Monday, 30 May 2016

Awesome Secret Island Getaways in Malaysia

I love island life. Laid back and relaxed. I love the sound of the waves and soft sand under my feet. I love the feeling of serenity as I watch the sun rise or set on the horizon. Fresh air, a sense of tranquility. Nothing beats an island vacation to rid the mundane routine and stress of daily life.

Malaysia has many popular beaches or islands such as Penang, Langkawi, Pangkor, Tioman, Redang or Perhentian but how many of us have actually been to a private and secluded island getaway? Let's have a look at some of these hidden treasures.

1.  Tiga Island (aka Survivor Island)

The island is one of a group of small uninhabited islands in Kimanis Bay, situated 10 km off the West Coast of Sabah. There are trails, plenty of trails on the island (including one that leads to a mud bath). It may not be your typical luxury island getaway but this uninhabited place will certainly let you escape from reality.

The islands were formed on 21 September 1897, when an earthquake on Mindanao caused a volcanic eruption near Borneo.

Make your way to the district of Kuala Penyu and hop on a boat to Tiga Island! The island’s claim to fame is none other than being the first ever ‘secret’ location for the hit reality series, ‘Survivor’. Hence, many refer to Tiga Island as Survivor Island. You can enjoy a day trip to the island but many recommend spending at least a night or two.

There’s plenty to see and do here: spend the sunny days swimming or snorkeling in its surrounding clear waters or go kayaking. Divers can explore its underwater treasures (diving courses are available).

Tiga Island is also famous for its therapeutic natural volcanic mud. Warm mud bubbles form geometric vents around the island. These warm mud bubbles are actually very popular among visitors as they now use it as an authentic outdoor spa (soak your whole body in it).

2.  Tenggol Island

Tenggol Island is one of the most beautiful islands in east coast of Peninsular Malaysia; known for its perfect waters warmed by South China Sea. The small and compact island is a forgotten gem set in the clear blue waters of the South China Sea - an emerald of deep, green forested interior flanked by white powder beaches and beautiful reefs. This natural island with beaches saturated with pristine warm water is a divers' and snorkellers' paradise.

At Tenggol Island, divers and snorkellers alike can find pristine coral formations and a number of submerged rocks with excellent coral growths. Tenggol and its surrounding islands offer good visibility teeming with marine life, including sharks, rays, nudibranch and a wide variety of hard and soft corals.

If you are looking for a quiet getaway and want to feel like you’re on your very own private island, then Tenggol island is the place for you to visit. It is an island located off the coast of Terengganu and it can be accessed using a ferry from Dungun.

pulau tenggol-compressed

3.  Sibu Island

Sibu Island is a small hour glass shaped island in Mersing District, Johor. It is actually made up of several islands namely Sibu Besar Island, Sibu Tengah Island, Sibu Kukus Island and Sibu Hujung Island.

Sibu Besar, the main island, is approximately 6 km long and 1 km wide, and for the most part covered by tropical vegetation. On the southern end there is a small fishing village called Kampong Duku with a population of fewer than a hundred people (about 40 families).

The main leisure activities on the island are watersports such as snorkelling and diving - not surprising since the area was designated a Marine Park in 1993 and numerous coral reefs are close to hand.

There are four main beaches on the eastern side of Sibu, where most of the beach resorts are located and most of the resorts are closed during the annual 3-month monsoon period, save for those facing the mainland.

On a clear day, you can actually spot Tioman island from this island. The gently sloping beaches on Sibu Island are ideal for swimming and there are many coral reefs PLUS the waters are very clear.

4.  Kapas Island

Just off the coast of mainland’s Marang lies Kapas Island. Kapas means Cotton, a name given to the island by locals, due to its soft white beaches. Snorkellers and scuba divers visit the island because of the beautiful, calm waters filled with a variety of marine life.

There are a variety of dive spots here, including a World War 2 shipwreck.

This island can be reached by taking a ferry from Marang, Terengganu.

pulau kapas

5.  Rawa Island

Rawa Island is a coral island in Mersing District, Johor. It is popular with tourists from Malaysia and Singapore, who come to enjoy its relatively unspoiled white sandy beaches, snorkelling and scuba diving. There is a daily ferry service from Mersing.

