Thanks to Nunda for first suggesting it and then Adrian, Lisa, Michael, Nesh and Tim for letting me tag along, I got a chance to visit Tioman Island (http://www.tioman.com.my/) and on the way back Malacca (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malacca). To get to Tioman you start out in the port of Mersing. We didn't really spend that much time in Mersing other than park and board the ferry, but that's the joy of traveling that even the smallest things in foreign places can be of interest. Wish I could have found a better angle, but the picture on the left is of a Hindu temple across form the gas station where we fueled up. Note the interesting iconography. The Firesign (its fairly common across Asia and not meant as reproduction of the Swastika), but also a six pointed star. Its the first time I ever seen one. Wish I had more time to see if there is a story there, but we were due for the ferry. A mystery for another day.
Tioman has multiple resorts and locations with a variety of options all the way from the high end to the low end. We stayed at the Salang Indah Resort (http://www.journeymalaysia.com/islandtiomansalangindah.htm)
in Salang at the northern most point of the Island. The resort itself is fairly basic. Like most resorts in South East Asia it covers the basics. We got one of the low end lodges. No AC, but it did have ceiling fan and since the nights were cool and during the day we didn't spend that much time in our rooms it was more than adequate.
Salang very much reminded me of the West End of Roatan. A long stretch of beach lined with bars and lodges. There's really not much to do other than beach, water and bars. Not a criticism of the Island itself since the beach and the surroundings are beautiful, but for those who aren't looking for either of the three above the options might be limited.
While the rest of the group went snorkeling I went diving. I went with Fisherman Divers (http://www.fishermandivers.com/home.html). Good guys and I'd recommend them to anyone. The diving was good, but not great. We did Labas and Salang Bay. A lot of the coral is dying due to the high volume and traffic and the marine life is relatively sparce. Still do not regret going and would definitely recommend it to those who find themselves on Tioman for reasons other and for novice divers who just need to get wet.
On the way back from Tioman we stopped in Malacca. Definitely one of the highlights of my stay in Malaysia. Tim is originally from Malacca so it was like having a native guide. (Thanks Tim. I owe you one). Malacca is an old city and you really get a sense of place that I didn't really get in KL or Putrajaya. Putrajaya is much too new and still developing and KL is a major city in many ways not unlike other major cities around the world. But in Malacca due to the mixture of cultures. The Malays, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British and the Chinese all left an indelible mark on the city and it all melds into an interesting combination of the various cultures and flavors. Each retaining something unique and complimenting the others. We got into the Malacca Town fairly late on Sunday so all of the museums (and there are a lot of them) were closed, but we did walk through the center and then climbed the hill up to St. Paul's church and watched the sun set over the harbor. Our final stop was Jonker Street.
Lots of restaurants and street stalls. The street food is really, really good. I was even brave and tried some Durian Chendol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cendol). For those of you who have never tried a Durian it is an acquired taste. The flavor is best described as a sweet onion garlic mix.
Wish we had had more time to spend in Malacca, but this will definitely give me a reason to return.