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Showing posts with label Serenity Malaysia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Serenity Malaysia. Show all posts

Searching for Wild Orangutans in Borneo (By Amy Blyth)

My only plan for our three-week trip to Malaysia was to find wild orangutans in Borneo. I’ve long dreamed of seeing these incredible human-like creatures in their natural environment and was prepared to do whatever it took to achieve my goal. Our search for the so-called man of the forest took us deep into the jungles of Borneo; we sailed down rivers and spent hours trekking through tropical heat to try and catch a glimpse of these secretive and endangered primates, but did we succeed?

The Search for Orangutans in Borneo

Our quest to find wild orangutans began with a difficult but extremely rewarding trip to Batang Ai National Park which took us well off the beaten track. We stayed with a local family in their longhouse and camped out in the jungle, but although we had an incredible experience we didn’t see any orangutans. According to locals we would have had to trek for days into the dense jungle, camping along the way to have a chance of spotting any.

The WWF says that there are only between 45,000 and 69,000 orangutans left in the wild due to deforestation, hunting and the illegal pet trade. This means that sadly there are very few places left to spot wild orangutans in Borneo; one of which is Sabah in Eastern Borneo, which is where we headed next to continue our search.

Our Trip to Danum Valley Field Centre

On arriving in Sabah we stayed at Bike and Tours, one of the nicest guesthouses we’ve come across on our trip so far. Our hosts Simon and Tish cooked us an amazing Indian-Malaysian meal and told us about the Danum Valley Field Centre, a scientific camp located in a prime location for spotting orangutans. While it’s not really meant as tourist accommodation, Simon and Tish were able to arrange for us to stay there a couple of nights and even agreed to drive us over the next day.

The field centre is set deep in the heart of Danum Valley next to a river; bearded pigs, deer and monkeys regularly wander into camp from the surrounding jungle. The first morning we were there we set our alarm for 5am and ventured out into the pale half-light of the jungle. Within minutes of shining the torch around we were met by two amber eyes gazing unblinkingly back at us – a deer perhaps. We slipped on the muddy uneven path until we got to a huge fig tree with a very precarious looking ladder attached leading up to viewing platforms. From there we could see the tree tops and part of the camp obscured in morning mist.

We spent the next day and a half trekking the jungle paths surrounding the camp searching for orangutans while being attacked by leeches and mosquitoes. Even though it was hot, sticky and exhausting work I loved exploring the maze of trees, spotting leaf monkeys and macaques, hearing the calls of birds and watching hornbills soar high above us – I felt so small surrounded by the vast infinity of the jungle.

All through our visit to Danum we kept hearing maddening rumours of orangutan sightings but as the final morning of our stay arrived we still hadn’t spotted any and we were beginning to feel desperate – we had only one more destination left to search for the elusive creatures.

Cruising the Kinabatangan River

Kinabatangan is supposedly one of the easiest places to spot wild orangutans in Malaysian Borneo. Sadly, the fact that the forest surrounding the Kinabatangan river has been so severely logged means that only a narrow strip remains on either side of the water, forcing all the animals into this small area. The best way to view the wildlife is to take a boat trip straight down the river; we arranged afternoon, night and morning boat trips, certain that we would finally spot orangutans on one of them.

We spent hours whizzing down the river, stopping to watch leaf monkeys, macaques and rare long-nosed proboscis monkeys in trees lining the river banks. We spotted all kinds of birds, from kingfishers to huge hornbills and we even floated just feet from a huge crocodile but sadly, we still didn’t spot any orangutans. Despite all the time and effort we’d put into our search, the hundreds of pounds we’d spent and miles we’d travelled we had somehow failed to find any wild orangutans in Borneo.

Visiting Rescued Orangutans in Sepilok Rehabitilition Centre

Although we were pretty disappointed about the outcome of our orangutan quest we did have some incredible experiences during the course of our journey. While our trip to Borneo had been all about orangutans to begin with, somewhere along the way it became more to do with the journey than the end destination. The experiences we had in the jungle, all the amazing people we met and the incredible animals we did see more than justified our visit to Malaysia.

In addition, the fact that we didn’t spot any wild orangutans in Borneo just goes to show how endangered they’ve become. We learnt even more about the plight of orangutans when we visited the Sepilok Rehabilition Centre before we left Borneo. The centre rescues orphaned orangutans and attempts to teach them the skills they need to go back to the wild while still providing food and support for them if they need it.

We got the chance to see some of these orangutans feeding when we visited Sepilok. Although the experience wasn’t what we’d hoped for, especially since we were surrounded by hordes of noisy and pushy tourists, it was still a magical experience seeing the rusty-red creatures swinging out of the jungle to feed. We’re determined to return to Borneo one day to see orangutans where they truly belong: in the wild.


