Air Batang: A Tioman Tale Part Two

Air Batang: A Tioman Tale Part Two

Michael CarterRead about Michael’s arrival to Pulau Tioman in his last article.

Air Batang, Pulau Tioman, Malaysia

After spending a couple of days in Salang, I caught a water taxi a short distance south along the coast to Air Batang, Pulau Toman, Malaysia. I stayed in a bungalow by the shore at Nazri’s. It had a fantastic sea view and sounds of the surf to lull me to sleep at night. I was a 10-minute walk from the Air Batang jetty and a 50-minute walk to the largest village on the island, Kampang Tekek. Like Salang, there were no roads, only pathways. After just a 3-minute walk from my bungalow, I found Ray’s Dive Adventure. Ray’s became my closest depot for beer, sunsets, and star-gazing at night.

My bungalow at Nazri's in Air Batang.I started suffering from a chronic condition known as IPI (Island Pace Inertia). No matter which island in the world one travels to, that traveler eventually succumbs to IPI. In my case, it took about five minutes for the condition to afflict me.

As I was still on the northwest side of the island, I had come to accept that I wouldn’t have time to see nearly as much of the island as I originally thought. Wanting to explore a bit more, I considered taking a day-trip out of Tekek. I thought about going on a 4-wheel drive tour for a day. As the largest city on the island, Tekek actually does have a road. There’s one leading to the east side of the island. Alas, the tour required a minimum of four passengers, and no one else had signed up. I decided to rent a bicycle instead, and pedal my butt around Air Batang and into Tekek. This turned out to be a great decision.

Mother NatureOther than by foot, my primary mode of transportation.

I cycled along the coast and made numerous stops to gaze into the crystal clear water below. I saw plenty of marine life species without donning a mask and snorkel, which thrilled me I managed to rip off a large toenail earlier in the trip and water activities would have only aggravated it. 

Tioman seemed to have more cats than people, but for lovers of slightly wilder life, there was a plethora of free-roaming creatures. Countless colourful birds, butterflies, and playful monkeys. Lovers of lizards and things that slither would be in heaven here. Monitor lizards ambled along the pathways everywhere. It seemed like every time I glanced up into the tree branches, I caught a glimpse of a python lazing away.

The Tiong,  a reddish-orange bird with a bright yellow beak and white trim on its wing, has become a symbol of Tioman. So much so, that a large statue of a Tiong is erected in a Tekek park.

The Tiong Statue in Tekek.

Last Hurrah in Tekek

Air Batang was my comfort zone, but I cycled in all directions daily. I happened upon a place near the end of the marine park jetty called Go Deeper. It had a modernistic, yet funky, decor. The food was crap but the beer was ice cold, and the cheapest I had come across on the island. I sort of liked the place and decided to move from my bungalow in Air Batang to Go Deeper for my last night. The lodgings were more expensive than Nazri’s, but they offered me a free bicycle to use and free transportation in a sidecar to the early-morning ferry at the jetty in Tekek, which was four kilometers away. 

The beach at Air Batang

The rooms were refurbished cylindrical-drainage-pipes-turned-hotel-rooms with air-conditioning, plus a private bathroom behind. It seemed ideal for a final night.

I had neglected to bring a travel alarm with me, so I was at the mercy of the Go Deeper staff to wake me up at 6:00am, so I could shower and leave by sidecar to the jetty in time to catch the 7:00am ferry. I had already purchased an open ticket, but still needed to arrive in time to exchange it for a boarding pass.

A picture of the refurbished cylindrical rooms at Go Deeper in Air Batang.

An Early Morning

Tioman is a duty-free zone. Notably, I still had one bottle of wine left from my purchase at the Tekek Duty-Free Centre. For my final Tioman night, I cocooned myself into my cozy drainage pipe and liberated the cork from my last bottle of wine. Fond memories of the island flashed back through my mind, but I was afraid to fall asleep. Past experience taught me never to rely on ‘wake-up’ calls or services.

The Go Deeper Hotel, at the foot of the Marine Park jetty.

Nonetheless, the wine gods insisted otherwise, and I was lights out before even finishing the bottle.

The call of nature woke me up at some unknown time. After peering outside and seeing black, I had no real idea of the time. It could have been 2:00am or 6:00am. I remembered that the bar/reception area had a large-faced clock, which was easily visible because three sides of the eating area were open-air. I figured it made sense to leave my room and make the 45-second walk to check the time. It was pitch black all around, with a tiny sliver of a moon barely illuminating my path. There was just enough natural starlight to make out the time. Although looking at the clock almost seemed like looking through a pair of eyeglasses made of bubble wrap, I hazily deciphered the time. It was 4:30am.

Nightfall in Air Batang

Trust the Wake-Up Call

With just an hour-and-a-half left, I felt too afraid to go back to sleep and risk not getting up in time. I still didn’t have faith in receiving the wake-up knock-knock. Besides, I had about a third of a bottle of wine to polish off before departure anyway. Ahhh — I had ninety minutes or so to relax and sip on some coffee. Elysium.

