inspiration & rejuvenation: island retreating…
Posted in langkawi island, nature, pia's photos February 1st, 2011 by pia

So, as I was saying the other day, on our way to Sydney we stopped over to a little island in the Malacca Strait, off the east coast of Malaysia. We spent 5 blissful days lazing about on lounge chairs pool & ocean side, reading our books and sipping fresh watermelon juice… what a way to end one era and begin another, right? That’s what we figured. And as it turned out, it was very necessary to have the time together to just be – not doing, just being.

The island is called Langkawi, and it’s one of those best-kept secrets – a place that’s not fancy, not well known in trend circles which means it manages to retain its authenticity while being a place to relax and rejuvenate. And Malaysians are lovely people, so to be surrounded by their culture on this little island in the sun is pretty special.  Langkawi is now our regular stop over while traveling between Europe and Australia – it’s the perfect in-between continents getaway.

One of the places we always visit is Bon Ton resort. The first time I visited Bon Ton a few years ago (now spoken between French Boy & I as “our island retreat”), it looked like a mirage – one of those places that ticked all my island-fantasy boxes: individually designed wooden antique Malay huts surrounded by coconut palms…

nestled around a lap pool…

and sitting on the edge of an old lotus lagoon…

There is so much I love about this place, and I won’t deny that the architecture and interior design of each hut is one of the major attractions for me…

Plus I have to admit, I’m slightly obsessed with the bathrooms of each hut. This time we stayed in the Black Coral villa because I’ve been eager  to try the outdoor bath…

And yes, it was fabulous – I whiled away an afternoon in there, reading a book and looking up at the tropical trees above. I did panic for a moment thinking that maybe there was a coconut tree among them that would drop a coconut on my head while bathing. But, I was reminded at that time by my man that I have an extra-specially active imagination. And, I’m happy to report that no such event took place.

Seriously gorgeous, right? There is now a new addition on the same property as Bon Ton and it’s called the Temple Tree – it’s a glorious assortment of  antique buildings with a mix of cultures, including ‘the chinese house’, the ‘colonial’, and ‘black and white house’ which we also stayed in during this last visit…

I’ve decided these are the perfect writers retreats. I’ve been dreaming of being able to spend a few months here, writing – & photographing – to my heart’s content…

So that’s a little about the villas and houses, but then there are the restaurants –  Bon Ton and Temple Tree are home to 2 of the best restaurants on the island – the Nam restaurant (at Bon Ton) and the Straits Club (at Temple Tree). Everything is delicious – at the Straits Club we had one of the most superb versions of nasi goreng I’ve ever eaten, and an incredible condensed milk ice cream for dessert. Not to mention the breakfast plate. And the crunchy pistachio haloumi won me over at the Nam, as well as the nyonya platter (check out the full menu here)… I could go on and on about the food.

I think though, the reason I love this place so much is because it’s a resort with heart. Bon Ton owner and fellow Aussie Narelle created these special places as a way to raise money for her Langkawi animal shelter and sanctuary called LASSie. It’s a wonderful cause, and if you’re an animal lover like me, it makes it all the more reason to stay. The shelter is situated on the same property, so you can visit the animals, take the dogs for walks, or even adopt one…

“ of the main objectives of LASSie is to educate people to ensure their peaceful co-existence with both their wild neighbours as well as domestic animals.”

While enjoying an evening drink with Narelle one night, she told us about a new creative retail project her and her team have just launched for LASSie. The whole idea of it made me giddy with excitement, and I’m even more excited to be able to share the details about it here in the (blog)house. So, that post will be up next.


PS also best kept secrets/not to be missed tips of things to see & do while staying on the island, if you get the urge to explore this beautiful place one day… go on a jungle tour with dev’s adventure tours – loved this, and can’t wait to go again. I also want to do the mangrove kayaking tour next time; dine at the pahn-thai restaurant at berjaya resort – it’s built out over the ocean and on the night we went, there was a full moon and not a breath of wind – pure magic. The food was fabulous.

PPS and I wrote all that without one exclamation mark.

