Tioman - Island of the Sleeping Dragon

Author: Irene Pramudito
Trip report on Diving Tioman - KSDC Singapore's First Official Trip

 

Tioman is a small island located 32km off the eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is part of the state of Johor, which shares a border with Singapore. It is dubbed the "Island of the Sleeping Dragon" - Local mythology claims that the island is the embodiment of the mighty dragon Sri Gumom. The dragon was on his way to visit his sister Gunung Linga (Lingin Peak) but the great Sri Rama forbade the meeting and Sri Gumom was turned into a stone and fell into the deep sea where he now remains, frozen in eternity as this beautiful island with its distinctive topography.

To get to Tioman, we had to cross the Singapore border at Woodlands, then the Malaysian border at Johor Bahru, drive 3 hours to the sleepy coastal town of Mersing, and take an hour-long speedboat ride to the island. Phew!

Eight of us arrived at Mersing just past midnight, and spent the night at Embassy hotel. The accommodation was nothing spectacular, but it had air-conditioning, clean sheets, and a shower so we were happy.

Early Saturday morning, we made our way to Mersing jetty to catch the 7.30sm speedboat. Without further ado, we were bundled into a speedboat and an hour later we were at Tioman Reef Divers' dive centre in Kampong Tekek, Tioman. We had rooms at the adjacent Babura Resort, so we quickly changed and rigged up. By 10am we were at the first dive site of the day: Tiger Rock.

The sea was friendly that day: flat surface, little to no current. Visibility was nothing to shout about, but it was a decent dive and macro life was aplenty. Our dive guides, Tom and Reeno, pointed out several interesting nudibranchs: Nembrotha kubaryana, Nembrotha cristata, Chromodoris coi. There were also plenty of the common, garden-variety Varicose wart slugs. The rock formations were very interesting too, with plenty of nooks and crannies to peek into.

We surfaced to have a short interval, and then moved on to our next site: Labas. One of my favorite Tioman sites, it never disappoints. We saw quite a lot of stuff: blue-spotted stingrays, more Nembrothas (kubaryana, cristata, milleri), Pteroilidia ianthina, Hypselodoris bullockii. The photographers were moving very very slowly, making the four divers without camera restless. They eventually decided to move along and leave the photographers behind.

After Labas, we went back to the resort for lunch, and to get tanks for our next dive at Soyak. The site is quite a large one - it is tiny island (or a huge rock, depending on how you want to look at it) surrounded by a flat fringing reef. A wooden fishing boat lies on its starboard at about 22 meters, providing a haven for schooling fishes and an interesting photo subject. We saw shooling barracuda, some giant trevallys, Kim and Eric Lee clowning around, Lala and Winda exchanging fins, and various other antics.

Back on the boat, almost everyone decided to go for a night dive. Eric Lee opted out because he was not feeling well, and I decided to pass, just because.

The divers came back grinning (don't they always) from their night dive at Renggis, and we had a late dinner and a few beers to end a great day out.

On Sunday morning, we had a quickie breakfast and was at the dive site, Chebeh, by 9am. It was a great day out, sunny, flat seas, no current, and when we dropped into the blue, the viz was easily 30 meters!! What a treat! You know, they say that the viz is always the best at the tail end of the season? It's true! I have never seen that kind of viz in Tioman before, and I've logged plenty of dives here. Too bad Peiyi and Tong Rong had to do their navigation dive elsewhere!

Our second dive that day was at Genting Bay - we were hunting for a purple Hypselodoris bullockii. We did find one, but a peach-coloured specimen. Not that I was complaining :) We also saw a very large spider conch, a fat yummy-looking barramundi cod (kerapu tikus), a juvenile harlequin sweetlips (ikan dangdut) and some severely underdressed divers ;) Yes, we decided to ditch our wetsuit for the last dive of the trip. Babes and hunks in next to nothing, woohoo!!

Needless to say, we had a very nice weekend diving. Peiyi and Tong Rong got their NAUI Advanced Open Water certificates, Kim even prolonged the weekend and stayed another night. As Kapal Selam Dive Cub Singapore's first official trip, it was definitely a trip to remember!!

Here's what some the participants said after the trip:

Hey Guys....Home safe and sound......

First of all Big Cheers for Irene's hard work setting up the trip. Everything was great, wonderful, terriffic and I appreciate her efforts tremendously.....especially the extra planning to get me back home.
 
The Sunday afternoon dives were great. We went out to Sepoi Island and dove with a new group and had a great dive. The second dive was on Golden Reef with magnificent swim throughs.  We saw a orange shaggy flabellina about 2 cm long and it even made the guys squeal. We also saw another juvi harlequin sweet lips about twice the size of the first one and watched it dance for about five minutes. Of course saw a bunch of diff nudis and fish fish fish.
 
The morning dive was to Pirate Reef, nothing to brag about but there was a fun small wreck at 20 meters that had the 6-7 cm small transparent shrimp (don't know the name) that would crawl on your hands. Also saw school of pike barracuda and three large barracuda. All in all, had a great time.
 
If you remember the girl Jasmine, who had 50 dives on this trip. In the afternoon dives she kept harping on the DMs about Whale Sharks, Whale Sharks, Whale Sharks......It got a little tiring. So my wit jumped over the line and I told her Whale Sharks are attracted to naked ladies, so if all the girls dove in the buff, we would up the odds of seeing one.........Whale Shark was never mentioned again.

Thanks Everyone, I really enjoyed the diving and weekend. This was my best
dive weekend at Tioman!

Cheers

Kim

----

Welcome home Kim.

Glad you enjoyed the trip as much as I had enjoyed your company on this
trip.

Should tell that Jasmine, the more you want to see something, the less
likely you will see it but then I think the Whale Shark's attraction to
naked ladies is better. :p

A BIG Thank you to Irene for her efforts in making the arrangements for this
trip. Not forgetting the fact that she helped us get our rightful seats on
the boat back.

Dive safely.

Cheers

Eric Loh

----

Glad to have such an awesome diving trip with all you guys. I really had a
lot of fun and saw many wonderful things during the dives. A big thank you
to Irene for organizing such a great trip. It's a nice and memorable trip
and looking forward to diving with you guys next
time :) Cheers!

Tong Rong

----

Glad we all had a great time. Though the way back was a mad rush, we still
had a lot of fun and laughter?.. I am so looking forward to diving with you
guys again and we WILL see Whale Shark. J

Regards,

Ling Peiyi

----

Big thanks to Irene for organising the trip. Honestly, it was the best trip
so far I had on Tioman. Great buddy, great companions too, although 2 people
always went missing =) =) They were just simply too fast, hahaha.

Never mind the whale shark. As Kim said, we got to go skinny deep to sight
one, hahahaha..........

Enjoyed it bery bery much.

Winda

----

Irene... thanks for the trip!!! it was more than i expected... hahaa....
after u said... \"this girl from Bali travelling to Thailand and want to dive
in Tioman??\" hahhahaaa..........

take care

Alexandra

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