! Snorkeling? Yes! Hike in the jungle? Yes! Seeing a mouse deer and visiting a turtle rescue? Yes! Making new friends? Yes! I always enjoy following your adventures, my friend, but they always make my feet itch to follow in your footsteps. I hope this finds you and Sladja happily settled in your new digs.

    January 25, 2023 - 6:26 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks so much Kellye, your positivity is infectious. Tioman was a blast, the kind of trip where at the end of it you find yourself enveloped in a happy exhaustion. Upon returning to Thailand I think I just rested for a few days in order to recharge my batteries. We are safely installed on Naxos thank you, it’s so isolated and quiet here that we feel like we’ve reached the end of the world. Which is exactly where we want to be. Hope you are both warm and well in Texas.

      January 25, 2023 - 6:46 pm Reply
  • anoush

    I should’ve gone to Tioman Island rather than Langkawi, that much is clear from reading this. It is an absolutely edenic place, and I love your visits to the mouse deer farm and turtle sanctuary. Looks like you were in a very good company as well. An amazing adventure!

    January 25, 2023 - 6:57 pm Reply
  • Leighton

    Thanks Anoush, was Langkawi really so disappointing?

    January 25, 2023 - 8:14 pm Reply
    • anoush

      I’d heard really good things about Langkawi. However, I did not find a tropical paradise I was looking for during my brief stay there. Each beach we went to proved to be undesirable in some way. Muddy ocean floor was a unique experience for sure, and one I hope not to repeat ever.

      January 27, 2023 - 3:06 pm Reply
      • Leighton

        Oh dear, that’s a pity. We often build up these tropical island retreats in our minds and it can be so disappointing when they don’t deliver. I’ve been to a few meh beach resorts over the years, you have my full empathy.

        January 27, 2023 - 3:09 pm
  • Mallee Stanley

    I took my then eleven-year-old daughter with me to this island and it looks like we stayed in the same place as you. Unfortunately, within days of our arrival, we both became ill with different complaints and I decided to fly to Singapore where there’d be a hospital if my daughter’s condition didn’t improve after we’d visited a Malaysian doctor in the resort and missed out on the great experiences you had.

    January 25, 2023 - 8:39 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Oh Mallee, what a worrisome experience that must have been. I hope that you both recovered before too long and were able to enjoy a bit of Singapore?

      January 25, 2023 - 8:47 pm Reply
      • Mallee Stanley

        The very next day in Singapore we were both fine but I had been too worried about my daughter to risk staying on the island.

        January 26, 2023 - 5:52 pm
  • Travels Through My Lens

    You packed a lot into your weekend in Tioman, and it had all the elements of a great one at that; friends, food, hiking, snorkeling, wildlife encounters, and more! I remember my first time snorkeling in Mexico; the variety of colorful and interesting fish were amazing. What a wonderful weekend, thanks for sharing!

    January 25, 2023 - 10:12 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Tricia. It was a great weekend, we hardly stopped from the moment we arrived to the boat back to the Malaysian mainland. I’m curious, where in Mexico did you go snorkelling?

      January 25, 2023 - 10:18 pm Reply
      • Travels Through My Lens

        In Zihuatanejo, Cozumel, and Isla Mujeres. They all had really great snorkeling, but that was over 30 years ago.

        January 26, 2023 - 2:48 am
  • travelling_han

    Oh wow, so much to see and do here. The water looks like pure paradise, and I had never even heard of a mouse deer, what an interesting creature! And those bats, wow. It looks a wonderful adventure, that’s for sure 🙂

    January 25, 2023 - 11:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Hannah, Tioman Island was a blast from start to finish, thanks for reading.

      January 26, 2023 - 8:57 am Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    Very neat adventures, and I did not realize monkeys had fangs!

    January 26, 2023 - 12:51 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Don’t think I’ve ever seen a monkey with a set of fangs like that. It took just one yawn to make me realise I better keep myself at a safe distance. Thanks for stopping by, Allie.

      January 26, 2023 - 9:00 am Reply
  • Anna

    Fantastic stuff Leighton! Nice mix of relax and action! What a paradise!