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  1. twiggs says

    a brilliant retreat whih no doubt whatsoever! i fell in love with your wishes of writing and taking pictures all over the place, wandering there for months… what a dream! have a delicious week pia! twiggs

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  2. notabilia says

    We are heading to Langkawi shortly and I am in the midst of planning our trip. How fortuitous that you posted this today! Sounds like you had an amazing time.

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  3. Prêt à Voyager says

    Gorgeous, Pia! Well deserved/earned. Glad you got some R&R!


    February 1st, 2011 | #

  4. CALinteriors says

    It looks like paradise…what a wonderful getaway…thanks for these gorgeous pics :))

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  5. ness says

    absolutely gorgeous pia. i now know where my next between-continent stop-off will be. looks so tranquil and yes — perfect for writing/creating retreats.(also congrats on the no exclamation marks. tricky to do: i know! ( i couldn’t help myself). ness x

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  6. Becka says

    Wow, it looks so dreamy. Loved all the pics!

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  7. erin says

    mesmerizing. utterly.

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  8. rossana says

    Gorgeous! I’ve been to Malaysia before and you are right the Malay people are sooooooooooo lovely and amazing food! This resort looks fab and specially like the idea of the animal shelter..I’ll be checking out the links-Thank You !

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  9. Tina@FlyingHouse says

    wow. Completely and totally, wow! I’m so happy for you!

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  10. Erin says

    Can I just say I want your life? Moving to Sydney from Amsterdam, stopping in Malaysia on the way…aaaggghhhh trying not to be hellishly jealous.
    Is it just me or does this island look like the perfect place for a honeymoon?

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  11. Kristina says

    Wow, I am in love with your pictures, they are beyond beautiful, they are magical! and the place where you stayed is out of this world!!
    Such a wonderful place, Langkawi moved def up on my need-to-go list, I have been travelling around in Malaysia, but somehow always sticked to the East Coast for beaches…
    Viele Gruesse, Kristina

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  12. coco says

    !!!!!!!! Absolutely delicious. Every picture took me away to the island as though I could feel the ground beneath my feet. What a beautiful hide out. A writer’s dream indeed. An artists haven, thank you for all your awe inspiring posts, pictures, and thoughts. !!!!!!!! exclamation to infinity.

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  13. Lee says

    Seriously gorgeous, and thanks for the info.
    Have you ever been to Tioman Island, on the east coast?
    I went a long time ago, also stopping off between Oz and blighty, i don’t know what the accomodation situation is but it was a lovely spot too.
    Good luck with you new life in Oz.

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  14. Lee says

    Pia, a question. I am starting a new blog about Tropical houses, could i include these photos on it somehow, with accreditation of course.Please let me know if it would be ok.

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  15. An says

    Stunning photographs Pia! Absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for sharing and letting us come along through your post. xo

    February 1st, 2011 | #

  16. andi says

    Seriously, heaven on earth! I will go there 1 day!!! Absolutely amazing and I will use exclamations for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  17. Natalie says

    Wow! I’m convinced. It looks gorgeous. Will definitely add to my list of places to visit. :o)

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  18. Lidna says

    very wonderfully writing (without exclamation marks) you have started a trend no exclamation marks. very good.
    lovely travel post.

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  19. betsy says

    i love stopping in to find this, pia. and i love the extra-specially active imagination. i can imagine my boy saying {grounding, giving perspective to, etc} my very own e.A.I. . . . happy travels and dreaming, photographing and writing. you are finding your way and we are all privileged to be a part.

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  20. Eva @ Four Leaf Clover says

    This place/your photos.. gorgeous! Talk about a dream vacation! I’m VERY glad the coconut incident you worried about did not happen and I can’t wait for your LASSie post!

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  21. katiecrackernuts says

    I will look it up. I have been dreaming of just such a retreat.

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  22. Mandy says

    Oh Pia, how beautiful, what a great way to unwind before your big move …. I love the shot of the bed, just divine !!!

