Rawa Island 2018 Day 3 – Aeon Mall and Home Sweet Home

There were a few instances of sleep talking otherwise all seemed fine. I woke up with the alarm sounding off and prepared milk for K before going out to take a jog. Remembering that there was a sunrise viewpoint, I jogged in that direction. The route was initially normal but later I came to an extension that didn’t looked complete. Walked carefully to the edge and found that there wasn’t any view at all. Reversed and made my journey upwards the same route we took to the cactus garden the day earlier. Again, the steep slope killed whatever stamina I had. Eventually I just walked upwards and passed the owl house yesterday.

Unfinished deck to sunrise view.

While on the way to hilly viewpoint I saw the same ladies I met yesterday, while passing them they also commented “it’s you again”. There weren’t anything much to see at all and the steepness wasn’t helping in jogging, going downhill was just as difficult as climbing. Made the steps to the viewpoint and was shown a cloudy sunrise again. Went downhill and was disappointed to see the main restaurant still closed. We were running out of water in the room and I couldn’t get more from the unopened restaurant. Without much of a choice, I strolled back to the room.

Missing sun at sunrise.

Once back, I stayed at the patio to watch the sea life in the incoming high tide. Managed to see a stingray and even a shark (wasn’t fast enough to take a shot). Then I tried bullet time again, for the last time before leaving the Island – still not epic.

Stingray spotted.

Once I entered the bathroom to wash up, I was met with an army of mosquitoes swarming around. I swore I killed at least 5 while in there. I tried to smack as many as possible while brushing my teeth.

Had to wake K up at 8 to have an early breakfast so as to give time for digestion before hitting the seas on the speedboat. It was not too difficult to get him out today and we were at the restaurant in no time. The breakfast was similar with the exceptions of Nasi Lemak which I had some. K had a good amount of breakfast before he met up with L at the pinball machine. There was a couple of fun play, running around, and they tried playing the pinball machine as a team (50cents per play, changeable at the reception) before we went back to the room to pack.

Nasi Lemak breakfast.

I was informed at the reception that we could leave our luggage outside at 10am so we packed and left the luggage only at 1015, at which time the buggy had also arrived coincidentally to load up. We settled the bill of 136RM at the reception by card, picked up our passports and stayed in the airconditioned kids room 5mins before schedule.

We boarded the speed boat with a few families, amongst them L’s family. The boat trip was no drama and soon we arrived back at Mersing. K and L spent their last time together before going to the toilet and then leaving.

Arrived at Jetty
Goodbye Mersing.

Drove towards Aeon mall, 1hr45mins drive and K felt asleep while on the way there. By the time we arrived, it was already 1pm. The carpark was quite packed and thankfully there was underground parking to avoid the hot sun.

Arriving at Aeon Mall.
Aeon mall.

We first went to the top floor Japan Village to have ramen for lunch, at Ichiban Ramen. Ordered tomato beef ramen and the original one and some drinks. K was throughly entertained by playing Pogo and ate to his fill. Paid around RM70 and left to get some pastries at the bakery opposite.

Japan Village.
Japanese theme design.
Ichiban Ramen.
Ramen set for lunch.
Beef tomato soup ramen.
Sour plum.
Matcha latte.

Later we spent some time at Padini Concept store and while mommy bought something for herself, we also managed to get K some clothing, that was pretty affordable.

We left paying the 1RM carpark fees and we drove towards Woodlands causeway. Pumped petrol at Shell, bought a new touch n go card (maybe that’s why I had issue coming in the first time around) and then some 10mins drive into an abhorrent traffic jam. It was so bad that my wife could walked to the toilet at the petrol station some hundreds of meters away and come back with the car moving only inches.

The lanes converged to only 2 lanes and eventually, we cleared the Johor immigrations by 745pm and later, another but smaller jam at the Singapore side which we only cleared by 8ish. 4hrs of life, wasted.

Rainbow during the gloomy jam.
Single lane causing jams.

The birthday getaway brought us to an exclusive island with beautiful beach. The lack of suitable activities for family with young child made the place boring, coupled with the lack of WiFi and TV, empty kids club and no pool, plus the room wasn’t luxuriously comfortable, the destination felt more suitable for young people going for dives and/or families with older children who could utilise the giant slides. Costs wise, it wasn’t too bad though the accommodation is a tad too expensive for the value of return.

