The Sri Paya Holiday Chalets are not the most famous resort on Tioman Island in Malaysia. The most famous would be the Paya Beach Resort. No, the Sri Paya is a whole different ballgame.
The Sri Paya Beach Holiday Resort is a collection of little chalets. They were not air conditioned (though the website says they are now). In fact, they don't have hot water either. That said, I loved staying at this resort.
We were given a pair of rooms, each with two queen sized beds. The seaside winds at night were plenty cool enough, and we didn't wish for air conditioning at all. Between the two rooms, we had a patio area that made for a great place to sit in the evening at the end of a long day spent in the water.
What I liked most about the place was its homestyle atmosphere. The food was good, if simple, and there was a whole lot of it. We started each day with a very big Malay-style breakfast, cooked by the family who owns and runs the resort. Each day, a lunch of nasi lemak was packed for us to take onboard the boat and eat at whichever site we felt suitable during our outings for the day. And in the evening, it was another big homestyle Malay dinner. We still managed to find room for a late night snack at one of the burger stalls at the beach most evenings.
When we got back to our hotel each night, while waiting for dinner time, we would spend a little time on the jetty with the local kids. We enjoyed diving off the jetty into the waters below. The kids performed all sorts of acrobatic feats in their leaps from the platform a good ten feet above the water. It was fun to think about what their life and upbringing must be like in such an idyllic setting like that at Tioman.
We usually ended our day at the jetty as well. After dark, the stars blazed in the sky. But what was really amazing was to see the tiny fish that glowed on the floor of the sea below us. It looked like the waters, black at night time, were mirroring the glory of the stars in the heavens.
There are lots of hotels that have nicer facilities on Tioman Island, but I doubt there are any that could have formed a more perfect setting for my taste in holidaying. I loved being in the homestyle environment, and playing with the local kids, and eating the home cooking. And, to make it all the better, our entire package cost less than one night at one of those fancier hotels on the island.