Review: 9 Reasons Why Dash Resort Langkawi Is The Beach Holiday Of Your Dreams

Langkawi – the ‘Jewel of Kedah’ of Malaysia –  is known for its beautiful sandy beaches and amazing tropical scenery. While resorts and hotels are a dime a dozen on the island, those looking for the beach holiday of their dreams will find it at Dash Resort Langkawi – a four-star boutique resort that’s quirky, laid back and endlessly fun.

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Part of the Ri-Yaz Group, which also manages the Dash series of hotels in Cyberjaya and Bali, design plays an integral part at Dash Langkawi, with the entire setting inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. True to their tagline ‘Down The Rabbit Hole’, a stay here will take guests on a whimsical journey.

Here are nine reasons why I think you should book a night (or two. or three!) at the resort:

1 ) Insta-worthy shots EVERYWHERE. 

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It is clear from the get-go that this is a hotel designed for the young and young at heart, with Instagram photo opportunities at every turn. Bright, colourful and cheery, the outlandish designs feature everything from oversized furniture to gold-framed portraits of superheroes in Victorian-era costumes. The lobby itself has polished marble floors, soaring pillars, an opulent chandelier and mismatched (but not clashing) sofas, puffy couches and cosy seats.

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CatWoman reimagined. See if you can ‘collect’ photos of all the different superheroes within the resort ! There’s Captain America, Batman, Spiderman and a bonus Chewbacca (it’s pretty hidden).

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The centrepiece of it all ? A giant 9-metre tall blue Dash rabbit, the resort’s mascot.

2) The beach looks FANTASTIC 

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When our group first approached the Beach Club area which faces part of Pantai Cenang, a collective oooh was heard. White cabanas, sun deck complete with glittering DJ booth, endless blue skies over the azure blue waters of the Andaman and soft white sand –  the scene looked more akin to the beaches of Mykonos or Crete in Greece. Who says you need to travel far to experience natural beauty?

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3) The food is pretty awesome. 

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The quirky, fun design extends to the restaurant / bar area, aptly dubbed Dash Beach Club. Instead of buffet-style which is the norm for many resorts/hotels, dishes are ordered ala carte, and are an eclectic mix of East Meets West with flavour influences from around the world. Afternoon fare is more burgers and pasta, while night offers heavier, more substantial meals and local dishes. What you can’t miss is breakfast:

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Nothing like waking up to a gorgeous spread of pancakes and toast, or ham and sausage with a side of mushrooms! The real winner though, is this:

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Eggs Kejriwal. Would honestly travel back just for this. Originally an egg, cheese and toast snack from Mumbai which features grated cheese and green chillies, red onion and cilantro on a piece of toast, Dash’s version switches it up with a crunchy fried filo pastry with crisp layers. Works really well, especially when you cut into the egg and it oozes golden gooey goodness. Not too spicy either!

Fun fact: The Beach Club is open to the public (for a fee) so you don’t necessarily have to be a guest. Still feels plenty exclusive though.

4) Their rooms are spacious and comfy 

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Still with the Alice in Wonderland theme, rooms follow the same quirky concept with fun patterns and unique pieces of furniture. Stayed in a Deluxe Room, with a comfy queen-sized bed, dressing table, TV and a Dash bunny to snuggle with. No bathtubs, but there is a nice shower, a wardrobe with bathrobes + slippers, as well as coffee and tea making facilities.

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5) You can unwind at the spa

What’s a beach holiday without a good massage? Unwind at the Rabbit Hole Spa, which offers a variety of pampering treatments and luxurious pick-me-ups. Granted, the space was a little bare/basic and prices are steep, but I enjoyed my quick 30 minute massage to smoothen out tired knots and muscles.

6) They’ve got an awesome infinity pool + ‘sunken’ cabana area

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The pool has got to be one of the resort’s highlights, as it is right by the beach and looks out to the sea. There’s a pool bar for when you need a drink after the swim, and a cosy ‘sunken’ cabana area right in the middle of the pool, so you’re literally surrounded by water.

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7) You can get (cute) limited edition merchandise

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There’s a shop within the resort called Dashoppe, which sells cute resort-themed merchandise you won’t find elsewhere. There is the blue bunny mascot native to Dash Langkawi, but they also carry the green and red ones from Dash Bali and Cyberjaya. Other items on sale include designer clothing, swimwear, bathrobes, shoes, and souvenirs.

