The first time I heard of glamping (glamorous camping) was two years ago from a former work colleague. I scoffed at the idea of glamping because I arrogantly believed that camping was truly about roughing it out. I believed that camping was about being in the wild, bonfires, sleeping bags, and probably no showers. My first camping trip was in Yosemite National Park, California, followed by another in Kakadu National Park, Australia. I remembered not being able to shower for 2 days unless we were desperate to swim in the creeks where there were crocodiles lurking in the waters! Since then, I concluded that camping was spending time outdoors without the extra amenities.
However, fast forward to present time, I’m living a comfortable lifestyle in Kuala Lumpur (KL), and with ageing laziness creeping up on me, I’m not so keen anymore on “camping without glamour”. Ever since the colleague mentioned about glamping, I came across many articles written about this new trend quickly becoming an ultimate travel experience. There are various types of glamping experiences from luxurious treehouses, 5-star canvas tents to Mongolian yurts. The glamping trend is catching on in Malaysia, and so I thought, I’ll give it a try some day.
It was just last weekend when my sister and I drove from KL to Janda Baik in the state of Pahang. Located just an hour from KL, Janda Baik is a Malay village surrounded by rainforest, river streams, babbling brooks and waterfalls. We were heading to our glamping site called Sailor’s Rest.
I booked my glamping stay via LocalUsher, a Malaysia-based online platform for city slickers like us, to discover and book local experiences. The experiences offered range from glamping, staying in a treehouse, food tours, hot air balloon rides to skydiving – unique experiences for the various personalities among us.
I love the design and layout of their website. Information about the activities is concise and properly placed around the website – the site doesn’t look busy with hyperlinks, pop-ups and garish colours. Pricing and add-ons for the activity chosen were clearly stated on the page pre-empting further questions or confusions. I was surprised and amazed by the booking process – it was so easy – the process took less than 10 minutes!
As soon as we drove into the carpark area of the glamping site, we were greeted by our host, Mr Hashim. Mr Hashim is a congenial retiree who makes every guest feels welcomed with his warm smile and hearty jokes. No need for signing of forms that one would typically expect at a hotel but our host shared with us the general information about the site, and the dos and don’ts in order to keep the site clean (I overheard a camper guest asking him for keys to the tent – oh dear, city slickers, LOL!).
The tents accommodate a minimum of 3 and up to a maximum of 5 beds. The 3-bed tents are pitched by the riverbank while the bigger tents are placed in the beautiful gardens of the glamping site. Our tent is the 3-bed tent but the third bed is removed since it was just the two of us.
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The mattresses, pillows and bedding sheets are of good quality, and the comforters are so fluffy! A standing fan is placed inside the tent to help circulate the air as it can get stuffy in the afternoon. However, the weather gets cooler at night when the temperature is a pleasant 20-22 degrees Celsius. The temperature hardly rises above 28 degrees during the day. This is because Janda Baik is situated 600 metres above sea level on the Titiwangsa Mountain Range.
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As soon as we settled in, we explored the site. In addition to glamping, Sailor’s Rest also has kampung chalets, a houseboat and a bungalow for visitors to stay for a weekend getaway. The entire landscape of Sailor’s Rest is so beautifully done with gardens of various tropical flowers and fruit trees, perfectly designed to provide visitors the tranquillity needed to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
There are ten common toilet-cum-shower facilities – hot and cold water provided – and very clean.
After exploring the site, we joined other camper guests at the riverbank. Many guests were swimming, playing in the river, chatting and just enjoying themselves. The water was cool but we didn’t mind – it was a respite from the sweltering heat in KL.
A BBQ dinner was served at 7.30pm at the dining hall. Mr Hashim and his wife came over and mingled with the guests. After dinner, folks stayed on in the dining hall – chatting and playing card games. By nightfall, our lullaby was crickets chirping as we dozed off in our tents.
As the sun rose the next morning, we were woken up by birds chirping. The bed was so comfy that I seriously didn’t want to get up but my stomach was growling for breakfast. As true Malaysians, we instinctively knew the breakfast menu – nasi lemak (rice steamed with coconut milk and pandan leaves served with sambal chilli paste, anchovies, hard-boiled egg and slices of cucumber) and roti canai (paratha flatbread with chicken curry or daal) – our national dishes 🙂
We wanted to go waterfall trekking but the activity requires a minimum number of 10 people whereby a guide would be organised to take us through the trek. Unfortunately, the camper guests were not keen even though there were many of us that weekend to make up a group of 10. Hence, the activity was cancelled. We stayed for a few more hours at the site, then reluctantly checked out and said farewell to our hosts.
Would I recommend glamping? Absolutely! I don’t think glamping will ever replace camping. It will probably remain as a recreational form of camping for folks who want to experience the outdoors without some of the perceived “discomforts” of traditional camping. Furthermore, I feel that, we urbanites, need to take time out from the pressures of city life, to chill out and to get in touch with nature again. As such, glamping is a perfect weekend getaway.
So, go ahead and book your glamping experience but remember, please leave your high heels behind 🙂
*Our glamping booking was generously discounted by LocalUsher but opinions, as always, are my own.