Guests at the Golden Palm Tree resort are getting their shots of adrenalin at its new Extreme Park. Tan Bee Hong jumps in for her share of thrills
IMAGINE holidaying in villas on the fronds of a palm tree that stretches 1.5m into the sea. Each villa sits over the sea, so you can relax with the gentle lapping of waves against the stilts.
The Golden Palm Tree Iconic Resort & Spa stretches out from the Sepang coastline into the Straits Of Malacca with 392 sea villas designed in the shape of a palm tree.
This first eco-friendly sea-hotel in the world is a 5-star haven of peace, adventure, non-motorised water sports, family-friendly fun or to just relax and unwind.
The villas are luxurious, spacious and feature a fusion of tradition and modernity in its interior designs.
But that’s not why I am at Golden Palm Tree Resort. I’m here to check out its newest attraction, the Extreme Park where fun-seekers can get their adrenaline kicks at the go-kart race track, shooting arrows and paintball or sit astride an all-terrain vehicle and vroom off on a dirt track.
What I love about the place is how the operators insist that participants wear a gauze over their hair before putting on the helmet, so there’s no fear of being tainted by someone else’s dandruff or worse. No smelly helmets.
Now, if the attendants use deodorant daily, it will be complete bliss.
All Terrain Vehicles: OK, so you won’t exactly be vrooming off into the jungle but the dirt track is designed to offer a few shots of adrenaline. Especially for me, who accelerated straight into the ditch at the word go and had to be pulled out by the instructor.
Go Karting: If you’ve always wanted to experience that feeling of exhilaration when Michael Schumacher takes the chequered flag, this is your big chance. You also get a big thrill out of cleverly cutting corners and slicing in front of your friends.
It’s all fast, furious and... safe.
Archery: How’s your aim? Can you hit a target from a distance of 10 metres? If you can, consider yourself one of Robin Hood’s band of merry men. Don’t worry if you can’t. Practice makes perfect.
Paintball: This one isn’t what I am expecting. Rather than shoot at human targets (aka your friends and foes), you only get to shoot at ping-pong balls hanging on strings. Lessens the fun factor but at least you won’t be shot at in return.
WET AND WILD
With the sea and a stretch of shallow beach at its doorstep, water sports are naturally popular at Golden Palm Tree Resort. But keeping in mind that the resort practises green principles, there’s no fear of being run over by motorised water scooters or skiers.
You can, instead, go kayaking, sailing, windsurfing or try the stand-up paddle, where you stand on a surfboard and paddle. It’s easier than it looks.
Afraid of water? No problem. Landlubbers can opt for cart sailing on a three-wheeled land yacht with a wing mast. Riders sit low and are strapped in, complete with headgear.
If you find sitting down too tame, have a shot at speed sailing where you stand and manoeuvre the sails as you race over the sandy beaches. However, both latter sports are available subject to wind conditions.
When the tide goes out, you can go on a beach walk. Doesn’t sound interesting? Well, this is a beach walk with a difference. Keep your eyes down and you’ll find you have company. There are thousands of little sand crabs scuttling over the sand and into pin-prick burrows to avoid being stomped by your feet.
Walk further and you may find that instead of sand, you’re sinking ankle-deep in mud. Stop right there as this is where you will find sprightly little creatures dancing along the surface of the mud. These are mud-skippers that come in with the tide and are left behind when it goes out.
Now lift your eyes and admire the oysters and sea snails that cling obstinately to the stilts supporting the resort villas.
Another worthwhile activity is the mangrove cruise. Golden Palm Tree Resort offers two cruises daily — at 9am and 3pm. The former sets out at high tide and returns as the tide is ebbing. The latter is the reverse.
Our 3pm trip starts with a ride in a van to the jetty at nearby Bagan Lalang where we board the boat at Sepang Besar River which runs along the border dividing Selangor and Negri Sembilan. The boat heads for the mangroves just as the tide is coming in.
Along the way, our guide Daniel, points out egrets, herons and we even see a brahimy kite soaring high above. Fishermen huts dot the banks and the inhabitants always have time for a friendly wave as we pass.
Then the boat stops at a muddy patch of Asiatic mangroves (bakau kurap) and we climb down the side, armed with steel hooks, to dig for lokam (river clams). We step into knee-high mud at places and scrape the surface of the mud. When we hear the steel hooks hit an object with a hollow sound, we know we’ve found a clam. After 20 minutes, we claim a booty of 12 clams. Not bad at all.
Back on board the boat, Daniel washes the clams and shucks one for us to see. Wow, despite its black, muddy exterior, the inside of the clam is extremely clean, with almost translucent meat. I eat the fleshy foot of the clam, finding it to be sweet and crunchy.
Then the boat moves on and it’s time to plant some bakau seeds. The pod-like seeds are shaped like a spear to help it take root when it falls from the tree and hits the mud.
As we leave the rivermouth, we see the rush of the incoming tide — quite a thrilling sight to see the agitated waters.
The two-hour cruise takes us out to sea where we have a sea view of the resort. Then it’s back up the river where we stop at several fish and mussel farms.
The cruise is priced at RM190 per person (min 2 pax), with a 20 per cent discount for Iconic Vacation Club members.
Golden Palm Tree has a total of 392 villas in five distinct styles but all come equipped with comfortable mattresses with downy pillows, smooth sheets and soft comforters, flat screen TV, telephone and many other amenities.
At the lower range are twin-bedded Travelers Palm and Premier Travelers Palm with a king sized four-poster bed.
The more spacious Canary Palm Villa features marble bathrooms, a lounge with a queen sized bed, a twin bed and a roomy living area.
The Ivory Palm Villa, which won the 2008 CNBC Best Interior Award, has two separate bedrooms, a spacious marble bathroom with a sunken bathtub, walk-in wardrobe and a lounge as well as a wide balcony that offers an uninterrupted view of the sea.
At the very tips of the palm fronds are the Royale Palm Villas, which comprise three bedrooms, a spacious terrace and an ocean front view.
HOW TO GET THERE
From the KL International Airport toll plaza, follow road signs to GPT resort. Call 03-3182 3600. Details at www.goldenpalmtree.com