Borneo Rainforest Lodge DanumValley (Borneo)
We chose to have a couple of nights at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge after the nights we spent in the riverside lodge at Sukau on the Kinabatangan river just so that we could actually have some time walking in the rainforest and possibly see other animals we had not been able to see from the boat on the river. The Danum Valley is a primary ... rainforest jungle, is far removed from human habitation and renowned for its rich variety of both plants and wildlife
We were driven by our guide and driver in a 4x4 from Sukau Lodge on the Kinabatangan river to Lahad Datu where we met our guide/driver who would take us by 4x4 to the Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley, a drive that too about two and a half to three hours along some fairly 'interesting' roads. We kept our eyes peeled as our previous guide had said they often saw wildlife on the drive but sadly we saw nothing of any great interest. You can fly into and out of the tiny airport at Lahad Datu and in fact when we left we flew from here to Kota Kinabalu. The driver/ guides from the lodge will pick you up from the airport and return you there and that is included in the lodging price.
When we arrived after this long and quite uncomfortable journey we were met by a lovely lady who took us upstairs (take shoes off first please) and sat us down with a cold drink decorated with an origami grasshopper made from grass. She explained that all food was included, what time the meals were and also introduced us to our guide who would take us on our walks while we were staying at the lodge.
Our guide told us a bit about the programme of activities and then told us that our first experience would be a jungle walk straight after our lunch.
Our luggage was taken to our room and we were escorted to the room by the young lady. All the rooms are above ground on stilts and you access them by wooden board walks. These were incredibly slippery when wet and we walked along them with great care. Another lady we had met at the previous lodge slipped over when she arrived and hurt herself. The staff at the lodge were so apologetic and upgraded her and her husband to the superior accommodation with balcony and spa bath overlooking the rainforest.
Anyway we were taken to our lodge which was pretty impressive after the previous jungle lodge. This lodge was huge and had really high wooden eaves in the roof/ceiling which had been carefully designed to let hot air out and helps cool the room. It gave a feeling of space and was also very impressive. Each lodge had a large king sized bed but it looked quite small as the room was so huge. Beside the double bed there was a single bed and then in one corner a sofa bed and across the room near the bathroom was a sort of single sofa which could also have been used as a bed. I think it would have slept at least five people but no doubt you would only have been allowed to have that many if it was a family with younger children. There are designed to accommodate two or three people officially.
The over riding impression in the lodge was of space, openness and light but we did notice that all the lovely big windows also meant that you were in a bit of a goldfish bowl once it was dark as everyone could see straight into the room. Although the lodges were meant to be positioned so that you didn't look directly into another one many people walked around the lodges as they were looking for wildlife and wildlife are not respecters of people's privacy.
In the room apart from all the beds and sofas we had a wall of shelves and some hanging space. A safe was fixed high on the wall so useless for me as I couldn't reach it never mind see to put in numbers on the lock. We also had a fridge with constant cold water available over at the main lodge and also replaced in a jug in the room. A kettle was provided with coffee and tea as well as two jars of home made mini biscuits.
The floors in the lodge were dark polished wood except for in the bathroom were there were ceramic tiles. We made sure that we took off our muddy jungle shoes and leech socks before we entered the room and left them outside the room tucked under a seat so that they didn't get wet
The rooms had been carefully designed to keep them as cool as possible using the least amount of electricity. There were ceiling fans and louvered windows all around the tops of the walls of the rooms which were insect screened and could be opened from below with handles. The balcony over looked the rainforest but ours was not quite as private as the luxury ones were and we could see other lodges and people on their verandas too.
The balcony was pretty big and had a really giant sized chair with a sponge cuchion that looked more exciting than it was comfortable. It was too big to sit on as a chair and not really quite long enough to be a chaise long but it looked good.
The bathroom was also pretty big with a really large walk in shower and the shower head was a rain shower which was lovely after you came in filthy and sweaty from a muddy hot jungle walk. We were left plenty of eco friendly toiletries and I was very happy to use those even though they didn't smell that exciting.
THE MAIN LODGE BUILDING AND FOOD
The main lodge building was similar in design to the individual room only far larger. It was all polished wooden floors and you had to take your shoes off when in the building. It was all one large room but had different sections on the floor. In one area were several groups of comfortable chairs and tables where you could sit, enjoy a drink and have a chat or just sit and look out over the rainforest. If you were lucky then some animals may come down and sit in the trees or walk around under the lodge. One day we were sitting there and a family of Red leaf monkeys came and had their breakfast in the trees at the level we were sitting.
In one corner was a raised platform with a low table and cushions. This was the only area where you might get some wifi coverage but it was a bit hit and miss. You have to remember it is in the middle of nowhere so they were relying on satellite coverage I think.
In the centre of this huge building was a bar and then behind that was the buffet and the tables where we sat for meals. All the tables overlooked the gardens and the rainforest and looked up to the hill behind which we climbed one day. The bar was well stocked and you paid for the drinks by billng them to your room.
The food was excellent and a big improvement on the Kinabatangan River Lodge.
Lunch and dinner were both buffets and I started each meal with a selection of very tasty fresh salads. The hot dished were all very good and served with rice, potatoes, bread and a number of local vegetables. One section offered local food and for lunch dishes such as roti Chennai which is a chapatti with a veggie curry and is eaten locally for breakfast or a snack at any time. I liked it for my lunch after the salad but couldn't cope with it for breakfast. You could have whatever you wanted from a range of curries, plenty of vegetarian dishes and different chicken and meat offerings too. The menu changed for each meal that we were there and I was never stuck for something different to eat.
The desserts were great too which is unusual for Malaysia as they like very bright coloured jelly desserts which are very tasteless I find. Here we had a choice of fresh local fruits as well as at least two non neon jelly offerings.
Breakfast was far more than I would ever need. I always enjoyed the fresh fruits as I love tropical fruit and then I opted for yoghurt and if I felt very naughty I looked for something sweet. My husband loves his cooked breakfasts and was in his element as there was just so much to choose from. They had all the usual beef bacon, eggs of various types including omlettes and fried eggs freshly cooked as well as the Japanese options and the Malaysian chicken porridge which is exactly as it sounds a kind of thick chicken flavoured soup offering which looked disgusting and my husband has only tried it once so it obviously is not good! Malaysian breakfast such as roti Chennai and Nasi Lemak, a strong fishy one and not a good breakfast food in my view were also available should you want something really different.
I can't leave this section without mentioning the exotic toilets. They were rather Japanese in style with dark wood cubicles and white ceramic toilets but what I was most taken with was the scented steam blower that emitted gorgeous smells. I was so taken with it that I bought one from Amazon when I got back. They also had mini real towels for you to dry your hands on and lovely round basins set on the counter as well as nice hand lotion to finish off with.
The first activity we had was a jungle walk and for that we had to don our full gear, long sleeved light shirts, leech socks and walking boots and long trousers. We really looked like intrepid jungle explorers. We then met our guide under the lodge and they offered us walking sticks. We declined but regretted this as we were with three Swiss people who obviously did mountain climbing as a hobby and galloped at speed through the jungle. It was really muddy and slippery and many of the 'paths' were up and down slopes which became a bit like a muddy water slide. You couldn't hold on to anything in the way of vegetation as leeches were there waiting to grab you ad many of the plants had barbs, stung or were poisonous. One of the Swiss men gave me his stick and they were great at grabbing hold of me as I slithered down these slopes. I really didn't want to end up on my backside! I have to say apart from leeches we didn't see much on that walk, I think maybe that was a test walk to see if we could cope.
The next activity was a slide show about the Danum Valley, the rainforest and the project to care for the rainforest. Oil palm trees have replaced many of the rubber estates that cleared the rainforest about a hundred years ago and they are trying to stop too much more forest being destroyed at the same time being aware that local people need to have an income. It was quite interesting and they also told os what sort of animals we might see as well.
We then went for a night drive after our evening meal. This was in a huge truck with benches at the back. It was not that comfortable and as the truck slipped and slithered its was along the mud roads my buttocks gripped the narrow wooden seat and my arms the metal rail so that I didn't end up on the lap of the man next to me (not my husband). The guide had a huge spot light and stood at the front and he was the spotter. The idea was that he would see the eyes of the nocturnal animals and once he found them he them shone the light on them so that we could see them. I have to say we were not lucky and only saw beasties so far away that I couldn't make them out and I do wonder if anyone else did either.
The next day we had our long jungle walk up the hill behind. It was about a mile and a half uphill climbing to about 100 feet. This would be okay but it was 100% humidity and about 40 ° C and the ground was muddy, slippery and once again you couldn't hold onto any vegetation. This time we did accept the sticks as they gave you a handle as you came down and stopped you sliding further than you wanted to!
It was an interesting walk and on the way we passed an ancient burial site where the local tribes had placed bones in crevices in a rock wall. Once we reached the summit we had great views over the rainforest and could see our lodge and the resort below. You could see for miles and we did see toucans fly across in front of us almost at our eye level.
On the way down was my favourite part. I hate going downhill as when it is so wet and slippery I spend all my time slithering and scared I am going to end up on my bum. However when we were almost at the bottom there was a clear pool with a waterfall and we could change in the rather rickety huts and have a swim there. I did take my swimsuit as did my husband but when I saw how tricky it was to change and the fact that we only had one small towel I decided that I would stick to paddling. The water was also pretty cold as the sun doesn't get through the trees.
The best part of this experience was the garrufa fish in there. If you sat on a rock or just stood in the pool then these little fish came and nibbled at your dead skin. I was not altogether sure I wanted them doing that all over my body either. My husband said that if he kept moving they didn't nibble him as he swam. I loved the feeling of them nibbling my feet and these were far more' toothy' than those I had experienced in 'Appy Feet' in Manchester (review written about that a while back). These seemed to almost have teeth while the UK versions sort of sucked you these felt like they had teeth. After I had been there for a while I had to dry my feet and put my socks and shoes back on. My feet honestly felt like I had had a foot massage. It was brilliant and I wanted to go back there the next day for another treatment.
We got back from here for a late lunch and relaxed in the afternoon around the lodge. That evening we went for a night walk which again sadly proved disappointing but it is luck with wildlife and nocturnal ones are even more elusive.
The following morning we went for a walk over the canopy bridges which offered some great views but once again the wildlife stayed far too well hidden. In the afternoon we were luckier as we saw an Orangutan quite close and another with a baby as well as several red leaf monkeys which look similar to Orangutans but are more social so travel in a troupe while Orangutans stay by themselves unless the mother has a baby with her.
The lodge accommodates a maximum of only 60 people and the staff are so good at making everything easy for the guests. As you get back from your walks in the muddy jungle there are seats where you can remove your muddy boots with special squirty hoses to wash the boots off. You then leave your boots downstairs and go up barefoot for your meal or drinks upstairs. When we got back from the long walk we were met with fresh cool drinks. There was a water refilling station wher e you could refill your drinking water bottles prior to going on the walks. The shop sold leech socks at a reasonable price as well as other jungle shirts and gear and some souvenirs but nothing that tempted us.
For two nights experience and return transport from Lahad Datu by 4x4 as well as meals at Lodge - 2 Breakfast, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners per person costs U$656 for a standard lodge which we had but a superior one would be U$767. That price included all the activities as well as the guide who is a trained expert naturalist and a guide must be present for all walks/hikes. No one is permitted to go on walks/hikes without a guide except just around the lodge area. This is because there are animals in the rainforest and not all of them are friendly and of course it also protects the animals too. It is also |VERY easy to get lost in the jungle as there are no landmarks that are obvious.
WOULD I RECOMMEND?
Yes the accommodation is superb and you have so much to do in the way of activities but you do have to be prepared not to see any wildlife as rainforest creatures are notoriously shy and difficult to see. We had been spoiled in Madagascar as we had been so lucky and seen so many animals and this was a bit disappointing. Perhaps if we had not already experienced the rainforests in Peru, Costa Rica and Madagascar then it would have been more of a novelty just to be in the rainforest.
The place is really lovely, the rooms luxurious for rainforest lodges and the food really good.
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
Read the complete review
La Folie, 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don, Laos)
La Folie Hotel, 4000 Islands ( Si Phan Don) Laos WHY THIS HOTEL? This was our last hotel in Laos and was designed to be a bit of a chill after all the rushing around we had done in Laos up till then and to prepare us for the next part of our holiday in Borneo. The hotel is on a small island , Don Daeng in the ... Mekong river in the Champasak area of Southern Laos. It is an idyllic relaxing escape from all the hustle and bustle of life generally.
GETTING TO THE HOTEL
In order to get onto the island we had to climb down a steep set of 'steps' on a river bank and through a larger river boat with cabins that cruise up the Mekong and then onto our boat. This was hilarious. It was like a wooden raft built onto two of the local rowing boats. An outboard motor was attached at the back and a simple 'fence 'was built around the square raft. We sat on plastic chairs on this raft and chugged across the river looking like lord and lady Muck. Our bags were on the raft behind us just on the boards.
When we arrived on the island we stepped off our raft boat onto a bamboo 'road' and climbed into a small trailer behind a 'Chinese Buffalo' which is what the locals call their mini tractors which look like ride in mowers but with a very long steering shaft. We were then driven in this trailer up the split bamboo 'road' over the wide expanse of sand up to the gates of the hotel.
Alighting from our elegant vehicle we walked through the gates and we welcomed with a cold drink and taken up into the main building to check in. We were given a refreshing and cool welcome drink while we completed the necessary forms. This main building was open sided with palm leaf roof and big fans in the ceiling. This was where the bar and restaurant was, the computer with VERY slow internet via a dongle, the lounge with library and this building had entrances in the front onto the beach where we arrived and also out to the back onto a dirt road which led to the local villages.
In front of this building was one of the most beautiful pools I have see, surrounded by palm trees and tropical flowers as well as umbrellas and sunbeds with a view onto the beach and the Mighty Mekong River which was wide and languid in this area.
We had to walk past this pool and through the lovely gardens in order to reach our room which was a small wooden bungalow. It is not a huge resort as there are only 25 of these bungalows and one two bedroom residence complete with a house keeper and gardener. All the rooms have a view of the Mekong River and the huge white sandy beach from their front balconies.
Our room was on stilts and so we had to walk up about six wooden steps to get to the door which opened with a normal large key. Inside the room was a decent size with polished wooden floors and wooden walls. The furniture was all solid wood too and locally made. The impression was one of luxury but in a very local traditional look. On the floor was a local rug with was very nice but did slip around a bit if you were not careful when walking around the room.
The bed was a big king or queen sized bed made up with fresh cotton white sheets and dressed with two Laos local silk scarves across the bed. The pillows were a little on the hard side but I did manage to sleep with them. At the end of the bed were two wooden slatted case stands or table like things to put stuff on. On either side of the bed there was a light but only one side had a bedside table.
On the wooden walls were several pictures, some of old photographs and some paintings but all very tasteful and classy. In one corner was an air-conditioning unit, two comfortable chairs and a small round coffee table. There was also a ceiling fan so you could choose which you wanted to use.
On the wall with the air-conditioning unit was a double door with shutters leading on to a small balcony. We did enjoy sitting on here and watching the local herdsman with his cows walking down to the river to graze and have a drink. From here we could also see Champasak across the river and the hill below which was the magnificent Wat Phou temple.
There were windows on three sides of the room and they all had cream heavy linen curtains which gave privacy bit didn't darken the room.
Once again this was wooden floored and traditional looking. The shower was good but only had a curtain around it so it was quite hard to keep the water in the shower tray. A trolley held the toiletries and towels while a huge bamboo rack on the wall was great for drying the towels. The basin and toilet were normal and not anything unusual. The toilet roll was ona bamboo rack as well which was quite novel.
The toiletries provided were all in china dishes which avoided the use of plastic mini bottles. This saved waste and also was more economical. The toiletries used were also environmentally friendly so they were trying hard to avoid un eco behaviour.
There are no laundry services at the hotel but they have an arrangement with the local village and you can send your laundry which is weighed and then I think it was about 10kg for about £5 but I really can't remember. You paid extra if you wanted it ironed but we didn't need anything ironed. They can back the next day smelling really nice and fresh. I was very happy about this as I felt we were helping the local economy and the money went directly to the person doing the washing, the hotel took no cut at all.
This was impossible on your own laptop and almost impossible on their computer with only had a satellite connection which was as good as a dongle. I gave up after ten minutes of trying.
We were not sure if the books there were a library or a book exchange but we left more than we took so didn't feel too bad. There were books in French, German and English and I thought this was an idea that all hotels and resorts should take up.
This was really lovely with full grown trees and so many different tropical flowers. We spent a good hour one morning walking around the gardens taking photos of the beautiful flowers in the garden.
WE opted for snack type food at lunch time as we were not exactly doing a lot. We had a soup and spring rolls I think on both days and enjoyed iced lemon tea. There was often quite a few in the restaurant at lunch time as people came to the hotel and island just for the day and to use the pool as this was the only pool in the area apparently. Lunch and dinner were not included in our tariff but breakfast was.
We opted each night for the set meal as it was by far the best value. There was an a la carte menu but if you ordered from that it was much more expensive. The set menu did change daily and was a selection of local Laos dishes. Both meals were really tasty and nicely prepared but as this was towards the end of our stay in Laos we were beginning to get just a little tired of the same four of five dishes. Drinks were reasonable prices and we stuck to Beer Lao and I sampled their cocktails, one a night was quite enough!
This was pretty basic. Fruit juice and coffee or tea as well as fresh fruit followed by the inevitable French bread and jam or eggs whichever way you wanted them cooked. I don't eat eggs so it was fruit and fresh French bread with local jam for me once again but it was enough really and more than I usually have at home.
This was beautiful; rectangular and bright, bright blue with a backdrop of the beach and the river. Around the pool were palm trees and other tropical flowers and at night the reflections of the lights looked just amazing. There were changing rooms for those day guests but I confess I didn't inspect these.
RECOMMENDED FOR A RELAXING STAY?
This was a really very relaxing and laid back place to stay. It wasn't luxurious in the way that the Rasa Ria in Kinabalu was but it was pretty special. The staff were lovely, so genuinely helpful and went out of their way to do anything they could to help. The room was very comfortable in a traditional colonial sort of way and the food was all locally sourced and Laos food. There was no option for cordon blue sort of food but that was part of the charm of this place. It was extremely comfortable and very charming and totally in keeping with the setting.
If you want somewhere to stay and just chill but be cut off from all modern technology then this place is perfect. They do have wifi but I wouldn't bother trying to use it as you will lose the will to live as a snail would get across the river quicker.
We had a really lovely three days here and loved the quaint way we arrived on the raft boat and the tractor ride up to the hotel. Everything was just so different and a perfectly wonderful experience.
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
Read the complete review
Galle Face Regency (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
We have just come back from a wonderful holiday in Sri Lanka which also had its interesting moments. Not least was when we were caught up in a tsunami evacuation due to the Indonesian earthquake. That is of course a different story and luckily one with a happy ending as in the end the tsunami never materialised. This did not put me off ... this fascinating country or any of the wonderful places that we stayed in.
The first hotel that we stayed in for two nights was the Galle Face Regency in Colombo. We actually arrived in the middle of the night and were met with a very friendly welcome and set up with our room straight away. The room was a very clean family room and had a very large en suite bathroom with a wonderful walk in shower and a huge bath. There was a TV in our room and a drinks bar - neither of which we used. We were pleased that bottled water was provided everyday. Another very important thing to point out is that the rooms are air conditioned. This is obviously very important as it is quite humid and when we stayed outside temperatures were over 30 degrees.
The Galle Face is quite an old hotel and has been welcoming guests since the late 19th century. The regency wing, which is the part we stayed in, was restored in 2004 and is a light airy modern hotel. It leads onto the beach and also has a very good swimming pool which is filled with salt water. Towels are provided, which is always handy, and there are many sun loungers around the pool area. My daughters also enjoyed the fact that it did not get very busy and they often had the pool pretty much to themselves!
I have to mention the food as we really did enjoy this aspect of our stay. The buffet breakfasts are absolutely wonderful with so much to choose from. There is fresh fruit, traditional cooked breakfast items, yoghurts, cereals, curries, and loads of breads and pastries. Everything was delicious and of course, as with any buffet, you can keep going back for me! Never very good for the waistline though. Our evening meal was also a buffet and again there was a vast feast on offer - the only thing that I would say though is that it was all a little bit spicy and my fussy daughters were not able to find too much that they actually wanted to eat! There was always bread and rice though so they didn't go hungry!
Other facilities which we did not make use of were:
Personal Butler service
Business Centre offering all Secretarial facilities
In-room Wi-Fi System
The plush 'Piazza' Shopping Arcade offering designer labels
A Museum and Art Gallery
Although we did not use wi-fi in the room (as there was a cost attached), the staff were very happy to provide a code so that we could use our laptop and send emails from the lobby area.
I have to say that overall, the Galle Face Regency is a very good hotel but the best thing is the very friendly and helpful treatment that we received. It was first class and a great place to start our holiday.
As we booked all of our holiday through the operator, Red Dot Tours, I can't say how much we paid for our room but I have been able to find some room rates on the website that vary greatly depending on the type of room. These start at about $138 and go up to over $400. This also depends on the number of occupants per room. I can also tell you that the meal rates are:
Breakfast - US $11
Lunch - US $14
Dinner - US $17
which is not expensive at all. Also, my daughters and I went to the little coffee shop in the afternoon and between us we had one coffee and two slices of delicious cakes and these cost us, in total, the equivalent of about £1.70. I could not get over the good value!
Galle Face Hotel
2, Galle road, Colombo 3,
Read the complete review
Asia Hotel International
Address:P.O. – Olassery, Kodumbu / Hotel International / Palakkad Dist 678551 Kerala / India
Address: No.9 Lane 64, Section 2 / Hotel International / Jianguo North Road /Zhongshan District 104 / Taipei
Address: Sadashivgadh / Hotel International / Karwar / India
Address: 44 Hang Bun Str / Hotel International / Ba Dinh / Ha Noi / Vietnam / Tel: (84-4) 85852619
Address: 68 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur / Hotel International / Tel: +60 3-2148 8111
Address: 10 Lebuh Farquhar, 10200 Penang / Hotel International / Tel : +(6) 04 222 2000 / Stars: 4.5
Address: 151 Hang Bong St, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi / Hotel International / Tel: +84 4 39 27 41 20 / Rating: 2 Star
Address: C / Hotel International / Sa Fotja 1 / 07410 Puerto Alcudia / Mallorca / Spain
Address: 419 Esplanade Road / Hotel International / Old cycle market opp red fort / Chandni Chowk / Delhi 110006 / Tel: 0091-11-23276465
Hotel International / Hotel and resort located just outside Aurangabad
|Asia Hotel International Recommendations 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ... back next|
|dooyoo Results 21 - 30 of 1197|