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A few weeks ago we went back to Penang and instead of staying at home at mom’s place, it was a short staycation at Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, a place with fond memories from my teenage years as I used to work there as a casual workers (as mentioned on the entry on their Spice Market buffet). It was a like a 20 years fantasy come true of sort.

Rasa Sayang at Batu Feringghi, Penang
Rasa Sayang at Batu Feringghi, Penang

Rasa Sayang has always been one of the best hotels from the Shangri-La group. Situated at the East side of Batu Ferringhi beach, it is some 20 minutes drive from Geogetown, the capital city of Penang.

In addition to the access to sandy beach and all the fun beach activities such as parasailing, banana boats and such, the hotel also spot a huge garden with some of the oldest and biggest trees you can find. The landscape is simply amazing, and from someone who’s just started to work on a bit of a green patch at home, I can only begin to imagine amount of effort required to upkeep this huge garden.

our Rasa Premier Wing, as big as some apartments
our Rasa Premier Wing, as big as some apartments, with mom!

Rasa Sayang is separated into two different wings – Garden Wing & Rasa Wing.

Rasa Wing is catered more towards couples and adults while Garden Wing welcomes family oriented holiday goers. Each wing has its own swimming pool, with Rasa Wing pool allowing only 16 year olds and older and the Garden Wing main pool accessible to all.

there's a huge outdoor bathtub at the balcony
there’s a huge outdoor soaking tub at the balcony

Rasa Wing guests also enjoy several additional privileges, such as a balcony with private soaking tub, complimentary high tea, semi buffet breakfast at Feringgi Grill, and in-room express check-in and check out.

The service is definitely more exclusive and personal for Rasa Wing guests.

the gym at Rasa Sayang is rather well equipped
the gym at Rasa Sayang is rather well equipped

Other recreational facilities at Rasa Sayang includes a par-3 pitch & putt golf course, a tennis court, an adventure zone, and a rather well equipped gym which we made full use of on our 2-night stay.

Rasa Wing guests get to have breakfast at Feringgi Grill
Rasa Wing guests get to have breakfast at Feringgi Grill

Ferringi Grill has won awards an often regarded as one of the best restaurants on the island, so when we had the opportunity to sample the breakfast buffet as a staying guest on Rasa Wing, it was a no brainer.

The breakfast is served as a semi-buffet style, with a rather decent selection of pastry, cheese, and other breakfast dishes in addition to several main dishes you can order. Haze had fresh waffles with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, berry compote and pistachio powder, while I opted for roasted sea bass with spinach and mushrooms. They were quite delightful, a class above ordinary buffet for sure.

there's complimentary afternoon tea at Rasa Lounge
there’s complimentary afternoon tea at Rasa Lounge

We also took advantage of the complimentary afternoon tea at Rasa Lounge, again available for free to Rasa Wing guests. I had a cup of coffee while Haze opted for tea to go with scones, sandwich, and other carefully crafted pastries. I particularly enjoyed the little sandwich with grilled capsicum & onion, simple and exquisite.

Was our stay at Rasa Sayang as good as I thought it’ll be 20 years ago when I was serving the guests? Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t say no to retiring at this place.

map to rasa sayang

Do check out some of the offers from Rasa Sayang if you’re planning a trip to Penang by clicking the links below.

Address:
Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa by Shangril-La 
Batu Ferringhi Main Road,
Kampung Tanjung Huma,
11100 Batu Feringgi, Pulau Pinang
GPS5.478865, 100.254181
Tel+604-888 8888

I made it to the top of Low’s Peak on Mount Kinabalu after a grueling two day hike from about 1800+ meter to 4095 meter above sea level.

We’re still at Kundasang nursing sore legs right now. Will pen down the experience and share some of the other exciting stuff around this area on the blog soon!

The last time I went diving was October 2013 in Maldives, a full 2.5 years passed since I breathed underwater, until last week, when we revisited Tenggol Island. The very island I got my diving certificate more than ten years ago, and also the island I dived the most. How time flies.

Tenggol Coral Beach Resort
Tenggol Coral Beach Resort

The east coast highway is now completed, heading to Dungun took us only 4 hours (excluding the detour to Bentong for breakfast), we left KL at 6 in the morning and got there in time for the 11 am boat transfer to the island. It was also an easier drive than previously when you had to navigate through the old coastal road that can sometimes be congested with big & slow lorries.

As a consequence then, the island is now being visited more than ever, and perhaps lost a bit of its mystic of almost being a deserted island that we used to love.

KY, Haze, Rich, San San at Pulau Tenggol
KY, Haze, Rich, San San at Pulau Tenggol

Anyway, we paid about RM 1.5k each for a twin sharing room with all meals included, boat transfer from Dungun, and 7 boat dives. Slightly more expensive than earlier deals, but it was fair considering the upgrades of the facilities & meals. Will get to that later.

Anyway, I want to document my dive log here as per my usual practice.

Day 1
Dive 1
Site: Coral Garden
20/5/16 3:18 pm, 55 mins, 21.7 meter, 30 Celsius, 124 bar of air
Bumphead, 2 types of nudi, black shrimp on cushion starfish, coral fish

Dive 2
Site: Tanjung Gemuk, evening dive
20/5/16 5:58 pm, 57 mins, 19.4 meter, 31 Celsius, 117 bar of air
Nemo, huge morel eel, trumpet fish, rock hopper wrasse, huge nudi, lovely coral garden
Fish eagle with fish or sea snake captured. Nice slow drifting current

Day 2
Dive 1 – Tokong Laut
21/5/16 9:27 am, 48 mins, 26.6 meter, 29 Celsius, 118 bar of air
Lots of boulders, some swim through which is always one of my favorites.

