Category / within Malaysia
Whenever we think of vacations, we often think about sandy white sand, far-away foreign cities, beautiful old temples, or at a waterfall nested within a pristine jungle. Those are “traditional” and in a sense, more ideal vacations, but at the same time they also require a lot more planning, time, and often incur higher expenses.
Enter the recent trend of “staycation”, pick a nice hotel somewhere not far away and spend a couple nights enjoying the facilities, good food, while having someone else make sure everything is clean and tidy.
We spent an awesome 3 day 2 night stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur doing just that a couple weeks ago for a much welcomed de-stressing session. At the end of this post, you’ll find out how to win the same 3D2N de-stress getaway (for 3 winners.)
Aloft KL, lobby and quirky art
The decoration within Aloft KL is one that is pretty atypical. Lobby is a mixture of industrial presence dotted with quirky art works everywhere.
Right behind the check-in counter is a re:fuel counter that offers ready-to-eat foods such as sandwiches, salads, drinks, coffee, instant noodles, and many other snacks. If you want to have a quick bite, this is a good one-stop center.
To the far right of the lobby, you’ll find the W XYZ bar that offers a selection of draught beer, cocktails, juices, and more. There’re also live bands performing at the area. Have a drink, shoot some pools, enjoy the music.
Mai Bar and Re:Charge gym
On the top floor there’s a more “serious” bar with a great view of the city.
At night, MAI Bar is lit up by colorful LED lights and offers a full range of drinks and great live performances as well as DJs spinning latest tunes. This is a place to go to shake your booty.
For those who loves to sweat, Re:Charge gymnasium is well-stock with modern equipment. While isn’t exactly big gym by any stretch of imagination, it is well sufficient.
infinity pool on the top floor
Then there’s my favorite part of the hotel – the infinity pool on the top floor, right next to Mai Bar.
The pool is some 25-30 meters in length and sufficiently wide enough to accomodate some 8-10 swimmers at the same time if they’re all doing laps. Furthermore, opening my eyes underwater did not sting, I suspect that this is probably due to the fact that they might be using salt water treatment instead of the more traditional chlorine.
In either case, this is a great place to chill.
our room for the weekends at Aloft KL
All guest rooms are equipped with comfortable platform beds, iron, ironing board, bathrobes, coffee maker, 42″ flat screen TV, a sofa, mini fridge, safe, oversized shower, and a workstation. I also particularly like the floor to ceiling windows that takes up the entire wall for an uninterrupted view of the city.
Since we have Haze’s siblings staying with us over one of the nights, we also got the hotel to provide us with extra beds that came in a form of cute little tent thing and a bed with cute bed sheet.
On top of every headboard is also a piece of quirky art work, another nice touch.
breakfast buffet spread at Nook
The big restaurant at Aloft KL is Nook, and this is where most foods are served.
Breakfast comes in the form of buffet with pretty decent spread (complimentary for room guests). There’s salad, cold cuts, juices, cereal, espresso coffee, and many local dishes. My favorite was the laksa Sarawak, which had the same soup base with the high end version that was offered during MIGF at Nook.
evening buffet spread at Nook
At night, the buffet spread at Nook gets an upgrade. There’s good selection of seafood such as mussels, prawns, smokes almon, and even scallops. There’s also roast chicken, delicious salted beef that is served with kimchi, salad, soup, cheese, desserts, and many other local and Western dishes.
Nook provides a good selection of ala carte menu too
Apart from buffet, there is a pretty decent selection on the ala carte menu as well, though you might have to wait a little bit before the food is served.
There’s mushroom soup, steak, cod fish, sandwiches, spaghetti, yee mee with tiger prawns, and many more dishes. These were mostly pretty delicious, though our experience with the steak wasn’t as good as other choices.
kids at play, Aloft KL
Over all, it was a very nice and relaxing stay over at Aloft KL. This whole “staycation” thing is something I can get used to, and hopefully will be doing more.
