Weekend trip to Tioman, led by Lee Suat Choo, with Francis, Kesh, David Chee, Ban Ling, Brenda and Teo Hock Lam, Friday evening July 19 to Sunday July 21, 2002.

The road to Mersing, at just over 130 km from Johor Baru, is now in good condition so it took us only two hours to complete the journey. We arrived at 11pm and as usual, checked into the kopitiam hotel known somewhat grandly as Embassy Hotel.

Early on Saturday, we rode a fast ferry to Tioman island. At Salang jetty, the ferryman, out of sheer indolence, refused to take us a further half km to the dive boat at Roger's place. We ended up having to lug our heavy gear from the brand-new jetty down a winding footpath to the dive operator's shop, a sweaty walk of 20 minutes under a blazing sun.

We had three dives but I refused to jump in on the first dive at Tiger Reef because of the strong current and choppy waves which scared the daylight out of my tender soul. From the boat I could see Brenda, a muscular woman, finning just underwater with great effort towards the anchor line about 20m away but eventually she gave up, surfaced, grabbed a rope and hauled herself forward. Suat Choo didn't go down because she has just had her eardrum repaired and needed a calmer place to test her descent.

At the second dive, I went down with Suat. We first swam to a shallow spot near the shore so that she could go down gingerly. Anyway, she encountered no problem. After that we went ashore, checked into the chalet, and returned to the boat for a third late-afternoon dive.

On Sunday morning, we had two dives, washed our gear thoroughly and by 3.30pm we were in the fast ferry heading back to Mersing. We arrived in Singapore at 8.30pm.

In between dives, we ate bread, banana and whatever Suat Choo had packed along. We were also animated by a discussion on Newater, a Government-made water that we all would have to drink in the near future. -- All pictures by Francis Chin

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Calm, clear water for snorkelling and checkout dives
Mermaids from Germany in human form
Suat Choo our expedition leader with the boatman
A dive boat loaded with tanks
Ban Ling ad Kesh waiting for their burgers just outside the chalets where we stayed
A Tioman denizen
Room D1, the nearest to the dive shop, where four of us were squeezed together
Tioman has some high places that touch the clouds
Trainee divers
Brenda coming up. It is tiring just climbing the ladder and I dropped my face mask during my first dive as I was going up.
Myself at Roger's dive shop