Time out on Pulau Tinggi

by Uwe Fischer | 

It is holiday, I am splashing in the pool…from the loudspeakers, Klaus Meine is shouting “Still Loving You”, albeit in a decent volume. The group Nazareth (“Love Hurts”) takes over, describing the pains of love in full agreement. But not only love hurts, the acoustic wallpaper on the pool is not quite painless to bear, either.

Apart from the muzak rock, this place it is really paradise. I am taking a break in the TAd Resort on Pulau Tinggi. The small island belongs to the state of Johor and is hardly known even to the locals, and foreigners, especially Europeans, rarely get lost here. The TAd Marine Resort has 88 rooms and is the only running hotel on the island, but other than me there are just 10 guests here. This may also be due to the fact that the fasting month of Ramadan has just begun. After that, Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the Malaysian counterpart to the sugar feast, will be celebrated here, and according to resort manager Nizam Bin Ibrahim by then all the chalets and villas will be fully booked.

Pulau Tinggi is not necessarily suitable for guests who expect everything to be similar to Western standards. The TAd Marine Resort is recommended for those who love quietness and are happy with a simple clean room providing refrigerator, air conditioning and TV, but lacking a safe and internet connection. It is a place for people who don’t mind lying on an wooden deck chair without a mattress. This lack of coziness is compensated by a dreamlike white sand beach, crystal clear water, coral reefs, a hidden jungle path leading to a waterfall and, last but not least, an absolutely fantastic kitchen. However – another obstacle for over-critical guests – you should have no problems getting served food you did not select yourself. At least this is the rule when only a few guests are present. Then kitchen chef Alex Boh takes over proofing his extra class by composing absolutely delicious 5-course menus. No need to struggle with a menu card; simply sit down and wait what you’ll get served. It is a culinary adverture you will not regret.

Photo gallery of Pulau Tinggi

I am at Pulau Tinggi for 2 nights, and on my second day it is time for some activities. In the morning all 10 guests take a motorboat for a snorkelling trip. The destination is a tiny island, only a few minutes away from Pulau Tinggi. It has a coral reef and many fishes, lured by white bread brought along by the other guests. While this spot is apt especially for snorchelling, for divers there should be many other places around here as well, as most of Johor’s island world is easily accessible by motorboat within a few minutes.

In the afternoon, jungle trecking is on the agenda. The cool shady jungle is just the right thing now, I suppose, but as it turns out I am still all sweat, thanks to the path cheerfully going up and down. Luckily, it is equipped with ropes along the route, so that you have a secure hold at any time. Our guide is patiently waiting for the untrained tourists, many of them in flip-flops, and even offers to carry the children brought along on particularly steep sections on his back. The destination of our little tour is a nice waterfall in the midst of the jungle, which flows into a small natural pool. The cool water invites to splashing and a few swimming strokes, and of course the obligatory photos have to be taken, too.

After the almost one-hour tour I am happy to relax again at the pool, where Klaus Meine welcomes me back. This time, however, he lamentes his “Winds of Change”, and I wish he was actually taken literally, because a few changes in the playlist would surely improve the paradise’s soundtrack.

Pulau Tinggi can be reached by motorboat from the coastal town of Mersing, the crossing takes about 40 minutes. There is also a second jetty somewhat closer which was built by the Tad Marine Resort, but it is  quite far outside of Mersing and not reachable by public transport. The crossing from here takes about 15 to 20 minutes. And don’t forget to bring your earplugs along.

Photo gallery of Pulau Tinggi

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