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  23. Leslie Oschmann says

    I want to live there! Beautiful!! Worthy of….!!!!!

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  24. bobbi says

    wonderful place, especially because there is an animal shelter so close by. It would be my perfect getaway too. So great thet you have found a place like this in between your two countries! I live between two cities and I could never find a place like this in between, it doesn’t exist!!

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  25. beth says

    So amazing looking- I can’t imagine actually being there!

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  26. linda dacey says

    if i wasn’t jealous of you before
    i certainly am now


    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  27. Moocy says

    I’m so in love with these pictures! This place looks amazing… definitely going on the “dream vacation” list. And I love that it helps raise money for animals. Beautiful all round.

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  28. Joanna says

    thanks Pia. Loved this post. Am going to put on my travel wish list.
    ps. thanks for the reminder not to overuse that !! and not to self not to overuse the …
    Have a lovely day.

    February 2nd, 2011 | #

  29. Diana says

    I’m refraining from inserting exclamations here. I just came back to check your blog house after not having visited for a while. First I saw these stunning retreats. And then I read on to learn about the Sydney news.
    Wonderful wanders you’ve been up to.
    Wish you the best of times in Australia – and hope for many more inspiring posts.!.

    February 3rd, 2011 | #

  30. cornel says

    Wow! Looks like an amazing place to “experience” …

    February 3rd, 2011 | #

  31. Tara Bradford says

    Seriously gorgeous is right! Thanks for sharing thesse beautiful photos of a wonderful destination (must add to my list). xoxox

    February 3rd, 2011 | #

  32. camilla leila says

    if i’m honest, i’ve never had much interest in visiting anywhere in asia…

    but this…

    this is a game changer.
    i am so hungry for an adventure like this.
    you and your french boy have EXCELLENT taste and class.


    February 3rd, 2011 | #

  33. Bria says

    Oh my gosh! This place is like…my dream vacation. Amazing! Your photographs had me convinced but the animal shelter sealed the deal. Some day I will find myself in this dreamy place and it’s all thanks to you. Thank you for sharing! 🙂 (And I’m impressed with your lack of exclamation marks…I have a hard time eliminating them myself, as you can see.) 😉

    February 3rd, 2011 | #

  34. megg says

    Absolutely beautiful! And just the break I needed tonight. Closing my eyes and dreaming myself there for just a moment made my day. Thank you!

    February 4th, 2011 | #

  35. Janet says

    I keep coming back to look at these photographs. They are so elegantly beautiful.

    February 4th, 2011 | #

  36. sya says

    oh Pia, you came to Malaysia again! yeay! glad that you loved Langkawi. great pictures btw 😉

    February 7th, 2011 | #

  37. Chick says

    Pia! How amazing are Narelle’s hotels!? I stayed in one of her colonial shophouse apartments in Georgetown last November….the perfect base from which to discover the foody glories of Penang. Thanks for the post, has kick-started a lovely trip down memory lane!

    February 8th, 2011 | #

  38. NYC Interior Design says

    This Island looks amazing, thank you for all the great photos. It looks low key too.

    February 9th, 2011 | #

  39. meenal@maison marigold says

    Pia you don’t need to put in exclamation marks when your gorgeous photography evokes the exclamation of joy and wonder in the hearts of your readers!! Stupendous imagery!!

    February 10th, 2011 | #

  40. Chuzai Living says

    This place looks magical! I would love to stay here if we go visit Langkawi. Since we live close from there, I should make a trip there with my family. I would love to go visit a place like that as we live in the neighboring country, Indonesia. Kaho

    February 11th, 2011 | #

  41. says

    …… paradise….

    February 12th, 2011 | #

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  43. Shahrul Niza says

    OMG. Pia, This post brings lots of beautiful memories of my childhood. My old grandpa made a living of building wooden houses in the village in Kedah, when he was a newly married young man. When I was a child, we kids visited him in the village (just like the old traditional houses in Langkawi Island) and feasted on rambutans!. I wished that one day I would able to build a wooden house near the beach In Langkawi, keep chickens and live simply.

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