Tadom Hill Resort and the Magic of the Bamboo

I am always searching for new getaway locations. Hence, I was delighted to hear of one nearby, Tadom Hill Resort. 

Refreshing Dip

Tadom Hill Resort
is approximately 50KM from where I stay and the one-hour drive to this resort is a pleasant one. Along the way, you’d see many palm oil plantations and several small lakes. I used Waze as a guide to drive there and, surprisingly, I did not miss any turns like I usually do.

Finding Tadom

Tadom Hill Resort is an eco-friendly resort nested among the limestone hills and sits on the orang asli (indigenous peoples of Malaysia) Temuans land. The resort uses, and heavily promotes the use of, green bamboos. According to Wikipedia, bamboo is a natural  composite material with high strength-to-weight ratio useful for structures. Most of the external structure and furniture at the resort are bamboo-based. I felt that this natural setting releases positive endorphins to create a peaceful atmosphere. Visitors can opt for either a day trip or an overnight visit. If you decide to stay overnight, you get a chance to experience sleeping in the magic of the bamboo (catchy tagline yes, I got that from Tadom Hill Resorts website). There are a few types of accommodation to choose from - basic eco-tents, hammocks, small bamboo huts and larger chalets. There are also two restaurants serving a variety of food and local coffee. If you prefer to show off your culinary skills, there are 2 BBQ pits. 

Bamboo Excellence

Visitors to the resort are of diverse groups - individuals (locals and foreigners) and corporates for their company team-building events. During my visit, I saw many local and foreign college students and local  families with young children, all having fun in the sun.

The biggest slice of the cake here is the lake itself where most of the action and activities are centred.  There is a 5-meter diving platform for the visitors to challenge themselves and see if they have what it takes to be the next Pandelela Rinong, or as Dato Lai delicately put it, to get that fear of the unknown out of their system. 

Do  I See Another Pandelela?

Other water activities include relaxing on the bamboo water swing, floating on the bamboo rafts, swimming and kayaking. Safety is important here, so anyone engaging in water activities needs to have a life jacket on. There are also non-water activities - environment awareness and knowledge sharing, ATV, board games, volley ball, etc. The surrounding nature is very calming, so one could also enjoy the relaxing atmosphere while listening to the in-house live band (on weekends)  with a cold drink. The lake itself is a natural spring water lake with a mix of rain water. When the lake starts to fill up, the lake gates are opened, and water is released to the Langat River so that it doesn’t overflow and flood the area.

Around Tadom Hill Resort

I spent a very informative afternoon with Dato Lai Yeng Fock, a well-known property developer in Malaysia and the owner of the Tadom Hill Resort, understanding the importance of bamboo to the eco-system and his plans for the environment and surrounding communities.

An Informative Afternoon

Below is sneak preview of the new round-shaped building, the next extension to the resort, also using bamboo as a base structure. It is the first of its kind in Malaysia and  its inspiration is drawn from the Chinese Fujian Tulou earthen house concept. Once ready, this two-storey building can accommodate up to 150 guests. The centre of the building is an open space for common activities. This extension is suitable for everyone and more so for family gatherings and corporate team building groups. It is near completion and will be ready for occupancy in May. The resort accepts bookings now.  

Sneak Preview

At Tadom Hill Resort, there is no bamboo wastage. Unused  bamboos are recycled by first cutting them into smaller pieces, drying them, and burning them in retorts until they become ash. Once cooled, the bamboo ashes are mixed together with soil and used as organic fertiliser in their nursery, where passion fruit, chilies, local vegetables and durians are farmed.  Do you remember the charcoal pills that we take when we have food poisoning and those popular charcoal bun burgers? Activated bamboo charcoal is used as the food ingredient in them.

No Bamboo Goes to Waste

I had earlier mentioned the Temuans. They are one of the largest orang asli ethnic groups in peninsular Malaysia. Dato Lai informed that this land, where the resort is located, originally belonged to the Temuans and just as any indigenous groups, they are becoming extinct and it is important to ensure that they are protected and given opportunities to sustain. Today, he includes their welfare and interests in his continuous improvement plans for the area. The Temuans are part of his strong staff force at the resort. They are highly skilled in hunting and these skills are showcased at the resort to tourists, during cultural show events. They are also trained in new skills so that they can adapt and integrate with others.

