Where does one go to find such a view in Singapore these days?
Or to let the kids do this in such a carefree manner in Singapore?
Or to simply row along a calm lake on a bamboo raft?
And how about throwing in a kick-ass Water Obstacle Course on top of everything above?
Well, definitely not in Singapore. But you can do all these (and MORE) at KOREF Resort, an eco-farm in Kahang, Johor!
I stumbled onto this Kahang Organic Rice Eco-Farm (or KOREF, for short) Resort while I was searching online for farm stays in Johor for the September School Holidays. I showed it to the wifey and monkies, and they were immediately sold!
So after a little more than 2-hour drive from Tuas Checkpoint, we arrived at the eco-farm eager to begin our 1-night stay.
The drive from the Checkpoint was pretty straightforward - exit at the Air Itam sign, drive through the small towns of Kluang and Kahang, and that was it. But not before the slight task of negotiating a gravel-laden track for a few minutes...
Before being greeted by such a sight as we drove into the eco-farm.
An utterly serene lake, with such a beautiful backdrop to die for!
Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm spans 260 acres of arable land situated at the fringe of the tropical Malaysian Rainforest Reserves. It is also the first and only certified organic rice farm in Malaysia, which provides 'free & easy' eco farmstays.
Anxious to get started on our mini adventure, we hastily did the usual check-in routine at the lobby after parking our car in the spacious grass field beside it.
Yes, so it wasn't the typical hotel lobby but hey, we were in a kampung environment. And there was nothing quite like the kampung life like getting onboard a bamboo raft and rowing oneself with a bamboo pole. Something that the monkies obviously could not wait.
Choice of accommodation at KOREF includes pitching your own tents or in dormitories... BUT we were not feeling THAT adventurous so we settled for the next best thing - Floating Chalets!
These colourful floating chalets on built above the lake but connected to the main land via pathways. They come in various sizes and from 1 to 3 levels. Interestingly, every chalet comes uniquely designed while getting to one's chalet is already an experience in itself.
To get to the Floating Chalets, we had to walk across wooden planks over the lake. Nothing too scary as the planks are not filmsy and rather broad, but it was the first time that the monkies were doing something like this... which thrilled them to bits!
Soon enough, our Floating Chalet for the night came into full view.
We were put up in the Standard Floating Chalet D, which consisted of 7 rooms and a common living area housed in a 2-storey hut.
But as sparse as it looks, everything was neat and clean. Much like the monkies' choice - okay, they did not have a choice actually - of sleep for the night.
The rooms in the Floating Chalets come with their own private bathrooms, so no worries about sharing the bathroom with strangers. And while our toilet was clean and functional, there was NO water heater. Nothing like really living the kampung life, huh?
I heard though, that there are a few rooms that come with a water heater in the bathrooms so if you really cannot live without warm bath water, it will be good to check with the resort staff during check-in.
However, one luxury that is definitely missing in ALL rooms is air-conditioning. And if you are like me, who perspires like a pig without any reason, you will be glad to know that I made it through the night alive! Actually, the room was breezy... and cold come night time. In fact, it got so cold that all of us needed blankets while sleeping!
Oh, the windows in the room came with mosquito netting too. Not that we had a a huge problem with mosquitoes while we were there. Only Ale got a few bites on her legs while the rest of us escaped unscathed. Maybe she's really too sweet.
But the one thing that I cannot simply get tired of is the view of the lake and padi fields from our room.
If you ask me, I can just chill in the room or right outside our chalet the entire day but with my monkies around, it will never be possible... especially since they were bent on exploring the resort the moment we set our luggage down in our room.
Besides the standard Floating Chalets, there is one Premium Chalet which is slightly pricier.
We did not get the chance to sneak a peek into the rooms but from our exploration, everything about it looked newer. There were four rooms on the ground floor, each with a private verandah that opened to face the water.
The second floor was a communal lounge area, which boasted awesome views of the resort.
Enough of trespassing, as there were still other parts of the resort waiting for us to discover!
The other three Standard Floating Chalets were clustered together on another side of the archipelago, and they were smaller in size.
But they did have fun swings that allowed people to swing over the lake!
Seriously, where can one get to do this in Singapore? And with such a view too?
Lunch soon beckoned and at KOREF, the room rates are inclusive of four meals - lunch, tea, dinner and breakfast - where the food served are mostly organic. Speaking of full-board room rates, we paid RM200 per adult and RM160 per child for the Standard Floating Chalet. It was free for Ale as children aged 3 and below are not chargeable.
Even the dining area at KOREF is unique, as guests get to dine out in the middle of the lake, right in the midst of nature.
Food-wise, it was akin to having home-cooked meals. We had chicken rice (organic brown rice, no less) with dishes like steamed egg, fried cabbage, tofu and seaweed soup for lunch.
Definitely simple stuff, but the monkies (and I) lapped everything up so it must be delicious!
Then it was time to work off the calories after lunch, and the ladies decided on a leisurely row on the bamboo raft.
