Sunday, 7 August 2016

Austin Is Not In Texas

There are many places named Austin and one of them is in johor, Malaysia. It is one of the well planned township in the southern state of Malaysia. Mount austin as it is called, is a HOPSCA Township with a vison of Building Sustainability Through Visionary Leadership.  

A HOPSCA concept is the integration of Home, Office, Park, School Commercial and Attractions. 

I had this opportunity of being guest to this Mount Austin, Johor with a group of bloggers roped in to cover the officiating of Desastay by Chief minister of Johor at Parit Tengah, Seri Merlong and after which we put up a night at Austin Heights Golf & Hotel Resort. 

 We were greeted to a sumptuous dinner at the Sunrise Terrace overlooking the beautiful view of the 18 hole golf course. 

The Sunset Terrace is not only a dining place but also to cater for other functions and activities such as barbeque, karaoke sessions and lazing around watching golfers enjoying their game on the greens. 

Just to show what our dinner was during our arrival, I "Curi" this photo from Emily's My Lifestyle Blog, since I do not carry along my camera. All I depended was on my cheap phone camera. 

At Austin Golf & Hotel Resort, there's the Sunrise Cafe, casual all-day dining café for golfers on the move and guests. Sunrise Café serves both western and local food. It is open from breakfast till dinner. With its scenic view, it is the perfect place for a comfortable meal.

Operating Hours:
7.00 a.m to 9.00 p.m (Daily)

I tried to contain this sweet little bird at the unique seating inside Sunrise Cafe but the opening is too big and the bird flew away.  

At Austin Golf & Hotel Resort, there's the Sunrise Cafe, casual all-day dining café for golfers on the move and guests. Sunrise Café serves both western and local food. It is open from breakfast till dinner. With its scenic view, it is the perfect place for a comfortable meal.

Operating Hours:
7.00 a.m to 9.00 p.m (Daily)

Photo below is another beautiful view of the Golf Course from the Sunrise Terrace. 

After a tiring day at Parit Tengah, Seri Merlong in Rengit, earlier in the day, and a delicuous dinner, we retired to our respective rooms. 

Nothing can show our expression as soon as we open the door and step inside except a big WOW!!! at the size of the room. Many of us said we can play badminton inside. The room is actually very big and can easily overtake the size of a unit of studio apartments. 

Even with two King sized beds, there are still many space available and in fact it still has room to fit  two or three more King Size bed, according to my to my evaluation. The room that I stay overlooks the Golf Course and I think Johor Bharu in the distance. 

For Hotel Rates and room types refer to Hotels website at the end of this blog post.

Besides the Extra Large rooms, and a beautiful Golf Course, Austin Heights Golf & Hotel Resorts also has some extra amenities that might be missing from other hotel and resort. One very significant facilities is the presence of two theater that can house 30 guest at any one screening. Not only the the presence of those theaters but it has the most comfortable seating if not in Malaysia at least in Johor.
The theater's adjustable reclining seat is more comfortable compared to the bed in the room and patrons can risk snoozing off easily through the screening. If you feel too cold, there's also a blanket provided to warm up yourself. 

Screening starts at 10..00 pm and that depends on availability of patrons or demand.

Adjoining the theater there's also pool tables and Austin Heights Golf @ Hotel Resort also has an 8 lane computerised bowling alley adjacent to the indoor games room. Check the hotel websites at the bottom of this blog post for rates. 

For tired golfers or guest, there are two Jacuzzi and saunas on the ground floor one each for men and women. The Jacuzzi is large enough for you to swim in it, LOL. 

There is also a large outdoor swimming pool and childrens pool along the way to the driving range. (Photo credit to website)



Austin Heights Golf & Hotel Resort
Lot Ptd 58061, Jalan Mutiara Emas 8,
Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Tel: +607- 352 4300
Fax: +607- 353 8500

Note: Friends from Xplore Johor media group from whom I took and post the photos in this blog post, I credit them to you and if you can notify me, I'll pull down and watermark it to your credit. Thank you.  

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Hiking @ Jitra

Are you a fitness buff or adventurous type? Why not go for a hill hike while you are in Jitra. Many locals and some from nearby Alor Setar congregate to this small hill located in Jitra to sweat out.

Bukit Malau consist of a range low hills near Jitra in the District of Kubang Pasu. The lowest hipptop is just about 130 metres above sea level. Climbing to the lowest hill top depends on individual fitness level. I took about 20 minutes.

Below: Hiking up starts from here

Below: One view from the top of the first hill top. The hill in the background is Bukit Tunjang. 


It is just about 15-20 minutes away from Jitra Town. Or if you are outside and drive on the North South Highway, take the Jitra exit and turn right.
READ ALSO @ Jitranews 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Caving @ Gua Gunung Keriang

I had my first caving experience at Gua Gunung Keriang about 7 kilometres away from Alor Setar city. Gunung Keriang is a limestome hill about 200 metres high rising up in the middle of the flat plains of Kedah surrounded by padi fields. Its quite strange for a  very large piece of limestone in the size of a hill surrounded by niles and miles of black soil of vast padi farms.   