In the next picture, you would notice a large bamboo building. This is a school that the management is setting up for the Temuan community and visitors.  Here, one can learn about local arts and craft including the skills of the Temuans.  It is also a place for Temuan children to acquire new skills. The school will be opened very soon, so stay tuned for their exciting learning packages. Today, there are also opportunities for foreign visitors/volunteers to teach the Temuan children basic language skills. This boosts up the  children’s self-confidence when they  interact with strangers.

Just Perfect

Bukit Tadom started as an idea in 2014 and was first set up as a camping-style resort in 2015. It has grown since and is still growing in its features and facilities. More importantly, it is marking its significance to the Temuan community who live in the neighbourhood. After a cup of nice hot Kampong-style coffee (a local coffee bought from China Town), we left Bukit Tadom with a smile and with the memories of the postcard-perfect surroundings. Enjoy your cuppa and have a great week. 💗💙💚💛💜💗

Kampong Style Coffee

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Into the woods to find Myson and the Champas

In an earlier post on Danang, I mentioned a few of the ancient sites in Central Vietnam. Hoi An and MySon are two of them, and both top the must-see place list for this region.

Lets go

So, after a hearty breakfast, we were all set for another adventure. The rain didn’t stop us but accompanied us instead all the way to MySon.

MySon is a cluster of Hindu temples located in the mountainous border of  Quang Nam province in Central Vietnam. The temples were constructed between the 4th and 14th century AD by the Kings of Champa and are dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. The temple site was once used for religious ceremonies for the Champa Kings and also served as the burial place for the Cham Royalty and the national heroes.  
The grand Myson

MySon was recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999. According to research, there were once over 70 temples here. The temples had been abandoned and left inhabited for a very long time. Due to this and the war, the site has been partially ruined. Today, only 18 of the 70 temple structures remain.

The MySon ancient temple site is located 69km southwest of Danang. It takes 1 hour to get here by road. Guided tours are operated daily from Danang and Hoi An. One can opt to come here by tour bus or by taxi. If you take a guided tour (by bus), you also have an option to either return by bus all the way or to include a one-hour ferry ride to Hoi An.

Lets get going

We took a guided tour (with ferry transfer options). Entrance tickets were not part of the tour packages, so we had to add on those charges. Once there, the group had to walk approximately 500 meters to the electric tram station. The tram ride covers a distance of 2KMs, passing through the jungle on paved road to the relic area (this is the furthest any vehicle can go up to).  From here, we walked on wet semi-paved paths through more jungle for about 20 minutes. Luckily, there wasn’t a war of umbrellas. Along the way, I stopped to admire the beautiful low-hanging clouds in the mountains that surround the temple.


The path got rough and uneven once we got close to the temples. It was the right decision not to wear shoes because the clumsy me had my foot in all sorts of puddles that morning.

Approaching the relics, you'll notice that the temple clusters are near to each other and it can get crowded, so it is important to look out for your tour group. Otherwise, you may need to listen to a different language tour guide until you spot a familiar face or, spot that friendly person you bumped into in Hoi An. (yes, that one with the yellow umbrella – me again! 😉)

Admiring the temple

Our tour guide was 'entertaining', but I think some of what he said was probably PG13. Nevertheless, leaving that aside, kudos for his effort to provide us with the condensed history of these Champa temples. Today, you can still see a few noticeable inscriptions in Sanskrit and Cham in some of the temples. Most of the exhibits have been removed and are placed in various museums.