Dive 2 – Tokong Timur
21/5/16 11:43 am, 60 mins, 20.8 meter, 29 Celsius, 134 bar of air
The other group saw whale shark at other dive site. We didn’t but was a reasonably nice dive too. Warm water of 29-30c too. Rainbow runner, school of fish.

Dive 3 – Turtle Point
21/5/16 3:38 pm, 61 mins, 16.3 meter, 31 Celsius, 113 bar of air
Trying to hunt for whale shark, didn’t find any
Lots of goby with shrimp pairing. Some pvc artificial habitat for the fishes.
Always love the black damsel among corals.

Day 3
Dive 1 – Thai Wreck
22/5/16 9:18 am, 49 mins, 30.2 meter, 28 Celsius, 130 bar of air
Lovely atmospheric dive, took a few pics around the wreck. Deepest dive so far.
Again plenty of goby with shrimp at Sandy bottom.

Dive 2 – Amazing Grace
22/5/16 11:37 am, 61 mins, 18.6 meter, 30 Celsius, 120 bar of air
Last dive of the trip. Also one of the loveliest.
Saw 2 turtles, maybe could have been the same one. Trigger fish. Also saw 3 blue spotted rays.
Big giant garupa. Played with Nemo, catch and release style. Saw jewel garupa too.

Thai Wreck, one of my favorite dives
Thai Wreck, one of my favorite dives

A thing to note for myself is that I have to start checking my equipment at least a couple weeks prior to the trip. I only did so a night prior to this trip and discovered 2 optical cables & my macro lens were missing. The lens lent to a friend but the cables .. well, I may need new cables.

Additionally, we discovered that Haze’s dive computer ran out of battery, with mine being quite low in power as well. We also should have tested the BCD in the swimming pool, cos that would have avoided me discovering that a plastic part had failed right before I was about to go into water for my first dive.

Lessons learned.

food at the resort in Tenggol has since tremendous improvement
food at the resort in Tenggol has since tremendous improvement

One of the best things that happened to having more visitors to Tenggol, at least at Tenggol Coral Beach resort that we went, is that now they serve proper food!

In previous years, you basically “eat to dive” and there were very little enjoyment to be had from those barely edible meals. Now they actually offer fairly decent buffet spread that wouldn’t be out of place in a 2-star hotel in the city.

there was even steamboat dinner on our last night
there was even steamboat dinner on our last night

In fact, on the last night they even prepared steamboat dinner with a hot pot on every table, complete with names of the group all assigned properly.

There’s also now a mini market of sort that you can purchase additional drinks (aka alcohol, soda etc) or snacks to be charged to the room. All in all it is now a much hospitable set up than before, and with 24 hour stable electricity supply & hot water as well. We were pleasantly surprised by this.

our dive guide - Jess
our dive guide – Jess

I have a feeling I would see Tenggol again in future trips, the diving was pretty decent, getting there is now easier than ever, makes for a perfect long weekend getaway.

 

After 2.5 years of not breathing underwater, and over a decade since I first got my license at Tenggol island, this is the 4th time back to one of my favorite islands.

image

Tenggol here we come! Can’t wait.

After spending a good day at Skytrex, I started to research a little on the fun adventure stuff we can do for reasonable amount of money right here in Malaysia. As I was pondering what to do with Haze on her birthday weekends, I recalled seeing a picture of whitewater rafting on one of my whatsapp groups.

A few clicks on the web browser later, I booked ourselves a half-day trip of whitewater rafting at Nomad Adventure in Gopeng, Perak.

Nomad Adventure Earth Camp at Gopeng, Perak
Nomad Adventure Earth Camp at Gopeng, Perak

Nomad Adventure offers quite a few different recreational activities, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, caving, rock climbing, abseiling, and more.

We chose whitewater rafting as it only needs a minimum of 2 pax, and half a day’s rafting with commute time to Gopeng will take almost a day anyway, which fits into our schedule.

we got our safety gears, then a lorry ride to upstream
we got our safety gears, then a lorry ride to upstream

We showed up at Nomad Adventure’s Earth Camp at Gopeng at about 8:30 in the morning after paying for our trip a couple days prior via bank transfer. The camp is ony some 10 minutes or so from the highway exit, which is easy enough to find.

We were then introduced to our guides and got kitted up with safety equipments, which includes a helmet and flotation device.

After that it was a some 30 minutes truck ride with our rafts to upstream. We drove passed several villages and chalets, a bit of a scenic drive I’d say.

white water rafting!
white water rafting!

Before getting on the raft, we were being briefed by our guide on the do’s & don’ts, which also includes a practise session on what to do and how to get rescued should you get thrown out of the raft.

After which was rafting time!

A raft houses 3-6, which includes a guide. Our raft was just Haze, myself, and a very helpful guide, and our “team” had three rafts watching out for each other.

It was a load of fun, part workout, part adventure, and fully immersed in the beautiful pristine jungle. The whole journey took about 1.5-2 hours, including a stopover at a halfway point where we had a little bit of picnic (an apple each).

The adventure was over just a little after midday, and it was definitely something that I would do again, but this time around maybe wait for rainy season at Cameron Highlands so that the rapids will be even more intense!

map to Nomad Adventure Earth Camp at Gopeng, Perak

Address:
Nomad Adventure Earth Camp
Jalan Hussin, Gopeng, Perak
GPS: 4.430745, 101.181127