I was desperately counting down to this day.
Since the beginning of 2012, Theo and I had almost burnt every free moment of our time juggling our careers, managing Joel’s burgeoning school work and tests and making key financial decisions pertaining to a new car and property investment in Johor Bahru.
I was particularly enthusiastic about the latter decision because for the first time, I felt like I was doing something concrete towards my retirement, albeit sacrificing our savings to precarious levels.
Anyway, it was time for a family holiday. A break from all things mundane. We chose this specific period to travel because our domestic helper was away on home leave, our in-laws vacationing in Japan and Joel was on his first school holidays. We dreaded the thought of not having the usual comfort afforded by our helper and in-laws so decided to take off as well.
This year our two year old Benjamin would be having his initiation to the Lee and Teng style of family travels which essentially means free but not very easy. Travelling is hard work for us but a very well worth it journey together. If it wasn’t hard work, it wasn’t worth mentioning. Ha!
We decided to make it a road trip to Malaysia, one of the countless we had because it was really two adults dragging three freewill and stubborn children with us. I wasn’t going to waste precious dollars flying to a destination where I would be spending half the time screaming and cleaning up after them. Not until they learn proper civilised manners.
To make the trip a bit more exciting, we chose a few new destinations namely 1. Desaru 2. Ipoh and 3. Lake Gardens in KL. While in KL, we will put up at Theo’s grandmother for the first two nights and then at my brother’s new condominium near KLCC. He was recently seconded to KL to head the new dealership of Volkswagen in the Malaysian capital. We planned to stay in Malaysia for 8 days.
After our last minute packing which took us 3 hours, we finally left home near noon and had drive-through McDonalds for lunch. Once in JB, we took the EDL and turned out at Tebrau to head towards E22 which is the Senai-Desaru Highway. It was opened a couple of years back to cut down the travelling time from JB city to Desaru from 2 hours previously to about 45 minutes.
The highway cuts through one of the more scenic views of the state passing agricultural farms and for a brief moment, I thought I was back in Australia. We also crossed a suspension bridge over Sungei Johor, a new landmark of the state. With this bridge, we can bypass the town of Kota Tinggi and thus arrive at our destination earlier.
Lotus Desaru Beach Resort was our destination. It is the newer of the only two beach resorts to line the coast. We bought a package at the Matta Fair earlier this year for a 2D1N stay in a 1 bedroom apartment with free breakfast and entrance to the waterpark for RM200. It was quite a steal. The normal room rate would have been about RM300+ on a weekend night.
My first impression of the resort is that it is so crowded! We happened to arrive on the day when throngs of locals and tourists alike have decided to descend on the beach for family vacations (like us) and corporate team-building. My second impression is that this is definitely more of a resort than a hotel. The room was not carpeted for obvious logistical reasons but it made it feel very basic and grimy even though the floors were relatively clean. The plumbing on the lower level needed a bit of repair as well.
However having said all that about the room and its basic comfort level, Lotus Desaru Resort is really a great place to hang out. For children, they would be entirely thrilled to play in the mini water park especially sliding down the Lazy River which honestly made me slightly nervy as well.
The water park has different types of infrastructure that is suitable for children of all ages even Benjamin at two years old.
In the evening, after we were all washed up and fresh, we headed towards the Club House which is the center of all the action. It is actually quite tiring to keep having to walk between the Club House and our rooms but hey that’s the way the resort is laid out.
At the Club House, there are function rooms for corporate gatherings, a restaurant, KTV lounge, gym and a mini arcade zone. But the spotlight for night activities is closer to the beach.
Between the restaurant and the beach, there is this big lawn where guests gather together after dinner to enjoy a family friendly kind of night life. A resident clown comes out to play with the children – catching, kicking balls, making funny faces (and basically scaring the hell out of Elizabeth). A deejay also plays discoey music to which the more happening guests will start to dance to.
The other spot for nightlife is the beach itself where we saw several campfires going – singing songs, dancing and letting out fireworks. In between this two spots is the Rhu Bar where we headed for our dinner. We ordered two pizzas for dinner and I have to say, they are the most wonderfully crispy, cheesy, chewy pizzas I have ever eaten!
I really like the mood here and could probably get used to just goofing around and letting the day pass with no worries… other than my three monkeys who needed no introduction to sand. Sand oh glorious sand that gets into every nook and cranny of your children’s orificies and clothings. Which pretty much sums up the experience at the beach.