Around Myson

Here are some tips from me that would be useful for your trip to MySon.
  1. Have a good breakfast before the trip, especially if you are picky with food or have a high metabolism rate.
  2. Read up on MySon before the trip, you are in the land of Cham which is so full of history.
  3. If you prefer reading up on its history in your own, a large tour may not be suitable for you. Try a smaller one or just take a taxi and come here on your own. Do come here early.
  4. If it rains, wear slippers, but be careful, the paths can be slippery when wet. You can wash your feet at the rest area.
  5. Be prepared to walk, there is no provision to rest along the way or for wheelchairs.
  6. Bring some bottled water and light snacks like chocolate/biscuits.
  7. Bring an umbrella/cap/raincoat/cameras (handphones).
  8. Toilet experience is not exactly the greatest, try not to think about it after.
  9. You can get coffee and ice cream at the tram station.
  10. The ferry ride along the Bon River is relaxing, I wouldn’t miss that one.
  11. Tip your guide and driver if you are taking a tour. They did do a good job after all.
  12. Wear a smile regardless of the weather.

We got back on the bus then headed for the ferry and once there we were served a tasty vegetarian lunch on board.
On Board

I needed a strong cup of coffee after all that walking. The coffee picture below was taken at the home-stay we stayed in. This coffee picture takes me back a movie I saw recently, The Post – get straight to the point, be quick, be willing, never give up, fact check, take the risk and stand up for your beliefs even though it is not going to be the popular choice. Sounds familiar – lifelong lessons, yes – applicable every day. The early morning news is as fresh as the message in the coffee – a simple traditional black Vietnamese coffee (without the phin) with condensed milk. It’s simple yet bold, full of body and regional uniqueness and most importantly authentic. Hot, they strike! The Post, Katherine, Ben and the coffee. 

The Post

Winter effects are still present in spring in many parts of the world. I have included some pictures shared by friends from various corners of the globe – This week it’s a winter & early spring combo-edition: from frozen rivers and lakes, hot coffee in freezing ice, delightful deer, amazing views of snow-topped mountains to early spring cherry blossoms. Nature is simply great! So is that hot coffee on a chilly day.  Have a great warm weekend and enjoy your cuppa. 💗💙💚💛💜💗

Winter&Spring Combo

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Lights, camera, action, Wake me up, I will drift away in fairy land ✴ ✴ ✴

Bell rings. Lesson starts. One, two, three. Ek, doh, teen. Ein, zwei, drei. Uno, dos, tres.  Onnu, reendu, moonu. Satu, dua, tiga. Enas, dýo, tría. That’s it for this learning session, remember them, there is a pop quiz somewhere in this post, and your prize is a top-notch cup of coffee.

There is one place that offers nothing less than glistening sights, lantern-lit nights, sweet sounds of bells and coffee-scented air. You are indeed in the right place with me. Today, we meet in the perfect picturesque town of Hoi An.

Do you still remember those numbers? Here is our pictorial flow of what we will do for the next few hours. Keep your eye on the picture as you call out those numbers you just learnt:
  1. Cross that river and take in the soul of an ancient town;
  2. Follow her, yes, that one with the yellow umbrella because she is and will be the best coffee companion you will ever find;
  3. Hear endless (cycle) bells chime away their unique tunes;
  4. Enjoy a cup of coffee (or tea). The traditional Vietnamese Phin Coffee kicks off today's tour.

Look, I missed the translation for a four. If you spotted that, good, you have earned a classified bonus. 

The name Hoi An translates to 'peaceful meeting place'. Hoi An was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.  The quickest way to get here from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is to fly into Danang airport and then to hop on to either a pre-paid taxi or shuttle bus to Hoi An. The transfer to Hoi An is comfortable and takes approximately 30 – 40 minutes along the coastal road. For more on travel options to Danang, refer to my previous post: 
There are plenty of accommodation choices to pick from in the old town. I stayed at a home-stay that was run by a local family close to the night market.  The home-stay was a cozy place with the necessary essentials but personalised service. Plus, they prepare a delicious personalised breakfast for all their stay-in guests.  The owner also recommended a few excellent vegetarian restaurants to me.

There are lots of things you could do in Hoi An. Just enjoying its authenticity over a cup of coffee can also be a preference. In fact the best, I would say. So today, I will leave you mostly with pictures and talk about only some main highlights. 

