Janda Baik Top 30 Attractions! (July 2018)

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Janda Baik is a rural area in the state of Pahang, just 45 minutes drive northeast of Kuala Lumpur. My good friend Hanis Harun runs a business there (Radiant Retreats) and I have had the pleasure of visiting the area many times. I have written about it several times in the past (A Grand Tour of Janda Baik, Aug. 2016, Janda Baik Part II, Oct. 2016, The making of an English garden in Janda Baik, July 2017) and it has provided the backdrop for my last three Floppy Dog movies. Its highland location makes a welcome climate change to Johor Bahru, and it is a lovely place to take a break.

This year, Hanis and the Resort Owners Association of Janda Baik (RAJB) got together to launch an ambitious project to tempt visitors from Kuala Lumpur and overseas to visit Janda Baik. This region is full of resorts, providing anything from basic camping to full scale luxury accommodation, but all highlighting the beauty of the natural environment. So, in addition to providing facilities for the weekend visitors from Kuala Lumpur, the plan was to provide more options for day visitors to come and experience a typical Malaysian kampong. And so the ‘Janda Baik Top 30 Attractions!’ project was born.

I was invited to produce a guidebook for this project, and had just 3 weeks to prepare everything as the launch day was set at 1st July 2018. Hanis and her committee selected 30 attractions in the categories of Family Fun, History & Culture, Nature, Adventure, Agricultural Visits, and Specialty Foods. I then spent 7 days in Janda Baik, taking photos relating to these attractions and interviewing the owners/managers of these businesses. I was ably supported by three of Haniss staff: two student interns Nur Aida binti Osman, and Nur Alia binti Zakri, and a facilitator Zulkarnain Rasdzi. They organised the schedule and accompanied me to the locations, and often acted as the models in the photos as we were doing all this during Ramadan when the resorts were at their quietest time. This also meant that I could not take photos of many of the Adventure activities involving river-activities, but used Hanis’s collection of photos to fill in there. The Radiant Team (shown below) also shot some video at the locations to use in their website (www.jandabaik-attractions.com).

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So, after collecting material for the guidebook, I headed home to put it all together. Hanis is my neighbour here in Johor Bahru so she and I spent quite some time staring at a computer screen hoping that we had got all the details correct. My husband Lawrence did the final proof read, and kept me fed, and then I sent it off to the publisher for printing, just in time! While I was busy with the guidebook, the Radiant Team were busy putting together a video highlighting the attractions, and making a website which mirrors the content of the guidebook and has additional information on pricing, package details, etc.

No-one in the history of Malaysian tourism has produced such a home grown initiative to promote their own regional attractions, and we are all very proud of what has been achieved. At the moment, copies of the 'Janda Baik Top 30 Attractions!’ guidebook can only be purchased at the business locations in Janda Baik, and via Radiant Retreats (see details at end of blog). We will now apply for a government grant for the bulk production of copies of the guidebook and distribute copies via hotels and transport businesses in Kuala Lumpur. In the meantime, please visit the website at www.jandabaik-attractions.com if you want more information, or buy a first edition copy via Radiant Retreats (details at the end of this blog).

Along with the attraction providers, guests from tourism-related government departments (MOTAC), local government and state government, and travel agents were invited to the launch of this project, and here are some photos from this unique event. 

Here is Diana Arifin of Al Sakinah Eco Resort (with her nephew and niece) where the reception and launch was held. She was selling garden plants, especially the herbs used in Malaysian cooking, and young fig trees, and I was very tempted to buy some. After the speeches etc, we all sat down to enjoy the Pahang Specialty Lunch in one of the pavilions in her beautiful garden.

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We have designed the guidebook as a family passport, i.e., parents can think of gifting the guidebook to their children as a promise to take them on adventures in Janda Baik. After visiting an attraction, the appropriate page in their guidebook will be chopped as proof. The aim would be to get chops for all 30 attractions. After the speeches, I signed a few copies of the guidebook and VIPs ‘chopped’ a few pages, then we took some of the travel agents on a tour of selected attractions.

