Had the good fortune of being invited for a blogcation (a sponsored vacation for the purpose of blogging about the experience) by YTL Hotels to its enchanting Tanjong Jara Resort and spent an idyllic 3D2N exploring the rustic charms of Terrengganu.
|A fishing boat prowling the calm waters in front of Tanjong Jara Resort at the break of dawn. Catching a sunrise at the resort is one of life's little gifts.|
Getting to Tanjong Jara Resort
There are a couple of ways to get to TJR :
1. Fly in to Kuantan International Airport (named 'Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Airport') and take a 2.5 hours ride to TJR
2. Fly in to Terengganu International Airport (named 'Sultan Mahmud Airport') and take a 1.5 hours ride to the resort
Airport pick-up and transfers can be arranged with TJR and subjected to separate charges from accommodation bookings. For more info on getting there, please click here.
|Photos : Onboard Firefly's 2-by-2 seater plane and Kuantan International Airport.|
|Hello Kuantan! I've yet to explore this part of Malaysia. Hopefully in the future.|
|Our spacious ride to Tanjong Jara Resort.|
|Snapping some shots along the way, I was really amazed by the mass of banners and flags the contesting parties put up during the Malaysian Election. But taking a shut-eye was the best way to sit out the 2.5 hours journey.|
As our car passed a sign that marked the entrance of Tanjong Jara Resort, I was a little surprised at how understated it is; in a blink-and-miss-it kind of way. But as we drove down the palm-lined driveway, the narrow path opened up to a sprawling hotel development that called to mind a glam kampong. It felt like entering a different era and dimension.
With 99 rooms and a complete range of facilities (restaurants, gym, pool, gift shop, library, conference hall, etc), TJR centers its hospitality around the Malay concept of Sucimurni, a philosophy grounded in the timeless pursuit for good health and holistic well-being. There is relaxation in the air as I breathed in the rustic-scape.
|TJR won the Aga Khan Award for architecture twice. The award is the largest architectural award in the world and was established to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Islamic culture as expressed through architecture.|
|Reception of TJR built in the style of a Malay longhouse.|
|Mirror pond next to the Reception area.|
|TJR's built and stylings borrow the grandeur and royal flavours reminiscent of traditional Malay palaces in the 17th century.|
|Visage of the Serambi (ground units) and Bumbung (top units) Sea View rooms. TJR has various rooming choices with prices ranging from RM700++ for sea or garden facing rooms to RM3,500++ for its Anjung Suite.|
|My room was the Serambi Sea View unit on the ground level. The upper floor is a different unit.|
|Photos : Huge front porch and room with a lot of space!|
|Love the simple elegance of the room's interior.|
|Full-length picture windows allow a great view of the South China Sea.|
|Looking out to a garden and South China Sea from the room's entrance.|
|Left : A day bed for parents travelling with kids. Right : Walk in closet.|
|Huge bathroom with separate vanity fittings.|
|In-room bathtub with the sanitary room to the left and rain shower on the right.|
|The toiletries at TJR are supersized! There's even a jar of bath salts for an in-room soak.|
|Got a chance to visit the other room types and they were all stellar!|
|One of the ground units even come with an outdoor bath. Great for honeymooners!|
One of the highlights of our stay at TJR was experiencing the signature treatments at its Spa Village. Tapping into the time-tested Malayan techniques of healing kneads and rubs, the therapies at TJR pay homage to these ancient treatments to relax yet invigorate the senses.
I had a go of the 80 minutes Traditional Malay Massage (RM360++) which uses long kneading strokes with an aromatic oil blend containing local ingredients such as turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, onion and citronella. The treatment aims to improve circulation and relax tired muscles so it was perfect for me since I sustained some sports injury a couple of months back. My back and neck were pretty sore but after the massage, I felt light as a bird!
|The Spa Village is located near the swimming pool.|
|I left worries at the door and catwalked down the watery runway for much-needed pamperings!|
|The warm and friendly therapists at TJR Spa Village.|
|After the massage, we were given a traditional sarong to keep. Such a befitting and meaningful memento of the spa session.|
|The environ was very refreshing in that the treatment was not given in a small room. This whole space with the outdoor pedestal and corridor leading to the massage beds is considered one treatment 'room'!|
|The therapy suite where the beds are.|
|The even-handed and deeply satisfying massage had me drifting in and out of sleep throughout the session while the bodily knots and tension melted away.|
I recently learnt that "nom nom" is the new social media IN phrase to mean eating (supposedly, nom nom is the sound of eating) and this segment of the post is my continued salivation over the chomps I had at TJR.
The resort has 2 restaurants - Di Atas Sungei (main dining hall for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and Nelayan, a beachside fine-dine restaurant and bar.
|Breakfast is a spread of local noodles and western essentials.|
|Indulge in authentic local delights such as Nasi Lemak, Tereangganu Fish Curry and other favourites.|
|Patio seating at Di Atas Sungei overlooks a scenic river. Di Atas Sungei means 'above the river'.|
|Chef Ann helms Di Atas Sungei with delicious recipes and her livewire personality. Our dinner was ordered without a menu as Chef Ann introduced the best and freshest of the day.|
|The crowd favourite... prawns in double cream sauce.|
|Nom nom.. nom nom... nom nom. I was too busy savouring the good food and missed finding out their names.|
|Nelayan (Malay for 'Fisherman') is located near the swimming pool and right next to the beach.|
|Left : A chilled glass of watermelon juice by the beach to cool down the summer heat. Right : A must-try is the Kerapok Lekor, a fried fish-stick snack that is very popular in Terengganu.|
|Gave my tongue a spicy awakening with Nelayan's Curry Fish Head (RM45++). My tongue didn't regret being woken up with this choice.|
|We had dinner by the beach on the second night but it was too dark to photograph the food. Only managed to snap this main dish (Nelayan Bouillabaisse, RM75++) from my 3-course meal.|
For those seeking some action, TJR offers cycling tours that take you to a nearby fishing village to get a dose of kampong life. Cost : RM50++ per person (available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 5pm).
