Travel Guide: Pulau Rawa

Its been only around a week since I am back from Rawa Islands and already I am missing that place. It really is a paradise - see it for yourself from the snap below.

This is the perfect place if you are looking to take a break from a hectic schedule or if you are longing for a weekend getaway from the city. You wake up looking at the beach and the clear blue water, with the mild wind blowing at your face. Eating, drinking, and playing at the beach are all I did the whole time I was there, as I was looking for a very relaxed, ‘be-as-lazy-as-you-want’ kind of a break and I am not out of that mode yet.
When I was planning this trip, I had to do a bit of ‘asking-around’ as this is not a destination to which you can find a lot of travel agent tour packages. A couple of my friends and colleagues also asked me about the trip after they saw the photos. So this time I am attempting to write a ‘travel guide’ to Rawa. (Note: All the prices quoted are at the time of my travel and may vary with time)

Pulau Rawa
Pulau Rawa is a coral island off the east coast of Johor, Malaysia, 16 km by boat (30 minutes approx) from Mersing town (Wikipedia). The beach is made of pure white soft sand and the water is clear blue in color. You wouldn’t want to get out of the water, any time.

There are two resorts in the island, Rawa Safaris and Alang’s Rawa. Both the resorts offer tour packages, but I didn’t go for them as I like to decide on my own. Also I wanted to try the restaurants at both resorts.
At Alang’s Rawa (where I stayed) - previously known as club Rawa - the most sought out chalets are the two facing the beach (shown in the snap) and you might want to book these at least one month in advance if its peak time (April - September). The room charges are RM220 per day (twin sharing). More details can be found in their site.

The main reason I didn’t go for a package is ‘cos I wanted to try the restaurant in the other resort. After having my first meal at Alang’s Rawa, I knew I would be having all my meals here only. The food was so tasty that I wished I had a bigger tummy. At Saturday nights, they provide an excellent barbeque dinner. Average meal cost is around RM35 (BBQ cost is RM60).

Bottled water is costly in the island and its better to stock up at Mersing. The well water is salty. But they provide beverages (cocktails, liquors, beers) and juices at a very reasonable cost. Since its a party atmosphere at the bar at nights, there is a possibility that the beer get over on weekends and you may have to wait for the supply boat to get it from Mersing.

Even though its an ideal place to be lazy, there are some activities you can try there. The obvious ones are snorkeling, island hopping etc. Rawa Safaris resort rents Kayaks at RM35 per hours and you can go around the island, if the sea is calm. If you have an Advanced (or better) diving certification, you can rent the diving equipments from the Rawa Safaris for RM95 and venture in to the corals near the beach on your own. If you want the tank only, the cost is RM20. The max depth is around 9m. A couple of staff I talked to, told me about the existence of baby sharks around the island. But I was not lucky enough to find one. They also told me about a small jungle path behind the resort which can make a small trek.

Getting there (from Singapore)
If you are a very lazy person, you can straight away book a bus to Mersing from Singapore (Five Star, Transnasional etc) and the cost is around S$30 per head, one way. But I prefer the ‘do-it-yourself’ way. I booked the bus to Mersing from Johor – S&S International (One way cost - RM10). Travelling time is around 2hrs. Another option is to book Causeway Link Express. The timings are displayed at the ticket counter. For both, one has to personally visit the Larkin bus terminal in Johor. From Singapore, you can take the MRT to Woodlands MRT station, get the SMRT bus no. 950 to Woodlands checkpoint. From there, take SBS 170 to Larkin terminal. From Woodlands checkpoint, it will take around 20 minutes to 40 minutes to reach Larkin depending on the queue at the checkpoint and the traffic. Even though I booked the 8:30 am trip, the bus started at 9:30 am only due to some repairs.

Back to Singapore
For travelling from Mersing to Johor (on Sunday), I booked the ticket at Mersing Bus terminal on my way to Rawa on Friday. The bus timings chart is given below. The 8:30pm bus I booked came at 10pm only. Always expect some delays if you are thinking of a bus journey and plan accordingly.
Another option is to take a taxi from Johor to Mersing and back. I did it during my last trip to Pulau Tioman. The taxi cost from Johor to Mersing (Friday morning) was RM150 and from Mersing to Johor (Sunday evening) was RM200. You need to bargain for the lowest fare.
I guess that’s all what you need to know for a trip to Rawa. Visit the resort’s website and shoot a mail asking for a reservation. Book the bus, pack your bags and simply go and have the time of your life in Rawa. For any missing details, just drop me a comment.

Some Snaps

Larkin Terminal, Johor with S&S bus

During the 10 minute walk from Mersing bus terminal to ferry

Ferry timings – I hear that if there are around 5-7 people and pay around RM50, they will drop you at RAWA on their way to Tioman.

Rawa Safaris Office at Mersing

Private Jetty from where we board the speed boat

Rawa Island

The main dock at Rawa. However the speed boat directly drops you at the beach.

Alang’g Rawa – The big hut is the bar and restaurant and the other A-frames are the chalets.

The speed boat ride

Where I stayed – The hut in the left

Twin sharing room

Get tanned – All the facilities are free here. You don’t have to rent any life jacket or snorkeling equipments. But I have to warn you about one thing, its been used by many people and the equipments may not be in an excellent condition.