OK now here’s a few steps you can do to stand a chance to win a 3D2N stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur
- like MyStarJob Facebook page www.facebook.com/MyStarJob
- go to MyStarJob Facebook app Ultimate De-stress Getaway Contest
- take a photo of how you de-stress in the office
- Fill in your details and upload your own Ultimate De-stress Photo in office
- Share and get your friends and family to vote for your photo
- Vote for your photo. Participants can vote once per photo per day
how do you de-stress at work?
3 pictures with highest votes will win a 3-days-2-nights stay at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral, so start doing it and hopefully you’ll be the one who wins this “staycation” package! Contest ends on 15th January 2014, be quick!
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral,
5, Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2723 1188
GPS: 3.13295, 101.68619
While most of us love to travel to exotic places and faraway land, those are nice and dandy, but also cost a lot of time and money. But if you look a options closer to home, there are actually a lot of hidden gems all within a couple hours’ drive from Klang Vally that makes for great day trips.
A couple months ago, we went to one of such places for a bit of eco-tourism at Perting Falls (also known as Lata Hammers), near Bentong. It was organized by Suan with Yen (who took us to Chilling Fall back in 2007) as our guide.
we started our journey, walking past rubber estate
Take the Bukit Tinggi exit on Karak Highway and get on Route 68, the old road to Bentong. Follow that scenic route for about 16 km and try not to hit any of the many bicyclists typically found on this beautiful swerving road in the morning.
You will pass a hot spring right before the turning to Perting Valley training resort, take this exit and drive about 2.5-3 km inwards, or as much as your car can take. The road condition isn’t great, a 4×4 would be most awesome.
along the way we had to pass Sungai Perting Pandak
Since we drove normal sedans and did not want end up buying new wheels, we parked conservatively at about 2 km or so before the actual trek begins. The trail itself is almost 3 km, and reasonably easy to trek bar some overgrowth that might scratch your legs just a bit.
after 5km of trekking, the final steep descent to the waterfall
In total we trekked just over 5 km each way, which takes about 1.5 to 2 hours if you do it leisurely. The jungle trail itself should take only an hour if you manage to drive closer. While there are a few steeper areas, the walk isn’t a particularly challenging one, Ahfa’s retired mom had no problem keeping up, in fact, she was better than half of the youngsters. (ok maybe not youngsters anymore if you’re over 30.)
Check out the embedded endomondo trail at the bottom after the map.
Jaime had a zen moment
Perting Fall has a beautiful pond with chilling cold water. A few of us took a swim in it, it was fantastic. The closer you swim towards the waterfall, the more it pushes you back, kinda like swimming on treadmill.
Like most waterfalls, there are sometimes whirlpools which present a danger. Always exercise caution and not do anything stupid. It is also advisable to bring along a small box of first aid kit with you.
Yen had a small gas stove and made tea, we tapao some nasi lemak too
Due to the distance one has to trek, this waterfall isn’t particularly crowded. Other than our group, there were perhaps maybe around 10 other people, including a few who camped overnight.
Our well prepared guide also brought along a small gas stove and made us some 3 in 1 coffee & milo, together with some nasi lemak we packed earlier in the morning, we refueled.
We started our journey back at around 1:30 pm after spending 2-3 hours at the waterfall. Another 1 hour 40 minutes and plenty of sweat later, we got back to the parking lot and made our way back to KL, but not before having an awesome late lunch at Bukit Tinggi (it’ll be on another post).
Eco-tourism spots is aplenty in Malaysia, and something that we should treasure and enjoy. Check out waterfallsofmalaysia.com if you’re interested in trying out something like this, there are easier trails and more accessible waterfalls too.
Travelling can be cheap and fun while being healthy all at the same time!
A good restaurant to a resort is like a good sound system to a cinema. While not always the centrepiece of the overall experience, good in-house restaurants often enhance the overall experience during a stay.
For The Datai Langkawi, there are four different on-location restaurants within the confine of the luxury five class establishment – The Beach Club, Gulai House, The Dining Room, and The Thai Pavilion.
All four restaurants offer quality food, making travelling out of the resort for food unnecessary. This is especially important for The Datai since the location of the resort is quite far away from Kuah, Langkawi’s main town.