8) The sunset is GORGEOUS 

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One of my favourite things to do at the resort was just sit by the beach at sunset with a cold glass of smoothie and watch the sun set. Nothing like the sight of islands amidst a backdrop of cotton candy sky, listening to the sounds of waves lapping against the shore.

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9) It’s a great place to chill at night 

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Unlike other island places like Phuket in Thailand, Langkawi is pretty quiet at night – so if you’re expecting crazy nightlife with booze and bars, then it’s probably not the place for you. If you want a quiet place to relax, however, it’s perfect. The pool at Dash is not open at night, but guests can still chill on the patio with some drinks and finger food. Occasionally you get local performers putting up a fire show by the beach – just remember to tip them!

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DASH RESORT LANGKAWI

Jalan Teluk Baru, Jalan Pantai Tengah, Mukim Kedawang, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah

Phone:+604-955 7171

Website

**Note: I was invited to DASH Resort Langkawi for a hotel review for work. Views here are entirely my own. 

Review: DoubleTree by Hilton Penang – Day 2

Rise and shine, folks! It’s our second day at DoubleTree by Hilton Penang, and you know what they say about great mornings – it always starts with a great breakfast.

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Makan Kitchen is DoubleTree’s signature restaurant found at all of their hotels in Malaysia, and it serves mainly authentic Malaysian fare. The dining area is spacious, with plenty of seats and an alfresco dining area with views of the pool.

Breakfast featured the usual Malaysian favourites like roti canai, nasi lemak, char koay teow (wok fried glass noodles) and dimsum, but they also had a small selection of Western items like chicken and beef sausages, cold cuts and toast.

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Breakfast of champions. 

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It was time for the official opening ceremony. The VIPs were welcomed with an energetic drum performance at the resort’s entrance.

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Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (centre) and senior management of DoubleTree Resort by Hilton, accompanied by the brand’s Cookie mascot.

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We then went on a tour of the resort’s facilities.

(Above) the children’s pool, complete with slides and water fountains. In the background is the bridge leading to the beach across the road.

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The resort prides itself in catering for families. Just next to the pool is the bright and cheerful-looking Kids Club, where the little ones can take part in activities, games and classes to keep them occupied while mom and dad chill out. Don’t worry – there is a member of staff on site to make sure things don’t get rowdy.

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Business travelers can utilise the quiet space near the Axis Lounge to do some work or surf the internet, if they ever need a break from being cooped up in the rooms.

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The resort has 316 rooms and suites in total – but the grandest has got to be their King Suites, available in one or two bedroom configurations. The one that we toured had a giant (very comfy looking) king-sized bed, a lounge bed for an extra guest, a separate living area, kitchenette and a swinging TV in the middle (so you can turn it to either the living area/the bed. Pretty neat!)

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Bathroom had a bathtub with a clear window.

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Seaview from the terrace. The terrace is large enough to fit a dining table for six with room to spare. Great for parties.

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For all the fitness enthusiasts, being on holiday doesn’t mean you have to give up on your routine, as the resort has a well-equipped gym – with a gorgeous sea view to boot.

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Took a dip in the pool in the afternoon. I liked that they had these large shaded cabanas where you can just chill and lounge around with a book and a drink. There was a sandy area with beach chairs as well.

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Before dinner, also paid a visit to the spa! It feels exclusive and tranquil.

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Very large room, complete with shower and toilet.  The spa faces the sea, which you can catch glimpses of through the bamboo shutters. However, it is also close to the children’s pool, so you will hear children giggling and splashing throughout the spa session. I suggest coming in the afternoon when people are less likely to be outside due to the heat.

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Items to pamper yourself.

My massage session lasted just over an hour. Before going in, they ask you about your strength preferences (how hard you want the masseuse to go) and any injuries that you may have. My therapist was good and professional, and really loosened up the tight knots I had in my shoulders.

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Finished off with a spot of warm ginger tea.

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Dinner time at Makan Kitchen. I felt like they could do with a bit more variety, but if you’re tired after a long day and don’t want take a bus to Georgetown or Gurney Drive, the place offers typical Penang street food (like assam laksa, curry mee) in a nice and comfortable setting. I really enjoyed the pasembur (below)!

