Danz Eco Resort – A Forest Retreat Away from Gadgets
Let’s admit it – the pandemic, the lockdown, and the stress is getting to us. Each time we scroll along the social media timeline, be it Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, there are always some negative news that made me think – how about leaving for an inexpensive place where I could relax for a little?
While previously I wrote about how Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas is a such a good (luxurious too) beach retreat, this round, I wanted to head into the woods to have a little contrast here.
So here I am, dragging my childhood best friend to sleep in the forests for a couple of nights – what else could be better than staying in Taman Negara, our very own national park?
Of course, I had this planned for quite some time ever since our government announced that it is possible to travel domestically in Malaysia. Knowing that we can actually camp in Danz Eco Forest from H.I.S. Travel Malaysia, it is pretty obvious that I got a little more curious and eventually got interested to give it a try.
Though, considering that I have sensitive skin and also have a strong preference to cold temperatures, my friend and I opted for their capsule room – with air conditioner attached! After booking with the team with H.I.S. Travel Malaysia, we’re ready to go!
While they offer transfer services from Kuala Lumpur, we decided to make it a road trip. The drive was smooth on a typical Friday, then coming with some narrow roads in the mountains before we arrive the gateway to Taman Negara. The toll fare is inexpensive for us, it’s just RM31 round trip for our little Myvi, starting from Ampang, the road trip was about 3.5 hours per way from our place – a little far to some, but the road and traffics were smooth so the drive was not tiring as compared to the time we drive back to our hometowns over the weekends.
To make things easier, we parked near the guest house’s parking lot to proceed with our check in in Danz Travel’s counter. It was smooth, and since we were the only Chinese travelers, they knew who we are right away as soon as we told them we had a reservation through H.I.S. Travel. After that, they will arrange a 4WD (4-wheeled drive) vehicle so while we wait a bit, they also have public toilets that we can use (50 cents per use, you can drop your payment in their box before entering).
When their driver arrived, they brought us to the parking lot to park our vehicles. Since we’re staying for 2 nights, we paid RM20 for the parking (RM10 per night) and hopped back to the 4WD after carrying our essentials and man, this is where the excitement happens!
Because of the winds, my cap almost flew off, and my loosen spectacles actually flew so far off the road and got slightly scratched (but then again, I should have tightened the screws before my trip lol) but thankfully the scratched part is just the frame so my vision is still intact, hah!
As travel industry has their own SOP to follow too, you’ll need to record your temperature and details with the counter once you arrived Danz Eco Resort’s Kompassia Cafe. Upon registration, you can confirm your activities again with the staff to check which points you will need to meet up for their activities, then receiving your room key.
The staff will lead you to your room, so no worries! Ours was room #9, it isn’t a lot of walking for two young people.
Our room is a capsule room, and we are lucky to have a faucet right in front of our room! It’s a room just enough to fit a queen-sized bed, and thankfully I am not too tall that my head fits when I stand before my bed. If you’re taller than 176cm, you might need to duck a little or else you might hit your head, though!
As soon as we checked in and placed our items, it’s time for my friend to nap while I look around.
While I was getting comfortable sitting on the ground, I noticed a visiting friend outside our room…
After the reptile friend was gone, I noticed a few more bug friends and it is as if a sign for rain is coming. (Fun fact: If you suddenly notice a lot of ants going around, it’s usually a sign of a big climate change such as rains) So out of curiosity I went out to look around a tiny bit further to check out the other facilities.
Over Danz Eco Resort, they have a tent site where you can opt to sleep in the tents they have prepared. They also have tents that can fit 4 people. If you prefer air-conditioned rooms, then consider the capsules or family capsule (fits 4 maximum but I think if you love space, it fits 2 perfectly).
Nearby they also have space for Muslim prayer, a smoking area, and a foot wash area (for prayers mostly) too. I’d say it’s definitely a Muslim-friendly place! As soon as I checked them out, it started to rain…
And so our first day activity is then postponed to second day. But that’s okay because rain was expected during this time, and I brought a few books to read just in case! Not long after, at 7.30PM, we can have dinner, and it’s BBQ chicken!
There were fried rice, fried noodles, BBQ chicken, sausage, kuih manis, keropok and mango juice on the first night. Ladies and gents, let me tell you – I was excited! I did not expect to have so much food in the forests that we even bought ourselves some snacks and a loaf of bread from the city just in case if we are hungry, but we didn’t even touch the loaf of bread after our first dinner because we’re so full! (We snacked on the breads and snacks before our naps, though)
The dinner in Danz Eco Resort is our first dinner here and since it was raining, we didn’t notice any grilling (they cooked while we were napping so…) so we weren’t aware that the chicken served in the dinner buffet was actually BBQ (because Danz Eco cooks based on their own schedule) until later of the trip.
