The Serene Getaway: Tioman Island - My Family Travels

The deep blue waves crash relentlessly against the sides of the minuscule boat as I gaze out of the circular window, looking for the first signs of land. The stormy seas bob the vulnerable boat up and down, up and down, making me feel slightly queasy. My parents and I are on our way to Tioman Island, a small island of Malaysia.

            A sudden lurch tells us that we have arrived at our destination. Clambering out of the small vessel, my parents and I find ourselves on a wooden dock, swaying just a bit from the rough waters below. My eldest uncle is already waiting for us with his wife at his side. Two motorcycles are a few feet behind them. My aunt joins my uncle and my parents ride in the other bike with me in a small side compartment and in a matter of seconds we’re speeding past thick tropical forests on narrow cement roads.

            After about twenty minutes, we pass a few tennis courts, a pool, and a series of bungalows before finally arriving at the main lobby of the Berjaya Tioman Beach, Golf and Spa Resort. In the center of a tropical oasis there are the modern necessities available, making it a perfect vacation spot for the whole family. The lobby is open air and overhead fans keep the atmosphere cool. I take a seat in one of the oversized woven armchairs and absorb the flourishing tropical surroundings. My parents get the paperwork settled and we climb aboard a hotel shuttle which delivers us to our stylish bungalow. As soon as we bring all the baggage into the room, we set out once again.

            The weather has cleared up and my parents and I enjoy the cool breeze that makes the lush environment even more amazing. We take one of the few roads that roll up and down, following the natural curves of the island’s hills. Normally my legs would have quickly been exhausted but in this serene place my body feels more energized and within minutes we approach what seems like a quaint cottage. The cottage is actually my uncle’s family bakery. As if by some supernatural sense, my aunt promptly steps out to welcome us when we are a few steps away from the door.

            The bakery is small but the fragrant aroma of sweet dough and strawberry filling makes up for the lack space. Even though everything on the island is smaller and rustic compared to New York City life, it is a calming and beautiful experience nonetheless. I sample some of the handmade doughnuts and my Uncle takes us by motorcycle to the beach further down the road.

On an island as minute as Tioman, everyone knows everyone and all the locals treat you like one of their own. We are lead to an open air restaurant where the manager, a good friend of my uncle, makes us feel right at home. He brings in three coconuts which he explains were plucked only seconds ago from one of the many surrounding coconut trees. He expertly hacks off the tops of the coconuts with a clever, making sure none of the sweet juices drip out. The crisp, refreshing drink cools us off while traditional Malaysian dishes are lined up in on the long wooden table.

My parents, my uncle, our host and I all gather around the table and help ourselves to the wonderfully flavorful dishes like Nasi Lemak and Satay. While my parents and I use spoons and forks, my uncle and his friend use their hands to eat which is a Muslim tradition. Despite the different setting and customs, my first day on the island is eventful and eye-opening. On an island small enough to travel by foot so many wonderful adventures and discoveries can be experienced!


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