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All in all, DoubleTree by Hilton Penang is well catered to families and leisure travelers. Although their location is a wee bit aways from the central hub of Georgetown, it’s still easy to get there via free bus services provided by the hotel. Even if you’re not doing any sightseeing, it’s nice to chill around the hotel and enjoy its facilities, from the gym and spa to the pool. Also, don’t forget to check out the TeddyVille Museum, located within the resort.

Rooms average about RM300 for a one night’s stay.

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The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort – Day 3: Snorkelling!

The past two days at The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort was spent stuffing my face with delicious food – so it was high time for some exercise! Woke up early in the morning and headed to the Taaras Villa along with another blogger. There was nobody there so while he took pictures for his social media, I went for a nice swim in the infinity pool. An hour later, still in swimwear, I went down to the beach and soaked in the azure blue waters.

Then it was snorkel time! After the safety briefing at the hotel, the boat took us to a spot with pretty coral reefs and lots of fish. We got some bread to feed the fish and they swarmed around us in colourful swirls.

Ignore fat face.

On the way back to the resort.

The hotel invited some guests from an arts/culture club to show us the traditional way of making Batik, which uses wax to create patterns on fabric. We also tried our hand at painting some sample pieces! 🙂

Bought several sarongs (wraps) for only RM10. 

Terengganu style keropok lekor (fried fish paste snacks) with sweet chilli sauce for an afternoon tea time snack! 🙂

Had BBQ dinner at night, and it was just R&R for the rest of the trip.

Bye Redang! 

for more info, head on to http://www.thetaaras.com

Review: The Taaras Beach Resort & Spa, Redang – Day 1

Back in the year 2000 (when I was still a tween and VCDs were still a thing), I watched a Hong Kong romcom called Summer Holiday.  In the movie, a materialistic Hong Kong woman (Sammi Cheng) travels to Redang island in Malaysia to claim inheritance of a resort – only to find that she can’t sell it unless the owner of the other half, an island boy played by Richie Jen, agrees to relinquish it. In true blue romcom fashion, Sammi initially tries to seduce the guy, but soon finds herself falling in love. Story was kinda blah, but I remember the setting well – a beautiful tropical paradise, with clear blue waters, soft, sandy beaches and swaying palm trees.

17 years later, I finally got the chance to visit this place on a media trip – and to a five-star luxury resort to boot. I was understandably excited setting off from Merang Jetty in Kuala Terengganu.

Our organisers definitely weren’t kidding when they said they wanted us to ‘experience’ the sea. It was the tail end of the monsoon season, so the seas were rough. The small boat, which seated 10, bounced and rolled like crazy – at points I felt my butt literally flying off the seat. Now it’s all good and fun for the first five minutes, but imagine going through that for a full 1 hour 15 minutes. The waves were high and all of us got soaked to the bone. At the end of it I was very close to puking, despite the two seasick pills I popped before boarding.

Imagine our relief when we finally pulled in to Redang Island jetty, dotted with fishing and speed boats against a backdrop of tropical hills. Hotel staff were waiting for us with towels, and we hopped onto a bus to the resort, which was about 10 minutes from the pier.

‘Taara’ is Sanskrit for Goddess of the Sea – an apt name for The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort, which is owned by Berjaya Group. The lobby fits the tropical theme, with loads of wood and delicate Malay-style carvings. Peering out from the verandah, I spotted lush greens, swaying palm trees and dozens of villas leading out to the private beach. Visitors can choose from 183 rooms and suites: some with ocean views, others with garden and cliff scenery.

Had one unit all to myself – and best part was it was just a few steps away from the beach (although the view was blocked by a few other villas :P). I entered to a cosy looking and spacious living area, complete with sofas and a work desk near the window. There was also a basic toilet at the far end. A really nice touch throughout my stay was that they replenished my fruits/cookies and also had a platter of really yummy welcome chocolates.

The room was equally spacious, with a nice and soft queen-sized bed, sliding wooden shutters, closet and the usual amenties such as coffee making facilities, clothing rack and TV. The TV was fuzzy and had a lot of static though, and there weren’t too many channels to choose from. I guess they’d rather you go outside and enjoy the ocean breeze rather than be cooped up in your room all day.

Note: The Wifi at the resort is bad. I mean, yes, a beach getaway is about disconnecting from it all, but it would be nice if I could have sent work emails without having to use my data. Digi internet reception was fair.

The tub was so fancy it had three taps which I spent an eternity trying to operate because I couldn’t get it to adjust to the right temperature. They also provided bath salts so I could pretend I was in a real spa.

