A grand tour of Janda Baik (August 2016)

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Our good friend Hanis Harun runs Radiant Retreats (http://www.radiant-retreats.com) which has its base in Janda Baik. So, we stayed in her Mountain Lodge property and she showed us around the neighbourhood. The term ‘Janda Baik’ covers a large area comprising of several distinct kampungs, and on this Bank Holiday day, was busy with locals enjoying their day off. 

Hanis’s property is full of flowers surrounding an orchard planted 30 years ago by her father, so no shortage of durians here. At the main entrance, chickens were running wild just as you can see in many parts of Malaysia. 

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The variety of trees here in the rain forest is tremendous, and so much more interesting than the endless palm oil tree plantations in Johor. I discovered that the stinky beans which you can buy at roadside stalls in the Cameron Highlands, actually hang from the top of some very tall trees (photo below left). Can you spot them hanging from branches in the photo below right?

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For breakfast, we stopped at Kopi n Kraf which roasts its own coffee with a delicious result. This cafe was popular with cyclists touring on their day off. The cafe is part of a resort complex with individual wooden cabins.

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Next on our tour was a visit to the SWAT paintball location, where we learnt the importance of tactics to achieve success, and the requirement for strong knees!

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Hanis quickly spotted some ripe rambutan fruit in the trees, and they were indeed delicious.

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Cats and dogs were everywhere, so here are photos of two which lived on the paintball property.

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Next, we drove to d’ARK Resort (www.d-ark.weebly.com) which is a charming resort based around some old classical wooden Malaysian buildings. We were shown around the property and finally joined other visitors in the garden trying to get yellow rambutans from the trees.

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Just outside this resort was a small river (Sungai Benus) full of people! Actually, this river runs right through Janda Baik and this is where you will find locals having picnics on this holiday day. 

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Janda Baik has one 4-star hotel (Cherengin Hills Convention & Spa Resort) which certainly has great views and many facilities, but I think I’d prefer to stay in the more atmospheric d’ARK.

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In stark contrast to the modern concrete of Cheringin Hills was our next stop; a goat farm! These were some of the heathiest goats I have seen so far in Malaysia, and were raised using ‘organic’ practices. Their milk is sent off to Kuala Lumpur but we were lucky enough to get some of their delicious frozen mango-milk to taste. Large lumps of rock salt were hung above the goats, which they seemed to enjoy.

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The last destination for the day was an organic farm. The owner was keen to show us how he was self-sufficient and discussed the value of a bartering system used in his kampung. It may have looked idyllic but cleary involved a lot of hard work.

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Frog spawn in a pool of azolla (a protein-rich plant used to feed the fish).

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Stingless (but still biting) bees to provide honey.

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This young girl explained to Lawrence the fine details of raising chickens. These chicken hutches are moveable; the birds serve to dig up and fertilise the ground ready for planting vegetables.

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Finally, we drove back to Mountain Lodge where Haniss brothers and sister (plus children, parents and in-laws) were preparing a BBQ. I lost count of the number of people, but this is family' Malaysian-style.

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I think the BBQ took second place though to the eating of durian, mangosteen and rambutan from Hanis’s orchards. The durian is a very hard fruit to get into, not least because of its hard spiky exterior, and, contrary to rumour, is not loved by every Malaysian!

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At this time of year, it is unsafe to walk under a durian tree as you do not want one of these to fall on your head! The local monkeys aren’t afraid though, so Hanis has made a ‘durian guard’ to scare them away.

Our last major task for the day was to test out a drone which Lawrence had recently purchased. The open space offered here was a safer bet than testing out the machine at home. Nevertheless, it still managed to be flown into a tree and crashed landed rather violently. I am happy to report though that the drone survived to see another day, and hopefully our next film will contain some unique drone footage.

The kids were excited to see a drone in action, so we provided some alternative entertainment to end the day!

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And, after all that excitement, back to the balcony of Mountain Lodge and more food and conversation. Hope to be back again to visit the Janda Baik waterfall and more scenic spots all just 45 min away from KL.

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