"Rawa" is the local term for white doves, which are abundant on the island.

Rawa is a relatively small island. There are no proper roads, only a few walkways. One side of the island is a beach covered with white sand, while the other side has a rocky vertical cliff. The water is clear. There are many sea and land creatures such as fishes, squids, jellyfish, octopuses, Malayan sea eagles, and reptiles. Also Blacktip Reef sharks can be found feeding in the sea off Rawa. Rawa's waters are home to an abundance of corals. There are only 2 resorts on the island

As this island is small, it is rather secluded as well. In other words, going here is all about relaxing.

6.  Dayang Island

It is located on the west side of Johor Bahru. Dayang Island is actually a part of an archipelago of 4 islands namely Aur Island, Lang Island and Pemanggil Island.

Dayang Island is famous for its diving sites. Most tourists visit this island for scuba diving and snorkelling experiences. While scuba diving, it is easy for one to see the underwater wildlife such as whales, sharks and rays etc. You can try your hand in underwater photography while snorkelling or scuba diving. Diving courses are offered to those who are passionate about it or for the beginners before they dive in the crystal clear waters of Dayang Island.

The ideal diving season is normally from the month of February to November. There are many diving sites around for you to choose from. Some are shallow reefs and some are deep rocky depths.

Drive yourself to Mersing Jetty which is located in Johor. There will be a boat waiting at the jetty to take you to this breathtaking island.

7.   Gemia Island

Gemia Island is a privately owned island, about 800 metres off Kapas Island. Gemia Island has white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, beautiful corals and marine life as some of it’s natural pristine assets.

The island is only five kilometres from the east coast of peninsular Malaysia, Gemia Island is easy to miss on a map. It is a tiny, rocky island covered in lush tropical greenery and fringed by curves of pure white sand. While this small gem may easily be overlooked, it will not be easily forgotten.

In Kuala Terengganu you can either charter a taxi or a van to take you to the Marang jetty.
There are many boat services to Gemia Island at the jetty in Marang.

The island is considered one of the most beautiful island getaways in this part of the East Coast. With patches of virgin forest covering the rocky hills in the centre, crystal-clear waters and spotless golden beaches, the resort is among the few destinations in the country still unspoilt by development.

And take note, there is only one, yes ONE resort on this entire island. Talk about tranquility!

So there you go...a short list of islands here in exotic Malaysia you would probably have never heard off but if you have heard of it or been there, or know of any other islands worth mentioning,do share your comments here please.

Sources :
Wikipedia, Wikitravel,  Sabah Tourism, Johor Tourism, Terengganu Tourism

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Exotic Malaysia

Good day everyone :)

Today I'm going to talk about my birth land, Malaysia. I may sound a little biased here when I say it is one of the most exotic travel destinations in the world, but one needs to experience Malaysia, and I mean truly experience Malaysia to understand and appreciate the spectacular beauty it has to offer.

Many have been to our major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Melaka etc where you would have seen the majestic Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers, experienced authentic Malaysian cuisine like the nasi lemak, roti canai and teh tarik, to name a few, visited historical sites and mingled with our multi ethnic and friendly locals and enjoyed some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world....yes right here in exotic Malaysia.

But today I'm going to talk about a few exotic resorts in Malaysia that not many have heard of, thus keeping these places private and quaint.


Source: The Dusun
Source: The Dusun

This is a 12-acre orchard resort on the edge of the undisturbed Malaysian tropical rainforest, The Dusun is an hour from Kuala Lumpur and its airports, but it sure does feel like a world away. It’s located 800 feet above sea level in the foothills of the Titiwangsa Main Range, so you can expect cool and quiet nights. From as low as only a few hundred ringgit a night, you can opt to stay at one of their beautiful chalets . Catch a morning swim amongst nature in one of their two infinity pools overlooking the mountains for a retreat you won't forget. There are even private barbeques. And did i mention the view...simply breathtaking!


