Singapore - Tioman

Category: South East Asia,

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This is an almost unique itinerary - a rare combination of sophistication with remote tropical islands close by and yet a world away from the hustle and bustle of a modern city. Singapore was founded as an outpost of the East India Company by the intrepid Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819, becoming one of the British Straits Settlements in 1826 until independence in 1965.

Since then it has achieved fame as a forward looking city state with, for a time, ultra-strict local regulations - banning chewing gum was one of the most notorious. Wide boulevards and a rigorous planning policy of wholesale reconstruction has left the city centre with few old buildings however the famous Raffles Hotel remains as a symbol of a colonial way of life.

Food influenced by a multi-ethnic community makes visiting the Lion City a truly memorable experience and this cruise can be a fascinating way to break the journey between Europe and the Far East and the best time to enjoy it is between April and September.

SAMPLE ITINERARY

Day 1

After a day exploring the frenetic delights of the city and participating in the obligatory ritual of shopping and dining, a Singapore Sling in Raffles Hotel (the Long Bar is where the last tiger in Singapore was reputed to have been shot) is a peaceful respite from the Singaporean pace of life. It is a short taxi ride from the centre to Keppel Marina where the yacht awaits. As night falls, we sail east from Keppel through the legendary Straits with its attendant fleet of waiting cargo ships - Singapore ranks among the five busiest ports in the world - towards the Lima channel. Our passage is overnight northwards to the Tioman Islands.

Day 2

A dawn arrival at Pulau Rengis, on the west coast of Pulau Tioman, allows the yacht to clear customs into Malaysian waters. Tioman is reputed to be in the top ten world's most beautiful islands and inspired author James Michener's mythical Bal Hai in his 1958 musical "South Pacific". We breakfast on the island after which guests can snorkel on the Rengis coral garden or take a boat onto the main island for a jungle walk. Opportunities for scuba diving or snorkelling off the remote and rocky east coast precedes a short sail to Pulau Tulai or Coral Island where we anchor off Pasir Panjang Beach with its pure white soft sands and Batu Malang (Malang Rock) legendary for snorkelling. The vessel overnights in a peaceful bay

Day 3

We sail to Pulau Seribuat, a lovely little island giving its name to this captivating archipelago. Close by are a series of small islands, mostly uninhabited with stunning snorkelling in crystal clear waters and lovely white coral sand beaches. We sail between the islands and anchor overnight to witness a fabulous sunset and the clouds capping the mountains of the Malaysian mainland.

Day 4

We sail to Pulau Besar, characterized by quiet, clean beaches of powdery white sand and crystal-clear azure waters. To protect around 60 species of unspoiled marine life, the Government has designated it as a marine park. Rich hues of wild vegetations are dappled through with lush greens of the coconut palms and tropical jungle. There are 7 or 8 small villages still populated by around 100 friendly fishermen. A popular local myth concerns a fisher couple who transformed into mermaids after eating a kind of seaweed that is plentiful in these waters and it is claimed that mermaids floating in couples can sometimes be spotted eating this seaweed around the island. Pulau Besar got its former name, Pulau Babi Besar ("Big Boar Island") from the numerous wild boar that roamed before man's arrival.

Day 5

The yacht sails for Pemanggil an island which has a small Malay kampong (settlement) and teems with marine life on untouched coral reefs, edged by endless stretches of pristine white sand. The island lies in a deep sea fisherman's paradise with abundant Tenggiri (a species of mackerel) and Black Marlin as the prized quarry. We head for the isolated bay of Teluk Lancang on Pemanggil's north coast. The island is undiscovered by tourists and lush tropical vegetation interspersed with coconut palms abounds. A walk in the jungle takes us to the huge boulder known as Batu Buau, home of Nenek Buau, sacred Guardian of the island and clearly visible on a clear day from Tioman Island 25 miles away.

Day 6

We head south to Pulau Dayan and Pulau Aur. In the narrow channel separating these twin islands is a peaceful anchorage in a natural harbour fringed by empty beaches. The main settlement is Kampong Teluk Berhala with no roads or vehicles and, not surprisingly, everyone seems to be related to each other. For a spot of retail therapy we visit friendly Makcik Fatimah who owns the well stocked and only grocery store in the village. The island waters are so clear that even without getting wet one can observe manta rays, dolphins and huge quantities of marine life at close quarters. For scuba divers there is a chance to dive with whale sharks, hover around immense coral gardens and walls, or dive on ominous and hulking shipwrecks.

Day 7

We sail west from this tropical paradise to the island of Pulau Tinggi which gets its name from a hill rising 2,000 feet above sea level ("tinggi" is Malay for "high"). The island is painted green by the lush tropical forest, rich with rattan, timber and other valuable plants. The surrounding waters teem with exotic marine life and beautiful underwater flora fringing the coral reefs, providing a breathtaking underwater panorama for divers and snorkelers. The island is also blessed with natural fresh water and a sheltered harbour, making it a popular stopover point for trading ships in the past. The locals believe that Malay's most famous hero, Hang Tuah, stopped here on one of his journeys and that his spirit still guards the island. In the late afternoon we head south overnight for Singapore and the contrast of civilization.

Day 8

We arrive in the morning to clear immigration into the Lion State and departure from the yacht.
NB This itinerary can be adapted for shorter stopover breaks for those passing through Singapore.

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