For the uninitiated, Belum Rainforest is a pristine, unspoilt forest located at the northern part of the Perak state in Malaysia. Relatively unknown, Belum is actually one of the oldest rainforests in the world, possibly older than the Amazon and the Congo. It is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including 14 of the world's most threatened mammals; 300 bird species, including 10 species of hornbills and 3,000 species of flowering plants, including 3 species of Rafflesia - the world's largest flower.
If you are interested to know, the total size of Belum Rainforest is equivalent to 4 times the size of Singapore! In the heart of this forest lies the man-made Temenggor Lake.
Map courtesy of Cuti.my
In the 1970's, Temenggor Dam was built to generate hydroelectric power, resulting in the creation of Temenggor Lake, the second largest lake in Peninsular Malaysia after Kenyir Lake. The flooding of this man-made Temenggor Lake created many islands out of what were once hilltops. One of the islands is Pulau Banding, where we were heading to.
After a light breakfast at McDonald's in Bandar Utama, the four of us bundled ourselves and our luggage into Lionel's car. Lionel would be driving for the first half of the journey and I would be driving for the second half.
Lionel the driver
We took the North-South Expressway heading north towards Ipoh. Thankfully, Lionel had a GPS device, which was important since none of us really knew how to get to Pulau Banding!
Halfway the journey, I snapped a picture of Eric and Caroline sleeping like pigs at the back! LOL! Can you see what did Caroline bring along with her? Haha!
We stopped by at Tapah R&R for a much needed toilet break, as well as a lunch at KFC. It was my first time eating fast food for both breakfast and lunch on the same day!
Lunch was followed by dessert at Baskin Robbins. Despite not fully recovered from my cough, I threw caution to the wind and enjoyed my mint chocolate ice cream.
After that, we continued our journey. Soon, we exited the North-South Highway to Kuala Kangsar, heading towards Gerik. At a petrol station near Gerik, I took over as the driver. At first I was not used to driving Lionel's car, but after some time, I got the hang of it.
The last 38km after the town of Gerik was very winding with lots of sharp bends all over, but after more than 5 hours journey, we soon caught sight of Temenggor Lake. We crossed a bridge across the lake to Pulau Banding.
The bridge to Pulau Banding (photo courtesy of The Olive Journey)
Just a short distance from the bridge, the Belum Rainforest Resort came into view.
This is the Reception building of the resort. After parking the car, we went and checked ourselves in.
The lobby area looked quite nice. Very 'rainforest' style.
We actually spent quite a lot of time at the lobby area during our 3 days 2 nights stay here and I will tell you why in a moment.
It was really quite comfortable sitting here except for insects that tend to land on you. It's the rainforest anyway, so do expect that!
Our rooms were located quite far from the lobby. We had to drive the car up a hill and park there before carrying our luggage to our rooms, which was quite a distance from the car park.
I like the pond in front of our rooms. Look at those water shooting out from the brick walls!
The sound of the water was calming and many times inside my room, I had mistaken them to be the sound of rain!
Our rooms were on the first floor and we had to walk up the stairs to reach them.
This is the room where Lionel and I stayed for 2 nights.
Eric and Caroline stayed in the room just next to ours. Both our rooms were connected by a door so it was very convenient for us to visit each other! Haha!
The problem was, the door was a little faulty.
One night, both Lionel and I crossed over to Eric and Caroline's room and forgot to bring along our room key card. We did not realize that the door had closed by itself so when we found out, it was too late! Lionel and I had effectively locked ourselves out of our own room! LOL!
So we called the lobby and they sent someone to unlock the door of our room for us. That was fun!
I like to lie down on this bed next to the window. Unfortunately, the scenery outside was nothing much to shout about. I was expecting a nice view of the lake but the tall trees had blocked most of the view!
View from window looking down
This is how the building looks like if you were too stand outside my room's window on the ground floor.
The bathroom was quite clean and nice. But I thought the design of the sink was pretty silly since they have no place for you to put the bar of soap.
I like that the shower and toilet were separated with a shower cubicle.
I love the huge rainforest shower head that was fixed on the ceiling of the bathroom. Once you have showered with a rainforest shower head, you would not want to use a normal shower head anymore. The shower mimics natural rain fall from the sky and the heavy shower of water makes you feel really clean!
I enjoyed my shower a lot and actually ended up spending a longer time in the shower than I normally would.
By the way, you can open the window's blinds to enjoy the outside scenery as you shower! Don't worry - no one can see you from the outside as there is no standing room outside the window : )
There are however two problems with the rooms here at Belum Rainforest Resort. First, there is no TV inside the room. Second, wifi is non existent even though the resort claims to offer free wifi in the rooms.
Perhaps, it was the resort's intention to make us experience the natural rainforest environment which has no TV and internet connection. But I just could not imagine staying in a resort without TV and internet to entertain me!
I could see that most Western tourists have no problem with this. They were here purely for the rainforest experience! That's why you can see only us Malaysians sitting at the lobby playing with our smart phones. Haha!
Now you know why I said earlier that we spent quite a lot of time at the lobby area? It was simply because we could connect to the Internet at the lobby and not in our rooms! LOL!
So what did we do at Belum? That is for you to find out in Part 2.
To be continued ....