Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Japamala Resort, Tioman Island

Prelude: If you are here solely for a review of Japamala Resort, jump straight to "(REVIEW STARTS)" below.

So we spent 3D2N at Japamala Resort in Tioman Island from 2 June (Friday) to 4 June (Sunday). To be certain that the vacation go smoothly, I did extensive research and planning down to some rather minute details. Breastfeeding did not make it easier.

So imagine my exasperation when I woke up four and a half hours late the morning we were supposed to drive five hours to Tanjung Gemok jetty - the entry point of Tioman Island from Pahang coast. By then, we would definitely miss our 8:00 AM pre-booked ferry ride ($$$). The next earliest option we knew we had was an 11:00 AM ferry (otherwise, it would be a 5:00 PM - not appealing at all), which meant we had to reach the jetty by 10:00 AM, which meant we would have to cut the drive by a full hour from the normal duration.

And so we drove (read: sped) all the way, braving rainy weather and water puddles. Thanks to Waze and a car with amazing acceleration (read: excellent over-taking abilities), we managed to reach the jetty at exactly 10:00 AM, despite one toilet stop and one phone call stop.

Abandoning all courtesy, we pushed our way through the relaxed (how smug!) holiday crowds in the jetty straight to the ticketing counter.

"Ticket ferry dah habis (ferry tickets are sold out)".

Those were the words I had been fearing to hear from the moment I saw the time on my bedside alarm clock that morning after waking up from a sleep that immediately felt too comfortably sufficient before even looking at the time.

"Cuba kaunter sebelah. Mungkin masih ada. (Try the next counter. Maybe they still have tickets.)"

And so we barged into the adjacent counter and to our greatest relief, they still had tickets for their 10:30 AM ferry, which left us with just 15 minutes to run back to our car, park the car at the proper long-term parking lot, lug out our baggage and make a beeline back to the jetty, buy the marine fee tickets, and then board the ferry, which by then had been on full boarding mode for some time. We held back what toilet urges we had and prayed they have decent toilets on board (they do).

The moment I took my seat inside the ferry, I literally heaved a euphoric sigh of relief.

We did make it to Tioman Island, albeit three hours late and at a jetty further away from Japamala Resort than our original jetty's point of arrival. Nothing a phone call and some slight adjustments by the resort's boat taxi service cannot fix.

The next 48 hours felt almost like a dream. Almost - because at the back of my mind I had a nagging concern about how the breast milk I pumped and stored in the restaurant's freezer throughout my stay were going to survive the nine hour trip home. Were the cooler box and ice packs I bought specifically for this trip going to work? (They were. The milk and ice were still 80% frozen when I transferred them from the cooler box to our freezer at home.). That, on top of wondering whether my baby was doing alright at my parents'.

(REVIEW STARTS)

My own circumstances aside, Japamala Resort was indeed a wonderful beach retreat. Rustic, eco-luxe, and paradise-like were some of the common words used by previous guests to describe the resort. My personal addition to the list would be "unpretentious". The resort appeared so effortlessly good, yet one could subtly see much thoughts had been put into its design and execution. Yes, they already had the beautiful beach, hills and jungles to build on, but effectively capitalising on those is no easy feat, especially with its rather tricky natural configuration. For this, I feel they have succeeded in harmonising the architectures of man and Mother Nature.

To me, there are only two setbacks of the resort. First is the lack of local simple cuisine within the resort. Luxurious should not automatically mean fancy. There were only two cuisine choices - Thai and Italian. Both flavours lean towards the rich side of the palette (at least their menu selections did). This was a problem because Japamala guests are very constrained to dining just within the resort due to its seclusion from the rest of the island. By the end of our stay, we were already quite tired of the food, however delicious had they been.

The sand flies are the second setback. Rumour has it that mosquito repellent can reduce chances of bites. We won't know because we didn't use any, and 3 weeks after the trip, the bites still itch.

Enough with words. I shall let the photos speak.


RESORT PICS


































F&B PICS































The journey back to KL was a lot more relaxed than the in-bound journey. We took the pre-booked Cataferry ride (much much more comfortable), then, no thanks to Waze, drove six hours through some dark, dramatic, winding roads before reaching home a little after  9:00 PM.

All in all, the whole trip was very memorable in every aspect. Most importantly for me, it has served its purpose - as a wind down getaway from all the stress incurred by the recent changes in my life.

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