The bloody jam at bridges is just utterly frustrating and I didn’t know why so many Singaporeans still choose to cross over to Malaysia to get stuck in a jam. 4hrs of waiting equals an flight equivalent to Hong Kong or at my jogging speed, probably 30km equivalent. This is the main reason why I loathed going over to Malaysia, albeit being an affordable place to go to. I would rather fly then to waste my life with the rest stuck in this ugly traffic mess.

Insta360 gave really nice 360 videos but I found little chances to use it, due to the lack of pretty 360 views or simply too lazy to bring them out. However, loaning this equipment from Leasany (a newly established company that does travel rental, such as 360 camera rental) allow me to get a taste of how this works, gave me some videos that I would like to keep and spare me the cash and storage for this equipment if I don’t utilize it every time. It would be nice to see what else is on *offer!

*For a limited time only, you can get 20% discount for rental service if you use this promo code “escapesfromthelittlereddot”. Valid till 30 Apr 2019.

Rawa Island 2018 Day 2 – Cactus garden and a walk to the owl habitat

The night was peppered with sleep interruptions as K suddenly wanted night light. Woke up to turn on my iPhone light before going back to sleep.

Awoken at around 620 by my alarm clock which i forgotten to switch off and left quietly to find sunrise. According to the map, there was supposed to be a hill trek to other site of the island where we could see the sun rises. 5mins of walking brought me to a route up and then to a long stairway up the hill side. It wasn’t a difficult climb, and I did it with slippers as I didn’t really plan to climb a hill early in the morning.

After scaling some number of steps, I found myself with another 4 people there, looking into the horizon full of clouds. It was disappointing but nature is unpredictable. Breathless due to my lack of cardio, I sat for a while before the 4 people asked me to take photos for them before I returned to the villa.

Hilltop view steps.
Steps to hilltop view.
Closer to the top.
View from the top.
Cloudy Sunrise
Standing area to watch sunrise.
Peacock morning stroll.
Beach in the morning.

Mommy was awoke by then and had already fixed and fed a bottle to K who was still asleep. Went back to bed to snooze until mommy woke me up at 9am. We had to go for breakfast already as breakfast end at 10am. While mommy went ahead to get some food for K first, I spent my time at the villa getting K ready and bringing him to the restaurant.

Upon arriving, we found the same family yesterday having breakfast next to us and K was already excited, wanting to play with L. Had to sit him down to have him finish his breakfast.

It was the same buffet table and there were the standard fare of continental breakfast and fried noodles. Nothing fantastic but was adequate. Made myself some coffee before we left.

K met up with L as we were about to leave before we went back to get ready for the beach. K wore his swimsuit and we walked back to the slides. I borrowed the life jacket for K at 9RM which we had to return by 1pm because of low tide in the afternoon and we were off to the lower blue slide and which at this time, the water level was just underneath the end of the slide.

Sea sport center was where to borrow life jacket.

I carried K and have him sat on me, whooshed down the slide, and splashed into the water. It was really deep and upon entering the water I am sure we both had a few gulps of water. K immediately said he had enough of the slide as the slide might have already frightened him but he was ok to stay in the water hugging me like a koala, cos frankly dipping inside the warm sea water felt really therapeutic.

We spent some time there moving around the waters and K later joined L with his sand presses, then these chaotic pair started to throw sand at me. They really enjoyed each other’s company and even playing close to the water with the parents watching close by. L was confident in waters, even swimming a bit while K wanted me to carry him mostly and together we went into the deeper parts.

We stayed in the water till 12pm and returned the life jacket before heading back to the villa to wash up. We returned to the restaurant past 1pm and it was still crowded. Managed to find a seat, coincidentally again next to L’s family and K showed off his favorite cartoon on iPad to L while having his lunch. I chose Asian over the pasta and K had taken his food more easily than previous times, maybe he was really hungry from the morning dip.