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10 Romantic Luxury Resorts in Malaysia (By Ashley Yeen)

Leading a fast-paced city life can be exciting, but what we often neglect is not only our own need to relax, but also our partner’s need for intimacy. When we recently asked a number of young, career-focused couples if they’ve been on a romantic holiday recently, a lot of them answered in the negative, and the main reason for it was the lack of time to organize one.

We’ve put our heads together and decided that there shouldn’t be an excuse not to enjoy a break and re-ignite the fire of romance with your loved one, so we’ve cooked up a list of the best romantic resorts we love in Malaysia. You’ll have no problems with long flights or foreign languages – just choose a resort you like, book a room, and ta-da, start packing for an intimate getaway with your man!

1.Four Seasons Langkawi Malaysia (5 Star)

One of the most luxurious villas on Langkawi island, the Four Seasons Langkawi is surrounded by a tropical rainforest and dramatic cliffs. Explore the entire island or enjoy an intimate barbeque by the beach as the sun sets. For something even more luxurious, bathe in the villa’s exclusive celadon soaking tub.
Address: Jalan Tanjung Rhu, 07000, Langkawi Malaysia
Phone: 04-9508888

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2. Eastern and Oriental Hotel, Penang (5 Star)

The E&O Hotel is well-known in Penang as it eludes the grand elegance of the British Colonial era. It was also named one of Penang’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Located in Georgetown, you will enjoy great sea views during the day and then simply walk over to Penang’s famous clubs right opposite the hotel at Upper Penang Road at night.
Address: 10, Lebuh Farquhar, 10200 Penang
Phone: 04-2222000

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3. The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh, Perak (5 Star)

If you love to get close with Mother Nature, Hotel Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat offers the best experience nestled in the lush tropical rainforest. Couples can enjoy a romantic dinner in Pomelo Restaurant with nourishing cuisine and fine wines in the cellar carved out of limestone. Embrace the company of each other in a dazzling plunge pool, outdoor rainshower and sunken Jacuzzi with geometrical hot springs water.
Address: 3, Persiaran Lagun Sunway, 31150, Ipoh, Perak.
Phone: 05-2107777

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4. Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor Island (5 Star)

This is the only hotel located on Pangkor Laut Island. It has been rated one of the best local honeymoon getaways on numerous travel articles as both of you can enjoy romantic moments sitting by the private beach, or pamper yourselves with a luxurious fine dining experience. Their specially designed huts and pavilions all feature private balconies or courtyards, and most bathrooms open out to the rainforest.
Address: Pangkor Laut, 32200 Perak.
Phone: 05-6991100

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5. Gaya Island Resort, Kota Kinabalu (5 Star)

If you wish to have both luxury and nature on your holiday, this could be your choice. The beautifully located resort is set on an island that’ll promise serenity and breath-taking views of beautiful tropical plants and of the ocean. Spend  intimate moments with your loved one in spacious bedrooms with oversized bathtubs and two vanity units, or laze around on the outdoor verandah with day beds.
Address:  Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Phone: 03 27831000 / 018 9391100

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6. Lone Pine Hotel, Penang (5- Stars)

The E&O Group promises to bring their guests to the highest level of excitement by offering them the most luxurious and relaxed environments. Lone Pine Hotel is designed to combine British colonial elements with contemporary touches. Dine in tranquility by the beach and listen to the sound of nature while sipping fine wines with your loved one.
Address: 97, Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Penang.
Phone: 04-8868686

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7. Carcosa Seri Negara, Kuala Lumpur (5 Stars)

If you want a romantic, colonial feel that’s right in the middle of Klang Valley, then book a weekend at Carcosa Seri Negara. In the 1900s, it used to house the Governor of the Straits Settlements as well as other prominent guests of the Malay Federation. Each suite in this hotel is not only spacious, but is also distinctive from each other to give its guests a luxuriously unique experience. Fans of colonial films like ‘Anna and the King’ will truly appreciate the interior of Carcosa Seri Negara and its beautiful manicured gardens.
Address: Jalan Kebun Bunga, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03 2295 0888

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8. The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort (5 Star)

One of the most private locations in Redang, The Taaras is a bespoke beach residence that is known for its luxury and hospitality. We recommend trying Taaras’ exclusive twinning package which combines both ocean adventures and seaside relaxation for couples who want the best of island stays. If green rainforests and beautiful blue waters aren’t convincing enough, then these highlights about The Taaras will: oversized beds with hand-picked linens and fabrics. spa bathtubs overlooking the bay, sixteen meter infinity pool…need we say more?
Address: Pulau Redang, 20928, Redang Island
Phone: 09-6308888

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9. Tanjong Jara Resort, Kuala Terengganu (4 Star)