My villa was super close to the pool. Which, unfortunately, I didn’t manage to use during my stay. They had these fun, giant inflatables of swans and unicorns.

After the seasickness subsided, I was feeling ravenous. Lucky for us lunch was already served at the Asean All Day Dining area – a cosy restaurant with views of the pool and the beach beyond. There was a nice selection of local and international cuisine, along with dessert, appetisers and fresh fruits.

Cold cuts/salads, bread.

Noodle station where they cook your customised bowl of noodles to order. The tom yum soup was not up to par, so I abandoned my bowl.

(Right) Starting off with some cold cuts and salad. The meats were good. Moving on to the mains (left), the pasta was al-dente, with the carbonara sauce thick, rich and creamy without being cloying. Had it with stewed lamb (tender and not gamey), and curry chicken.


After lunch, we were taken to the Redang Island Resort nearby; another place run by Berjaya Group that caters to a mid-end crowd.

No private beach, but they have pretty good views too.

After the quick visit, back to The Taaras for some free and easy. I took the chance to head to the beach. The sky was cloudy, like it was going to rain soon, so the pictures didn’t turn out so well.

Dinner that night was at the Beach Brasserie; fittingly located just next to the beach where guests can watch the ocean waves lapping against the shore and the sunset. While live music played, we tucked into our course meal.

First up: appetiser of seared tuna, still pink on the inside, served with greens and balsamic vinaigrette.

The soup was hearty and warming, a thick and rich pumpkin puree with salty toast.

Clearing up the palette with a refreshing berry sorbet tart.

Our main of the night was fragrant rice and tender chicken in a mushroom sauce and a side of firm, white fish. The meal was good but after a long day, I was practically asleep on my legs and excused myself early to go to bed. Fell asleep as soon as my head hit the covers.

More to come!

Sunset in Your Heart

Old travel photos from Pangkor Island, 2011.

Caught up in the fiery orange sunset sinking behind the island hills, we decided to do a traveler’s cliche routine: sitting by the water’s edge and letting the waves crash over us. Beautiful, uninhibited escapism from the hectic rush of everyday city life, letting nature wash gently over our bodies. Or so we thought. Proves once again that romanticism in novels and reality are two different realms. Not only were the waves so freaking powerful they knocked us back flat, having salt water pounded into our faces was not at all pleasant. Soon the beach was littered with a group of laughing,spluttering people, unable to get up from both the quick pounding of waves and from inability to stop guffawing. We crawled away from the edge like turtles going on shore to lay eggs and just laid on the warm sand.



They had these shiny black coats on, paired smartly with fluffy white trousers. Cocking their curved beaks, staring beadily with intelligent eyes, they seemed almost able to talk. A row of bird men all dressed up for dinner. 

One can’t help but leave behind a little piece of one’s self on this quaint little island.

Travel Blog: Pangkor Island, Malaysia

One of the great things about living in this country? There’s an abundance of beaches and islands – most of which are only a few hours away from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. On the East Coast, there are beautiful, private retreats and 5-star resorts on islands such as Pulau Tioman, Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian. In the West, where I live, Pulau Pangkor makes a good choice for a relaxing weekend escapade, without burning a hole in your pocket! 🙂

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Pulau Pangkor, or Pangkor Island, is located just off the coast of Lumut in Perak, about three hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. Historically, it acted as a refuge for the local fishermen, merchants and even pirates. In the 17th century, Dutchmen, who ruled the East Indies (including the state of Perak, before Malaysia was even formed), built a fort here in an effort to control the state’s rich tin trade. In the late 1800s, it was the location of the famous Pangkor Treaty, which was signed by the British government and a contender for the Perak throne – thus beginning the British colonial rule of the Malay peninsula.

The island itself isn’t that big, covering only 18km, with a population of 25,000. The interior is lush tropical jungle, while the coastal areas are mostly for fishing and tourism.

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GETTING TO PANGKOR ISLAND 

The island is about 3kms from the mainland, but there are no bridges across so everyone has to take the ferry from Lumut Jetty. The ride takes half an hour and costs RM10 ($2.50). Ferries are available frequently so no worries if you miss one – there’s always the next  (last ferry from island to mainland is at 7.30pm). Once you arrive on the island, there are shuttle vans that will ferry you to your destination. There aren’t many cars around, so pollution is less too. 🙂

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Enjoy the Ride (and the sea breeze!) 

