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.
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!
Walking further along..I came across this…
By 8am the sun had warmed the air and the birds began to show….
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….
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.