It is just before 6am and my not so peaceful slumber has been shortened by an unexpected prayer call. Mersing, a jetty town that is the gateway to some of Malaysia’s most beautiful islands, is an eclectic mix of locals and travellers, namely backpackers. As with the rest of our holiday so far, our Western appearance is in stark contrast to everybody else (I saw less that a handful of ‘Westerners’ in Johor Bahru) but unlike in other countries, nobody bats an eyelid nor treats us any differently (as far as I can tell). We have been met with the same quiet and unassuming courtesy pretty much wherever we have been so far.
Mersing, is almost a dry town (in the alcoholic sense). The food that we had for lunch was delicious, yet alas, no crisp white wine to accompany my seafood.
Apparently, the only place where alcohol is served is at Chinese restaurants, and unsurprisingly their menu is three times more expensive. There is a beer fridge in 7 Eleven, however it is covered in angry looking warning signs, and met with expressions of disapproval and a giant price tag (Rhodri was undeterred however, and found a few less expensive Tigers in a local supermarket).
As with the majority of other travellers, we are merely using Mersing as a stop to get the ferry to Tioman Island; there is not much else to explore here. We are staying in an apartment that is part of the Hardrock VIP Guesthouse (not part of the franchise lol), it’s massive and aimed at large groups I would imagine, with enough beds to sleep 10 and quite a lot of house rules (my favourite being a ‘no cooking’ sign in the kitchen!). I thought that I would have the stretched out luxury of my own bed, yet somehow ended up with a single whilst the other theee had a queen each!
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So we are now immensely looking forward to spending three days on Tioman Island. Bizarrely, the island has no alcohol restrictions and is duty free. It’s almost like they want to keep the drunken, hedonistic tourists contained; away from the peaceful and conservative lifestyle of the mainland…