After dinner, we had our shower in their shared bathrooms, and spent time talking after not meeting for a long time during this MCO period until we fall asleep.
For day 2, our breakfast was simple: we ate by their tall tree, just white rice, some yellow curry, potatoes and some salty pieces of kuih that I forgot their name, and mango juice.
It feels nice to wake up to a sunny day and dining under the trees. We can’t eat too much because we’ll be having a high amount of activity – trekking + canopy walk!
After breakfast, it’s time for the hike! We boarded onto another 4WD to head back to the check in counter of Danz to walk to the jetty. Only through the jetty, we can get across the river to enter Taman Negara for our activities. The far for the ferry is covered in the tour, so we just followed the tour guide and also learnt more on the activities from him.
Looking at the map, our starting point for the hike is marked #1 and the highest point of our hike is only #5. Just imagine how big this forest is!
The activities offered here has quite a variety! They have caving and hiking activities that last for multiple days (only recommended for those who are physically fit), rapid waters shooting, visiting Orang Asli village, fishing with bottles, night safari, and much more. You can even get chartered boat tour and the arrangement can be made with H.I.S. Travel as well!
Once entering Taman Negara, we walked past Mutiara Taman Negara (another popular resort) to get our Taman Negara Entry Permits (RM1 per person) and Photography Permits (RM5 per person regardless phone or camera devices).
After getting our permits and heading for the last bathroom trip before the hike, the guide briefs us about the route and everything begun with the sight of a huge millipede!
Before we enter the forest trail, there is a huge tank full of fishes. These are no ordinary fishes, they are the Ikan Kelah, and just a bit of the meat can easily cost you RM250! The full fish? It’ll cost you thousands of ringgit! (Did I also mention that the scales of the fish are edible and are great if you fry them?)
The fishes here swim and grow to a pretty large size, you should come and see them yourself!
And so, we headed into the woods.
There are many types of plants here in Taman Negara – our national forest is actually a forest crossing multiple states: Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. It’s a 130m year-old tropical rainforest that is home to many wildlife such as elephants, birds, tigers, macaques, and even rafflesia, the largest flower in the world!
During the trek, the guide stopped from time to time and showed us different plant species, from magic mushrooms to plants that can be used as antiseptics, there are even Sandalwood that gives out great fragrance when they are burnt, and a tree that tastes like Sarsi (yes, THAT fizzy carbonated Sarsaparilla, the drink was originally made of Smilax ornata or other plants!).
If you are worried about getting your shoes dirty, you generally won’t have dirty shoes if you’re going for the canopy walk without hiking up to Bukit Terisek, because you’ll be walking on wooden platforms. Unless you’re hiking up to Bukit Terisek on a rainy day, then you might get some dirt on your shoes. All was well when we hiked, though!
Along the way you’ll also discover other types of trees, and perhaps also some elephant dung – which is pretty common. As we talked and trying to process the new information received, we eventually arrived the crossroads where going to the left will bring you up to Bukit Terisek, and turning right will lead you to the canopy walk – and this is where my friend decided not to continue the hike and waited for the me at the benches available there.
Being ambitious myself, I have decided to leave my friend at the rest area (she won’t be alone because there are other hikers too) and decided to hike all the way up to Bukit Terisek.
The hike was only 1km, so I thought “Yeah I can probably do that if I’ve hiked 1000 steps to Japan’s Yamadera last year” but it was really physically taxing because the slopes are as crazy as 70 degrees! (Batu Caves stairs are about 60 degrees – just IMAGINE) There were stairs provided so it has actually eased the hike a lot, but due to the slope angle you will spend a lot more energy than your usual staircase – it isn’t with full handrails but most of them are equipped with handrails so you will feel less nervous and scared.
There are two viewpoints of Bukit Terisek, where both allows you to see a bit of Sungai Tembeling. It feels so great to see the view of Gunung Tahan and Sungai Tembeling together when you arrived the top! If you’re looking for the Sarsi plant, it is on your way back down!
On the way down, we also learnt a few things about how the British wanted to develop the place for gold (thankfully the forests are protected now), and I also learnt that a large fire ant can be as huge as the tip of your pinky, and if you are really, really desperate for water, you can squeeze some waters from mosses (the guide probably told me this because I was taking some moss photos).
I think going downhill is slightly more difficult than going uphill, it feels like as if it’s easier to fall, so you need to be really careful when you are moving down since it’s pretty steep, but all was well and I reunited with my friend at the same crossroad again!
After some short chit-chat and rest, we proceeded to our next stop – one of the world’s longest (530m), and Malaysia’s tallest (50m for highest point) canopy walkway!
Due to the MCO period, there is a limit of how many people can go up at once – they used to request people to stay at least 5m apart on the walkway, but now we have to stay 10m apart, marking each 10m with a red ribbon so we know when to walk or when to slow down.
