UPDATE: It’s been a while. I’m behind on work and social media and emails and life. I know, I know. The past months we have been traveling non-stop. Looking back on it, we managed to cover a lot of places in a short amount of time. In 50 days we managed to visit Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, Koh Lipe, Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Bangkok, Melbourne, Sydney, Bodrum and Istanbul. Compare this to last year – where we decided to stay at least one month in each destination, and you’ll get why I’m not used to it.
While we were traveling, exploring and filming non-stop, we were also busy with building the GLOBAL JUNGLE Youtube channel and platform. In short, I temporarily shifted focus in order to travel so intensely and work on GJ. But now I’m back :). This post is about Temple Tree in Langkawi, a resort (and an island!) that I miss a lot and I can’t wait to get back to. Be warned – I took over 2000 pictures during our 5-day stay and I did include a fair amount of them ;).
After having stayed in big cities the past few months, it felt amazing to be back on an island. Deadlines and to-do-lists magically disappeared and all I could think of was living in the moment. Langkawi is an archipelago of 104 islands located off the Malaysian Peninsula, famed for its duty-free status, its sky bridge, mangrove, beaches and eagles. Temple Tree at Bon Ton is situated on Pulau Langkawi, the largest island of the Langkawi archipelago.
TEMPLE TREE AT BON TON
After just a 10-minute scenic drive from the airport, we arrived at Temple Tree.
We were welcomed in an old colonial building called the Straits Club House. This yellow building houses Temple Tree’s reception, restaurant, bar, and library.
The antique furniture and carefully selected decoration gave a very homey feel, just what Emir and I are after while we are traveling. You know, since we gave up our home and all ;).
Temple Tree and Bon Ton are two different hotels but under the same management. We were told that as guests of Temple Tree, we could also make use of the facilities of Bon Ton, such as the ‘Nam’ restaurant and the pool. It is easy to make use of the different facilities as the hotels are located next to one another. After enjoying our pineapple-mint welcome drink, we learned something that blew our minds…
Here it comes. Temple Tree is a small resort where you can stay in one of eight stunning houses, each with a different origin. That’s cool, but what really impressed us is that each of the homes is rescued from somewhere around Malaysia.
You heard that right. Each building was photographed, numbered, disassembled and transported to Langkawi. It took years to rebuild and repaint the antique houses in order to restore them to their former glory. Can you imagine? It would have been a lot cheaper (and easier!) to build ‘Malay style’ houses from scratch. However, Narelle, the owner of Temple Tree wanted to save these abandoned houses and give them the respectful second life they deserved.
The houses are between 70 and 110 years old. Depending on the house, you can rent it as a whole or in bigger houses it’s also possible to rent single rooms or floors.
The interior matches the origin of the house; Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian elements were carefully selected and matched with their respective houses over the years.
In every house, you will find a brief description of the history of the house. Staying in an antique building with such a rich history makes it a unique experience and leaves you with a feeling that you would never get at a regular hotel.
We spent our five days at Temple Tree in the Chinese House. This house was built by a Chinese family that lived close to Singapore. This is also the house that is relocated to Langkawi from the furthest distance.
The two floors can be rented separately as they each have their own entrance.
We were so lucky to have the whole Chinese House to ourselves. Emir’s mother, who started traveling with us for a few weeks, stayed on the ground floor with its two bedrooms, en-suite bathroom, living room and bar/kitchen. Emir and I were staying in the upstairs quarters which also has 2 bedrooms, en-suite bathroom, living room, changing room and Chinese library.
Decorated with pillows and vases and original artwork, this red and turquoise house is somewhere I could see myself living for the rest of my life. The furniture fit the oriental theme and I found myself a beautiful spot to work from in the upstairs library.
Overlooking the freshwater pool and mountains, we had more than enough space to relax outside on the huge verandas. I even managed to wake up before sunrise every day to get my daily writing session in.
The guests of Temple Tree can make use of three pools; two are located on the Temple Tree grounds and the third one is at the Bon Ton Resort which is located next door (2 minute walk).
BREAKFAST & DINNER
Breakfast is brought to your house the evening before, so you don’t have to rush or set an alarm in the morning.
You have breakfast whenever it suits YOU. If you want to have a lazy morning, fine. Want to eat before your 6 a.m. swim? Done. And what is better than to have a lazy breakfast in your PJ’s? No need to dress up or shower!
As for dinner, we ate multiple times at Bon Ton’s restaurant Nam. Even though we were located so close to Pantai Cenang beach with tons of dinner options, we simply preferred the quality of Nam.
THE ACTUAL ‘TEMPLE TREE’
Next to the pool and Chinese House, there is a stone wall with a tiny door. Behind this door, you find a Taoist shrine under a huge banyan tree. To pay tribute to the shrine, the property carries the name Temple Tree. The tree and shrine are still in their original location.
Locals still visit the shrine and access it from the wetlands. In the pictures below you can see the burning incense sticks and different offerings for the guardian spirit ‘Datuk Kong’. Worshippers can place offerings of shredded tobacco, areca nut flakes, betel leaves with lime paste and fruits.
‘Datuk Kong’, is worshiped for spiritual healing powers and for bringing good fortune when it comes to picking lucky numbers. The worshiping of the ‘Datuk Kong’ was believed to have started in the 19th century when the Chinese migrated to South-East Asia.
There is an actual animal shelter on the grounds. A percentage of all profits of Bon Ton and Temple Tree goes directly to LASSie (Langkawi Animal Shelter & Sanctuary) so that the foundation can continue its work on the island with stray animals.
LASSie cares for animals whose age or disability make them unlikely to find homes. Many of the animals are traffic accident and trauma cases and therefore need special attention. Besides taking care of these animals, one of LASSie’s objectives is to educate adults & children to ensure their peaceful co-existence with wild- and domestic animals.
In both Temple Tree and Bon Ton, you will see tons of cats freely roaming around. Some will even pay you a visit in your house, and sleep next to you on the couch or lounge chair. They are very friendly and love to interact with you.
Besides cats, there are a few dogs in the hotels but most dogs are at the animal shelter. You can volunteer to walk the dogs at set hours, twice a day. This is what I did and it was a very nice experience.
Our stay at Temple Tree at Bon Ton was simply fantastic. It has been my favorite resort experience so far. I got a lot of artistic inspiration and started working on a new novel. I love authenticity, quietness, and buildings with a (hi)story. Combine that with the friendly staff, friendly animals, delicious food and the fact that a percentage of the profits directly goes to the Langkawi Animal Shelter and I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to stay here. If you are looking for a peaceful, serene and one-of-a-kind resort, Temple tree is the place for you.