Luxury Villas The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat Ipoh
Source: The Banjaran Hotsprings

This sanctuary of bespoke holistic wellness in the northern state of Perak is only 15 minutes drive from Ipoh city and 2 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. Set against limestone hills, The Banjaran provides a peaceful wellness retreat with its geothermal hot springs and a naturally heated swimming pool. A steam cave and ice baths are also available. As for the accommodation, well, the spacious villas come with a private pool and outdoor hot tub. Butler services and in-villa spa treatments can be arranged.


The ShoreaSource: The Shorea

The Shorea is a family retreat built within a tropical forest reserve. Its secluded villas are set on natural terrains, with meandering paths leading down to a jungle stream, a waterfall within the Berembun Forest Reserve; it is the ultimate forest getaway. The resort is constructed by using mainly the shorea timber species which is sourced locally. Most of the resort is also constructed using recycled shorea timber, including main roof beams, timber pillars, staircases, balustrades, and timber bridge.


Source: Awanmulan

Another forest retreat, Awanmulan is a collection of small homes in the hills located in Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan which is an ideal getaway from the bustling Kuala Lumpur located only 2 – 3 hours’ drive away. A sanctuary in the hills, the houses on stilts sit on a hill slope overlooking a lush valley and surrounded by hills of green forests.  Sit upon the wooden decks and watch the rain come in over the hills and the mist that rises from the valley below, or lounge by the pool or go for a dip in the refreshing river pool, which comes directly from the upstream river in the forest, or watch the beautiful sunset over the Straits of Malacca light up the sky in hues of red and yellow. It will keep you entertained for hours and you may even find it very therapeutic. 


Villa Samadhi
Source: Villa Samadhi

Welcome to your 'rustic luxe' retreat. Lay your body on their plush bed for a night and your state of mind will be reignited. This is one romantic luxury boutique hotel. One of Kuala Lumpur’s best kept secrets! Hidden within an upscale neighbourhood and discreet from street view, Villa Samadhi feels more like one big private villa rather than a boutique hotel. The entire residence is designed to look and oriented to evoke, in all essence, your own private villa in the city. Its modern-Asian design and ambiance makes it a unique boutique residence.


Source: MaliHom Private Estate
Source: Malihom Private Estate

The MaliHom Private Estate is a little hidden treasure, a luxury private estate in the hills of Penang, offering the perfect blend of natural surroundings, privacy and seclusion. Surrounded by greenery, it boasts an outdoor pool and private rooms with rustic d├ęcor, and the rooms feature private grounds or deck with beautiful views of the natural landscapes. It offers a calm respite from the busy city life with its private villas built from recycled wood.


Source: Fig Tree Hill Resort

Enhance your experience of Penang Island, also known as the Pearl Of The Orient, with your stay at the Fig Tree Hill Resort for an invigorating stay amongst its natural, lush greenery. Away from the hustle and bustle of their tourist packed beaches, Fig Tree Hill offers a stay in one of their many traditional houses complete with relaxing spas and a large pool - a little paradise of its own.


Source: Templer Park Rainforest Retreat

Malaysia is rich with rainforest all over the country; what better way than to enjoy it than out lounging by the infinity pool overlooking Bukit Takun. Made with everyone’s enjoyment in mind, this is the perfect place for a chilling afternoon amongst the natural environment and you can even hold events here. Although it may seem remote and far from our beloved KL city, Templar’s Park Rainforest Retreat is actually minutes away and easily accessible from KL. 


Source: Casabrina

Casabrina being a 6 star luxury resort is another posh and extravagant retreat home in Raub, Pahang. Constructed with hard working city dwellers in mind, Casabrina is a retreat for anybody looking for a space to relax and to recollect their thoughts. It is also built with eco-friendly materials to encourage and to educate visitors about the importance of conserving nature. 


Source: Kuang Kampung Retreat

Travel into an adventure of yester-year Malay traditional living. With its expansive greens and lovely live stocks on the homestead, Kuang Retreat offers families and children an invaluable experience with nature. The entire architecture of Kuang Retreat oozes Malay tradition. Approximately 40 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur city, the 3,350 sq ft home is mainly built out of timber with stone stilts. Kuang Retreat offers a paradise of refuge from the bustling city, a perfect weekend hideaway for urbanites and is furnished with antique furniture and traditional art decorations. The 3-bedroom single storey bungalow is designed to complement nature with its high ceiling, large open windows and an open-air plunge pool in the middle of the house. 

