I doubt many Singaporeans have heard of this place called Banding Island in Malaysia. Also known as Pulau Banding, it is actually an inland island located right in the heart of Peninsular Malaysia, in Tasik (lake) Temenggor in the state of Perak, and sits squarely on the highway that joins Kota Bahru and Kuala Trengganu in the east, and Gerik and Kuala Kangsar in the west.
I first visited this scenic island in 1997, when I decided to take the long way to get to Ipoh; i.e. via the east coast and stopping in towns like Kuantan and Kuala Trengganu. We stayed overnight at the Banding Island Resort, the only hotel on this tiny island. It was raining much of the time and so we did not get to see much of the attractions. Since, my kids were too young to have any recollections of this place, we decided to visit it again during our recent annual pilgrimage to Ipoh last month and spent Christmas Day on the island.
Compared to 1997, when the highway were not fully completed and much construction was ongoing, the drive this time was much better. I particularly liked the 100 plus km stretch between the North-South Highway exit and the small town of Gerik. The road was new and traffic was light. Even though the speed limit was only about 80 or 90 kph, I must confess that at some stretches, I could not resist going up to 110 even. From Gerik, it’s another 40 km or so eastward to Banding Island. Here the terrain is hilly and the road winding, so of course one has to drive much slower. In total, the distance from Ipoh to Banding Island was slightly less than 200 km.
If you are looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road, I would recommend a short holiday in Banding Island. The road signs are excellent, and if you drive, it should not be a problem getting there. However, be forewarned that there isn’t much to do there except nature walks and fishing. The hotel organizes some excursions for fishing (mostly tomans) and visit to Orang Asli Village and jungle trekking to see the Rafflesia flower. Besides the Banding Island Resort, which charges RM140 per night, there are no other decent accommodation. There are some ‘floating chalets’ but the condition is very run down and I don’t think Singaporeans can take it.
Below are some photos that I took during our trip.
A section of the North-South Highway just north of Ipoh approaching the tunnel.
A view of the lake from our hotel room. The bridge joins the western end of the island to the mainland.
Another view of Tasik Temenggor from our hotel room.
The ‘floating chalets’ I mentioned can be seen at the top of this photo.
“When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.”
(Carl Boberg, 1886)
Link: Banding Island Resort
Ideas@Work: Tapping Employee Ideas for higher Productivity - My book on Staff Suggestions Systems Ideas@Work: Tapping Employee Ideas for Higher Productivity (165 pages, 6” x 9”, perfect bound) is now available in Sin...