The view from the front of my bungalow at Air Batang

It seemed like only a few minutes — and it was — had gone by when I heard a tap-tap on my glass door. My 6:00am wake-up call had arrived, along with my sidecar driver waiting for me when I was ready. My clock-reading skills must have failed me. More than likely, I had woken up around 5:30 instead of the perceived 4:30.

I forfeited my morning shower in order to finish the wine at a respectable pace and made it to the jetty on time.

by Michael Carter

40 thoughts on “Air Batang: A Tioman Tale Part Two

  1. Nice piece, Michael, I particularly like the drainage pipe hotel…a bit ritzy for you, I thought.

    1. Yes, a bit of a splash out for my last night, but it didn’t drain my wallet too much. relatively close to the jetty I was to depart from and free early morning transportation to the jetty were key selling points.

    1. True – an interesting design feature of that hotel. I had spent the majrity of my time on the island in much more basic bungalows so this was an interesting twist for my last night.

  2. The island attracts lots of Scuba divers and snorkelling enthusiasts, but it does have plenty of quaint beaches just to laze around on.

  3. I’ve intrigued by the drainage pipe hotel. I’ve never been to Malaysia but I’d love to visit when we are able to travel again.

  4. This sounds like such an interesting place to visit. The drainage pipe hotel as definitely got my interest.

    1. When I return to Tioman, I’ll have to go back to Go Deeper and collect a commission from all of the interest I’ve created in their drain pipe rooms. (ha-ah)

  5. These are so beautiful places! Thanks for sharing so many things about Malaysia.

  6. Most of the world is currently experiencing some sort of travel restrictions. All the more reason to cherish memories of these beautiful places and look forward to visiting them again … soon!

  7. I have never heard of IPI before now, I can not imagine what it must really feel like. I love your energy and zeal to enjoy your trip regardless. This place looks and sounds like an interesting place to visit.

  8. I had never heard of IPI.- Now I know! Those refurbished cylindrical-drainage-pipes-turned-hotel-rooms look very interesting! I’ve never seen a room like that. I love all the photos you provided! What great memories.

  9. I’ve been to Malaysia and really enjoyed this city! I was supposed to be there this month! I’d love to visit Air Batang!

    1. …and thanks for taking the time to read the article. For those who like a laid-back island pace, it is ideal.

  10. Oh my gosh, I have learned about wake up calls too. -_- Nice island though! I bet it was great to visit.

  11. Early departures are my bane when travelling. I’m not naturally an early riser and I don’t trust wake up calls.

  12. This is a part of Malaysia I haven’t seen but I do love the natural beauty of the island. The drainage pipe hotel is even something I would consider for the sheer novelty of it – although the only real draw back for me would be the thought of the snakes there. Although I know the chances of any entanglements with a slithering reptile might be slight but the thought of it just freaks me out a bit. A shame because otherwise this looks like a real piece of paradise to visit, explore and enjoy.

    1. The only snakes (pythons) I saw were harmlessly and lazily resting in the tree branches about. Plenty of monitor lizards running around though. They are generally skittish when it comes to human contact.

  13. I’ve not been to Malaysia yet, but I’m happy to read about a part I seldom hear about. Thanks for sharing! Glad he got to enjoy a tropical flavour.

  14. The views look incredible! I find that I have the same struggle anytime I am travelling somewhere – there is always more to see than I have time for. I want to explore and see it ALL! I’ve never been to Malaysia, but in reading through your travels, I need to add it to my bucket-list!

  15. What an absolutely incredible adventure! I love wildlife and cats, so this sounds like the perfect island for me to visit. Also could do with some island inertia to help me relax, I think!

    1. That’s what island life is about. I remember years ago I spent some time on the island of Caye Caulker, Belize. No roads or motorized vehicles except for a few golf carts…one belonged to the island police. Still, the island pathways had the occasional sign reminding golf cart would be Formula One drivers to ‘Go Slow’. The perfect mantra for island life.

  16. I must admit that Malaysia has never been at the top of my travel bucket list. But it certainly sounds like you had an interesting visit. I’m looking forward to borders being opened up and welcoming travelers and tourists again soon, once the Coronavirus is over.

    1. I think we can all agree that no matter which destinations are near the top of our bucket lists, we all want to get checking those bucket list boxes again as soon as possible.

  17. The snake in the tree would be too much for me, but the Go Deeper hotel with its drainage pipe rooms is a really interesting place to spend a night. It looks really neat from the front. I also like the looks of the first place you stayed–you can’t beat ocean views.

  18. For me, one of the best ways to start the day – a good cup of coffee and watching the waves crash along the shore.

  19. I have never been to Malaysia but ai hope to visit one day. I have never hearr of anyone not loving it once they have been.

  20. Many people are guilty of overlooking some places because they are unfamiliar to them. These travel blogs serve a great purpose by alleviating some the mystery of certain places. I personally can’t think of one reason NOT to like Malaysia

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