The Beach Club, by the second pool and beach
Our first meal at The Datai was at The Beach Club, appropriately located by the beach and the second swimming pool. On foot it’s about a 10-15 minutes’ scenic walk from the main entrance of the hotel, free buggy service’s available as well.
The Beach Club is a strictly open air restaurant, with most tables and comfortable huge chairs under the roof, with some outside if you prefer a little bit of sun.
pizza, surf & turf, bruschetta with mozzarella, wat tan hor, ice cream
The menu comprises the best from East and West. The four of us shared the following dishes:
- bruschetta topped with buffalo mozzarella, tomato and olives. 46
- langkawi prawn, lemongrass, mushroom, corinader, chili, lime pizza. 65
- surf & turf, black angus strip loin with tiger prawn, vegetable medley, barbeque sauce. 87
- wat tan hor with king prawns and seafood (chef’s special)
- stir fry chicken with thai basil. 56
- home made ice cream. 14
The western affairs were well executed, with the thin crust pizza particularly delicious. Wat tan hor too were surprisingly tasty, benefiting from the fresh seafood in the list of ingredients.
The Dining Room serves lunch and dinner.
The Gulai House, premier restaurant of The Datai Langkawi
The premier restaurant at The Datai Langkawi is Gulai House.
Many luxury five star resorts in Malaysia have premier restaurants serving foreign cuisines such as French, Japanese, Cantonese, Italian, and so forth. So I was more than happy to see that Datai took the initiative to make Malaysia proud by serving something closer to home. A great way to introduce our local cuisine to many visitors from all around the world.
mango salad, sup ayam, soft shell crab, aloo gobi, grilled cuttle fish
The Gulai House is located not far from the Beach Club and best accessed via a buggy. The restaurant has both indoor as well as alfresco dining area, the latter provides great ambiance only unless it’s rainy heavily or if it’s a particularly hot night. Gulai House is only open for dinner.
Our dinner was determined by the chef, a degustation affair if you like. Our menu was written on a piece of huge dried leaf picked from the forest, a unique approach to personalization and one that is tastefully done.
tiger prawns, grilled garupa, lobster, skewered boneless chicken, prata, kuih
We had mango salad, sup ayam (chicken soup), deep fried soft shell crab, aloo gobi (cauliflower & potato with spices), grilled cuttle fish, grilled tiger prawns, grilled fish, skewered boneless chicken, prata bread, nasi briyani (rice), and even lobster that’s prepared with both grilling and frying techniques.
It was an absolute feast and we stuffed ourselves silly. Food was authentic with ingredients of quality, very hard to find any fault.
Prices is seasonal and depends on weight of ingredients. As with every facet of Datai, it is with a bit of a premium, but you do get what you pay for, including excellent service.
champagne breakfast at The Dining Room
Breakfast is usually served at The Dining Room, located by the main swimming pool, just below the resort reception.
Much like most international breakfasts, the menu changes a little bit everyday, but with the core items such as juices, the egg station, fruit & salad bar and such always presence.
I enjoyed the cold cuts, smoked salmon, and noodle soup. Of course, there’s also the free flowing champagne to jump start your day, everyday! The dining room also serves lunch and dinner.
classic Thai cuisine at The Pavilion
During our second and final night at The Datai, we had dinner at The Pavilion, which was also the location where we learned to cook tomyam and drunken prawn dishes.
For dinner, we had crispy soft shell crab with Thai chili oil, green curry chicken, seasonal vegetable with oyster sauce, deep fried snapper with chili and soya sauce, and of course, tomyam prawns. It was a spicy, strong tasting, and very satisfying, like a good Thai dinner is supposed to be.
We also concluded the meal with mango on sticky rice.
The Pavilion is open for dinner only.
I miss this resort already, when we can return?
The Datai Langkawi
Jalan Datai, Teluk Datai,
07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Tel:+60 4-959 2500
FB: The Datai Langkawi
One of the activities we participated in while at The Datai Langkawi (see blog post) was a fun session on cooking conducted by the two chefs who are specialized in Thai cuisine at the beautiful hotel.