This idyllic beachside property blends both contemporary luxury and old-world Malaysian warmth. You’ll feel as if you had travelled back in time to the olden days of Malay kings when you’re at Tanjong Jara, as it’s designed to reflect the elegance of 17th century Malay palaces. The rooms overlook either tropical landscaped gardens or panoramic views of the South China Sea and are furnished in local timber and luxurious fabrics. Activities are numerous here, from unique cooking lessons, jungle trekking, reef explorations to river cruises. You can also pamper your body at the Spa Village Tanjong Jara, where they offer programs for relaxation, reinvigoration and stress relief.
Address: Batu 8, Off Jalan Dungun, 23000 Kuala Terenganu
Phone (Reservation): 03-27831000

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10. Tanjung Rhu Resort Langkawi (5 Star)

The boutique resort is located on the northern tip of Langkawi, surrounded by tall palm trees and enormous outdoor swimming pools. Spanning over 2.5km of white sandy beach, the rooms here exude an Asian-Eastern influence, decorated with with upholstery and drapes in Thai silk and Indian cotton fabrics. For an unforgettable romantic experience, arrange for a special private dinner on the beach where a private butler will spoil you with champagne and mouthwatering barbeque selections. At the moment, they’re undergoing some renovations for service upgrade purposes until December 2013. However, if you don’t really mind some renovation noise, the hotel management will offer complimentary activities such as nature walks, fish and eagle spotting. More information on special rates during Tanjung Rhu’s refurbishment period, go here
Address: Mukim Ayer Hangat, Pulau Langkawi, 07000, Langkawi
Phone: 04-959 1033

Ashley Yeen

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Top 10 Romantic Restaurants in Kuala Lumpur (by Genevieve Nunis)

Finding the perfect romantic place to dine can be quite a tedious task. On top of finding the right food, ambience, location and setting plays an important role in finding the perfect place to both express your love and excitement for your loved one. Being romantics ourselves, we’ve scouted and picked these ten restaurants that happen to be the best romantic spots to wine and dine with your loved one!

1. Bijan Bar and Restaurant

3, Jalan Ceylon,Kuala Lumpur | 03-2031 3575

Nestled away in the quiet part of Kuala Lumpur, lies the Bijan Bar & Restaurant that offers fine Malay cuisine. The cosy and warm atmosphere is the perfect romantic location, with its combination of rustic batik decor and subdued lighting.

2. La Vie en Rose

39, Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur | 03-2078 3883 
If you’re looking for Parisienne chic dining, head to La Vie En Rose. It’s a classy and intimate establishment that captures the lush greenery of the Bukit Nanas forest reserve against the bright lights of the KL’s skyscrapers. Set in a bungalow, the decor is light, fun and flirty.

3. The Hill

23, Lorong Dungun, Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur | 016-229 1505 
For a casual, relaxed approach for a romantic night out, The Hill could just be the best choice for you. Set in the breezy Damansara Heights, you can choose to sit by the bar, in the beer garden, or get a place by the balcony in the lounge just one floor above to get a romantic view of Kuala Lumpur, or catch the sunset.

4. Marini’s on 57

Level 57, Menara 3 Petronas, Persiaran KLCC, Kuala Lumpur | 03-2161 2880 or 03-2161 4880. Situated on the 57th floor of the Petronas Tower, this fine dining restaurant not only gives you brilliant ambience. The combination of a candle-light dinner, with a gorgeous view of the KL skyline will only set hearts of fire.

5. LaFite, Shangri-La

Lobby level, Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur, 11 Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur | 03-2074 3900. If you want the finest spot place to be spoiled, then head to Lafite in Shangri-La. Voted as the Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Time Out KL Food Awards in both 2009 and 2010, Lafite offers fine French cuisine while giving you the chance to experience a romantic ambience.

6. Rama V

5, Jalan U Thant, 55000 Kuala Lumpur | 03-2143 2663. 

For authentic Thai cuisine, head to Rama V Thai Restaurant. Set amongst a lovely pool of lotus blossoms, Rama V will offer delicious food with serene, exotic ambience. Choose a private chalet for you and your loved one, or simply dine and let the food feed both your eyes and your belly!

7. The Warehouse

198, Jalan Tun HS Lee, 50000 Kuala Lumpur | 03-2022 0528. If fine-dining isn’t something for you two lovebirds and you’re looking for something quirkier, then head to The Warehouse. Housed in a former textile warehouse in Chinatown, indulge in delicious coffee and pair it with a delicious steak.

8. La Risata, Ampang

16, Persiaran Ampang, 55000 Kuala Lumpur | 03-4252 6269. If you love Italian food, followed by a relaxed cozy ambience with an old-fashioned charmed, then La Risata in Ampang could be the perfect choice. Serving authentic Italian cuisine like wood-fired pizzas to delicious pastas, you can drink it down with an aperitif from the bar or choose from their extensive wine list.