Seeing many videos of people feeling scared, I thought I might be one of those that will end up crawling but all went a bit too well! I felt safe knowing that there are safety nets and white ropes that I can hold onto, the only regret I had was not having a GoPro mounted on my head to record everything down, because you have to go hands free when you’re on the walkway!
It is not a one-road 530m straight walkway, they have multiple stops where each of us can take a short break from walking so high up! Each of the stops has a height and length label so you know how high up you are. It’s quite fun to look at the greenery with a view that you do not usually get.
The most exciting part of the canopy walk would be descending down! They actually used metal stairs (yes, you didn’t read it wrongly) instead of wooden planks so it’s easier to go down. Safety nets are still intact so no worries! Just go slow if you have issues with your ankles, and stay safe!
While waiting for everyone else (we made acquaintances since day 1 because all of us were on the same 4WD) to come down, we rested a little more. My steps count has reached 12k by the time I’ve arrived the final stop – it’s almost like a half day walking tour in Hiroshima!
After that, we walked back to another jetty to return to our accommodation for lunch and it was my favorite! They had rice, fresh vegetables and the best of all? Tempoyak ikan patin, something that I have been wanting to try for AGES!
For those who might not know what tempoyak is, tempoyak is a traditional malay dish that is made with durian with some meat. Not everyone could try them but I am glad that my first experience with tempoyak was with Danz Eco Resort – they still had durians (despite the season for durian was just over when we visited) to make fresh tempoyak ikan – and the fishes are fresh from the river so it was delicious!
Because everyone were so worn out, none of us moved far from our seats – we all slacked at the lunch area by the very tall tree we had breakfast with and collectively headed back to the river at 3PM for the best part of the trip – rapid water shooting!
To be honest, I did not know what rapid water shooting was until the very moment itself – I had no idea what I have signed up for but thankfully we had a waterproof bag to store our devices!
While we waited for everyone else to arrive, we were told that we were also waiting for the other boat – because we will be competing to get each other wet and boy let me tell you – nobody goes back dry with this activity and it is so much fun!
Later of the rapid water shooting we will also be continuing with our day 1 activity – catching fishes with a bottle. I’d like to keep the technique a secret but let’s just say that we didn’t have luck. If you wanted to know how, consider booking a trip to Taman Negara with H.I.S. and visit here!
Of course, it is also possible to join with other activities such as kayaking and visiting the Orang Asli village. You will learn a bit more about the Orang Asli when you are here. They have taught us an important lesson – to be grateful for what we have, and live a sustainable life that will last until the future and never be too greedy.
As the weather was hot, it felt great to jump into the cooling river waters and play with mud! I felt like my inner child is coming back again! Also I really recommend to soak yourself in the rivers because you’ll be under sun exposure for quite a few hours until the activity ends, it’ll help preventing heatstroke too!
After the series of activities, most of us played by the river until 5.30PM with the stones, pebbles, and mud until we are tired. Then it’s time for a good shower and dinner at 8PM!
In Danz Eco Resort, out of 2 nights, one of the nights is BBQ and the other night comes with local dinner. There are ulam (veggies), chicken, eggs, vegetable soup, and some really spicy sambal belacan. I think my spice tolerance is okay-ish but their sambal belacan made me thinking I could almost spit fire (but it’s good!). We also witnessed a couple celebrating their marriage anniversary under the tall tree with candlelight dinner. Little did I know such arrangements could be made and I was surprised!
While witnessing the other couple’s happiness, the rest of us talked about travel, career, and a whole lot more. As much as we concern about the pandemic, we decided that it’s the best to appreciate what we have and enjoy the food – since we are on a vacation after all!
Until 9.30PM, it started to drizzle a little, and we decided that it might be the sign to rest early for tomorrow’s departure, and we met again for the last breakfast with Danz Eco Resort.
The breakfast was simple, but very Malaysian. There are nasi lemak, cengkodok, roti canai, and egg. If you want to make a couple of toasts yourself, the toast machine is also available, with butter and strawberry jams for you to enjoy.
After our early breakfast, we went back to pack our stuff and rested until 11AM – our checkout time. We also managed to see staff cleaning the fallen leaves while we waited for our 4WD.
When the 4WD arrives, we knew it’s time to go home. On our way, we see a lot of lorries carrying palm oil fruits to their factories (so we had to drive really, really slow). We finally arrived home in the evening after stopping to grab lunch and some ice cream.
Would I come back again? Definitely, and I would like to try some courses with a different difficulty, but I’ll need to train myself to be more fit beforehand!
If you are interested to take up the package offered by H.I.S. Travel to Danz Eco Taman Negara, I would recommend doing so for people who are active, have no movement restrictions, and enjoy nature. It’s a great place to disconnect from the social media and relax, if you are thinking of putting your children away from the tablet or smartphone, Danz Eco Taman Negara is the place you should consider visiting.
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