Many hotels and resorts claim to be eco-friendly and often use it as a selling point. But how eco-friendly are they actually? Would the acts of harvesting rainwater, installing energy-efficient bulbs, use less washing chemicals and encourage re-use of towel and sheets be enough to categorize them as eco-friendly? Some would proudly claim so but the people at Eight Acres are not only doing a lot more than that, they are continuously improvising.
For the uninitiated, Eight Acres is a boutique lodge located in a valley among the fruit orchards, oil palm and rubber plantations in Raub. Like the name implies, Eight Acres is indeed 8 acres in size and was previously a basically a jungle consisting of oil palm and durian trees.
After a few years of careful planning and execution, the resort has finally finished its major constructions, which includes the Brick House (a bungalow consisting of six different themed rooms), a hydro system to power up the resort, a five-step water filtration system as well as some camping tents for the more adventurous.
Durian trees are aplenty at Eight Acres and if you are here during the durian season, you would even get to pick and eat them as soon as they fall off for a minimal fee. Two main varieties of durians could be found here: the highly popular and in my opinion the best – Musang King and D24.
And if there’s one thing Eight Acres is proud of their durians, it would be fact that they are grown without any use of pesticides. So even though the fruits don’t look as perfect as those you could buy on the streets, they taste better. The same for the water too – which is sourced from the stream hence cooling and more refreshing. Plus, it does not taste as ‘strong’ as what we get back in the city since it is void of chlorine.
Besides guests and staff, farm animals roam freely in the resort too. The idea is to rehabilitate the land back to its original condition with hopes of attracting the inhabitants of the wild that used to make their home here. Hornbills are one of them.
Among the six available rooms (Renewal, Contemplation, Discovery, Exploration, Surreality and Culture) we were given the Discovery room which can accomodate three @ RM660/night (no toiletries included so bring your own). The room has two single beds and is entirely surrounded by walls of book shelves filled with donated books.
If you look closely at the room’s finishing you will find that they do not look new although the Brick House had just been completed not long ago. This is because most of the building materials for the Brick House are from reclaimed sources. For example, the wooden flooring are recycled from old buildings, while the walls are constructed using blocks of compressed wood chips.
You don’t need me to tell you that Durian season is here again, those road side durian stalls are surely a good indication. I still remember the durian buffet I had at Donald’s Durian at SS2 for RM10 more than a year ago. Now, the price has gone up to RM15 due to low harvest.
Instead of buffet, we had ala carte durians this time around at the stall opposite Donald’s Durian located just behind the SS2 police station. It has no particular name except for the banner that says “Pahang Durian“. But you could easily identify the owner by his gold-dyed hair, which is also why people usually refer him as ‘Kam Mou’.
We opened a Bamboo Leg (Chook Keok) first but personally I did not fancy even though it is considered second only to the Raja Kunyit. The pulp’s texture is just too dry for my liking and durian is supposed to be creamy, no? Next we went for the XO Durian but found it to be half dry. But being a “Sure Eat Guarantee” stall, you could always request a new one as replacement.
Restoran Sri Karak is one of the few halal Chinese restaurants in PJ that for me, is worth visiting not for their famed Steamed Patin or any ‘Tai Chow’ dishes but for their durian desserts and pastries.
Anyway, the reason this restaurant bears the name “Sri Karak” is because it is the sister restaurant of Yik Kee in Karak, Pahang. Both of them have similar a menu but Durian ABC is only available here. I know Sri Karak should be quite famous for most PJ-ians but I actually walked in thinking it was just another restaurant, unknowing of its reputation among the locals. Being the signature pastry, the Durian Bomb (RM1.80 each) is a must try here and I suggest you to have it as fast as you can while the puff pastry is still flaky.
Whenever people ask me for places to eat in Penang, Kek Seng will always be one of my recommendations. Old and nostalgic aside (they still preserve the square wooden tables and chairs), home made durian ice cream is a rarity nowadays and fortunately for us it is still available at Kek Seng. Also, their one of a kind ice kacang topped with ice cream balls and colorful jellies is such an eye candy and a nice treat during hot weathers.
At RM3.50, the default ice cream ice kacang comes with two scoops of random ice cream, which could be strawberry, corn or chocolate flavored. So if you want your ice cream to be durian flavored, remember to specify it. Kek Seng does not skimp on the ingredients, as you can see the ice kacang was flooded with sweet corn and red beans.
Then there’s the jellies or agar-agar, one being a little sour and zesty tasting like lemon and the other being a little sweet. My first time having Kek Seng’s ice kacang was three years ago and I am glad to say the quality is still there. However, it still remains second best to me because of the absence of sarsi flavor. Somehow it did not feel so refreshing compared to the other ice kacang due to this.