In the previous article I went on a snorkelling trip around Tioman Island, which you can read about here. In this article I describe the journey of cycling from Air Batang (ABC) village to Paya Village.
Air Batang (ABC) to Paya Village
To get to Paya from ABC we first needed to hire bicycles. All bike prices on the island are regulated by the Tioman Cartel and so the prices are non-negotiable. At the time of writing they cost 5 ringgit per hour, up to a maximum of 30 ringgit for the day, which is what we would be paying.
Tioman gets quite hot during the day, so we woke up at the relatively early time of 8:00am to depart. Our dormitory and bike hire was all the way at the Northern end of the village, so we needed to ride all through the village to the Southern end before eventually cycling around the rocky peninsular separating ABC and Tetek.
Road between Tetek and Paya
At the end of Tetek was the first hill. All bicycles on the island are single-speed, so we had to get off and push the bikes through the steepest section near to the hill's crest. At this point we encountered a troop of monkeys, who tried to intimidate us as we passed. At the top of the hill is a junction which we went straight through to continue towards Paya. At the bottom of the hill is a group of resorts on a beach which I believe to be called Benjaya. Towards the end of these resorts was a boom gate. The boom gat was ajar to let scooters, pedestrians, and bicycles through, so we ducked under it and continued on our way. The boom gate marked the entrance to a golf course, which we cycled through for another fifteen minutes or so. This section at the road was fairly hilly again, with one major climb that demanded that we walk up.
On the top of the final crest outside of the golf course was a huge dilapidated resort called Selsea Tioman. Being so far removed from all the towns, this resort seemed to have arrived on some hard times. In fact, by looking up at the balconies of the rooms, I am almost certain that there was not a single guest when I passed. A pity, for them.
Unsealed road after golf course
From the resort the sealed road soon ends. We were soon cycling downhill on a rough dirt road through lush green tropical foliage. This section took perhaps ten minutes of slow, treacherous cycling before reaching its end next to a small brackish lagoon; a beach, and a turtle sanctuary sign.
Turtle Sanctuary Beach
From here we ditched the bikes and began on foot. It was high-tide, so we had to walk through the jungle towards Paya. When it is low tide you are meant to be able to walk around the headland on the sand. The jungle was was incredibly steep, but well maintained. There was a wire mesh on the ground to make it harder to lose grip and slip over. Once starting the jungle walk it took perhaps twenty minutes to reach its end.
Soon enough we left the jungle, arriving at a dilapidated bridge and an abandoned guest house. We walked past a series of small buildings, and then across a bridge in front of a paintball sign before arriving at Paya in earnest.
Paya is a lovely little village. It is perhaps more up-market than ABC, but is quite pretty nonetheless. It seemed to have better eating options than what we have been having, and for a better price. Like ABC, and Tetek, Paya is set up all along the main beach front strip. Here we stopped for a while to play some games of cards while waiting for the tide to go down.
Rockfall river behind Paya
At the end of the beach street, behind the village is a small cascading river called the "rockfall", nestled in the jungle. We went here for a short time after lunch to cool down.
Wading through low tide
Low tide arrived for us at 5:30pm so we began to make our way back, this time daring to try to go around the headland. Even at low tide it was not possible to walk on the beach the whole way. I walked through the water for about two hundred meters. The floor was sandy for the first half of the headland walk before giving way to coral. The coral was still living, so I don't believe the tide ever goes the whole way down. Eventually I was no longer able to wade through the ocean as the water was getting deeper, and the coral denser, so I couldn't make a path along the ocean floor by only walking on sand.
Scrambling around the Paya Headland
Soon enough we were scrambling around the headland over the boulders themselves. This was straight forward and fun, though not for everyone. We were also rewarded for our efforts with some spectacular views of the coastline. Definitely walking through the jungle is easier and more forgiving.
After reaching back to the turtle sanctuary beach we were soon on our bikes and cycling back towards ABC, stopping once in Tetek for some fresh coconuts. Tetek is bigger and is not just a tourist town, so it is possible to buy fresh fruit with a reasonable price. We got back at about 7pm, making the trip a full day affair. It was a lovely day, and cycling is a great way to see the island. It's just a shame you can't get a geared bike for the hills and unsealed sections.
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Tioman to Kuala Lumpur
Ferry departing from ABC, Tioman, bound for Mersing
In the next article I travel from Tioman Island to Malaysia's capital; Kuala Lumpur. Read about it here.