The session took place at the Thai Pavilion, a semi-open air restaurant that’s built on stilts and situated by the main swimming pool.
learning some tricks from the chef
Here are the two recipes you might fine useful to add to your cooking repertoire.
Our first dish was goong phad keemao, or fried drunken prawn. While the name might suggest that this dish involves alcohol, it actually wasn’t the case. Here goes:
- prawn (250 gram)
- fresh cili padi (8 gram)
- onion (20 gram)
- tomatoes (20 gram)
- galangal (20 gram)
- lemongrass (10 gram)
- cooking oil (30 ml)
- garlic (10 gram)
- kaffir lime leaf (2 gram)
- thai basil leaf (5 gram)
- oyster sauce (30ml)
- fish sauce (15ml)
- pepper powder to taste
the drunken prawn doesn’t use any alcohol, halal version
- heat oil in wok, then add garlic, chili, onion, and stir together
- add prawn, galangal, lemongrass, pepper, stir till prawn is half cooked
- add oyster sauce, kaffir lime leaf
- add chicken stock (or plain water if you don’t have chicken stock) and Thai sweet basil
- adjust saltiness with fish sauce
- serve while hot
you can cook the tomyam in either clear or “red” version
Next is arguably the most famous Thai dish of all time – tomyam gai. We made the chicken version here, but you can substitute with prawn, squid, or other seafood as well.
- chicken breast sliced (60 gram)
- galangal (10 gram)
- lemongrass (10 gram)
- kafir lime leaf (5 gram)
- abalone mushroom (20 gram)
- tomyam paste (10 gram)
- fish sauce (10 ml)
- lime juice (10 ml)
- chicken stock (150 gram)
- coriander leaf (5 gram)
Haze, KY, and WeiZhi showcasing our dishes at The Datai Langkawi
- boil chicken stock with galangal, lemongrass and tomyam paste in small pot (leave out tomyam paste if you want clear version)
- let the ingredients reduce a little, then add chicken, abalone mushroom, and kaffir lime leaf
- let cook for another 3-4 minutes
- season with fish sauce and lime juice
- add coriander leaf before serving
After the cooking session, we sat down and had our dishes with some steamed rice. There was also some Thai dessert and white wine to complete the course. It was pretty fun and now I do think I should slot in cooking classes whenever I travel to other places. These recipes are pretty easy to follow, I’m pretty sure I’ll make them at home.
Datai was such an awesome experience, I miss it already.
Earlier last month we went for a short weekend getaway at one of the most prestigious resorts in the country at The Datai Langkawi. This is a review of hotel from my personal experience.
Located at the North Western corner at Langkawi island, the Datai is set within an ancient virgin rainforest, overlooking the Andaman Sea.
We arrived at the Langkawi International airport and was greeted by the driver arranged by the hotel. The journey from LGK took approximately half an hour, and we were given cold tower and chilled bottled water for the journey to freshen up from the one hour flight from KL.
Since the hotel is pretty far from town and other attractions, I initially thought that we were going to be missing the opportunity to hop around the island a bit. As it turned out, we didn’t think we missed anything at all, staying at the hotel was such a pleasant experience that for the first time, I understand why people would want to got o a resort, spend a few days and totally not go anywhere else.
main entrance, The Datai Langkawi
This is the main entrance at the Datai Langkawi. Going through the receptions, past the water lily pond is the lobby lounge area. Cocktails and snacks are served here, and at night, a live band.
The lobby lounge is reserved for guests over the age of 12 only, which is something you don’t think about often, but the lack of screaming babies and 5 year olds that can’t stop running everywhere is quite a bliss.
there are DVDs you can pick up, very good selection of titles
By the receptions area there’s a shop that offers a selection of souvenirs, but more importantly, they also have a very good collection of DVD titles for guests to loan and watch in the room.