    January 26, 2023 - 1:06 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Anna! Tioman Island is an incredible corner of the Earth, I’m glad I got to spend a little time on it. I hope all is well with you and the family and that 2023 is progressing well 🙂

      January 26, 2023 - 9:01 am Reply
      • Anna

        We are doing well Leighton… enjoying the summer! Daughter’s 8 weeks of school holidays finish on friday, so if you hear a scream of excitement on monday that’s just me celebrating her going back to school! 🤣🤣🤣

        January 26, 2023 - 9:51 am
      • Leighton

        Ha ha I’ll keep an ear open.👂

        January 26, 2023 - 9:52 am
  • Laura

    This is the kind of story that makes the wanderer in me positively ache- adventuring without set plans, meeting all kinds of interesting fellow travelers on the road, that feeling of ‘this is why I travel…’ -what incredible memories. I have yet to travel to Asia and I truly hope to make it to many of these regions one day.

    January 26, 2023 - 1:22 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Aw thanks Laura, I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Tioman Island. In many ways Asia is where my heart is, though I haven’t been back since we left Cambodia in the summer of 2020. I would like to think that Sladja and I have one last Asian adventure left in us, there are definitely a few more countries I’d like to cross off. Hope you are well.

      January 26, 2023 - 9:07 am Reply
  • Rebecca

    Certainly an adventurous time, in contrast to your previous time relaxing– it’s like going from zero to 100 for Tioman Island! Lots of snorkeling, hiking, and fawning over sea turtles to be had…and that chicken/seafood noodle soup looks divine! Makes me want to book a trip there now!

    January 26, 2023 - 6:50 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Zero to 100 is about right. Uploading that photo of the soup reminded me how much I’ve been craving Asian cuisine recently. Our recent travels in the Balkans and Caucasus has been amazing, but it’s been a bit of a black hole when it comes to finding say authentic Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese or Japanese food. We did manage to unearth an amazing little Thai restaurant in the Georgian city of Kutaisi, while in Yerevan there was a divine Indian restaurant that we ate at twice to keep me good for the next 3 months or so in off-the-grid Greece. In the meantime I guess your Instagram posts will keep me dreaming of the next time we can get such food. Hope you’re doing well Rebecca.

      January 26, 2023 - 9:14 am Reply
  • ourcrossings

    I’ve never heard about Tioman Island, but it sure looks like an amazing place, the one where you can enjoy a book with a soundtrack of the sea and birds. I love the island’s remote feel and how its beaches are lightly developed. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    January 26, 2023 - 1:33 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Aiva, thanks for reading about my adventures on Tioman Island. You’re right, while it is definitely developed (especially compared to Sibu Island) I didn’t have the feeling it had been spoilt in any way.

      January 26, 2023 - 2:06 pm Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    Sounds like you had a splendid weekend on Tioman Island. After seeing those fangs, I’d be careful of the monkeys too! I love how the local business owners got together to install recycling stations. It shows how much pride and care they have for their community. How fun to go snorkelling. Life is pretty beautiful under the sea. It’s sad to hear that the number of sea turtles has been drastically declining in recent years. Thank goodness for the Juara Turtle Project to help make a difference.

    January 26, 2023 - 2:40 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Yes, hooray for such sanctuaries, especially as they are driven by volunteers and people who just want to help without ulterior motives. Thanks for reading about Tioman Island, it’s a truly lovely corner of the world.

      January 26, 2023 - 3:29 pm Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    Oh yes, I like your wooden chalet … that’s what spells island life for me (as well as a beer and pizza on a deserted beach)! What an amazing turquoise colour is the water – you chose a great spot for your first snorkelling experience! Love your hiking trail – and the mouse deer (so cute)! The Turtle Project is another lovely touch on your visit. For a weekend where you have not planned anything in advance, you certainly got heaps of fun! (Oh, and I hope Joe had remember to rub thick sunscreen onto his body 😉.)

    January 26, 2023 - 3:37 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha, you know a few of us joked that Joe was a walking milk bottle. I don’t remember him wearing any sunscreen. Ouch. Thanks for your positive comment Corna, Tioman Island is a special place and I’m so glad that people are responding to it.

