DISCLAIMER: I did NOT actually run The Amazing Race. It is just used as a tool to help narrate what I did on my trip. The events are real; the Race elements are not.
Make your way to the island of Pulau Tioman, Malaysia. You must take a jetty from the town of Mersing. Places on the jetty are limited. You have 500 Malaysian Ringgits (US$163.50) for this leg of the Race.
Nobody and I – AKA Team So Not Lost – left home at approximately 7am following a quick and unhealthy breakfast. The team would take the MRT then a bus to cross from Singapore to Johor Bahru, Malaysia, where they would then find a bus that would take them to Mersing. This would be cheaper than taking a direct bus from Singapore to Mersing.
Crossing the border from Singapore to Malaysia was surprisingly easy. No pesky immigration cards had to be filled out upon entering Malaysia, which meant not worrying about a card that could fall out before departing the country.
The team arrived at Larkin Terminal – the regional bus station of Johor Bahru – shortly before 9am. The team shut out the rising voices of bus touts yelling out every possible Malaysian destination and looked for a bus company that was heading to Mersing. The team quickly found one and purchased a ticket for a bus departing at 11.30am for MYR 11.70 (US$3.85).
The team had two and a half hours to kill. While Nobody wanted to rest and relax before the bus departure, I wanted to see if any buses left earlier. An eager tout dragged Me to one of the platforms where he said a bus to Mersing would be leaving soon, at 9am. Tickets can be purchased on the bus. Eventually, the bus did arrive. A new ticket was purchased for MYR 15 (US$4.90), and the bus ultimately left at around 9.30am, two hours earlier. There went the MYR 11.70….
The bus trip to Mersing was short and uneventful. Unfortunately, I rediscovered the pain of motion sickness. As I struggled not to throw up, Nobody comforted me.
The bus arrived at Mersing shortly after noon. Nobody and I walked briskly from the bus terminal to the jetty dock. Once there, Team So Not Lost – along with other teams – tried to figure out what time the next jetty was. Alas, the 12nn jetty had JUST left, and anyway it was already full. One travel agent said the next jetty would be at 4.30pm. Another said 5pm. The official kiosk of the jetty company said 5.30pm. I decided to trust the official vendor and purchased a ticket for the 5.30pm jetty.
After killing time (by eating a lot, mainly), the team went back to the dock at around 3.30pm, just in case there was indeed a 4.30pm jetty. Other pairs and teams started arriving, and soon it was clear that the jetty was indeed leaving at 5.30pm. I briefly wondered if any of those who were told the jetty was earlier were upset, but I didn’t see any yelling or wild gesturing typically associated with that sort of frustration.
A Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons.
Once we began boarding the jetty, teams were faced with a decision. Busy Beach was Tekek, which had all the “modern” amenities such as an ATM, money changers, nightlife, and big (duty free) shops. Prices for chalets were higher there, though. Backpacker Beach was Air Batang, also known as ABC. It didn’t have as many amenities as Tekek, which meant a bit of a trek if anyone needed anything, but accommodation was a lot cheaper.
Nobody and I chose Backpacker Beach.
Make your way to Tekek Beach.
The next morning, after breakfast, the team went over the hill (paved with a path and stairs) from ABC to Tekek.
A Roadblock is a task that only one member of the team must perform.
In this Roadblock, that team member must take a 7km hike across the island through the jungle from Tekek to Juara. I decided to do the Roadblock. Nobody would be waiting for me on the other side.
the start of the path to Juara Beach
Things started to go wrong right from the start when the hiking shoes I was wearing went kaput even before I got off the cement trail. I chucked the shoes in the bin and changed into a pair of flip-flops.
The trail wasn’t that difficult. Sure, the terrain was a bit ragged at times, but it was climbing up the paved steps during the hike that was actually more challenging. Climbing over boulders and ducking under low branches was quite fun. The guides tell you to follow the power lines, and that was exactly what I did. The guides also tell you that it takes anywhere between an hour and a half to three hours; I took the maximum amount.
exhaustion during the hike from Tekek to Juara
There were times when I would see others ahead of me, but unfortunately, my pace was just too slow to keep up or overtake anyone. And just before the rugged jungle trail ended and the paved roads began again, my flip-flops went kaput. I tried repairing it, but taping it directly to my foot was more effective.
I finally arrived at Juara with one broken flip-flop. As expected, Nobody was waiting for me.
Pit Stop Information
Make your way to Santai Bistro and Cafe. Warning: The last team to check in here… MAY be eliminated.
Nobody and I wondered where Santai Bistro and Cafe was… for all of ten seconds. Apparently, it was “just there.”
“Welcome to Tioman, Malaysia!” a cheery Malaysian guy told us.
“You are Team Number… FIVE!” Phil told us. Nobody and I celebrated, as this meant the team would not be eliminated. Team So Not Lost celebrated by having a delicious meal at the restaurant and a dip in the beach. During the break, the team met up with another team, The Dutch Boys, who arrived shortly after.
camwhoring at Juara, with one of The Dutch Boys doing the same
Juara was gorgeous. It’s quite possibly one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen. It’s definitely a lot less crowded than either Tekek or ABC, which made it even more special.