Finally I fulfilled a childhood dream of staying a treehouse. You might think this is a silly dream and, it probably is because part of me still wants to believe in fairies and magic, but living in Singapore is sometimes stifling and restrictive. Most people took pains to leave the “kampung”, but for us, we really think that we should not forget our roots.
When was the last time you went on a vacation that changed your life? We, like some Singaporeans, have been to Cameron Highlands more than a couple of times, but did you know you can get even closer to nature than visiting the strawberry, bee, mushroom and various farms there? Did you know there are treehouses tucked away in the highlands? Having been there just last week, everyone I have talked to seems to be very interested to find out more so this has to be the fastest experience-to-blog post so far.
I came across the Terra Treehouse by chance, because I had wanted to fulfill the dream of experiencing a treehouse. And I was amazed that someone had thought of building treehouses in such a famous tourist destination such as Cameron Highlands.
Follow our journey below if you would like to find out if such an experience works for you. However, do note that it is hard not to get over emotional when you have a lot of time to think about life, so I might probably be rambling a little (or more than a little) in this blog entry.
First things first, we stayed one night at the Copthorne Hotel (formally The Equitorial) for one night as the arranged pickup place was at a restaurant near to the hotel and Kea Farm. This gave us an opportunity to go for some last-minute shopping at Kea Farm before meeting the manager of the treehouse at 3pm. The treehouse is inaccessible by normal car so we had to leave our car at the hotel carpark for the duration of our stay at the treehouse.
After a bone-shaking and thankfully short 25 mins ride, we arrive at the treehouse. I can guarantee that if you try to take on this road even with your SUV or “off-roader”, you will definitely get stuck. So unless you have a Land Rover Defender lying around and supebr driving skills, I recommend NOT rejecting their offer for a lift.
When I finally set foot on terra firma again, I only had one thought: “Thank God I’m staying here for two nights so I can take a break before going through that over again.”
The climb really took quite a lot out of me, especially with our full luggages so I highly advise that future visitors only bring the bare minimum to the treehouse. First lesson learnt: Travel light.
- A warm jacket and one change of clothes per night.
- No water but perhaps empty containers to store water.
- Simple, multi-tasking toiletries.
- Light ponchos, not umbrellas.
We received a briefing at the treehouse hall and learnt that any food you bring to the rooms have to be tightly sealed in tough containers (not plastic bags) or you will risk attracting wild animals in your room. It is not necessary to bring food too, you are not likely to starve.
After the briefing, we (and especially little Grace) can not wait to finally get to our treehouse!
Let me start with the worst to the best:
The worst, hands down, is the ride to the treehouse… But you already knew that.Now that we have the worst thing out of the way, let’s move on to great and positive things!
Mosquitoes and things that creep in the night: On the first day we were greeted by a huge amount of mosquitoes in the room and toilet because we arrived in the late afternoon and it had been raining the previous day. I’m like everyone else and gets very icked out by them too! So immediately after settling in, I took out all our mosquito patches and started smacking them on everyone. Truth be told, we were all feeling very miserable because it had been a wrecking ride, a long tiring climb and to find that you might not be getting good rest at night is quite worrying. During dinner I had to ask if they could do anything about the mosquitoes and they gave us some mosquito coils. To our immense surprise, the mozzies were virtually gone when we went back after dinner. Where there had been 20, now there were only one or two. So we left the coil on the toilet that night. We soon learnt that the mosquitoes typically only appear after rain in the early mornings and late afternoons.
At night, the light in your room might attract a couple of flying insects such as moths and flying termites but they are not a nuisance. Besides, we have a really nice mosquito net over our bed and we really appreciate the net so much!
Comfortable rooms and bathroom with shower and heated water: Living in the jungle does not mean you have to live like a caveman. The room isn’t huge but who needs big rooms when all the outdoors are for you to roam free? The beds are super comfortable and the thick covers really keep you warm at night. There is also a mosquito net so the paranoid, city inner person that is afraid of critters can get sound, uninterrupted sleep. The bathroom is fitted with, yes, a flushing toilet (and toilet paper), and you are guaranteed a warm shower with the gas heater. The water that runs into your bathroom is natural mountain spring water. Imagine! Bathing with Evian! As a bonus, I found it very fascinating how the houses are constructed and built.
Doing nothing: Seriously, is that such a bad thing after all? I spent hours just looking at trees. In my daily grind, it is hard to get that kind of relaxation and so much time to contemplate about what makes your life worth living. For me, I savoured every moment that I got, doing absolutely nothing.
Organic, clean and pure vegetarian food: Not only your mind goes through a transformation but your body as well. In addition, really, really do not balk at the idea of going vegetarian for a couple of days. The food is delicious and extremely flavorful. I’m a self-confessed meat lover, a carnivore, and before going, I really thought I could not go without meat even for a day. I have tried a radical apple diet for two days and my legs were jelly even after 12 hours. This is not about saving gaia or being kind to animals, it is something very fundamental to our diet and health. The bio-dynamic organic vegetables that were served to us changed our mind completely about food. Our palate have been so numb by rich foods high in fat, salt, sugar and artificial flavors that we have forgotten how actual, real food tastes like! When I had the vegetables which they grew themselves in their own farm, it revived our tastesbuds and we experienced flavors that were simply unexpected from vegetarian food. In fact, after our return back to Singapore, we crave for even more vegetarian and organic food than ever before.
The Wealth of wisdom in company: The best experience for me was to be able to talk to the other visitors to the treehouse, the manager Rachel and even the volunteers. First of all, I feel that anyone who finds the idea of this treehouse stay in the middle of the jungle is alluring is already someone who thinks differently than most. It felt so easy to talk to strangers as it if we are living in the same community with the same kind of thinking. Everyone wanted to get out of the deadbeat city and back into the pulse of life.
Rachel (the manager) is full of passion and vitality for the place. Originally from Penang, Rachel has taken it upon herself to manage the six treehouses. She runs it with her heart and soul. If you do get a chance to talk to her, she is has so much to share from jungle survival training, organic farming, nature, management and so much more
While we were there, we also met two volunteers, a student from France named Audrey and also Mohamed from Palestine who is studying in a Malaysian University. They were great to chat with and also great company for Grace.
If you open yourself up and started talking to all these people, everyone has their own story to tell. Your views start to change and you will gain invaluable wisdom. This short trip and experience taught me so much more than all the tours I have been combined.
When was the last time you sat back and thought about your way of living? Have you ever considered what are the really important things to you? Do you think your lifestyle choices are healthy and enriching your life? Is the rat race and such a lifestyle really beneficial to your children too? Are you really aware of what is happening to you and your loved ones or have you already been “numb” to the seemingly routine things that have been happening?
I have to say, so many thoughts did run through head and even today I’m still contemplating and reflecting. So far, we have slowly changed our way of living, starting from (delicious) healthy food and more exercise. And we have become a lot closer as a couple and as a family. I got out of this trip more than I expected.
Should you visit the treehouse? Is such an experience right for you? Only you know the answer. If you do decide to go, send my regards to Rachel and her wonderful team!