Dreamy Rawa

The beach from the restaurant. You will never get bored sitting here, sipping a cocktail and watching the ocean.

A romantic remote part of the beach. You can literally call this a private beach, just for you.

Bus timings back to Johor from Mersing.
More snaps here

GUNDAM Modelling - My new obsession!

Well, I cannot exactly say it’s a completely new obsession. It dates back to 2007 when one of my friends bought me a RX-78-2 Gundam (1/100 scale, if I remember correctly) model from Japan. He knew that I am interested in Lego and ‘Bionicle’ kinds of stuff. He wanted to give me something more and challenging and bought me my first Gundam. I opened the package and was really amazed to see all small parts. It took us around one day to completely assemble the RX-78.
That was the start. After that, I started reading about Gundams. I told my friends in Japan to get me the anime series. I choose Gundam Seed Destiny, the latest one at that time, to start with. I loved the anime and wanted a Justice Gundam, but settled for a Freedom (1/144). I couldn’t pursue this hobby further as there are not many options available in India.
By the end of my last semester, I started thinking about Gundam again. This time I started with Wing Series as I loved the Wing Zero Custom, a lot. Of course, I watched the Unicorn OVA too. This time I had all the options available to me and the day my exams were over, I picked up a Unicorn (HG) from Toys ‘R Us and started working on it. This time, I didn’t feel very good after completing the unicorn - it looked like a plastic toy. I wanted to do more and that’s when I started searching for Gundam modeling, stores etc and stumbled to this blog. I visited Hobby Art Gallery the same day and was amazed to see the models displayed there. At first, I thought they are costly kits with perfect ‘out-of-the-box’ looks. After a couple of visits to other modeling shops and more browsing, I figured out there is much more to model building.
Equipped with all these information, I collected some modeling tools, paints and stuff and started redoing my unicorn. I was afraid to use Gundam markers at first as I didn't want to spoil the model. But I had to start somewhere and one day I did it. The end result was not very good, but much better than out-of-the-box stock plastic look. I wanted the gloss look and used a gloss topcoat. That did not give the looks I wanted (I suspect the white color body) and so I did a flat coat over it. Here are some photos.

My Unicorn dismantled & ready for painting

“Warzone” - after painting. I used Tamiya colors.

After assembly and ready for top coat

After top coat – It’s not much of a difference. Also you can see my Gundam marker missed some grooves and made a mess.

My first completed model.

With cover

My Next project - A Wing Zero custom MG, I picked up from HAG.

After seeing the models displayed at HAG, I know I am no way near where I want to be. I am lucky that HAG is offering modeling courses and I will be starting one soon. The two blogs which helped me a lot in my endeavor are and


One and a half year! It’s been around one year and 6 months since I reached Singapore. It has been a period filled with twists and turns – all of them, amazing. Now when I look back, I am proud to say that it has been one of the most rewarding periods in my life. Most importantly, the reason for what I came here for, I have completed with a (self) rating of exceeding expectations – Yeah! I graduated, with flying colors.
I came to Singapore for doing my masters. I was a bit afraid and didn’t have any idea about what to expect. My friends had warned that life will be very difficult without a job and friends. I truly hoped that I am prepared to start out from scratch, to get out from the comfort zone I was in, 1.5 years back. I vividly remember sitting at the stairs of my apartment (22nd floor) the night I reached here, alone, sipping a beer and thinking how I would feel or where I would be, two years down the line. And now, here I am, 1.5 years down the line, finishing my masters, with a group of amazing friends - just the way I always hoped for, with a job I always dreamed for and looking forward an exciting future.
When I made the choice to come here and purse higher studies, I could only hope that it would be a good decision. But now I can ‘state’ that it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. During the last 1.5 years, I have met some of my best friends ever, who are part of my life more than even I am part of my life, learned a whole lot of things (of course that was the main goal), more than that, the course sparked my interest in many fields I never thought I would find interesting (e.g. probability theory), found a job which is extremely satisfying, which allows me to do the things I love to do, met lots of people who opened up the whole new door of exciting opportunities that I can pursue. I learned to adapt to different environments, managed to balance work, study and personal life, learned to work under a hectic schedule, more than that, I learned how to keep my spirits up even when I had to work 24/7. I traveled a lot, experienced different things, met different people and discovered the world under the water & over the mountains and many others. The tenure at NUS exposed me to the amazing possibilities the world has to offer, or more accurately, the power of knowledge.

I can say from my heart that I have thoroughly enjoyed my learning experience in NUS, and I truly wanted to gain knowledge which is very different from my school days when I studied to somehow push through the exams. I know I have only managed to get a glimpse of the amount of knowledge out there, and that excites me. When I completed my undergraduate studies, I didn’t have a very good idea as on what is it that I want and I moved along the crowd. Now I know what is it that I want, or more like, what is it that gives me the feeling of “Wow! This is awesome; I want to do more of this”.
Above all, I would like to thank NUS and each & everyone who were (and still are) part of my journey - my parents, my sister & brother-in-law (who gave me the inspiration at times when I was down), my friends, my teachers, my colleagues, and to that occasional ‘stranger’ who gave me hope when I didn’t know what’s next, whom some people call, God.