Monday 11 January 2016
As Howard is into all things trains, we have tickets for the 12:30 pm train from KL to Ipoh. As there is no rush we sleep in, go downstairs for another big breakfast and then leisurely pack our bags, checkout and catch an Uber to Sentral Station.
The train to Ipoh is a modern electric train that zips along at a fair pace. We have an interesting view for much of the trip – forest, plantations, mountains, villages. When we disembark at the old Ipoh train station we immediately feel the difference between busy, modern KL and sleepy, little Ipoh. But it’s a nice difference. Ipoh train station is a grand old building dating from the Victorian era.
Getting a taxi seems to be every man for himself sort of event (no Uber in Ipoh). We are not fast enough and left to a crusty old man in a crusty old car. When we tell him where we are going I got the feeling that the price doubled. Just 15 minutes outside town, beneath towering limestone mountains is The Banjaran Hot Springs Hotel. H found this place and as soon as I saw it I knew we would have to go there.
From the moment we got out of the taxi we are treated like royalty. The open air reception overlooks a beautiful lily pond and at the reception there is a huge gong that we get to bash as part of the welcome. Wow its loud.
Reception with limestone mountains in background
As we are escorted to our room through the extensive tropical gardens, the usual features are pointed out to us restaurant, spa, library and pool. But it is the other features that makes Banjaran special, firstly the whole resort is built around the many thermal springs – we are warned which ones are dangerous (we are talking near boiling) and which ones are hot but bearable. Then there is a little series of pools where those fish that eat your feet live. There is also a series of limestone caves – made into a bar, meditation room and even a steam room.
Every which way but loose
Thermal spring – this one is scalding hot
Our private pool villa is lovely – behind the high walls and lockable gate is an outdoor entertainment area including bar, lounge area, good size pool and sun loungers. Inside is a roomy bedroom with huge ensuite. Out back is our own thermal springs spa bath. The scalding water is piped straight in and we only need to regulate the temperature by adding cold water. There is also an outdoor shower next to the spa bath. Luxury!
Enjoy ur stay! We will
We are warned not to leave any food, drinks or valuables unattended outside as there is a troupe of cheeky monkeys living in the mountains that consider all such items fair game.
It’s a hot and sticky day so as soon as we are alone we strip off and jump in the pool. Oh its cold! We spend the rest of the afternoon alternating between the cold pool, the hot spa and lounging around sipping vodka and pineapple juice. I could get used to this.
At sunset we decide to check out Jeff’s Cellar, the bar in the cave. Its only open to resort guests and I’m surprised at how extensive the caves are. We order a couple of drinks and relax for a while and enjoy the dark surrounds. Led lights, down lights and spot lights define low outcrops, walkway edges, textured cave walls and stalactites. Some areas are roofed by swaths of cloth to prevent drops of water dripping onto the guests.
We have decided to eat in tonight and head over to the restaurant – Pomelo. It’s an open air affair with a high pitched roof, with a relaxed atmosphere and great service. We kick back, relax and pass the night away in this tropical paradise.