|The bicycles were all pretty high and some of the gals weren't too confident riding them.|
|The ride was easy on flat roads that don't get a lot of traffic.|
|At one point, we departed from the main road and turned into a coastal street that runs along the beach. Many friendly locals said hi as we passed them by.|
|Saw goats frolicking in a field separating the sea from the road.|
|After paddling for about 20 minutes, we arrived at the fishing village.|
|Imagine living here and listening to the waves every night.|
|This cat was as friendly as the kids in the seaside kampong.|
|Our cycling guide brought us to this ultra-retro coffeeshop in the village.|
|Owner of the coffeeshop who lived in pre-independence Singapore for a couple of years before returning to the kampong.|
|Having Roti Prata and Teh Tarik at the old coffeeshop somehow made things taste more flavourful.|
|A night market was coming alive at the kampong.|
|The fried chicken smelled so good! But insist on the freshly fried ones for those out in the open for a while weren't as crispy.|
|Receiving the dusking hues on a country road as we left the fishing village.|
|On another night, we visited a pasar malam (night market) that's a 20 minutes drive from TJR. The Dungun Night Market happens every Thursday and the resort offers trips for guests who wish to visit (RM30++ per person).|
|The open-air market sold everything from clothes, accessories, toys, and lots of food!|
|Dinner's waiting for us back at the resort, else I would've unleash my appetite on the snacks and local thumbs up such as Nasi Daging, Nasi Kerabu, and an assortment of rendangs!|
|Steaming hot Putu Bambu (rice flour rolled in coconut flakes and cooked in bamboo tubes with palm sugar fillings).|
|Keropok Lekor is all shapes and sizes.|
|Best to visit the pasar malam on an empty stomach and fill up here!|
Off-Shore Snorkeling at Pulau Tenggol
Completing our beach resort escapade, we went on a half-day snorkeling-cum-diving trip to Pulau Tenggol, an island that took us an hour on a speedboat to get to. The island is renowned for its tropical forest, pristine coastline, beautiful coral gardens and occasional sightings of Whale Sharks!
TJR's island excursion is operated by Quiver, the only company to offer the PADI National Geographic Diver Course in Malaysia and winner of numerous eco-business awards. Costs range from RM290++ per person (min. 4 persons) for snorkeling and RM480++ per person for diving. The trips are available daily depending on weather conditions and closed during the monsoon season (November to February).
|From TJR, we took a 10 minutes car transfer to a jetty where we boarded a private speedboat. The boat's engine raised a water trail that resembled a giant fish tail!|
|Interior of the speedboat with our divemaster in red berms.|
|Hello Pulau Tenggol!|
|Can't wait to get in the water!|
|The beach is litterless and really smooth with fine sand.|
|Except for a few huts that sheds, The island has minimal development perhaps because it is so far out from mainland.|
|It's a waste not to cam whore at this beautiful bay!|
|A vibrant and colourful seabed awaits with rims of table corals, staghorn corals, brain corals, mushroom corals and lots of sea creatures.|
|Can you spot the sea turtle in the photo? Seeing the turtle in the open sea was so magical.|
|Nemo and Marlin! So excited to finally see them in their natural habitat. For a fish so small, they sure are aggressive little swimmers.|
|Diving enthusiasts get to dive here too. During this underwater session, the resort's dive instructress got attacked by a Triggerfish and got a bonk on her head. Stay clear of these fish during mating season when their mood turn nasty.|
|On top of snorkeling near the beach, we were also brought to another spot to ogle at fish in deeper waters.|
|Puvanes from TTG Asia didn't want to go into the water initially as she isn't a strong swimmer but she felt at one with the sea in no time!|
|Lunch is included in the excursion package and we had freshly BBQed seafood on meats. The fish was especially tender and sweet.|
As Terengganu is on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia, it gets a great sunrise view and TJR is a prime spot to welcome a new day. I woke up on 2 mornings to catch the sunrise at 2 different locations - at an outcrop of stones a short distance away and at the beach in front of my room.
|6:39am. A dusting of violet and rogue as the sky puts on its make-up.|
|6:54am. The heavenly stove is heating up.|
|7:03am. Blood sun.|
|7:21am. The rocky shore provided some interesting crevices for foreground when framing the sunrise.|
|6:31am. Catching the sunrise at the beach in front of the accommodation units.|
|7:07am. The sunrise this morning was more orangey compared to yesterday's blood sun.|
|A sunrise shot framed with the thatched roof of a gazebo by the beach.|
|It was a gentle and pastel sunrise this morning.|
|The golden sands of Tanjong Jara Resort's private beach.|
From now till 31 October 2013, the resort is offering a fantastic package deal that starts from RM1,625++ per night for a minimum of 3 nights.
The all-in Summer Stopover package includes :
- Return transfers (from Sultan Mahmud Airport)
- All meals
- 50 minutes spa treatment (per person)
- Choice of adventure activity (snorkeling at Pulau Tenggol or Forest Trek)
- Sampling of Malaysian cultural highlights (market excursion, cooking class, food tasting, cycling tour, appreciating traditional crafts, etc)
For more great deals and offers, visit : http://www.tanjongjararesort.com/packages/index.htm
Have fun exploring! :o)