Tiger Rock, Pulau Pangkor - Perak Malaysia
Journal entry by Dr Cynthia Lim
I am in need to recover.recover from an extremely indulgent weekend - being pampered from every waking hour and now, the weekend after, having to adjust back to urban life altogether.Hmmm.what a blissfully blissful weekend I've had.
On Pangkor Island, in a piece of 12.5 acre virgin forest is hidden one of the best kept secrets of the island - Tiger Rock Resort. Since 1998, tourist (mainly from overseas) have been privileged to experience the allure of Tiger Rock. The inspiration of David and Rebecca Owen Wilkinson, Tiger Rock provides a haven for all those craving a back to nature holiday with luxury. Tiger Rock is the place for those who enjoy the finer things in life - Nature, good food, warm hospitality and understated charm. Greeted with a sprinkling rose water and presented with pretty pink bougainvillea lea upon arrival - we found ourselves thinking "Hmmm.this is like being in Fantasy Island.."
road leading into Tiger Rock - watch out for the dogs
Depending on whether you are in desperate need of calm and quiet, or looking for inspiration to get your creative juices flowing, this place holds the potential of creating just the right atmosphere for you. The ideology is simple at Tiger Rock - providing privacy for those in need of a retreat from hectic lifestyles. Rather than emphasising on full occupancy (we were lucky enough to be the only guests there for the weekend!), the idea here is to create a home away from home environment, where guests can truly relax and feel completely at ease in - right in the heart of natural, untouched surroundings. Mohan and Bavani, the husband and wife team provided us with all the attention and care throughout our stay; anticipating all our needs even without us having to even ask!
The true beauty of this place is that the 12.5 acre jungle remain in virgin condition. The forest backdrop made up of magnificent dipterocarp trees envelope the entire property. Here one can spot giant orchids, flying lemurs, great hornbills and white-bellied sea eagles. One is struck by the obvious demonstrations of environmental care and protection that the owners and management here go by. Pesticide for the landscaped gardens come in the form of cooking oil, white pepper and water mixed in the right proportions. By avoiding the use of foreign elements on their plants, they ensure the safety and protection of animals and insects that form part of the eco-system here in Tiger Rock. (and organic vege's is so much healthier for us too!)
Tiger Rock Resort is made up of the Wilkinson's bungalow residence and four separate hilhouse terraces. Rather than standing out starkly against the forest, the Wilkinson's residence (which can be rented out on special requests) harmoniously blends itself with the hues of its natural surroundings. Little quirky features also belie the owner's love for nature. Rock boulders found on the land where the house is built has been left in its original position and blended perfectly with the interior of parts the kitchen, bathroom and living area)! The huge and sprawling dimensions of the main bungalow are designed in a series of wooden "kampung" style.
Aside from the main bungalow, a little way up, nestled in pristine surroundings are four hill houses filled with an eclectic mix of furniture, providing each room its own unique personality and warmth. Rebecca's love and care for the environment is evident in her artwork- from wall hangings, to brightly coloured rugs.a riotous mix and blend of colours in celebration of Nature. These four hill houses have a delightful pavilion area that one can spend the whole afternoon relaxing in (see pic). Meals can also be enjoyed here in this airy, beautiful space. Hmm..speaking of food.
One of the distinctive memories, which will remain with me, is.the food at Tiger Rock! I could go on and on endlessly about the food here. The skill and expertise to which Bavani applied in blending eastern and western ingredients made each meal a pure treat to ones sense of taste, smell and presentation. The use of spices - anise, cumin, cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, saffron.lend such subtle, delicate taste and texture to the fresh seafood Pangkor is proud to boast. Mohan took such pleasure in explaining the uniqueness of the dishes samples, which made the gastronomic experience all the more pleasurable. Like being pampered by a grand mother or a grand aunt - cooking up a storm to welcome us home after a long absence, we felt spoilt as such. The eye for detail amazed us - cutlery changed from one meal to another - the eclectic use of Chinese crockery to earthern pots bearing delicious fish curry gave each meal a unique touch.
The sauces, the preserves, the jams, the chutneys - brimming full of fresh produce is home-made. We ate with such relish here; at dusk, out by the pool, under the light of a lantern, a table littered with flowers and a smorgasbord of enticing food awaited us. The care taken in ensuring a perfect meal under the stars, un-harassed by mosquitoes by the burning of incense and natural repellents made an altogether perfect evening.
Earlier on we'd seen the dogs Cloudy and Fatty run furiously to explore what Mohan speculated were wild boars in the near vicinity. We were also informed to be watchful for the diamond head red tail pit viper - known for its poisonous bite. Not aggressive by nature, but not prone to being very patient with any sort of intrusions - we were advised to tap our shoes to check for any hidden surprises. It's an almost scary, yet exciting and thrilling feeling to find oneself so completely surrounded by the wild.
Night-time was deep, dark and full of jungle noises. We, being the only guests there, contemplated (a little feverishly!) the fact that we were right smack in the middle of acres of tropical jungle. After dinner, Mohan and family retires to their own home at the foot of the property. Mohan, leaving us with his home number, was kind enough to reassure us that he was contactable in case of emergency. We were all alone in the jungle! Being such urbanites, we stopped ourselves from imagining the different scenarios needing a SOS alert! Yet, I loved the fact that I was sleeping in the heart of an untouched, pristine jungle.
Our night in the 'wild' went by uneventfully and we were woken with the sounds of progressively high octave calls of wild peacocks bursting into the room. We had made plans for a day of jungle trekking and frolicking in the warm shores of Pangkor. After a hearty breakfast, we were dropped off by boat at a Malay village nearby to begin our trek. We were accompanied by Dinesh, (Mohan and Bavani's son), and another staff member. Dinesh was delightful company. He tumbled onto the jungle path brimming full of enthusiasm to lead the group. His happy chatter and the ease to which he ran through the jungle made one marvel at the vast difference between kids who live an urban existence. He seemed so at home, and comfortable amidst the thick undergrowth surrounding us.
After approximately 20 minutes, Dinesh broke into a mad sprint and we saw through a leafy corridor - the ocean. Pretty was the word that came to mind. Having walked through a rather wet rainforest, and in parts, muddy path, and making our way up and down some hilly terrain, the feel of soft, warm sand was sheer pleasure. We had the luxury of picking any spot to lay our belongings on anywhere we pleased on this largely secluded beach. The beach is mostly accessed by outdoor groups who arrive by boat. These groups predominantly stay off shore snorkeling. The water was beautiful, warm and sometimes cool, clear and very calm. We saw schools of fish, sea cucumbers and admired the shells washed ashore. I regret not having brought any snorkel gear as not far from the shore, there is some great snorkeling terrain.
Upon our return, we dived eagerly into the pool. We were greeted with refreshing ice cold lime juice while floating in the pool, looking out into the forest. The feeling was almost surreal! Lunching on another delectable meal of barracuda fish curry, we let the sounds of nature wash over us - ever mindful of our need to catch the ferry back to Lumut, and our ensuing 3 hour drive back to Kuala Lumpur. The feeling was one of awe - at how wonderfully beautiful the surroundings were, at the excellent hospitality that we'd received in our short stay, of the charm that seemed to permeate through this whole place. Tiger Rock has been thriving on word by mouth recommendations thus far, a sure testament of its excellence and flair in creating a unique and wonderful holiday experience.I really need to recover from such indulgence! Sigh.
Nothing has changed, as dreamy as it was back in 2000. Still recommend it to those who would like a bit of quiet time with family and friends - a vacation home.