Life Begins At...

The Retiree Magazine Summer 2011-12

Life Begins At.....

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 124 of 171

ISLAND TRAVEL "…holidays can do more for you than provide a great time. They can provide a sense of purpose." I'd researched my trip beforehand and found an outstanding example of responsible tourism, promoting the adaptive reuse of Malaysia's architectural heritage and using the profits to fund an animal clinic and shelter for neglected, abused and abandoned cats and dogs. Temple Tree Resort is owned by an Australian, Narelle McMurtrie, who also owns Bon Ton next door. Bon Ton is a cluster of eight traditional Malay Kampung houses rescued from demolition, reassembled and restored. Each is filled with Asian antiques and an eclectic array of knick knacks and rich woven silk fabrics in a lush tropical garden setting. Temple Tree comprises eight mansions and colonial bungalows of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian origin. All are exquisite. Mine had lime shutters, hardwood floors, a massive bath tub and day beds for relaxation. As I entered a small white cat with a stumpy tail greeted me and for the duration of my stay, followed me from room to room. Over the years I've spent a lot of time travelling in Asia and as much as I love being there, I often encounter stray dogs and cats in distressing circumstances. Several months earlier I'd been in Pondicherry, India. My most lasting memory was not of wandering the streets to absorb the glorious French colonial architecture, but of a dog that nudged me and followed close behind for several hours as I went in search of food for him. I offered the dog biscuits from home that I always carry but he wouldn't eat them. I gave him water which he drank, and I tried in vain to purchase a bone or some meat. In the end I bought pakoras which he ate and then he was gone. I didn't know what else I could do. When Narelle McMurtrie first moved from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur over 20 years ago to open a restaurant, she fed and cared for stray dogs who came in search of food. She then opened a restaurant on Langkawi and took seven of the dogs with her. Langkawi had no veterinary clinic. Narelle established one as a charity for the sterilisation of the island's stray dogs and cats as well as opening an animal shelter for their ongoing care (currently 135 dogs and hundreds of cats). LASSie (The Langkawi Animal Shelter & Sanctuary Foundation) is financed by the resorts and their restaurants. Both are not-for-profit ventures, staffed partly by volunteers. As I left Malaysia behind, on the express train bound for Bangkok, I reflected on my stay. Langkawi is a beautiful, safe, clean, inexpensive and welcoming destination but tourism can be a positive force and a stay GETTING THERE Malaysia Airlines flies to Langkawi via Kuala Lumpur from Australia. WHERE TO STAY Set on the grounds of a coconut plantation both Bon Ton and Temple Tree are charming, relaxed and intimate, suited to those who appreciate exquisite taste and historic architecture. Bon Ton's airy Malay Kampung villas have wide verandahs for you to enjoy tea and cake. Email: Website: Temple Tree next door comprises eight historic mansions and colonial bungalows that are full of character. My suite the turquoise and lime green Penang House was beautifully furnished and spacious. Email: Website: Guests can visit the clinic and walk the dogs. For information on the animal shelter Email: Website: www. GETTING AROUND Taxis are very inexpensive and my driver Dans was obliging, punctual and courteous. I paid $25 for a three hour island trip and $6 for the airport transfer. Dans may be contacted on 0124769987. Malaysia is a bargain destination thanks to a favourable exchange rate. INFORMATION Australian passport holders do not need a visa to enter Malaysia for a visit of up to three months, provided their passports are valid for at least six months and they have a return or onward ticket to another international destination. Tourism Malaysia, Level 2, 171 Clarence Street, Sydney. Phone: (02) 9299 4441 Email: malaysia@ Website: THE RETIREE SUMMER 119 here allows you to feel that you have made a worthy contribution. Narelle McMurtrie and her business partner Alison Fraser are givers, who through their endeavours have contributed in positive ways to make a difference to the place that they have chosen to call home and to provide an example that others can follow. And yes, I do miss that cat.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Life Begins At... - The Retiree Magazine Summer 2011-12