In an effort to be more guidebook-writery-like, I shall be putting prices in local currency into this entry as such, i.e., Nescafe(RM2).
I am in a coffee shop in the town of Mersing, where one goes to catch the ferry(RM35 each way) to Tioman Island. There is no real reason to stick around Mesing save one – you’ve missed the last boat to Tioman, which I did. I’d crossed the border from antiseptic Singapore to Johor on a bus (3 Sing) to Larkin, but missed my connection somewhere on the other side after wandering through the maze like border crossing and wound up eating fruit (RM1) and catching a taxi (RM12) with a driver who offered to take me all the way to Mersing for (RM150), and offer which I declined because I’d already decided to take the bus (RM12).
It’s here that I shall point out that these prices are rounded to the nearest whole number, making (RM2.7) (RM3) and so forth. So the bus to Mersing, which was actually (RM11.7) has been written as (RM12).
In Larkin I had an hour to kill, so I ate two pieces of delicious fried chicken (RM7) which I felt was expensive at RM7 and had a sweet drink called Bandung (RM2), which is red, delicious and tastes nothing like rose-water.
I used the toilet, for which there was a slight fee of (RM0 using the “rounding to the nearest RM method”) and then put a local sim card (RM9) in my Taiwan mobile phone and added RM5 (RM5). I also bought some sea-sickness pills (RM4) from the pharmacy for the boat ride. I went to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee (RM5) but decided to get the special of coffee+2 donuts for (RM9).
One of these I gave to a group of traveling women wearing traditional Malay dress.
The bus ride was uneventful, and if it weren’t for the presence of the tall Malay transvestite who got off several kilometers before Mersing, would have been completely forgettable.
In Mersing I went to a ticket-shop and bought a round-trip ticket (RM70) to Tioman, which I have already mentioned using the one-way price of (RM35). The owner of the ticket shop was a woman called Li, who spoke Chinese. Because she seemed connected with local affairs and otherwise “in the know” about the goings-on in Mersing, I told her I was updating a guidebook and asked her for advice. She advised me to go to the Mersing Hotel (RM55) and go to sleep, saying there was nothing to do in Mersing. I instead went to the Embassy Hotel (Also RM55), because it had wireless, and I figured if there was nothing to do I might as well have internet. Learning that I wrote guidebooks, Li confessed to me that she felt that backpackers were a rather stingy bunch who often let penny-pinching get in the way of having a good time. Case in point, Li told me, were a group of backpackers who she said had argued with her over the price of the round trip boat ticket (RM70), thinking that if they argued long enough they could get it cheaper, even though really, it costs (RM70) everywhere, even at the boat dock. (RM35 one way).
I liked Li, and thanked her for her advice before going to the Embassy Hotel and eating a bag of pistachio nuts (RM2.5, because I do not know whether to round up or down), walked around town and had dinner (RM5) and a small fruit tart (RM1.5, see above example re: pistachio nuts). I also bought a bag of durian-flavored corn puffs (RM1) which I did not eat until the middle of the night.