Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Wedding Photo in Lone Pine Part 5 - LEPAK and a Hidden Wonder

Location: Batu Ferringhi, Penang isle, Malaysia

Note: This article was written base on experience of staying in Lone Pine Hotel's Deluxe room in January 2013. Experience may differ with other rooms of the same hotel.

Wandering around the building of Lone Pine Hotel, we explored the surroundings like kid explorers hunting for treasures. And a treasure did we found. Hidden between the block housing our room and the one facing the beach was a lobby converted into a game and recreation room with the word “lepak corner” describing the place. The name itself employed an apt local term to describe the recreation area as “lepak” meant “to loiter” in Malay, educating and endearing foreigners with our national language.

"Lepak Corner", essentially a place for loitering.

Lone Pine Hotel has its fair share of art strewn across its corridors and lobbies.

The airy area had a congkak and a small bookshelf with old books, although the latter failed to capture my attention with books on random topics and genres. I was not familiar with the rules of congkak, but I could imagine foreigner’s interest in the local game. Patrons who visited or stumbled into this area could just seat themselves in the cushioned benches, enjoying a cool breeze blowing past intermittently.

With all the window panes swung wide open, "lepak corner" the recreation area allowed breeze to flow through naturally. The unavoidable tropical side effect of this was allowing mosquitoes to pest you. The fluffy cushions were rather successful area for those pesky insects to hide in.

Nostalgic window fixtures - straits settlement building usually employ wooden  panes. Fixed windows may have glass instead. The wooden window panes are anchored in place by pinning the metal bar at the bottom to control the occlusion.

Particularly nostalgic was the furniture and window fixtures of “lepak corner”. I was not sure whether the sofas were the type bound by wound rattan, a cushion on them to protect the backside but it sure did look familiar. Long gone from modern houses were the reminder of straits settlement type of windows – without glass or grills, just a wooden casement window that swung outward and anchored in place by aligning a punched metal bar with a pin, much as a belt does.

The small reading area has a table complemented by a shelf full of reading material. Unfortunate for me, these are not my type of book.

Wandering further from “lepak corner”, we were rewarded with a partially hidden area devoid of visitors due to its relatively isolated location. In reality, part of the reason we managed to stumble into this hidden utopia was because I noticed it being an area directly under our balcony, but its location was not directly accessible, requiring a short detour along a pebbly path from the game room.

Wandering away from "lepak corner" and onto a pebbly path, we were rewarded with a stunning view, a hidden treasure awaiting enthusiastic explorers.

The area I mentioned could have fooled me into thinking that I stumbled into a hidden Balinese kingdom. The architecture of the area was calm and soothing, a shallow pool lined with a small grove of trees. It wasn't hard to imagine the area reminiscent of a temple, worshiping an unknown deity and providing enlightenment. Two covered veranda faced each other across the pool while three pots that could easily be fountains or fire holding scones stood stoically in the middle between them.

I marveled at the reflection of the sky on the pool of water, a natural mirror of unparalleled calmness. It wasn’t hard to imagine monks sitting here, pondering upon the mysteries of the universe and of life, undisturbed as the waters were. I could have stand there and bask in the moment for more than an hour if my wife did not pull me out of my reverie. If I could afford it, I would love to have such a garden in my house and put my bed in the middle of the pool to take a nap there.

The wonders we unearthed by exploring the area between buildings. Sometimes it is better to leave the pictures to do the talking...

Done with exploring, we reluctantly left the area filled a sense of wonder.  It is time for us to say farewell to this lovely hotel.

Good things never last though as I only could afford to stay in this hotel for 2 days. The next article will be a record of my farewell to this lovely hotel, and a glance back at views I missed from the previous articles.

Environment:         A relaxing beach front facing the Malacca Straits
Suitable for:           Lounging in a hammock with loved ones (yes, there really are hammocks), fun with water sports, and definitely a romantic choice of stay

Opening Hours:      It's a hotel, so basically there are people 24 hours a day, but office hours are still observed.
Price:                       Room and RatesRM920 for the cheapest room (Deluxe) but if it is not a peak season, it usually get discounted to half the amount. Mail/call ahead to check on the details.

Contact:                  Phone (+604) 886 8686; Fax (+604) 886 8600
Address:                 97 Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Penang, Malaysia.    
Getting there:         Take a cab or drive there - this is Malaysia, public transport is never a good choice. Drive along the road to Batu Ferringhi, and you will first pass by Tanjung Tokong and start driving along a winding road with the sea on right side, the near vertical cliff wall on the left. Once you started seeing shops, you have reached Batu Ferringhi, and will be greeted by a traffic light at a junction (Holiday Inn should be at your right at the junction). Drive past this junction but stay on the right of the double lane. The entrance to the hotel is partially hidden and not very obvious, but it is the second entrance to the right after the traffic light. 

Website:                 Lone Pine Hotel main website

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