We finally watched Citizen Kane for the first time thanks tot The Datai and isn’t ashamed to admit it. Yah, the movie was as good as they said, maybe I should try to watch Gone With The Wind next?
adult only main pool and the grand stairs case to the beach
Just below the lobby lounge is the breakfast dining area and one of the two main swimming pools at the resort. Like the lobby lounge, this pool is for guests over 12 year old only, families are welcomed to use the other pool by another pool closer to the beach area.
the architecture is uniquely Malaysian and blends in with nature
The Datai Langkawi spans over 70 acres of land, with the main building situated at the side of the hill and many other smaller buildings, including various types of villas, the Beach Club, Gulai House, the spa, and another pool dotted between it and the private beach.
You can take a scenic walk to get from one point to the other, or call for buggy service, we did plenty of both on our 3D2N stay.
The architecture is uniquely Malaysian, with villas on stilts, furniture and structures made from wood, atap, and other traditional material in a blend of modern & old school design within the rain forest. I find it very beautiful.
our room at The Datai, overlooking lush greenery
Our deluxe room has a king sized bed with some of the most comfortable pillows and comforters I’ve lay my butt on, a day bed in front of the balcony overlooking the lush greenery, an LCD TV, a working desk, and a tea table with another two arm chairs.
There’s no putting your access cards to activate the power sort of nonsense. The electricity and air conditioning is always on unless you decided to switch it off.
the bathroom, and minibar complete with Lavazza coffee machine
The room also comes with a pretty huge bath tub in which we had bubble bath in (sorry no photos to show for that, obviously), two basin, a very well stocked mini bar, and best of all – a Lavazza coffee machine.
There’s also a fruit basket on the tea table, and we’re advised to not leave the balcony door open lest those pesky monkeys come in a wreck havoc. When you’re that close to nature, I guess that’s part of the charm.
the private beach, with catamaran for hire too
The beach is Datai Langkawi is one of the longest private beach on the island. Without any motorized water sports, it is also very quiet and relaxing, all you hear is waves, wind making wind chimes out of tree leaves, and the occasional chirping of birds.
While the water isn’t exactly crystal clear, it is pretty clean with visibility of perhaps 2-3 feet. We swam and rowed the resort provided canoe around a bit. If you’re a bit more adventurous, there’s catamaran with guide for rent as well. At the end, we decided to chill on those long beach chairs and sip on some chilled drinks instead. I can do this everyday.
nature walk around the resort, we even spotted a wild boar family in another occasion
The one time we ventured a little bit out of the resort was during the guided nature walk on the second day. Along with about a dozen other guests from Russia, Europe, Japan, Australia and such, we went around a bit to spot the wild life around the resort.
During the one hour or so walk, we spotted a couple types of hornbills, a few species of other birds, two different types of monkeys, giant caterpillar, monitor lizards, and more. We were also lucky enough to have met a family of wild boars crossing the road while on buggy too. They were too cute!
this is the beach villa at The Datai, 218 sq. meters of awesomeness
We also visited other suites and villas at The Datai. The premium room, corner & end suites, pool villa, and the superior villas were all very nice, but the beach villa, now that’s what living a high life is all about.
The beach villa takes up 218 square meter, or over 2,346 square feet, has a room with the bed over looking a 10 meter private pool and an entertainment & dining area on the side with a direct access to the beach. On top of that, there’s a walk in wardrobe, beautiful marble bath tub, a rain shower, and an outdoor waterfall shower too. The two room beach villa is 475 square meter.
It is as luxurious as it gets, elegant, secluded, and definitely beautiful.
our engagement on the last day at The Datai, a trip to remember
Just prior to departure from The Datai, on the 4th of August, 2013, I finally proposed to Haze properly, with the ring and all. I’m happy to report that it was a success and I want to thank Lex & WeiZhi of kampungboycitygal for taking these photos of us.
It was a very sweet moment for us, and we really had fun traveling with you guys over the entire trip too.
Lex, KY, Ardi, Haze, and WeiZhi the Datai Langkawi
Our guide throughout the stay at The Datai was Ardi. A very friendly and supremely helpful chap who kept us entertained with many of his colorful stories. Thank you Ardi, we certainly enjoyed our stay and will surely hope to come back again.
Will talk about the food we had next.
The Datai Langkawi
Jalan Datai, Teluk Datai,
07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Tel:+60 4-959 2500
FB: The Datai Langkawi