      January 26, 2023 - 4:00 pm Reply
  • secret blogger

    I can not stop looking at the monkey. Hehe I am glad to see your blogs . It is amazing looking at beautiful area with your camera’s eyes

    January 26, 2023 - 5:01 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, thanks for keeping up with my adventures. it is much appreciated!

      January 26, 2023 - 6:23 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    Fantastic write up of this incredible island! Beautiful beaches, hiking through the jungle, and sea turtles- win all around. The bats do look a little creepy in such a mass in that tree though. But the best was the mouse deer. Tessa learned about them on some show and told me about them. So I had to show her your pictures and she was thrilled. ‘ I knew they were real!’. Apparently there was a disagreement in kindergarten about mouse deer being real so she happily went the next day to win the argument 🙂

    January 26, 2023 - 9:02 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha I love the idea of my post being used in an American school to settle an argument. Ah, it’s too good. I’m glad you enjoyed my report on Tioman Island, it was such a memorable weekend packed full of surprising adventures.

      January 26, 2023 - 9:15 pm Reply
  • Bama

    I’m so happy that you tried snorkeling! I still remember feeling amazed the first time I did it near the Komodo National Park in eastern Indonesia. It was like seeing all those characters from Finding Nemo in person! It’s also nice that you saw mouse deer. It’s an animal Indonesian kids learn from school but rarely see due to their dwindling population.

    January 27, 2023 - 7:09 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Snorkelling was amazing, I really should have done more over the years but somehow the opportunity never presented itself. Or maybe I didn’t go looking hard enough. At least Indonesian kids know about Mouse Deer, I was pretty clueless that day when we saw the sign. Thanks for contributing to the thread, Bama.

      January 27, 2023 - 1:29 pm Reply
  • Little Old World

    Snorkelling, hiking, turtles, the food, picture-perfect scenery… what a perfect sounding weekend! I love snorkelling when I get the chance and it’s fantastic you saw so much marine life (it’s not always the case!). I also love that there’s a mouse deer farm. I was lucky enough to come across a mouse deer when hiking in Borneo and had no idea they existed before then. And thanks for shining a light on the amazing work the Juara Turtle Project’s doing.

    January 28, 2023 - 4:11 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Mouse deer in Borneo, eh? Who would’ve known. The island looks absolutely incredible, you must have had a blast there. Thanks for reading about my adventurous weekend on Tioman Island and for taking the time to comment.

      January 28, 2023 - 6:06 pm Reply
      • Little Old World

        Borneo’s incredible and definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in Malaysia again.

        January 28, 2023 - 10:54 pm
  • Juliette

    Oh my, what a fantastic week-end you had! At first I thought nothing could top off a day of snorkelling in such an idyllic place, and then came the mouse deer and sea turtles! It seems like many of those places are lead by volunteers and do not operate with a “profit only” view, which is amazing and says a lot. Also, I had never heard of the mouse deer before and it seems too cute to be real! 😍

    February 2, 2023 - 10:29 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Juliette, Tioman was a dream experience in many respects. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I think the mouse deer could make a good pet if it wasn’t so incredibly shy and nervous.

      February 2, 2023 - 11:22 pm Reply
  • Toonsarah

    Great shot of the macaque, but it’s the mouse deer who steal the show! I’ve never heard of them, they look really cute 🙂

    February 3, 2023 - 4:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cute and exceptionally nervous, a strange combination. But I’m glad I got to see these little guys and equally pleased to have kept away from those monkey’s fangs. Thanks, Sarah.

      February 3, 2023 - 7:10 pm Reply
  • jaigovindmeena

    Great Reading

    April 10, 2023 - 2:31 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

      April 10, 2023 - 2:31 pm Reply
  • Nic's Adventures

    Thanks for sharing your weekend, sounds like you had a great time exploring Tioman Island, looks a great place to visit 🙂

    June 6, 2023 - 11:08 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading, Nic. Tioman offers a lot for people to do and is more of an adventurous island compared to nearby Sibu. Cheers.

      June 7, 2023 - 11:31 am Reply

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