I had a nice time just looking around and observing the fishermen at this jetty... see them chill out laughing and resting on their fishing nets, cleaning their boats... hauling in fish... have more photos down in the travelogue below.
Tanjung Gemuk is another gateway to the east coast islands of Pahang and is located between Endau and Rompin, about half an hour north of Mersing (for directions here pls see transportation tips).
So the public Tanjung Gemuk jetty is where you catch boats to Tioman island etc. but most liveaboard vessels e.g. Divemaster 1, Beach Boy etc. dock at the LKIM (Fisheries Dept.) jetty, which can be confusing to get to since there are not much signages and you have to drive past a village right to the end till you reach a really beat up shabby old jetty. Lots of character and a totally different world! Plus a strong smell of fish.
Give yourself extra time to get here if you're supposed to meet up at this LKIM jetty. As it happened, we ended up waiting an extra hour for all the other divers to arrive cos most couldn't really find the place.
There are several ways of getting to Tg. Gemuk from KL if you're driving:
1) Exit North-South Expressway at Ayer Hitam to Kluang and either stopover for Mersing for food or go straight on to Tg. Gemuk
2) Exit North-South Expressway at Seremban, follow Kuala Pilah, Muadzam Shah and along the coastal road to Tg. Gemuk
3) Follow KL-Karak Highway and new highway to Kuantan and follow coastal road down to Tg. Gemuk. Don't know if this route will be any faster but it's an option if you want to stop by some interesting places in Pahang along the way too.
All buses from KL to Mersing will pass by Tanjung Gemuk so if you're getting to the public jetty just ask the bus driver to stop at Tanjung Gemuk jetty (tell him you want to go to Tioman Island or whichever island you're after). For directions to the LKIM Jetty, see next tip.
There are at least twice daily Transnational buses which ply the route from KL - Mersing and vice versa. Times are something like 11.00 a.m. and 11.00 p.m. but do call and check. The journey from KL - Tanjung Gemuk is approx. 6 hours and costs less than RM20.
Buy your tickets in advance at Transnational counters which are quite easily available (e.g. KL Sentral, Pudu Bus Station, KTM Railway Station, MATIC Jalan Ampang, even some PETRONAS stations) and you can go to any branch since their system is now computerised and they are now online.
It was my first time on a liveaboard - The Beach Boy - and found that it was literally a very MOVING experience *lol*.. the boat was in constant motion, from the Friday night we boarded when there was a blistering hurricane type wind and this single hull 75-footer bore the full brunt of it... oohhh... not good. But apparently there was a hurricane from the Philippines that swirled down our way before making its way up to Japan, so i'm sure that was quite out of the ordinary.
We never actually made it to the Kuantan wrecks (5 hours from the mainland) off the state of Pahang, Malaysia which was our original destination. But we did visit two wrecks off Pekan not so far away - a Japanese World War II fighter plane (broken into 3 pieces but both airguns still intact!) and also a cargo ship from the same period.
Then we called upon some islands further south for a further 2 dives as well as a night dive. The night was much calmer as we came in to a secluded bay out of the wrath of the open South China Sea.
The next day we sailed on down to Tioman Island off the state of Johor, Malaysia... but we didn't manage to dive the Sawadee wreck (and so my miserable attempt to take my PADI Wreck Specialty Adventure Diver certification never happened) due to the whole site being invaded by jellyfish...
So we moved to some other islands and dived some really beautiful sites with wonderful healthy coral, e.g. Tiger Reef, Bird Temple Reef and Bird Temple. Beautiful!!
Equipment: There are quite a few liveaboards in Malaysia. The ones I've heard of are the MV Grace, MV Kaleebso, MV Midas, MV Scuba Explorer, The Divemaster I, The Beach Boy, The Dream Voyager etc. and they generally cruise all around Malaysian waters, although some stick to certain areas only, e.g. MV Midas in Langkawi.
The Beach Boy is a single hull 75-footer vessel and was generally comfortable. Hearing the other old-timers compare it to other liveaboards I gathered that the pros for the Beach Boy is that it had a good water supply and clean toilets, hot water showers, and good, efficient boat crew led by Captain Ah Kee. Apparently the Kaleebso, one of the most popular Malaysian liveaboards, has a much better cooked and variety of food. Accomodations are in doubles, triples, quads and family size (fits 5 people). Toilets are round by the side of the boat, so if u wake up in the middle of the night in a storm, it's pretty miserable to get out there. But when the weather's good, it's all good.
I found liveaboard diving to be very efficient and a great way to pack in lots of dives in a short amount of time. We made 7 dives in 1 and a half days, could've been more but we travelled to dive sites that were pretty far away from each other.
Also, you may want to think about seasick pills. It was funny. I never get seasick but the morning after the hurricane i felt pretty bad so i took a pill, and within a minute i threw it all back out so... so much for that!! I immediately felt better though... and then we went down for a dive and got rid of that rocking feeling and after that, it was home free!!!