With YTL Hotels
Arriving into the capital of Malaysia only the night before, we were greeted by one of the most vibrant, diverse and dazzling cityskapes we had laid our eyes upon in all of our travels. After exploring the wonders of Kuala Lumpur, like any short city stay we were ready for some rest, rejuvenation and somewhere to put our feet up for a few days. To enjoy, experience and eye the marvels of Malaysia, we would be in the attentive hands of YTL Hotels across the groups portfolio of prestigious, award winning resorts, hotels, boutique experiences and Spa Villages across Malaysia.
Whisking us away from the mainland, darting across the greens and blues of the ocean, we caught our first glimpse of Pangkor Laut Resort. Dispersed across a 300 acre piece of paradise located on its very own private isle to the West of Malaysia., this is one island, one resort. Standing proudly against the backdrop of the island and nestled in the sparkling blues of the shore, the sea and spa villas came into view.
Awaking early in time to see sunrise loop over the mountains from our sundeck, we were about to be transported to an island experience like no other for the entirety of the day, The Raja Sehari experience. The experience begins with breakfast on the beach before walking off the plethora of pastries on a guided jungle walk, observing the wildlife that call this island home, before taking on the roll as king and queen for the day as you immerse yourself in a malay of invigorating, royal body treatments to the sound of light soundscapes and crisp surroundings.
Centrally positioned on the bay as we gazed at the unique emerald greens of the sea. Alone with nothing but the waves kissing the shore and the sensational spread to accompany us, romance filled the bay.
An extraordinary experience to end an extraordinary stay at one of the finest and only water stilt island resorts in Malaysia. One island. One resort. Many unforgettable memories.
Since planning our trip to Malaysia, long had we gawped about the lush green tea valleys and sweeping lawns of the Cameron Highlands, known as the biggest hill station in Malaysia. Making our way up the valleys and gazing across plantations that spray across the land as far as the eye can see, clouds enveloped the tops of the mountains and swooned through the forests lining the roadsides. If this setting was anything to go by, we couldn't wait to get to our quintessential English countryside home; Cameron Highlands Resort.
Rising early for a light cascade style breakfast, we were keen to save some room for the main event of the day and a picnic experience like no other. Away from the tourist trail, we made tracks deep into the tea valleys where Shiva (our butler for the afternoon) had been busy preparing a picnic that was simply scrumptious. Words cannot describe the awe we felt as we admired the panoramic vista of tea plantations that sprawl across the circumference of the valley, fragrant tea bushes filling your lungs while indulging dainty sandwiches, small lunch plates and strawberries topped off with champagne. Shiva was a world class butler fit for a world class picnic experience.
Returning with satisfied stomachs and sensational views still flicking through our minds, we were ready to immerse ourselves in the signature spa experience at the spa village. Combining treatments and ailments based on produce and knowledge of the local flora and fauna, for Charlotte, a fresh strawberry escapade consisiting of bathing in a bathtub of tea and fresh strawberries awaited, and for me, a bathtub prepared of Cameron's mint to revitalise the body and mind. And boy did it work, bathing to sensual aromas and sounds of nature, this was the perfect way to bid a fond farewell.
Our time at Cameron Highland Resort will always be at the forefront of our best memories of Malaysia. Our expectations before we arrived in the highlands were dwarfed by the resort, who stole our hearts with their colonial English spirit, nurtured our experience and left us in awe of the Cameron Highlands. Our very own little piece of England in Asia, found.
A zesty fusion of all things Asia, travelling through Malaysia serves up offerings from around the continent. Our next destination for exploration was in search of somewhere unmistakably Malay. Introducing Tanjong Jara Resort. Located on the golden sands of Terengganu on the East Coast, Tanjong Jara Resort, in all of its luxury, licks the shoreline and offers guests a secluded escape.
Meeting with the resorts very own naturalist, we proceeded by car deep into the Terengganu landscape in search of the authentic Malaysia to begin a jungle trek to the local landmark, Chemerung Falls.
Trekking through the illuminous green flora and fauna of the jungle, we waded through the wilderness as our guide enthusiastically pointed out areas of significance, insects, jungle life and plants of intetest and importance. Well and truly away from the beaten path and deep into jungle territory, the soundscape of crashing water protruded from the treetops. Cruising around the corner, what lay before us was a sight of might. Standing 300 metres tall with crystal clear waters cascading from the skies above, slipping down the craggy mountainside and pooling in the basins of rock below, we were simply dwarfed as we stood in awe of this natural phenomenon.
Returning to the resort refreshed and revitalized, we gave new meaning to the term "whisky on the rocks" and sipped a Hennessy in the amphitheater of the Tanjong Jara surroundings as we reminisced over our time at Chemerung Falls. There are times during our travels where we realise what a small space we occupy in the World and our time here was one of those moments and a moment to savor for sure.
Having now well and truly acclimatized to the natural and authentic serenity of Malaysia, it was time to make tracks across to Borneo, staying in Sabah with Gaya Island Resort, nestled in the North on a private isle inhabiting the oceans of the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park boasting dramatic views over the mighty Mount Kinabalu. Tucked away in the hillside of an ancient Borneo rainforest, discoveries, authentic experiences and a sense of intimacy with the natural world all prevail across the land and seascape of this resort. We arrived in time for lunch, taking in the distinctive feel of Borneo.
Awaking early to the serene sounds of wildlife and a sanctuary nestled within the hillside, we were about to embark on a breakfast experience of a lifetime. Making our way down to the beachfront, lulled by the sound of the waves breaking on the shore, we dined in sumptuous luxury as breakfast was served as the sun rose slowly over the horizon, illuminating the sky with pink hues and casting the first days rays over Mount Kinabulu in the distance.
Leaving the lap of luxury, we traveled to the depths of Sarawak in search of Borneo's big 5. Always opting for natural encounters with wildlife rather than seeking out a centre, we were looking to realise a dream and catch a rare glimpse of Borneos's finest, the Orangutan, which saw us trekking with tribes deep into the Borneo rainforests and camping under the jungle canopy for almost 6 days without a sighting other than fresh nests and fruit forages. After inspecting these finds, our guide explained we had missed them by just three hours!
After spending another night under the stars we journeyed further North to Kinabatangan river on our final morning. Taking a sunrise cruise in the early hours we spotted Proboscis monkeys, saltwater crocodiles, kingfishers and snakes, yet still no sighting of any Orangutan. As the sun set, we boarded a small boat and journeyed up river. We had been sailing for around 30 minutes when without warning, our guide bolted upright and immediately shut down the boats engine and directed us to lay low. My heart was racing, was this it? Using an oar to meander slowly and silently across to the river bank, we heard a rustling in the trees as branches were snapped and plummeted to the river below. There she was. Perched above the treetops no more than 15 metres above us we eyed a large Orangutan building a nest for her and her babies. We sat in the boat and gawped at her for no more than ten minutes before she realised she had a captivated audience below appreciating every single second. I will never forget the force as she ripped through the bark nor the sheer power of her breathing as she built the nest for her little ones.
A once in a lifetime experience for sure, bringing the perfect end to our red ape trail and indeed our time in the heart of Borneo & Malaysia.
Instagram | @pangkorlaut
Facebook | Pangkor Laut
Instagram | @cameronhighlandsresort
Facebook | Cameron Highlands Resort
Instagram | @tanjongjararesort
Facebook | Tanjong Jara Resort
Instagram | @gayaislandresort
Facebook | Gaya Island Resort
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