We took off for Mersing very early in the morning from Melati. Why Mersing you might wonder. In fact my brother in law did ask and even commented - its like the boondocks - why go there? It was actually my idea - I'd heard a lot about Mersing from my friends, my family and also read about it. Everyone said the beaches are lovely and very isolated. You could swim there completely privately and no one would be around. So off we went that fine morning when it was still quite dark. The road was clear of traffic for once - it was 1 February and a holiday so probably that was a reason. Anyway, armed with sandwiches, currypuffs and lots of drinks the whole family set out for Mersing.
The first part of the journey was quite uneventful - we were on the PLUS highway going south until Kluang from where we went on to the road to Mersing. Kluang is fairly large to my surprise. I had always thought it was a small town, perhaps like Alor Gajah in Malacca. In fact it is the second biggest town in Johor I was told and the main administrative centre for Central Johor. The signs were quite clear at first but still we got lost in Kluang itself. Somehow I knew something was wrong because we were going south to JB not east to Mersing! So we turned around and went back to a gas station that I had seen earlier and there had to ask for directions. Luckily the man there gave us very clear instructions and soon we were off again. The road was narrow and winding and very slow as we could not overtake the truck infront of us. Passed oil palm estates, fruit orchards, small villages and finally jungles on both sides of the road. At one point we saw a group of monkeys eating something a driver had thrown out of a window. My daughters shouted," Baba! Baba!Mind the monkeys!" He slowed down slightly and it was a fairly narrow miss. The monkeys however ere quite unperturbed. They just sat there in the middle of the road and carried on eating! I worried somewhat about other drivers hitting them.
We passed a few small towns - towns like so many others in Malaysia. Out of the way towns with one main street and typical Chinese shophouses lining them. FRom KLuang it took us about 2 hours of driving before we reached Mersing.
Mersing is a typical coastal town, not unlike Renggam. A handful of buildings clutched together near the coast, with the Mersing river in between. Before checking in our hotel we decided to go for a short drive around the town, to get our bearings. WE took the coastal road and passed a jetty as well as some colonial looking buildings, a beach that did not really beckon as it was low tide and the sea was quite far away. Furthermore it looked quite muddy in some parts. It was fairly scenic though - you could see the islands in the distance. I knew that Mersing is the take off point for many island tours - Pangkor, Pulau Rawa and also some dive sites. At 1 pm we went to the hotel - Seri Malaysia which is opposite the District Hospital. It faces the sea but is not on the beach. You'd have to cross the road to go to the beach.