The older generation had believe in the legend that Gunung Keriang was once a ship sailing with a  beautiful princess on board. A large bird called Sang Gedembai was attracted to the Princess and ask her hand for marriage but was turned down. Angry at the refusal, Sang Gedembai then throw a spell on the ship with all on board into stone. It was said then that on the olden days, communities around the limestone hill can borrow cooking utensils and cutlery if they wanted to organise a feast or kenduri. However now there are no more such utensils and was believed had turned into stones since people who borrowed either loose them, broken or broke certain promises.  

Below is Gunung Keriang's  Western face.

On a Friday morning, nine of us accompanied by two experience Gunung Keriang Caver guided our climb to about a 100 metres above ground on the Eastern face from Taman Rekreasi Gunung Keriang before descending into the cave (look at the photo below) 

I regretted that I did not have a good camera and strong lighting to capture the inside of the caves. All photos below on this post was captured on Lenovo A850 camera

Top and bottom pic is the view of the cave entrance before moving deeper and descending down into the numerous caves below and above. The entrance is made up of karst landscape. 

Head lamp is compulsory because once inside the cave its pitch dark. Its also advisable to wear the safety helmet because at certain areas during the crawl or emerging from the underground cave, one can get hit on the head from the low limestone ceilings. Since our group did have any safety hats on, I did got three hits on the head and just lucky because I wore a hat. However I did have bruises due to the knock. 
Below: I am making my way into Gua Rambo

At certain parts of the cave we have to either crawl or weave our body through the narrow openings or scale along narrow ledges and at certain spots ravines below.  
There are many caves within Gua Gunung Keriang but we were only taken to explore not even a quarter of the total caves in it. 

Among the caves that we visited are the Gua Angin, Gua Cepiar, Gua Tanduk Rusa, Gua Rambo, Gua Buaya, Gua JutawanGua Komunis, Gua Jutawan. 

We had light meal at Dataran Buaya (Crocodile plain) where it was believe to be the "singgahsana" of the princess.  It's a courtyard and on one side there's a cliff resembling the throne with images of drapes flowing down to the floor. Opposite the throne was where it is believed the kitchen, where communities around the hill used to borrow. 
Photo : Rock formation at Gua Buaya resembling a crocodile half submerged under water. However to my assumption that it might be due to years of calcium deposit by the flowing water.   

The Dataran Buaya was the largest cave to my assumption among all the caves that we explored that day and being there feels like being on the deck of a ship with cool refreshing wind blowing onto us.

At Gua Komunis there are Chinese inscriptions on it dated back to 1961. It is believed that the during the insurgent, the communist guerrillas might have used this cave hide or as one of their base. At one location there is a visible rectangular shape of a trapdoor leading somewhere underground but nobody dares to open it, afraid the floors might collapse as can be seen within the surrounding. The iron ring to open the door had been stolen. 

Top: Chinese inscriptions found in Gua Komunis. Can someone translate what does it means or just some memories left behind by some vandals. 

Photo below is believed to be the remains of a bowl (due to its shape) that has turned into stone. This piece was located at Dataran Buaya. 

At the end of the trip of the day we reached the West Face of Gunung Keriang where development by Unit Pembangunan Ekonomi Kedah's (UPEN) project was abandoned. What a waste of resources when the 8 storey lifts and the walkway and lighting was completed but it was abandoned. Its another tourist attraction asset for Kedah put to waste. 

If you find its so scary to walk in the darkness of the multiple layers of caves inside, there is also another options of exploring the West Cave Entrance (where we exit) Refer to the aerial view photo of Gunung Keriang on this blog, where we exit. Howeve I am not sure if permisison from anybody is needed to cross the line into the West Face of the hill. 

This photo of our enthusiastic cavers (LOL) with our guide standing third from Right. All except me looks to have  cleaner clothes. The reason I skipped crawling into the muddy clay earth of Gua Jutawan.
Many had read about sales of crystals at the foot of Gunung Keriang and yes, the crystals were mined at caves inside the hill. The guide explained to us that the different caves has crystals of different colours. 

Due to unmanaged crystal mining, its quite hard to find then unless exploring deeper into the caves. 
 Top: one of the crystal harvested in one of the caves from our guide collection. Bottom: new crystal formation on the roof of one of the caves and it will take hundreds or thousands of years before taking shape and can be harvested.


Top photo is a sample of a crystal block that was brought down before being broken down into smaller crystals for sale. This boulder block is being displayed at one of the stalls that sells crystals from Gunung Keriang as souvenir. After the caving experience I wonder how they carry down such a big piece of boulder out of the caves and down.  Bottom: one of the souvenir shops that sells crystal located at the entrance of Taman Rekreasi Gunung Keriang.

My experience caving was a very educational trip for me while at the same time teaches self discipline and teamwork. 

After reading this post you and you need the challenge of caving, remember find the right guide. Never go alone and follow instructions while inside. I am looking forward for the next trip inside Gua Gunung Keriang.   


To help you find the route to Gunung Keriang, refer to this map below and I choose Menara Alor Setar as the starting point since its a popular landmark for Alor Setar.


Keriang Hill Resort is located at the south end of Gunung Keriang and many homestays around. Likewise, you can choose to stay in the city since its just a short distance away.  


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