Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh, Malaysia

When:  August 2014      Weather:  Hot 28-33C

Leica M240 35f1,4 summilux and 21mmf3,8 

We did our corporate retreat in Ipoh Malaysia, spending two nights at the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat in the suburb of Tambun, 15 min outside Ipoh City. Sadly Ipoh has always lacked quality accommodation but this changed with the opening of the 5 star Banjaran 5 years ago. Expensive it is but you get what you pay for.  One small drawback is that it’s out of town so you cannot just hop out and partake of the wonderful Ipoh food easily (subject to my next post). So either you accept that this is a resort spa stay and stay around the resort or you have transport arranged for the day to allow you to roam freely. 

With only 28 villas, the resort is exclusive. You can choose the water villas which are smaller and cheaper that are on the water…prob better value. We had the garden villas which are larger and have a private pool and hot spring jacuzzi. The arrival process was unsatisfactory…the staff were not really up to checking in our group of 11 efficiently. We had to mill around and wait nearly 2 hours for our villas to be ready even though we arrived at 1pm. A resort at this level needs better staff training.

arriving at the resort

arriving at the resort

view from lobby

view from lobby

courtyard

courtyard

surrounded by the limestone cliffs of Ipoh

surrounded by the limestone cliffs of Ipoh

the whole resort is set in a natural hotsprings area..this pool is too hot to swim in

the whole resort is set in a natural hotsprings area..this pool is too hot to swim in

thatched villas fringe the lake and you can see the stream rising off the water

thatched villas fringe the lake and you can see the stream rising off the water

temperature controlled tubs where you can soak a la Japanese Onsen

temperature controlled tubs where you can soak a la Japanese Onsen

Miniature pineapples at the spice garden..part of the landscaped garden

Miniature pineapples at the spice garden..part of the landscaped garden

water feature

water feature

there are many caves..this beautiful feature is inside the meditation cave

there are many caves..this beautiful feature is inside the meditation cave

And as night falls...

And as night falls…

the limestone cliffs take on a different glow

the limestone cliffs take on a different glow

Jeff's cellar is the ultimate wine cellar...set in a limestone cave

Jeff’s cellar is the ultimate wine cellar…set in a limestone cave

a cave which is beautifully preserved and presented..having a drink or meal here is special.

a cave which is beautifully preserved and presented..having a drink or meal here is special

Now if you are a nature lover and like to take jungle walks and hikes…don’t waste time on the resort’s jungle walk which is a very short walk across the limestone hills leading to a petting zoo for kids. It’s 15 min each way but I guess if you only want a 30 min walk in total it’s ok.  The second morning, I decided to explore the greenery outside the resort and this was much more fruitful (pardon the pun as you will see later).  Walking out of the main arrival area of the resort, turn right leading away from the exit road and follow the path along the small stream behind the villas.  You soon start to see the birds and the first two I saw were a scarlet flowerpecker and a ?laced woodpecker but they were too difficult to shoot. walking further along, you come across an intimidating sign that shows a soldier shooting a person saying that trespassers will be shot!  Being Malaysia, I reckoned that they weren’t serious about such things and the greenery beyond it looked most inviting.  Before long, I saw the reason for the security…Jeff’s own helipad!

The owner's helipad

The owner’s helipad

Walking further along..I came across this…

A lake peeking out between the leaves...

A lake peeking out between the leaves…

a beautiful lake surrounded by hills and 70 durian trees..the owner's private orchard!

a beautiful lake surrounded by hills and 70 durian trees..the owner’s private orchard!

L1002038

By 8am the sun had warmed the air and the birds began to show….

spotted dove

spotted dove

yellow vented bulbul

yellow vented bulbul

Asian glossy starling

Asian glossy starling

pair of bulbuls

pair of bulbuls

chestnut capped bee eater

chestnut capped bee eater

baya weaver

baya weaver

another dove

another dove

magpie robin

magpie robin

sunbird feeding

sunbird feeding

butterfly feeding

butterfly feeding

But the most interesting thing I saw the whole morning was the event of the falling durian….now for those who don’t know it, the durian aka the king of fruits is a soccer ball sized fruit with hard sharp thorns on the outside..it yields the most aromatic ( or disgusting depending on your point of view…eg I can’t stand blue cheese  and most caucasians can’t stand durian!) smell and creamy divine fruit! Walking around under the durian trees one has to be mindful in case a durian decides to drop just as you are looking up….

Now, one cannot climb up a tree and pluck a durian…they are collected when they fall…hopefully before the monkeys etc get to them.  So there I was walking around the lake when I heard the distinct thump of a fallen durian fruit followed immediately by a splash….

durians hanging high up

durians hanging high up

the ripples made by the fallen durian in the lake with one of the gardeners looking for it

the ripples made by the fallen durian in the lake with one of the gardeners looking for it

there's the durian!

there’s the durian!

the triumphant gardener with his prize...he kindly offered to share the durian with me

the triumphant gardener with his prize…he kindly offered to share the durian with me

Walking back to the resort which was just 15 min away, I was amused at how the resort would trumpet it’s ‘jungle walk’ which is really nothing to shout about whilst it ignores this wonderful, wonderful lake surrounded by durian trees and birds..a true sanctuary away from the bustle.  Oh and the bird of the morning for me was found at the stream immediately in front of the resort…unfortunately it was very shy and I could only manage a partial shot of the Green-billed Malkoha.

obscured view of green billed malkoha...can just see the yellow-red eye facial features...

obscured view of green billed malkoha…can just see the yellow-red eye facial features…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s