Pangkor Laut. One island, one resort.

I thought there would be a 3-4 hour journey from Tanjong Jara to Pangkor Laut and the car will go across the country, through the mountains, until we'll meet the west coast and its shore. But I was wrong. Our driver laughed and told us we have a 6-hour road in front of us. Ok, I can do this!! Let's ride! 

I left Tanjong Jara Resort with tears in my eyes, but ready to explore and discover new territories, new open roads. And the perspective - a boat ride to Pangkor Laut Resort - was very promising. I love boats! 

After 8 hours on the road and in traffic, I lost my shit. Why am I doing this? It is too tiring, it is too complicated, it's haaaard! I was nervous and I couldn't stop asking "why?". 

So, I received my answer. We arrived at Pangkor Marina, had a quick check-in and then a speed boat waved us into the green. It was a blessing! And right there, between islands and deep clear waters, Pangkor Laut is sparkling into the light, like a jewelry. 

Our first image: tens of bungalows on the water, amazing villas on the hill, the jungle, peace, beauty, and this color. :) 

We asked for twin beds, they said it is a last minute request and will make something comfortable for us, but no twin. Oh, it's ok, let me breathe this green and I will be alright! 

Imagine my surprise. A super helpful Filipino guy led us to an elevator into the jungle. One floor up. A short wooden alley, a sensational chorus of birds, light rays through the trees and intimate villas. But we've passed by all of them, until the end of the bridge, and our butler opened for us... The Pavarotti Suite

I was in awe from the beginning to the end of this journey. 

The history goes like this: Pavarotti was on the island to sing twice, in the '90s. He was very impressed by the beauty of this sanctuary, and he left his music, his words and his signature here. 

And our suite was named after him! But 'suite' is just a word, because the villa is an elegant two-bedroom marvel, set high on the hill in the rainforest. It has a luxurious lounge area, two or three flat screen televisions, 2 extensive terraces with breathtaking views over the sea and the tropical forest and 3 other smaller balconies, and two enormous bathrooms. Like... 250 square meters. :) 

We had the time of our lives at Pangkor Laut: breakfast at Feast Village with coconut & pandan cupcakes and amazing coffee, a delicious dinner at Fisherman's Cove with a PERFECT lamb and some fresh fish, lunches at Royal Bay Beach Club and Chapman's Bar, and... my favourite place: Uncle Lim's Kitchen.

Built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea and named after the chef who has been with the resort since its inception, Uncle Lim’s Kitchen specializes in Nyonya and Hockchew Chinese-style home cooking. "A unique experience for those who enjoy the exotic flavors of the East." What can I say?! They have the perfect beef rendang I've ever tasted!

If you go through the jungle (or with a car, like me:)), on the other side of the island, you will find the green paradise: The Emerald Bay, a white shining beach with the softest sand I've seen, and hot green waters between rocks. It's like in the Beach movie, maybe even better. 

Wildlife around us? Of course! We are in the jungle, baby! Long-tailed macaques and oriental pied hornbills perch in the branches above, while white-bellied sea eagles soar overhead and large monitor lizards sunbathe on the island’s rocky outcrops. And they have a tree with bats!!

All the wooden buildings are blending seamlessly into the forest, walls curve around foliage, and roofs open up to allow trees to continue on their journey to the sky. 

What I loved at Pangkor Laut Resort

* our sensational Pavarotti suite with a huge terrace over the jungle. One hornbill visited us one night, looked at us for minutes and then flew away. 

* the open kitchen from Fisherman's Cove where you can see the Chef's work. 

* the food from Uncle Lim's Kitchen = perfection! 

* my huge white bed, my office, my bathtub and the silence around. 

* an unforgettable sunrise over the sea and jungle. 

* The Emerald Bay and the glorious color of the water. 

* even if I haven't tried the SPA, I heard it's magnificent. In fact, it's an entirely SPA Village!

* the Mangosteen body lotion with pomegranate extract. Oh, God!!

* Vlad made the Jungle Trekking, into a rainforest estimated to be over 2 million years old.