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We started our afternoon tour with paintball target shooting at SWAT, then the travel agents had their guidebooks chopped!

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Next we visited the newly-opened East Coast Cultural Centre. Here the travel agents ate some local delicacies and played some old-fashioned games.

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Then it was time to learn some Jungle Survival Skills at Radiant Site B.

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Time for more food with a cooking demonstration (Tastes & Flavours of Janda Baik) at eRYAbySURIA Janda Baik.

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Our last stop was at Bidaisari, first to see their fig farm and then to have a go at horse riding. Here is me, and Hanis in the background, riding around the paddock. It felt really safe on these horses and I’d love to come back and learn how to do this properly.

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So, if you fancy a few days in the countryside but do not know what to do when you get there, please take a look at the 'Janda Baik Top 30 Attractions!’  I am sure you can find something of interest to do! Here I will give you a taster of what is available, and for more details, please visit www.jandabaik-attractions.com  And, if you have friends in Kuala Lumpur, please do share this information with them. Finally, if you would like to purchase a first-edition copy of the guidebook, please find the details at the end of this blog.


Here is a brief summary of information on the ‘Janda Baik Top 30 Attractions!' in alphabetical order, so as not to show any bias!

Adventure Courses

Several resorts and businesses offer Adventure Courses covering a range of skill levels from swings for children to obstacle courses for those training for Spartan competitions.

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ATV Rides

Only the heaviest rain storms will close down this business, as driving through muddy puddles seems to be half the fun of it all!

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Cycling Tours

The country roads of Janda Baik are ideal for beginner-level cyclists. But for the more experience cyclists, there are spectacular off road tracks to play on.

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The East Coast Cultural Centre

Janda Baik is in the heart of Pahang, the largest state in Malaysia covering rainforest-covered highlands to the coastal beaches on the east coast. At the newly-opended East Coast Cultural Centre, you can learn more with hands-on experience of the cultural heritage of this region.

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Educational Tours

Learn about the virgin rainforest, how to tap a rubber tree, and follow the Junior Geological Trail, some of many options available.

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Fig Farms

Fig farms are big business in Malaysia, so come and see how figs are grown, and take some away with you.

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Fishing Spots

Many resorts have fish ponds, either for decoration or for fishing. And in most places, for a fee, you could take your fish home for supper! 

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Flower Gardens

What was noticable about all the resorts and businesses in Janda Baik was their love of flowers. There were many beautiful gardens surrounded by lush green forested hills.

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Fun Team Games

I learnt that Fun Team Games (telematch games) were very popular amoung Malaysian families and for professional team building activities.

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Goat Farm

Although it is hard to raise goats in Malaysia, the cooler climate of Janda Baik helps out. I learnt that goats are prone to stomach upsets caused by eating small snails along with their daily diet of Napier grass. This can be avoided if the Napier grass is cut after the dew has gone, as the snails slide down the grass with the dew! But if the goat is unlucky and has stomach ache, then it is fed some jack fruit leaves and all is OK!


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Grand Malay Architecture

You can still find lovely examples of wooden houses in the classical Malaysian style. This one is so evocative that it has featured in several Malaysian films.

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Herbal Delights

The owner of Serene Resorts has researched and developed some interesting herbal teas. But the highlight of our visit was the making of a huge pot of herbal Burbur Lambuk packed full of freshly picked herbs from their garden. It was so delicious! And, we learnt a neat trick to keep the mosquitoes away; set fire to an cardboard egg carton and let it smoulder nearby. The mozzies do not like the acrid smell and will stay away.

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Horse Riding

Janda Baik has an ideal climate for horses and there are options for beginners to experience riding in a beautiful environment. For more experienced riders, there are opportunites for jungle trekking on horseback.