The boys though, preferred something more exciting - the Water Obstacle Course which was free to use for all resort guests.
And it was so fun that the girls decided they had to join in as well. Erm, actually the wifey got dragged in all because Ale wanted to rough it out like her brothers too.
The thing about staying at KOREF is one is never ever allowed to go hungry because before we knew it, it was time for Tea time!
Red bean soup, goreng pisang and curry puffs - I guess Ayd's expression says it all.
After a quick wash-up, we explored the resort a little more and found ourselves in a little garden filled with vegetables, herbs, shrubs and bushes.
Look what the monkies found!
I am not kidding when I say the monkies were in love with this family of rabbits that they visited them more than 7 times during our 1-night stay. Why, they each even assumed responsibility for one rabbit and gave them names.
Everyone, meet Ale and Dora.
The wifey and I were amazed at how a group of rabbits - minus a perpetually grumpy one - was able to occupy the monkies' time. So this was how life was like back in the kampung days, where there was no iPad or smartphone in sight.
Watching the monkeis feed the rabbits made me rather hungry though, so it was perhaps a good thing that dinner was up next!
Again, a simple home-cooked meal but the standout dish had got to be the steamed fish. As we found out the next morning, all of the resort's fishes were reared on the farm so that probably explained why it tasted so darn fresh. Even the wifey who is not a big fan of all things fishy had extra helpings of the steamed fish... so when she says it's good, it IS good.
Come nightfall, the resort also organises a free jungle trek for guests which will allow them to see some luminous leaves in the jungle.
The trek is suitable for young children and takes about 1.5 hours. But after having such an exhausting day, we passed on the trek so as to get some early rest in anticipation of the next day's activities.
As I mentioned earlier, the temperature dipped a fair bit through the night and I found myself having to call the blanket into action - something that I do not even use even in hotel rooms. I think it has something to do with being surrounded by water all around, which was precisely what made the morning at KOREF such a wondrous sight to behold as well.
I guess no further words are needed, except that everything was just so peaceful and tranquil.
Unsurprisingly, the monkies were up bright and early too - at 6.30am in fact, and the first thing after they had brushed their teeth was to pay their dear rabbits a morning visit. Well, that and feeding the numerous catfishes in the lake, especially since the resort staff was kind enough to pass a huge sack of bread crusts to the monkies.
As there was still time before breakfast was served, we took the chance to explore the resort a little bit more.
And we found out where our steamed fish from last night's dinner came from - a huge pond filled with probably a million fishes.
After all the feeding, feeding ourselves was the only right thing to do next and if I did not know how nasi lemak cooked with organic brown rice tasted before, I do now.
One word - SEDAP! Though the monkies would beg to differ, as they absolutely loved the chicken porridge.. which I only managed a miserable mouthful because the three of them polished off everything!
Every day at 9am, there is a complimentary farm tour for guests where they will be brought around the resort to view the various vegetables and herbs. Again, we passed on that. All because of this.
Water Ball! How can the boys pass up the chance of scurrying like little hamsters on water while in an inflatable ball?
The activity is not free though, and it cost RM15 per person for 10-15 minutes worth of walking on water. And as if trying to maintain one's balance while on water is not enough, the boys decided to go for something even more exhilarating... like going a Flying Fox line which suspends OVER the lake!
The Flying Fox activity is priced as RM10 per zip, which is a small price to pay compared to the huge smiles I got from the boys.
As we approached the check-out time, the monkies decided to head back to the Water Obstacle Course for one last time.
The entire course was like Ninja Warrior on water or a toned down version of Wipeout, which the boys are great fans of.
For the record, I did try out the course too... only to fall unglamourously into the water midway through the course. So I was pretty amazed that even Ale was gung-ho enough to give the obstacles a shot.
Check-out time was looming but yet again, I fell prey to the monkies' delay tactics.
Yes, we found ourselves rafting around the lake once again.
|Can we come back again, Mummy?|
Some more delaying tactics were employed for the final time.
And with that, our 1-night kampung adventure came to an end.
I kid you not when I say that the monkies had declared this was the best holiday ever they have been too. Yes, even better than our Australia trips and LEGOLAND Hotel stay. Frankly, I never expected that because in all honesty, KOREF Resort is not for everyone.
It is simple kampung living at best, but it has that inexplicable rustic charm to it. Those who love to be a part of nature will definitely find the resort a prefect getaway, with no electronic devices or any other distractions that are tied to city life.
It is truly an amazing place to spend some time away from the bustle of life, and the monkies have already made the wifey and me promise that we will be back again sooner rather than later!
View MORE photos of our stay at KOREF HERE.
Kahang Organic Rice Eco-Farm (KOREF) Resort
Km 43, Jalan Kluang Mersing,
86700 Kahang, Kluang, Johor, Malaysia
Tel: +6 07 771 3431 | +6 012 720 8158 | +6 012 768 3149
Fax: +6 07 771 3431
Driving directions to KOREF