Our last stop before we headed back to Kuala Lumpur was a secluded island called Pangkor Laut, which
“is a privately owned island located three miles off the West Coast of Malaysia along the Straits of Malacca. This piece of paradise has been two million years in the making, and here you will find one of the world’s premier resorts nestling in the shade of forest giants as old as the land….. A combination of luxury, natural beauty and age-old wilderness woven together to produce an environment where peace and magically memorable moments are the currency.”
When we read this paragraph on the resort’s website we were in. The pictures as well as all the reviews we found online were amazing and as we travelled off-season the prices were also reasonable and we came – after the stay – to the conclusion that it was very well worth the money! But I am jumping here, let’s start at the beginning.
From the mainland, you reach the island by the resort’s privately owned boats in approximately 15 minutes. Make your way to the Marina Island Pangkor where you can park your car and check in.
We were travelling that day from Georgetown to the Marina and let me tell you, it was not smooth sailing for us. We – being Swiss (at least the majority of our travel group) – added a comfortable two hour extra time for our travel as we knew the boat transfer to the island would only run four times a day in the afternoon. We hardly left the Eastern & Oriental hotel in Georgetown when we got badly stuck in a funeral procession for a local, famous politician, who was killed in a car accident the previous day. Well, may Mr. Singh’s soul be blessed and may he rest in peace! We found out afterwards that he must have been a remarkable personality; books about him were sold all over the place. After about two hours we made it out of the city and were on our way. We got close to the marina but it was quite tricky to actually find it, we got lost a couple of times due to closed roads, the GPS not knowing our destination and neither did many locals we asked for help. As a result, we missed the boat. It would have been quite a long wait for the next one and not wanting to waist any of the precious time on paradise island we booked a private transfer. Off we went.
When you approach the island you realize that nature is king here; only a fraction of the 300 acres has been developed to house the resort and its estates. Wooden buildings – many of them on stilts – blend seamlessly into the forest as if nature had been the architect dictating how walls curve around foliage, and roofs open up to allow trees to continue on their journey to the sky.
We stayed in one of the Hill Villas, which are dramatically perched on the hillside amidst the rainforest with a magnificent view of the sea and beautiful tropical gardens. Besides the view another highlight is the bathtub, which opens out to the rainforest. When you sit outside, but even when inside, you can hear different sounds from the jungle’s inhabitants; we however were not always able to figure out which sound belongs to which animal…..
What we did know was who our first visitor was.
Mr. Monkey was not particularly friendly as he was ready to attack Renz when he tried to shoo him away. We promise to post the full story with video proof including the episode on how we ended up paying for Mr. Monkey’s dinner once it is ready! It is truly hilarious now, back then it was a bit scary.
The island offers a lot to do from a huge spa village, a gym, three tennis and a squash court, organized activities like fishing, snorkeling, cruises, yoga, tai chi, jungle treks with a resident naturalist who will educate you about the spectacular virgin rainforest and the plant as well as the wild life.
We visited in end of April when it was extremely hot and humid so we enjoyed the dips in one of the two pools and a swim in the sea; especially Emerald Bay is beautiful.
Generally it has to be added that the water quality can’t compare to the East coast of Malaysia; so if you are an eager snorkeler or diver it might not be the best option. There is also the problem of jellyfish (we heard that depends on the season). In the Emerald Bay a net is tightened to prevent jellyfish from entering. However, we sometimes still felt a small sting when swimming in the sea and I had quite a bad rash in the evening all over my body. I have to add that I have very sensitive skin and I was the only one in the family who got it (and it went away overnight).
After admiring yet another stunning sunset whilst enjoying an aperitif we were hungry and checked out the dinner options. As we travelled in off-season not all the restaurants were open, but the two we got to try were both excellent. One was Uncle Lim’s Kitchen, which is built atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea. Named after the chef who has been with the Resort since its inception, Uncle Lim’s specializes in Nyonya and Hockchew Chinese-style home cooking. The next evening we tried the Fisherman’s Cove which offers western grill and fresh seafood in an elegant atmosphere overlooking the sea.
We enjoyed every minute of our stay in this unique resort and literally jumped from the pool into the boat when it was time to leave. My brother, who is usually not the “returning client”, even considers visiting the island again in the beginning of January.