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Short Break: English touch in kampung homestay
There are only seven rooms but it’s the cosy size and the two friendly owners that attract PEGGY LOH to the Teluk Iskandar Inn.
GRAVEL crunched under my feet as I walked up the garden path from the gate. In a garden fringed by shady trees, bougainvillea blossoms ran a riot of bright colours in stark contrast to green tropical ferns. The gleaming green VW bug in the garage was a clue to how much the owners cared for this little inn.
With my mind set on relaxing and recharging my tired batteries, I welcomed the attentive yet unobtrusive attention from my hosts, Kamariah and Ibrahim. Their greeting in flawless English made me feel very welcomed.
The Teluk Iskandar Inn is a modern kampung house built with a clever combination of brick and wood sprawled across a grassy knoll. There is a panoramic view of a matured garden against the backdrop of the South China Sea. It is designed with seven guest rooms with garden and sea views and are linked to their tropical kampung home in an interesting split-level sprawl.
With their sons grown-up and living abroad, the husband and wife have chosen to stay in Mersing and to open their home to guests for a very special homestay experience.
Dressed in baju kurung, the petite Kamariah explained that they enjoyed managing the inn, taking on multiple roles as manager, housekeeper, waiter, gardener, cook, driver and even tour guide.
What To Do
The balmy sea breeze through the open verandah was a pleasant change even though there was air-conditioning in the room. Lazing in the privacy of my shady verandah, I was soothed by the symphony serenade courtesy of beetles and crickets. And it was absolutely refreshing to wake up to after an afternoon snooze!
My room was clean and cosy, with woven mats on the wooden floors and a bedside lamp for late-night reading. But I was totally charmed by the mosquito net over the double bed. Cocooned within its gauzy drapes, I drifted off into a dreamless sleep!
Blades of sunlight sneaking through the wooden slats told me it was morning. Sinking deeper into the snug bed, I recalled how Kamariah and Ibrahim assured me there was no wake-up call – so I could sleep in until I was ready to get up.
Meals were served in a little sunken dining nook, surrounded by greenery. The Bed & Breakfast package included fragrant nasi lemak and yummy Malay kuih. I was glad there was a choice of a full board package because I was loathe to leave the confines of this comfortable inn!
Lingering over a second cup of local coffee, I soaked in the laid-back pace of life here, delighting in the interesting and amusing anecdotes shared by Kamariah and Ibrahim.
Then I was invited to write in their Guest Book. Flipping through the pages scrawled with all manner of handwriting, I noticed that their guests, many of them repeats, were a host of nationalities that made up a veritable United Nations!
After a slow start to the day, I took my time to think about what I wanted to do. Should I take a stroll to the nearby sandy cove for an invigorating swim or chill out in the cool alcove under the raised rooms? Perhaps I would accompany Kamariah to the market or go island-hopping as Ibrahim suggested. Whatever I would pick, I was already starting to feel more like myself.
How To Get There
Teluk Iskandar Inn is located at 1456, Jalan Sekakap in Kampung Teluk Iskandar, Mersing. Visitors from the North should exit the North-South Highway at the Air Hitam toll and head towards Kluang. Just before the town, take a three o’clock turn off the roundabout to drive towards Mersing. It is about five hours from Kuala Lumpur.
Or enjoy a two-hour scenic drive from Johor Baru to Mersing via Kota Tinggi. About 4 kms before Mersing town, turn right off the trunk road in the direction of Camp Iskandar and then turn left at the T-junction. Directions to Teluk Iskandar Inn are clearly signposted.
For reservations, call 07-799 6037 or 019-7048 624. Email: email@example.com. For more info, visit webpage: www.iskandarinn.com