After lunch that we ended off with juicy cold watermelons, K went in search of his playmate L and found her at the kids room. It was filled with many older kids and they were having fun playing some sort of catch while K tried to get L’s attention with his cartoon. Realizing that she wasn’t particularly interested, K joined her in their own creative games, hiding behind tables and clapping with plastic round caps and generally in their own world of kids play. I was chatting with L’s dad as they enjoyed themselves till mommy came to get K to go.

After bidding farewell, K spent some time in front of the TV near the reception watching cartoons and then we left to explore the other parts of this island.

The only TV at the reception area.

Carrying K on my shoulder, we headed past the Rock bar and found the Padi building round the corner of the island where there was supposedly a viewpoint for sunrise. Then it was a hill climb upwards to first the cactus garden and then the owl habitat. The climb was gentle but long enough to tire us out, especially with the heat and with the weight on my shoulders.

Walking around island.
Path the dive shop.
Resting camouflage peacocks.
Upslope path.

The cactus garden had some 30m or so of cactus of different shapes and sizes. We strolled past it, pointing to some of the flowers that I had never seen before while passing. Then we walked uphill further before we came before a board showing informationf about rats and owl. Just nearby on top of a tree we saw a wooden house that seemed to be built for the owl, just that we couldn’t see the owl. We made a U-turn and walked the same way back and stopped by Rock Bar.

Arriving at the Cactus garden.
Cactus garden.
Barn owl sign.
Wooden owl house at the top of the tree.
View from the top.

The bar just opened and we got ourselves some cold drinks, watermelon juice for me and iced milo for mommy with K drinking from both. Sat at the spacious cushion seats, enjoyed the drinks and the slight breeze before we returned to the room.

Path along island.
Inside the bar.
Resting crab on rock.
Panoramic view from bar.

We prepared for nap time and soon after the usual routine, we all fell asleep.
I awoke at 6pm and went to the patio where I was saw the sun setting in our direction but hidden behind the clouds. There wasn’t going to be a postcard sunset today. I washed up all the milk bottles and played around with the bullet time before K woke up. Dinner time was 730pm today unlike previous days of 7pm because there’s BBQ on Saturday. So we spent some time playing games with K before heading back to the restaurant. It was crowded but the staff managed to get us a table.

Cloudy sunset.
Fishes in water.
More fishes in water.

There were more bbq food like chicken and satay but there were the usual food as well. K wasn’t eating well which could be because the food was more dry than usual. But after some distractions he managed to finish a big portion of his bowl of fried rice, plus some cantaloupe and pudding.

BBQ dinner.

After dinner, we went over to the public TV. K saw L and went to look for her but both ended up sitting together to watch the Disney cartoon, showing Halloween themed cartoons. I took a walk around to see what’s around, saw 2 pool tables, a Billard table and 2 fussball tables on the second floor and there were a few groups of people using them.

Night view of reception area.

After a while, L left with her family for the night and we too made our way back to the villa. Cleaned up and packed and went to collect hot water from the Rock bar. Spent the night on usual night routine of storybook and drinking milk, then it’s off to lalaland.

Rawa Island 2018 Day 1 – Arrival in Rawa Island, Beach fun and water slide

The short getaway started as early as half past 6. With most of everything packed yesterday, we only had to pack some milk and food and we were ready to leave. K woke up early too and was excited about the trip, getting prepared without much of a problem. We left at 730am for a schedule ferry of 1130am at Mersing, as a contingency to a jam up north at the causeway.

I wasn’t expecting much of a jam on a Friday morning but I was surprised when we lined up behind a slow moving line at Woodlands checkpoint. There was a lot of people trying to get into Malaysia but fortunately our queue lasted about 15mins before we cleared Singapore immigration just before 8am.

Approaching Woodlands checkpoint.

Then crossing at the causeway was no issue since the opposite direction was more of the problem as many Malaysians make their way to Singapore for work, a lot of them choosing to cross the causeway by foot as it would be much faster than getting stuck in a jam.