The Japanese bridge – this is a covered bridge built in the 16th century as goodwill between the Chinese and the Japanese. Today, this bridge retains its Japanese character of simplicity and elegance. There are old temples and houses on both sides of the bridge. In the picture below, you will also see a local friend I made at the bridge. He is from Hanoi.  The reason he posed for me? Look at his camera. This is like the very first camera (which belonged to my father, but I got to use it), I had snapped photos with. I just love the sound of that click and the roll moving.

Quan Cong Temple – is an elegant ancient temple founded in 1653 near the central market area.

Quang Trieu (Cantonese) Assembly Hall – this is a beautiful red building built in 1885 by the Chinese from the Canton region. It was once a place for Chinese fisherman and traders to rest temporarily. The complex is large and has interesting exhibits.  This temple is the topmost in the next set of pictures. The rest are random shots capturing the elegance of this beautiful town. Lanterns are special here so you will see plenty all over Hoi An. These are functional ones, and they light up at night. The day and night view are different, both a must-see and must-feel experience. By the way, did you notice the numbers on these pictures? Keep looking. 

Street food is a favourite in Hoi An. Get your hands on some of those yummy crepes, customised crispy rice pizzas, sweet potato and ‘mango cake’.  I expected mango in the mango cake, but it was filled with only peanuts. I don’t understand how Copperfield did that trick, but it is true. Nevertheless, it tasted delicious.

Ice cream is famous here just as it is in many countries and what is more intriguing than eating the ice cream is watching the street vendors make handmade rolled ones. This is indeed an arresting performance.  A base liquid is first poured onto a freezing flat surface. A few pieces of fresh fruit or cookies are added to the mixture. Once it thickens, it is spread thinly over the pan, then rolled and cut into pieces. It is then topped with nuts and more fruits.  What are you waiting for, take out your camera?  I got my rolled ice cream from the 3 'assistant' ice-cream chefs on duty, one of them is in the photo here. 

Despite the cold and 'happy' showers, December is the most popular time to visit Hoi An. If you are
here then, be sure not to miss the winter solstice and lantern festivals. This is one of the most significant cultural events that takes place at the Bon River. The Lantern Festival is one that is held every month. Colourful paper lanterns are lit and released into the Bon River every night after sunset.  These are offerings to the ancestors and special prayers. I wished for peace and more coffee as I released mine. The daughter of the boat operator giggled nonstop as she held on tight to that Fanta bottle and demanded more photo snaps of us.

Did I not mention Hoi An is a photographer’s haven? It is, so the one thing you cannot do is to leave your camera at home. See the narrow lane below. This and other similar roads are very popular, and you may need to wait a few minutes to get your turn to own it for the moment.

And there is the photographer in action, and who do you think his glamorous model is?

Just look, the agent sits back and is enjoying his coffee. He knows the new model is poised to bring in lots of Dongs. So he thinks. Guess who the agent is? Hint, he is watching you. He also says it is not cool to wear 'Lombok' in Hoi An. 

Introducing the model … - if you want to know the rest of the story, meet me for some coffee.

The agent has had his coffee and said I have earned one too after that strenuously drilling modelling session.😉. I searched different outlets before deciding which had the best aroma. The options are plentiful, this is Vietnam, of course, the second largest coffee producer in the world. You’ll never run out of coffee choices here. There was, of course, the street coffee near the harbour, a few on the way to the old town (where the locals were busy scratching lottery tickets – can you spot them in the picture?) and at the ancient city itself. On my last day here, I decided on a coconut iced coffee at a local roastery in the old town itself. I was lost for words. It was one of the best all-time coffees I have had in a very long time. It took me to paradise; I didn’t want to leave this place.  Coconut iced coffee is a simple concoction of coconut milk, condensed milk, and freshly ground coffee. Mamma Mia!

I am all fuelled up with sugar and caffeine and am eager to continue the lessons. Let’s get back to counting those stars to Delphi.  Téssera, pénte, éxi. .  And for the bonus prize winners, I will be waiting just as eagerly for your coffee treat. Meanwhile, enjoy your daily cuppa and have a lovely week.  💗💙💚💛💜💗

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