The death plane delivered me safely to Tioman (I'm not even kidding, when we descended the clouds came INTO the cabin. No one flinched!) which is a proper rainforest island. It's all hilly dense jungle and beautiful sandy beaches. It also has (I'm guessing here) about 80% of the world's beastie population. There are flying, crawling, jumping, stinging biting things EVERYWHERE and I look like I have a nervous tic all the time. My plans to laze about on the beach were scuppered by sand flies, tiny annoying biting flea type things that appear out of the sand to bite you. Everything here bites me. By my second day I had over 80 of varying sizes. So many bites that my face puffs up. Even practically showering in deet doesn't deter the bastards. It's very much an island for people in the water, not avoiding it. On the plus side it means the beaches are mostly empty which adds to the tropical island feel. As does the general wildlife - who needs Komodo when there are giant monitor lizards roaming around!
Itching aside, it was great to see Rosie who part owns and runs a dive school here. (She's a proper local- she was wearing jeans and a jumper the other night. Granted it had been torrential rain for my first afternoon but it was far from cold). It is a very relaxed way of life on Tioman and days were mostly spent chilling in various places. Hanging at the dive centre, hanging at the next door holiday resort (pool=no sand flies), hanging at the local beach bar...you get the picture. The beach bar kind of sums up the attitude on the island - a large group of people turned up one night for a bit of a party and the owners said they were shut as they just wanted to chill! They also took us out on a giant inflatable and I had completely forgotten how much fun it is to be dragged around behind a boat. (Very fun, FYI).
Getting around the island is done by scooters (expertly driven) with a wallace and grommitesque side car (no goggles and scarf required). There's very little danger in speeding with an averagely loaded scooter but to keep everyone in check there are plenty of Malaysian speed bumps aka large bits of rope crossing the road. Simple but effective!
Also, I have changed. I spent most of my time in the SHADE. Yes, really. (This had nothing to do with the look-but-don't-touch beach)
I missed my partner in crime (after 3 weeks I was used to her constant presence and 'let's have a bintang' daily chant) but I'm sure she's pleased to be enjoying a bit of calm back home...and a break from trek-moaning. It has been lovely to chill out for a few days as next I head to Laos to find Bryony and Lauren. And I don't think 'chilled' is on the agenda.
P.s Rosie informs me that the leaking clouds were in fact condensation evaporating at altitude. I stand by the fact they were leaking clouds