* and we both tried the BEST thing in the world: The Sunset Cruise. We embarked on a teakwood Oriental junk and explored the tiny islands that dot the Straits of Malacca. We had a picnic on board with finger food and drinks (free flow of beer, yeah!). 

And, yes, we've met some big waves on our way and it was amazing. I even called my mom from the boat, in the middle of the sea, because of their portable internet. 

People say to try something like this at least once in your lifetime. But you can't! If you visit Pangkor Laut Resort, you will fall in love with the island and you will definitely come back. Over and over again! 

All photos made by Vlad Semen, with Sony A7S. More stories on my HuffPost blog

Tanjong Jara, my unfolding dream

After 6 visits, Kuala Lumpur is already home to me. I know the city, it really inspires me and I can create magic here. I have my favorite hotel, my special place where I eat and my supermarket. But after 5 days in this relentless city, I felt a calling, an unstoppable wish to go further, to discover more. 

Last year I've seen a picture on Facebook with a beach and some day beds along the sea shore. And I've thought: this is the place I want to see. Fast forward 3 months later, I was in Malaysia and this amazing beach smiled at me from an Instagram pic. It is a wonderful resort on the East Cost. 

So, we jumped on a bus, had a 5-6 hours ride through the most beautiful country I've ever seen and arrived in the quiet little town of Dungun. 

The wind was hot and promising, I could feel the salty breeze, and I knew we'll have magical days at Tanjong Jara Resort

Yes, I can fall in love with a place before seeing it. Yes, I am always right:) I have a sixth sense when I choose a hotel. 

The property is like a garden designed in heaven. Nothing too poshy, nothing too glamorous. Just trees, flowers, palms, along with a large beautiful beach with golden sands. The strong healing energy of Tanjong Jara Resort is tangible and the reason for that is the sea, the wind, the Mother Nature. 

Every room and apartment are made from wood, with beautiful details from local culture. You have everything you need in there, desks to write stories, portable internet for a selfie on the beach, restaurants out of this world, kind and helpful people, comfy white beds and terraces with sea view. 

Tanjong Jara Resort is part of the amazing collection of YTL Hotels and I love this brand. In fact, I've rarely found people more dedicated to make you feel like home. Basically, if they haven't arranged a car for me, I would have hidden in a tree, with the monkeys, just to stay there for another day:) 

I loved: the bungalows with huge bathrooms (and the fabulous body lotion from Mangosteen), the portable internet (it gives you freedom to write from the beach), the open air cinema at the pool, Ann - the best Chef I've met, Terence (The Hotel Manager) and our delicious dinner conversation, the chicken curry from breakfast, the seafood dinner (very spicy and fresh), the innovative restaurant where you can choose exactly the ingredients you love and the Chef cooks a special dish for you, the day beds from the beach, the romantic 5-course dinner just for us, the traditional fish market from Dungun, the scented wind, the starry sky and the smell of the Frangipani flowers in the evening. 

But if I have to take with me just one memory, I would choose the grandeur and energy of the Tanjong Jara garden. OK, and Ann' smile. Chef Ann is unbelievable! 

Tanjong Jara Resort made me think of Malaysia as my country, made me cry tears of happiness, and dream of being there for a while. 

If you want an extraordinary holiday in Malaysia, Tanjong Jara Resort is THE PLACE to be! Here is why:

1. The magical garden. 

2. The portable internet (for workaholics like me).

3. The delicious food and great Chefs. 

4. White, comfy beds, huge bathrooms, perfect desks to write your memories, wide terraces from where you can admire the sunset over the South China Sea. 

5. The golden beach. 

6. Romantic dinners on the beach, with fire and divine food, or a perfect table in the middle of the sea, just for you!

7. The cinema from the pool. 

8. Incredible seafood, cooked by yourself. 

9. Ann' smile and cooking class. 

10. A perfect place where the Malay traditions are really appreciated and respected. 

And I have a word for Tanjong Jara Resort: tranquility. Of mind, body, and soul. 

All photos made by Vlad Semen, with Sony A7S.