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Tioman to Kuala Lumpur by Ferry and Bus

This article is Chapter 8 in the Three Continents Overland series.
Written by Joshua Fuglsang on .

Ferry departing from ABC, Tioman, bound for Mersing


In the last article I rode from Air Batang (ABC) to Paya by bicycle, which you can read about here.

This is a brief article describing the overland trip of ferry and bus from Tioman's Air Batang village to Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur. Read on to find out about the journey.

Tioman to Kuala Lumpur

Today was to be a long one, with quite a few hours sitting on public transport. The first leg of my journey; Tioman to Mersing, was scheduled for 9:30am. I got up, made my farewells, had breakfast, and headed to the jetty.

The boat was late, which was somewhat expected, not arriving until past 10am. My guesthouse asked me to arrive thirty minutes before the scheduled departure, so by the time the ferry arrived I had been waiting for more than an hour. Still, it was a beautiful spot to wait. I sat watching the view of the shoreline, the waking villagers, and the mist clearing from Tioman's mountains.

The ferry man admitted me to the boat directly, not yet taking the reasonable fee of 35 ringgit for the journey. Rather, I would pay once we were underway. Once departed the ferry took about two and a half hours to reach Mersing. It had to make two more stops on the island before may its way back to the mainland: Air Batang (ABC) -> Salang -> Tetek -> Mersing.

The Tioman Archipelago

The Tioman Archipelago

It was a nice ferry ride, going past the tropical jungle of Tioman, before making its way through the archipelago. Aside from Tioman the other islands seemed to be quite desolate, consisting of rock outcrops and sharp cliffs jutting out of the ocean.

Mersing ferry berth

Mersing ferry berth

Arriving at Mersing another ferry was already occupying the berth at the wharf, so our ferry pulled alongside the first, and we disembarked by walking through the other boat's cabin, much to the amusement of the passengers of both vessels. My connecting bus was due to leave in forty five minutes and I wanted to get lunch, so I had to quickly march through the town to the Sentral Station. Fortunately Mersing is not too large, so I could reach the bus stop in fifteen minutes.

Arriving at the station, I bought my onward tickets at the Sepakut counter, for they had the next bus leaving for KL, as I had researched earlier using BusOnlineTickets. The ticket cost 38.30 ringgit, which is more than the average price, but the next bus wasn't departing until 5:30pm, so I happily paid the premium.

The bus took around six hours in total, stopping twice along the way; once for fuel, and once for a rest stop. At the rest stop I bought and ate bananas: two for 1 ringgit. The bus went through what seemed to be hundreds of kilometers of palm plantations, destined the hungry palm oil and palm sugar industries. It's a crying shame that they have devastated their beautiful natural biodiversity so drastically in the name of industry and profit. Truly, it is breathtaking the sheer scale of destruction that the landscape has been subjected to.

The bus doesn't stop in the Kuala Lumpur city centre, rather it stops outside at a major terminal named Terminal Bersepadu Selatan, or TBS for short. In the main terminal building was a food court, so I hungrily indulged in a Thosai, also known as a Dosa.

Local 690 bus to Chinatown

Local 690 bus to Chinatown

Outside the main station I caught a city bus to my accommodation in Bukit Bintang. The bus I caught was the 690, and I could easily locate the stop from a handy pin that someone had saved on Maps.Me: "Bus 690 to Chinatown". As the name says, the bus goes to Chinatown, but also to Bukit Bintang if that is your destination. This final bus took about thirty minutes to drive through the city, showcasing Kuala Lumpur's evening lights. Once we were getting closer to my stop, I pressed the buzzer to notify to the driver to stop, as he wouldn't have otherwise.

To finish the evening I walked through Jalan Alor Food street with some newly made friends from Portugal and America, which I met during the trip.


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A Week in Kuala Lumpur

A tram passing through a confluence of roads and footpaths

A tram passing through a confluence of roads and footpaths

In the next article I visit some of the sites in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur. Read about it here.