Month #8 – the good, the bad and the unexpected

Month 8 - a round up, Ellie Anywhere

Location: Tioman Island, Malaysia The good The diving Diving was always going to feature right at the top of my priorities list when it came to choosing the next location to continue my great adventure. After experiencing one of the most pristine reefs the world has to offer in Roatan, Honduras, and delving into the prehistoric waters that teemed with sharks and turtles in Costa Rica, Malaysia had some large fins to fill. Fortunately, Pulau Tioman – the small island that straddles the Singapore-Malaysia border in the South China Sea – more than lives up to the high expectations I’m lucky enough to demand. After a couple of months during which I’ve spent more time in the water than out of it, I finally had the chance to let loose with my camera and capture just some of the treasures that this pocket of the ocean holds. I dedicated an entire post to my underwater discoveries, but I couldn’t resist sharing another snapshot of the beauty of diving in Tioman… The bad Early starts, long days and even longer nights Insomnia: it’s a bitch. Trying to explain the paradox that is an active mind that buzzes like neon while your body aches for silence, for sleep, is a mammoth task, so for now you’ll excuse me if that short summation suffices. It’s a battle I continue to fight. Or rather one that I find myself subjected to on an almost nightly basis, unwittingly and unwillingly caught in the cross fire between
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Diving in Tioman, Malaysia

Scuba diving in Pulau Tioman

South-East Asia is famed for its diving. From the whale sharks of Oslob in the Phillipines to the mantas and manatees of the Lembeh Straits in Indonesia, the discerning diver doesn’t have to look very far to find an embarrassment of underwater riches in this diverse and exotic continent. Not to be outdone by its notorious neighbours, Malaysia has long been recognised as a hotspot for exceptional diving; the jewel in its scuba crown – Sipadan in Malaysian Borneo – has been voted time and time again as the best diving location on the planet. But in all the hype that Borneo receives, it can be easy to overlook the small but perfectly formed island that you’ll have to fly over to reach the fecund waters of Sipadan, an island that holds an underwater secret all of its own – Pulau Tioman.
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Malaysia Revisited – Part I, Airports

Malaysia Revisited - Airports

“Is this your first time in Malaysia?” “No, I actually spent a month travelling around the country when I was 18.” “Awesome, did you have a good time?” [thinks to self] “Now there’s a question, where the hell do I start…” Since setting foot back on Malaysian soil after nearly a decade, I’ve spent my first month fending off friendly curiosity about my previous Asian adventure. Now, a relatively clued-up twenty-something with a husband, a job and a fairly decent understanding of ‘who I am’, I couldn’t be much further away than the teenage girl who set forth on what would prove to be something of a pivotal trip ten years previously. At 18, with a few long years of schooling under my belt and another three years of academic slog stretching ahead of me in the shape of university, I was chomping at the bit to experience “proper travelling” for the first time. So when my boyfriend of the time suggested that I fly out to meet him at the end of his gap-year in an exotic, far-flung location, it seemed like the perfect time to get the stamp in my passport that I was craving. I don’t know what I imagined – I probably had some hazy vision of cocktails on the beach, skinny dipping in the sea and ‘finding myself’ – but I know for sure I didn’t get what I bargained for. In some ways I got so much more, and in others I lost out. I experienced highs that my
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Month #7 – the good, the bad and the unexpected

Ellie Anywhere's monthly round-ups, Month 7

Location: Pulau Tioman, Malaysia The good Living in the paradise that is Tioman I’ve been lucky enough to see a fair few idyllic locations this planet has to offer. From Croatia to Costa Rica, Malta to Mexico, I’ve visited destinations which each boast stunning views and vistas, fascinating culture, and sunsets so beautiful they’ll break your heart a little bit. Each year, new ‘hot’ destinations are touted as the latest paradise and people the world over will drool over photos of immaculate beaches, captivating wildlife and ravishing rural landscapes. But, sadly, often the glossy travel mags fail to convey the whole picture; whilst showing one small if positively delectable slice of paradise, they’ll often neglect to reveal the bigger picture, the built-up, tourist-ridden cultural blackhole that hides just around the corner. Out of all the places that I’ve lived so far on this great adventure, beautiful though they are, I’ve yet to be treated to an example of a natural authenticity that is virtually unspoiled by the relentless steamrollering of consumerism and development. I’ve seen all too many times just what a behemoth tourist industry can be. So it came as a welcome surprise to set foot on a slice of paradise that really lives up to the legend. The fact that the Guardian have just included my front-doorstep in their list of the 50 best beaches in the world ain’t half bad either – I guess sometimes the glossy travel mags do get it right! The bad Tioman’s mini monsoon
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The legend of Tioman

The legend of Tioman island, Malaysia

A long time ago, when water cascaded off the edges of an earth as flat as coin and great monsters as big as glaciers ruled the seas, the East was a kingdom of promise and plenty. Mountain crevices would glint with the hint of diamonds as large as goose eggs, and molten gold ran through cracks in the seabed like oil; precious jewels, as ordinary as fallen leaves, lay scattered across the verdant hills like the million glittering eyes of an army of opulent insects. Within these lands, there lived a dragon princess called Tioman.
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Month #6 – the good, the bad and the unexpected

Month 6 - the good, the bad and the unexpected

Locations: Coco, La Fortuna, Arenal, Monteverde – Costa Rica // London – England // Singapore // Pulau Tioman – Malaysia The good Where do I start? The sixth month of my travels has been defined by so many singular moments of complete elation that it’s impossible to pick just one to eulogise over here. Salsa dancing in the new year on the streets of Costa Rica, or watching the sunset from my favourite local beach. Teaching my Dad to scuba dive, or the consequent time we spent travelling around Costa Rica together.  Soaring through the canopy of a Cloud Forest on zip lines, or squealing in delight as inquisitive coatis sniffed my ankles. Seeing my family and bestest friends after half a year of absence, or enjoying the first hot bath, duvet and cup of tea I’ve had for months. And that’s all before I laid eyes on the paradise that is to become my home for the next chapter of my adventure – the mind-blowingly beautiful Pulau Tioman in Malaysia. January has taken my breath away on an almost daily basis and has left me with a backlog of anecdotes that are jostling for position in my editorial calendar. After such an eventful month, I can’t wait to share the stories with you but, as each seem to deserve their own post, I’ll whet your appetite with a snapshot of my month in pictures…
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