The ferries have an open deck and an air conditioned interior. Passengers can stand outside and take in their first sights of the island.

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Accommodation 

Being a tourist destination, there are loads of options on Pangkor Island, depending on your budget. Most hotels on the main island are budget/boutique/three-star. If you’re looking for luxury, your best bet is at Pangkor Laut, a separate private island next to the main one, which is only accessible via private jetty.

For my trip there with friends, we checked into one called Seaview Hotel. True to its name, the place offers awesome beachfront views of Pasir Bogak. You can tell its quite an old hotel from its basic deco – they still use old-style wooden frame sofas which I had in my house in the 90s – but everything is clean and relatively well-maintained.

**Interesting tidbit: This place is run by a former Thomas Cup champion, Datuk Tan Yee Khan, who won the title as part of our national doubles team in 1967! 

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The red-bricked chalets look cheery, and can house about four people each. You can literally walk out and be on the beach already 🙂

Here are some things you can do during your stay!

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1 – Walk on the Beach/Take a Dip/Water Sports 

It would be quite weird to come to an island and not take a stroll on the beach. Pasir Bogak, which is the beach fronting our hotel, is an excellent spot since it is relatively secluded. One can also find water sport operators who will take you on banana boat rides, jet skis and the like. The water isn’t crystal clear, being a dark green-blue, but its definitely cleaner than places like Port Dickson.

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If you are taking a dip, do watch out for stuff like jellyfish though!

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I can’t stand places where people have picnics and then leave all their garbage behind, but thankfully no such problem here so it’s safe to walk around barefoot. Love the feeling of sand in my toes ! 🙂

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2 ) Make a Sacrifice to the Seagods  Mess Around in the Sand 

…. like how we’re doing to JN here. We even gave him two extra ‘mounds’ on his chest, lol.

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3) Go climb on rocks and take silly pictures 

At the end of the Pasir Bogak Beach is an outcropping of smooth rocks and boulders, which visitors can climb onto to take pictures. Do be careful though as they can get slippery from sea water.

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4) Do an island tour

There are numerous activities to do during the day. Go boating with the local fisherman and see how they catch the marine produce. We visited a factory selling salted fish and seafood snacks.

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5) Visit the local Chinese temples 

There are two temples on the island, namely the Fu Lin Kung Temple at the foot of Pangkor Hill, and the Lin Ye Kong Temple near Teluk Nipah. The best way to get there is by shuttle van. Fu Lin Kung (above) has numerous landscaped gardens, mini shrines and gazebos mimicking an ancient Chinese garden, as well as a mini Great Wall of China structure running up a hill slope, featuring giant rocks with Chinese characters on them.

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Lin Je Kong is part fun tourist attraction, part place of worship – why else would there be ripoff statues of Dolan and what I can only assume is Mickey Mouse? In all seriousness, despite all the cartoonish characters around, you can pray for blessings from the deities housed in the shrines.

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The turtle goddess wears shorts and a tee
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Temple is next to the sea, obviously.

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6) Glorious Seafood 

Pangkor, being a fishing island, is obviously home to some of the freshest seafood you’ll find on this side of the planet. The stuff might still have been swimming in the ocean this morning. Fried calamari is love.

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7) Enjoy the island sunset 

Watch as the sun casts a wide orange light across the deepening blue waters, while fishing boats make their way back to the docks. We set our chairs out in front of the chalet and since KW brought his guitar, we sang and played campfire songs (minus the campfire).

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8) Tuck into an outdoor Barbecue Dinner

Our BBQ was provided by the hotel. Being the smart-alecs that we were, we told the restaurant staff that we wanted to cook it ourselves….

The food ended up getting burnt or were undercooked, etc. JN had to go inside and ask the resto people, “Er… kakak. Boleh tolong ka?” She laughed in his face lol.

The food wasn’t bad though. There was chicken, squid, shrimp, bread and butter, fish.. but there was alot of leftover crabs. Pity the crabs, they died for nothing xD

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9) Hornbill spotting 

Our resort sees some pretty peculiar visitors, namely, hornbills. These beautiful birds with horns on their heads and fluffy down on their legs (giving them the appearance of wearing trousers!) flock to the restaurant area in the evening, where staff members feed them fruits.

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feed us, o human slaves

 

So, how about it? Is Pangkor Island on your list of places to go to over the holidays? 🙂