9. Boardwalk, Hilton KL
Boardwalk, Hilton KL, 3 Jalan Stesen Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur | 03-2264 2592
In the heart of Kuala Lumpur, lies an oasis surrounded by palm trees and a pool of crystal clear water. Bask in a romantic view of the KL skyline amidst a relaxed ambience with candles and the sound of lapping water.

10. Bistro a Table

6 Jalan 17/54, 46400 Petaling Jaya | 03 7931 2831. If you’d like to dine outside of the city, the head to a classic French bistro called Bistro a Table in Petaling Jaya. With an ever changing menu, you can enjoy modern French cuisine with a chic Parisienne feel.

Genevieve Nunis

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Top 8 Malaysian Destinations For a Retreat Getaway (By Adrina)

The urban city lifestyle can be fun and exciting but it can also be tremendously exhausting and stressful. Just think about it, when was your last time enjoying a long holiday without worrying about work and other problems? If you haven’t done it for a while, then it is definitely time for you to leave for a few days and go for a retreat getaway! Here are eight of our favourite nature-friendly getaway destinations for some r ‘n’ r.

1. Sekeping Retreats

Sekeping Retreats now have numerous retreat centers in various places including KL, Petaling Jaya, Bangsar, Ipoh and Penang. Sekeping Serendah is the most recommended and best rated place as it brings you closer to nature, allowing you to be mesmerized by the beauty of its surrounding. There are seven shed sets available in Sekeping Serendah within five acres of tropical rainforest. If you prefer to do a quick getaway, check out the rest of the Sekeping retreats in their website HERE.

2. Awanmulan

Apart from Sekeping Serendah, Awanmulan is an alternative place for you to truly experience life in a rainforest. Living in the nature has never been this lovely! The retreat in Negeri Sembilan is intentionally basic with natural environment surrounding the building. There are different rooms to choose from , and the biggest room can fit in up to 12 people. Awanmulan also has a signature saltwater pool with the water pumped directly from the river across the hill.


3. Banjaran Hotsprings

One would say a getaway should be simple and relaxing but going for a luxurious spa holiday is something we all want to do once in a while. Banjaran Hotsprings provides a wonderful spa experience with its geothermal hot springs and a naturally heated swimming pool as well as a steam cave and ice baths. Located in the deep rainforest in Ipoh City, it is a two hour drive from city of KL. This five-star luxury retreat sanctuary offers exclusive butler services for the ultimate hospitality experience.


4. Perhentian Island

For some, a perfect retreat getaway involves sun-drenched beaches with refreshing breeze. Perhentian Island is one of the best scuba diving and snorkeling spots in Malaysia, and it offers numerous affordable choices of accommodation. The sea water is crystal clear and most beaches are well-facilitated. Located at the west of Perhentian Besar in Terengganu, it takes approximately seven hours or less to reach the destination if you’re driving from KL. You can also take a flight to Kota Bharu Airport.

5. Bagus Place Retreat, Pulau Tioman

Similar to Perhentian Island, the beautiful Tioman Island is also another option for island lovers. Bagus Place Retreat in Tioman Island provides you an unforgettable holiday experience with its peaceful sanctuary of breathtaking sea view and beautiful white sand beaches. The water sports offer at the Bagus Place Retreat includes kayaking, paddling, diving and snorkeling. Jungle trekking and rock-pooling are available as well. They offer different styles of chalets for example Rumah Laut or the Rock House, and packages include meals and soft drinks.

6. Sipadan Island

Away from hustle and bustle of city life, Sipadan Island is a diving paradise and a protected marine park. One of the notable features of Sipadan Island is the underwater turtle tomb that houses many skeletal remains of turtles. It is an amazing experience to witness more than 20 turtles during underwater dive as well. Instead of getting a sun-soaked holiday, most of the visitors on Sipadan Island are mostly diving enthusiasts as the underwater world is simply stunning and mesmerizing.

7. Samadhi Retreat

Samadhi Retreat is a one-of-a-kind private retreat located at two different places: Japamala Resorts in Tioman Island and Villa Samadhi in KL. The retreat sanctuary is intentionally hidden from the street view in KL and the exotic d├ęcor is its most distinguishing feature. The Samadhi Retreat at Japamala Resorts, on the other hand, offers absolute harmony without any stressful or annoying interruption. A number of water-based activities are provided as well including kayaking, diving and just exploring the island.


8. Spa Village

The Spa Village is available at seven locations in Malaysia, and each location provides similar unique retreat experience but with different kinds of spa treatments. The award-winning spa village in Cameron Highlands features its signature tea bath before every treatment. The tea bath can help to relieve stress and slow down the aging process. Other Spa Village resorts also offer their own one-of-kind treatments including traditional Malay massage, ancient healing spa programs and many more.


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