We cleared the relatively short lines at the Malaysian causeway. After stamping the passports, we moved slightly forward to take pay the fees. There was 2 fees (toll of RM2.90 and road charges of RM20) to pay with the touch n go, and without looking at the big instructions over there, I just paid for the 2nd one. In the end, the barrier didn’t lift. I only realized the problem when both my cards (brought both mine and my dad’s just in case there weren’t any more funds) didn’t work and I had to read the instructions and press the intercom to get help. Even the intercom also take awhile to reset resulting in a embarrassing hold up behind.

2hrs drive to Mersing, no jam thankfully.

Then it was a 2hr drive to Mersing Jetty. It was pretty straightforward drive with the google map on with an activated Starhub data roaming (it was just one expressway number 3 all the way). K was feeling impatient along the way but soon felt asleep in mommy’s arms. The drive was fairly easy, with traffic easing once we left the towns. There were quite a few straights amidst many more bends but nothing too difficult to negotiate.

K woke up 15mins before arriving and I missed the turn to the Jetty office and turned into a carpark to recheck the destination while mommy went to the 7-11 to get some drinks. Reset the destination to Jeti Penumpang Mersing after a short 10mins break of eating packed muffins and we arrived. There was a specific secured parking area for Rawa resort parking and the collection fees of RM36 for 2 nights were collected before we were directed to park near the office.

Our rest stop.
1km more to jetty.

Left the car and while K and mommy sat at the nice waiting area, I went to checked in at a crowded reception office. It was quick as they already had the booking form on standby. I had to pay of the balance of RM120 that I settled by credit card and given an earlier boarding time of 1030am. We decided to stick to the 1130am one since we just arrived and was worried that K will feel uncomfortable and was told to return by 1115am.

Rawa Island resort parking and check in.
Carpark rates.
My parking receipt.
Big parking space.
Resting area at Mersing check in.
Rawa island reception at Mersing.

After using the toilets available there, we decided to explore the area near Mersing. Immediately outside there was the main ferry terminal to Tioman and a main parking area. Then there was a food center with a couple of stores and just behind the eating area was a small shopping area with some small shops selling water activities related items (waterproof bags, snorkeling mask) and toys. Loitered there for a while testing kids sunglasses before returning to the office to wait.

Main Mersing jetty.
Public parking at Mersing.
Shops at Mersing.

While K was still full of energy moving here and there, I got tired and left him to watch a downloaded cartoon on BBC player (smart enough to detect that we were abroad and didn’t allow us to download). We then boarded the small speed boat a while later with another couple, a vast difference from the crowd on the earlier boat.

Boarding passes to the ferry.
Jetty amongst houses.
Our transport to the island.

Boat ride was about 30mins and it was relatively smooth as the seas were gentle. Nothing much to see except for a couple of silhouette of islands that slowly come into view. We alighted at a pier dominated by the sight of a giant slide and proceeded to walk to the reception empty handed as the luggage that was checked in at the office at the Jetty was transported to the room.

Rawa island.
Most obvious structure upon arrival.
Map of island.
Beach view upon arrival.
Check in here.
Map of Rawa island.
View from reception area.
Reception area with small library.

Our rooms were ready and we walked the 5mins to the waterfront villa, one that was built on top of stilts above the water.

Sign post.
Path to our villa.

The villa was the size of a room with a king size bed and a small living room space and a patio with sun beds above the water. The interior was simple, didn’t have a TV but thankfully had aircon. K spent some time out in the patio watching fishes through the clear waters, where we even spotted a small stingray underneath our neighbors villa.

Waterfront room number.
Waterfront villa door.
Room deck.
Long fish spotted.

We proceeded to lunch at the main restaurant, paid under the full board scheme and found the area crowded with a lot of people. We only managed to find a table empty and sat there first. Mommy went to the buffet table to get food while I entertained K. It was western cuisine for lunch, with fries and nuggets and onion rings complimented with pasta of penne and spaghetti and portions of chicken and vegetables. Watermelons and honeydews were fruits after lunch and we bought a Haagen das ice cream to end the meal, something to cool us down from the heat.

Buffet lunch.

Our next stop was the souvenir shop where we bought a green frisbee RM12 and K a beach pants RM25 so that we could go play in the sand sometime later in the day. Then we went back to the villa to spend the afternoon there away from the heat.

