Desaru Highlights

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When my husband and I graduated from university in 2001, one of the trips we took with a group of friends was to Desaru in Malaysia. We were young and adventurous then, and decided to cycle all the way there, not realising that the trip would take five hours on rickety bicycles we rented upon reaching Pengarang jetty. We cycled under the mid-day sun and the journey caused our bottoms to ache for days after. Despite the arduous journey, or probably because of it, it was one of the most memorable trips we have taken with friends. Below is a picture we took enroute. Husband, then-bf who took the shot, is not in the picture.

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Fast forward 12 years, the place is more built up, and we’ve become less adventurous. Not only did we take the easier route with two kids on four wheels, we were well-prepared with a Road Trip Activity Bag, snacks and GPS. The journey took just over an hour via the new E22 Senai-Desaru Highway. We went via Woodlands Causeway, and once we were past the customs, there was hardly any traffic.

We’ve been with the kids to Desaru several times in the last few years, and do almost the same thing each time we’ve returned with different people. This time, we were on our own and decided to visit the Desaru Ostrich Farm as well as the nearby Sungei Rengit town which we have not gone back to since we last cycled with friends 12 years ago.

Here are some highlights from the trip:

1) Desaru Ostrich Farm

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The farm is a 20 minutes drive from our hotel, and on the way to Sungei Rengit town. So we did both in one day. The place is tucked within some kampong houses and if not for the signage and our trustee GPS, we might have missed it. Entry was RM15 for adults and RM10 for kids. We spent almost an hour in there, as we were the only ones visiting that weekday morning, and had a good time learning about ostriches from a friendly guide.

We got there in time to see a one day old ostrich, and also learnt that one ostrich egg = 25 chicken eggs.

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We all had a go standing on ostrich eggs, here’s Shannon standing on two. They are tough and can withstand up to 100kg, as long as they are cushioned in the sand and we do not stand on them using high-heeled shoes.

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Jason and his Papa had a go feeding the ostriches, and the kids learnt an important lesson: The well-behaved ones were allowed to roam around freely and mingle with the visitors!

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This is the closest we got to the ostrich. Male ones are black and have pink “lipsticked” lips.

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The place also sells food (think ostrich meat in various forms), and drinks. While we spent almost an hour visiting the various enclosures with some 200 ostriches (and chickens and a duck), there were visitors who came just before we left and spent at most 10 minutes in there.

2) Sungei Rengit

After visiting the ostriches, we went on to the small town of Sungei Rengit, which was another 10 minutes drive away. This is the nearest town to our hotel, and the best thing about it was the view along the way there. Many parts still looked the way it did a decade ago, but some parts have been developed, more trees planted etc, and look downright pretty.

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After travelling for some time on the main road, we decided to take a detour and travel along the little lanes leading to the kampong houses, nearer the sea, and which runs parallel to the main road.

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We found many smaller resorts nestled within the kampongs, more basic ones which probably cost less.

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We spotted an old playground by the beach just as we reached Sungei Rengit and the kids asked to play there. There were swings and slides, it was windy and shady. Simple pleasures!

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Apart from the playground, views along the way and good, cheap local food, the next best thing was this herd of cows we came across from out of nowhere on our way back to the hotel. We saw them when we took the smaller coastal lanes, not the main road. We stopped for a good 10 minutes, just snapping pictures of them, while Jason wowed at the sight. Shannon, unfortunately, was taking a nap.

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Took a quick last shot before he decided to come closer to our car!

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3) Beach fun

We stayed at the Lotus Desaru hotel, one of two main hotels in Desaru, which was located near the beach. While the water there is not as safe for swimming, we did spend time along the beach, picking shells and walking to the next resort, Pulai Desaru.

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There were hammocks for an afternoon siesta.

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And also a large swing, and some shady spots which would have been perfect for reading.


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The sky, the sea and the sand.

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Shannon even practised writing her name on the sand.

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4) Water-themed park

This water park located within the hotel is the reason we’ve returned to this hotel, even though it is older and not as swanky as Pulai Desaru. Both Jason and Shannon love the water, even if there were no slides. But throw in the slides and it made for a good couple of hours of water fun. This is also the first trip that all four of us repeatedly went on the lazy river slides, as Shannon had refused to do it in previous years. Only one picture from the top as I was too busy having fun with the kids on the slides. 🙂

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5) Dinner by the sea

Dinner served buffet-style was included in our room package and that was foodie Jason’s highlight each day.

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All in, it was a relaxing, happy trip, and we’ve now got more shells to add to our Travel Display Corner!

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