I just got back from spending a few days on Pulau Tioman, a two hour ferry ride off the east coast of Malaysia and famed location for the film South Pacific. It has a striking mountainous spine that drops steeply into an array of beaches and coves, that house a string of resorts each with a slightly different personality. Ayer Batang where I stayed was a rustic assortment of wooden buildings, some traditional houses, wooden chalets, bar shacks and veranda restaurants all threaded together tightly to a narrow path that hugged the shore.
The botanical experience of the place was eclectic. There were the tropical beach classics - palm trees, casuarina trees, mangrove trees but mixed with a jumble of crotons, orchids, ferns and all kinds of other flowers and fruit trees subject to the gardening taste and whim of the homes and resorts they resided in. All this in contrast with the dense rainforest that covered the mountain slope with a dark, slightly ominous, textural rhythm .
The flora existed synergistically with equally exotic fauna, families of Macacque monkeys huge Monitor lizards and Swallowtail butterflies. They darted through trees, slithered over the path and added another layer of color, movement and sound to this island garden.