I’ve not been to Johor for over seven years, and when the opportunity came up to visit this southern state, I made some preparations for the trip…but boy, nothing prepared me for how much this state has transformed in such a short period of time!
Legoland came to my mind as my first destination to visit in Johor, but I was also curious about what Desaru looks like now compared to my childhood days. I still remember it was the place my parents brought me to when I was a kid. Perhaps the visit will rekindle some childhood memories from back then.
I put up a couple of nights at Sand & Sandals Desaru Beach Resort & Spa, a relaxing resort where you can enjoy both the private pool and its beach. It’s the perfect place for those who love water activities as the resort can arrange for your parasailing or water-skiing sessions. Guests who are in the mood for some pampering can visit the spa to indulge in massages, body scrubs and reflexology.
A golf club – the Els Club Desaru (elsclubmalaysia.com) – is just a short distance away. Golfers can enjoy playing at either the 27-hole Ocean Course or the 18-hole Valley Course, both offering amazing views of the beautifully-landscaped surroundings. Although I’m not a golfer, I was impressed with the facilities, service and panorama of the golf courses. I just wonder whether it would be a “distraction” for golfers trying to put that hole-in-one!
Also within Desaru is the Malaysia Tourism Award-winning Desaru Fruit Farm (desarufruitfarm.com). Occupying an area of 100 acres, this thriving “garden” is planted with more than 100 varieties of tropical fruits such as durian, rambutan, guava, mango, “thousand fingers banana” and more. Visitors to the farm can go on the guided tour to learn about the farm’s agricultural and pest management practice, taste the fruits that are in season and learn about bee-keeping and honey-harvesting.
My final stop was Legoland, where I could be a “child” again! Since it opened its doors in September 2012 as the first Legoland in Asia, it kept on introducing something new each year, keeping its attraction fresh and its fans coming back for more.
It was my first time there and I was kept fully occupied with the range of activities and fun engineered to keep visitors like me enthralled. The latest addition to the park is the Virtual Reality Coaster called The Great Lego Race which synchronises the visuals projected onto the VR headset with the roller coaster’s twists, turns, drops and climbs. Even if you’re not a Lego fan, being here alone will suddenly turn you into one!
Traveling around Johor this time around, I could see that the state is headed for a massive transformation with developments in Iskandar region, Desaru, Danga Bay and Forest City. The Desaru Coast project will become a new tourist attraction in the southern region of Malaysia with the opening of Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark, and Desaru Coast Conference Centre as a business events venue. Premium-brand properties such as Desaru Coast Resort, Hard Rock Hotel and Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas, meanwhile, will set the tone for the region’s high-end holiday appeal.
I think another trip to Johor is in store for me once all this development is complete!