Deciding that it was time to see a country from a different perspective, we managed to organise a workaway on our way down through Malaysia, and it was a very positive experience. We stayed at CSA wellness and recreation resort which is tucked away in the hills near Pekan Nanas and were greeted on arrival by Mr Mah and Charlie Tan both of whose hospitality throughout our stay was fabulous. The lunches provided by Mrs Mah were excellent, and we learnt a lot about the Malaysian way of life, politics and some history of the area, and also about Singapore where the owner grew up and spent most of his working life. We were the only workawayers there and the rooms we stayed in were at the top of the resort in a large building which was surrounded by jungle. The views and the sounds of birdsong and monkeys chattering across the valley were amazing, as were the sunrises (image above).
The resort was undergoing maintenance during our stay, with plans to accept tourists in August (about 6 weeks time). Our first task (so that the kids could later enjoy it) was to clear out and clean one of the 6 hot tubs – each of which uses water infused with a different ingredient, e.g. lemongrass / tea-tree oil etc. Elliot was keen to help with this task and got stuck in straight away. We also cleaned a jacuzzi and a water spray park, enjoying the ‘testing’ element of the tasks, although the water was a bit chilly (the hot-tub was tested un-heated). The water park was a definite hit though and a relief from the very hot weather.
We also got involved in re-painting some of the outdoor areas – including a wooden bridge and some clumps of decorative mushrooms beside a long water-cascade, which when it was set going was very tranquil.
The main project in progress whilst we were there was the creation of an upside-down house. Various rooms in the building we were staying in were being transformed into an upside down bathroom, study, bedroom and kids playroom. There were plans for a kitchen and living room to be done too. Jessica helped out by making and painting fake books for the shelves in the upside-down study.
We had a day off during our stay and decided to visit Danga Bay, a massive residential development of Johor, across the water from Singapore. There was a nice beach area here but it was too hot, so the kids enjoyed a playpark for a while before we found a Chinese restaurant for lunch. In addition to the countless high rise appartment blocks already present (and apparently barely occupied) there were many more under construction – the plans for the one of the developments (Country Garden) were on display in one of the buildings. Clearly a lot of money is being invested here, and although impressive and a source of jobs for some, it has taken from the natural beauty of the area and is not without significant environmental impact.
Photos with our workaway hosts on our last day…
Our hosts kindly took us from the resort to Burkit Indah bus station, from where we caught the Causeway Link bus services to Johor Bahru, Singapore. Exiting Malaysia passport control and customs was a lot smoother and quicker than entering Singapore despite it being midweek and around midday, but we got there eventually and used the subway to get to our next accommodation…