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Istana Lemuni

Istana Lemuni is a collection of three historic wooden buildings being relocated to Janda Baik as part of a resort and an exhibition space. Not open to the public just yet, but looks like an interesting project.

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Janda Baik Discovery Walk

At the heart of Janda Baik is the river (Sungai Benus), and this is where locals come to relax. We have outlined a walk around the heart of Janda Baik, ideally suited for early evening when the temperature is cooler and the sun is golden.

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Jungle Survival Skills

Something everyone should know!

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Lake Rafting

The waterways of Janda Baik provide plenty of opportunities for learning new skills. But first you have to build your own raft!

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Mini Zoo

You can hear the local wildlife calling to each other within the forests, but at the mini zoo you can get a much closer view.

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Mud Futsal

Dig a large football pitch-sized hole in the ground, fill it with water from the nearby stream, find a football, and play…...

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Natural Farming

Learn how to farm in harmony with Nature. I learnt so many different means of composting and recycling food and plant waste, all of which can be scaled down to suite those with a small garden. It was pouring with rain for this farm visit, but our host was so gracious and enthusiastic that I came away feeling that all was well with the world!

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Pahang Specialty Foods

I am frequently asked by Malaysians if I like to eat durian? It’s like a dare! I have not yet succombed to try the revoltingly pungent putrid King of Fruits, so I was a little apprehensive about eating 'ikan patin tempoyak', a fish dish featuring fermented durian. However, that first mouthful exploded with flavours I’d never experienced before, so do give it a try.

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Paintball

The large green spaces of Janda Baik means that designing a battlefield is child’s play!

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Riverside Picnics

Having a picnic by the riverside is a favourite pasttime of Malaysians in Pahang, as is sitting in the river and having a chat with family and friends.

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River Trekking

Think “hiking in the river”….

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Tastes & Flavours of Janda Baik

Hanis managed to persuade several resorts to show off their culinary skills to visitors, either as a cooking demonstration or hands-on lessons. It was great fun watching this chef perform for the camera and teach my assistant Alia!  His food was good too!

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The Hot Springs Experience

This package has options for bathing in the hot springs, doing yoga by the poolside, eating healthy food, and sending your kids off to learn some geology. (And yes, same chef as above but different location for this attraction.)

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Traditional Archery

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I had a great time learning about archery, and how this business was helpful in a rural area as it was something which could be done in the evening when it was dark outside. Note the Wolvereen shooting style in the photo below?

And after my discussion with the archer, we sat down to enjoy a delicious meal at the next door restaurant of Nero Bianco Deli. It is the only Western restaurant here and I have eaten at Nero Bianco Deli every time I have visited Janda Baik. People even helicopter in from Kuala Lumpur to eat the burgers here!



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Traditional Malay Spa

The main ingredient of a traditional Malay spa treatment is cinnamon.

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Tudor House

For one Malay, a visit to the UK instigated a love of Tudor houses. So when he returned to Malaysia, he built one!

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Waterfall Hike & Abseiling

Hanis took Lawrence and I on the waterfall hike a couple of years ago. It was a lovely walk through forest and bamboo groves. I don’t think I will sign up for the abseiling though, but don't let me put you off!

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So, please try and get your hands on a copy of the ‘Janda Baik Top 30 Attractions!’ guidebook. The guidebook includes maps showing the location of these attractions and local amenities, and a list of all accommodation options in Janda Baik. Remember to get your page ‘chopped’ by the attraction staff, and aim to collect 30 chops in total to fully experience this beautiful part of Malaysia!

The ‘Janda Baik Top 30 attractions!’ guidebook can be obtained from the resort/businesses in Janda Baik. Or, you can order your copy by contacting Radiant Retreats at Tel. 012 565 5901 or email nurulsyafigahmdzaini@gmail.com.  The cost is RM50 including postage and packaging; payment to Radiant Retreats, Maybank, 562478136797. You can use the contact form below, and don’t forget to include your address!










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