Since there wasn’t much for K to play, we provided the entertainment in the form of electronic devices, toys and books that we brought from home and he finally was coerced to take an afternoon nap after a long tiring battle.

We woke at 6ish and I brought K to the nearby beach to play. With my newly loaned Insta360 that I got from Leasany, a company that rents electronic and/or photography gears for your travel needs (First time rental, didn’t even know such a service exists!), I started to play with it taking smooth 360 videos and photos while strolling to the beach. While at the beach, I tried to activate bullet time with K throwing sand but was unsuccessful and K was quickly uncomfortable with sand in his feet and wanted me to carry him to the slides (he wasn’t even going to play the frisbee!).

Sandy white beach between jetty and our place.

Mommy joined us at the beach and we proceeded to the slides. Mommy sat at one of the lounge seats looking after the gears and watching her shows on iPad while I brought K to the waters which was at low tide. The end of the lower blue slide was actually quite high (about 1.5m above the ground) and I think it could only be played during high tide. Carrying K who didn’t want to stand in the water, we walked into the water attempting to see if there were any fishes. There weren’t any and it was a little disappointing but the water was nice and warm. I let K climbed the blue slide from the end point and catch him as he came down, giggling along the way. Then a couple more dips in the water and slide fun, we left for the villa to get washed up.

There was a small tap just outside the villa but the water pressure was too small (and k was butt naked as he didn’t want to wear the shorts as they were full of sand and I didn’t want mosquitoes to bite him while waiting for water to wash down) so we just got into the shower to wash down. The bad thing about the shower was there was only a rain shower and no flexible shower as an alternate. That meant water coming straight down from the top and washing the sand away wasn’t easy from top down, especially with a toddler that whined when water gets in his eyes.

After all the washing was completed, we went to the same restaurant to have dinner and similarly, K and I sat at the table while mommy brought back food. There was rice and spaghetti and lasagna, with chicken and cabbage. Had to struggle with K to get him to eat. The variety wasn’t fantastic and we just have our fill, ending the meal with watermelon fruits.

After dinner, I encouraged K to go play with a Caucasian girl, L, whom was about his age and they hit it off from there! She showed him the kids room and while it was basically a room with many tables but nothing else, they just went crazy moving around, jumping around and climbing over tables. K seemed to be the instigator of the carnage but great to see him being friendly with other kids and having fun. The playtime ended when L had to return back to the room and K bade farewell, telling her that it was late and time to drink milk, read book and night night (his own routine).

Nothing much there.

I carried K back on my shoulders as he didn’t want to walk in the dark and the night activities were mostly iPad cartoons and books while I tinkered with the 360 videos. Soon we were all in bed, K was always reluctant but eventually ended up asleep on my arm, an end to the relaxing day on Rawa Island.

Escape to Rawa Island October 2018

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Rawa Island 2018:

Total duration 3D2N
Rawa Island is in the same timezone as Singapore. Transfer to Mersing takes about 2hrs and ferry time is 30mins on private transfer ferry from Mersing to Rawa Island. Return is the same in reverse, time depending on jam at crossing.

Ferry from Mersing to Rawa Island at 1130am, arriving at 12noon in Rawa Island. Return ferry from Rawa Island to Mersing is at 1230pm and arriving in Mersing at 1pm.

Day 1 – Arrival in Rawa Island, Beach fun and water slide
Day 2 – Cactus garden and a walk to the owl habitat
Day 3 – Aeon Mall and Home Sweet Home

This trip was planned as a getaway birthday trip for me. It was planned closer to my birthday in November but we pushed it earlier as we had hijacked 1st week of November with a USA trip.

Budget – Affordable by standard of private island.

Total package of accommodation plus ferries and full board for 2 adults came up to RM3000 which in my opinion was affordable. We didn’t go for the water activities such as diving though.

Complexity – Easy except the jam

Travelling was pretty easy with a car. Driving to Mersing followed by private carpark and thereafter a short ferry to the island was simple enough! I am often confused about how much to pay while crossing the borders and thankfully with 2 Touch N Go cards, I didn’t have to figure out where to top up (since the Touch N Go was in Singapore). But the jam was horrendous on the way back and I swore never to go back into Malaysia via car ever again.

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