Drifting at Desaru

One of the reasons for choosing to stay at the Hard Rock Desaru is that it is adjacent to the Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark. Alex wants waterslides on his tropical stay, Alex gets waterslides. Even better is that they are celebrating their first anniversary of operations, so tickets are discounted.

Buffet breakfasts are usually a highlight of stays in the tropics. Not only do you have the standard western fare, but you get to enjoy local delicacies. Our plates were piled with nasi lemak and beef rendang, curry puffs and kuih. Also French toast and old fashioned doughnuts, bowls of tropical fruits and other delights. More than enough to power a visit to a Waterpark.

Alex has become more cautious as he gets older. The kids water slides only hold his attention for a short time and he refuses to go on the longer slides or to join B on the Kraken’s Revenge flume ride/roller-coaster combination, despite the urgings of a young Italian boy.

Instead we drift around the lazy river a couple of times then wait a while in the huge wave pool for any waves.

That is fine by me.

The expanses of water and concrete reflect the harsh midday light as puffy tropical clouds drifted overhead. I am developing a headache when we emerge and we all feel like taking an afternoon nap.

First, some lunch. We return to the Desaru Coast tourist village behind the hotel, order fried rice and noodles from the Malay stalls there. It’s okay, much cheaper than hotel food.

The gardens around the village are lovely. Many of the plants are edible. Distinctive smelling pandan, banana palms, various gingers. We see that they artificial giants lilly pads are actually coated with old compact discs, the flowers made of coloured plastic spoons. A variety of fish species dart around the grey waters.

Then it’s back up to the hotel for a long rest. We just discovered that the hotel has some really good free videos on demand to watch on the huge HD screen.

It is six PM by the time we head out again to look for some dinner. We wander down to the beach in front of the Westin Hotel opposite ours. There’s a bar by the beach, but we take an evening wander along the sand to the public beach area.

The Moon is up, the waves are gently crashing against the shore of large grained sand. Other families are enjoyed the warm weather as well.

At the public beach area the crowds are packing up after an international windsurfing competition. There are a few Malay stalls selling fried food and drinks, but most of them have finished for the day, so we head back too.

Faced with expensive hotel restaurant meals we return to the same eateries as for lunch. They too are starting to close, but B orders a seafood tom yum soup and Alex a Western style fried chicken and chips. I feel like neither and when I go to order from the other stalls they apologise that they are closed for the day.

It is dark by the time we walk back. The village is lit up for the night, fairy lights and burning torches over the bridges, hurricane lamps and wicker baskets with lights inside hanging from trees. In the background lightning flashes in the skies behind the hotel, a pink glow threaded with brilliant white electricity.

I want to linger, the others to get back.

I’ve had nothing to eat for dinner, so we inspect the hotel restaurants, but everything is too expensive. I order a mango ice cream and the others mocktails, popular in Malaysia due to the Muslim majority, by the pool. Then it is time to race back to watch the Wimbledon final, Djokovic versus Federer.

Tomorrow our time in Desaru comes to a close. I have enjoyed it here. Unlike B, I don’t mind the isolation and limited choices. But it would have been more convenient with a car. It’s off to eat in Johor Bahru next, hunting for night markets.

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