The above are just some of the exotic resorts we have here in Malaysia. I haven't gotten started on our breathtaking beaches yet. Some of which have been voted among the best in the world.  But that's for another blog on another day :)

Hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and find it informative. And if you haven't been to this tropical paradise yet, wait no longer. 

Happy reading.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Off The Beaten Track

Most of us have travelled to places that are very touristy but have you ever considered doing something different? Going some place off the beaten track.

Below are some unique destinations and natural phenomenons that are mind blowing and I have added them to my bucket list.

1. Venezuela - Catatumbo Lightning

At the mouth of the Catatumbo River in Venezuela, a very unique mass of storm clouds swirls, creating the rare spectacle known as Catatumbo lightning. The storm occurs up to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day, and 280 times an hour.


2. Japan - Strange Seabed Patterns

These strange patterns are found on the seabed, rather than in fields of corn. At around 7 feet wide, they litter the Japanese sea floor, each with a unique pattern. Until recently, we had no idea how these patterns were produced, but surprisingly, tiny fish were the culprits. Male pufferfish, no more than 5 inches long, will flap their fins in the sand to produce these amazing patterns in hopes of attracting a mate.


3. Denmark - Flocks of Starlings

During spring in Denmark, flocks of more than a million European starlings gather into a single group to form amazing shapes in the sky. The bird’s communication and coordination allows the flock to move as a massive tightly packed swarm.


4. Iceland - Towers of Steam and Gas

The area of Hverir is incredibly geothermally active, so much so that ghostly towers of steam and gas rise from bodies of water and mud as they boil. During the Northern Lights, this place looks like an alien world.


5. Norway - Hessdalen Light

Hessdalen Light is an unexplained light phenomenon that occurs in Hessdalen valley of Norway. They were observed over 15 to 20 times per week from 1982 until 1984. Since then, the activity has decreased and now the lights are observed about 10 to 20 times per year.


6.  Australia - Hillier Lake

From above the lake appears a solid bubble gum pink. No-one fully knows why the lake is pink. Scientists speculate that the colour comes from a dye created by bacteria that lives in the salt crusts.


7. USA - Moving Stones of Death Valley

The mysterious moving stones of the packed-mud desert of Death Valley have been a center of scientific controversy for decades. Rocks weighing up to hundreds of pounds have been known to move up to hundreds of yards at a time. Some scientists have proposed that a combination of strong winds and surface ice account for these movements. However, this theory does not explain evidence of different rocks starting side by side and moving at different rates and in disparate directions. Moreover, the physics calculations do not fully support this theory as wind speeds of hundreds of miles per hour would be needed to move some of the stones.


8.  USA - Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic Spring

It’s the largest hot spring in the United States. The colours of Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring are caused by bacteria and microbes growing around the water’s edge.


9.  New Zealand - Glow Worms

Glow worms, which are infact insects, are bioluminescent animals common to New Zealand. A number of caves are noted for their presence.

10. China - Quartzite Sandstone Pillars

Found in the Hunan province of China, the unique views from atop the Tianzi Mountains can be accessed by cable car. These towers are naturally formed of quartzite sandstone pillars.


11. Russia - Light Pillars

Light columns are visible in extremely cold areas like Russia. They originate from natural light, like the moon or setting sun, reflecting off ice crystals, which are nearly perfectly flat and smooth.


12. Artic - Fumaroles

Fumaroles are vents that allow steam from volcanoes to escape into the open. In Arctic areas, as soon as steam leaves one of these vents, it freezes, and eventually, massive snow chimneys are formed around the volcanic vent.

13. Turkmenistan - The Gateway to Hell

The Gateway to Hell is a vent, where natural gas escapes to the surface through cracks in the rocks. The flame it produces has burned ever since it was set alight in 1971. A similar flame in Iraq has burned for for over 4,000 years and is even mentioned in the Old Testament.


14. Norway - Northern Lights

My bucket list wouldn't be complete without this stunning Nothern Lights.
The Northern Lights are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere. Variations in colour are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding.