|A Staghorn Fern|
From just north of Kuatuan a new expressway made the journey faster though an early unexplained detour routed us along with dozens of other cars plus a few coaches off the motorway over a bridge through a toll booth, an immediate U-turn back through the toll booth and back onto the original expressway where we passed through a third toll. Despite handing over our card at each booth we seemed to be charged a few ringgits just once in all the palaver! Further north the advertised service stations were still under construction so we had to make another detour towards Bukit Besi in search of fuel and loo's; the first garage we reached a couple of kilometres from the expressway offered the latter but had run out of the former though the staff helpfully supplied directions to a rival garage. Back on the expressway it came to a confusing end somewhere to the west of Kuala Terengganu and not as shown on our map, south of the town. However the route north to Maranga and Penarik was reasonably well signposted and we never actually got lost.
|Glass net floats by the gate|
Eventually as dusk was falling we pulled up outside a sturdy gate. Terrapuri is situated on a long sand spit north of Penarik Beach with a river in one side and tall coconut palms, white sand fringing the South China Sea on the other. Above the outer wall we could see the red roof tiled tops of traditional Malay buildings on stilts with their quirky steep, gently curved gabled ends overhanging the lower end roof. The ancient wooden walls are weathered silver grey. Our first glimpses of Terrapuri were even more stunning than the photos we'd seen online, the welcome was warm and genuine even if the staff probably aren't that used to European expat guests.
|Tendrils of morning glory|
Terrapuri is the fruit of one man's passion, apparently the owner Alex rescued historic 100 to 250 year old Malay houses from around the region for many years before he found the perfect plot of land to reconstruct them on. The result is laid out along the lines of a traditional Malay palace; four central buildings doing duty as reception, a lounge and for serving meals are surrounded by a shallow "moat" containing a variety of fish and some stands of reeds with stepping stones for access. On the northern side and also towards the rear of the plot more wooden houses each provide guest accommodation. A couple of brick buildings in the old style are home to the kitchen and the spa on the southern side. At the opposite end to the entrance gates is a gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the river. Beside the pool is a water feature made of traditional mill stones, the splashing water both cooling and relaxing. Scattered around are many large pots some containing water lillies, ancient farming equipment, wooden boats, spinning wheels, loom frames, plants, trees and the occasional cat.
|The inner "square"|
|High Rise Dining Room|
|Breakfast was taken under one of the central houses|
|Tembakang - our home for our stay|
|Old farming tools hang under some buildings|
|Water feature by the pool|
We opted to eat in for our first evening not being able to face the short drive to the beach cafes of Penarik. The set menu is simple but tasty local food though that first night was served up in a mysterious order that saw savoury and sweet courses arrive together. Odd but the view from the raised dining area over the swimming pool and beyond to the wetlands more than made up for it - even in the darkness it was dramatic.
The long drive was definitely worth the effort and the next few days proved perfectly relaxing and away from it all. We fell a sleep that night to the sound of the ocean breaking on the beach.
PS: There are lots more photos of this gorgeous and historic resort on Terrapuri's website and their facebook page