On Christmas day itself, Alvin and I drove around Berjaya Hills, the complex where the hotel we were staying in – Colmar Tropicale – was located.
I love, love, love the weather in Berjaya Hills! A bit cloudy with just the right amount of chill. Enough for a light jacket or a bit of layering right in the middle of December. And with that kind of weather, it’s so much fun to do some walking/exploring (as opposed to the extremely humid weather in the tropics paired with extra bright sunlight).
We took the car instead of opting for the transport the complex provides as they come in different intervals and will surely take much of our time. We also noticed that the lines waiting for them were pretty long. Holiday = More people.
When Alvin told me that we can actually participate in a Japanese tea ceremony near the hotel, I was over the moon. I’m crazy over Japanese history and culture so it was only natural for us to give it a go. 😀
The garden was stunning. Not perfectly manicured but that’s what makes it seem natural – real.
You can rent a kimono or a yukata for RM20 (Php251, EUR4.73, USD5.60) for your photo taking sessions. That is exactly what we did and boy, did we enjoy it – a bit too much, even. Haha!
The Japanese tea ceremony is done inside one of the bigger traditional Japanese houses in the garden. It’s at RM38 (Php478.73, EUR8.98, USD10.64) per person. The whole thing takes around 15 minutes. This might be a bit tiring for people who are not used to doing the seiza but it’s not really that strict and you’re allowed to sit in a more comfortable position – especially if you’re a girl. 😉 I love how the girl who administered the tea ceremony gave a good explanation and background of every step.
The Japanese Garden also has it’s own souvenir shop a few steps away. Some of the items on sale were just too cute!
When hunger strikes, there’s Ryo Zan Tei, a Japanese restaurant. The food was really good and you can dine in an outdoor area with a view of the gardens.
We took a short drive to the other side of Berjaya Hills to get to the horse stables. I love horses. I’ve always wanted to own one but of course, that would cost a fortune so I settled with grabbing every chance I get in tourist areas and stables everywhere to get near them and learn how to ride.
My husband was a bit reluctant to ride a horse as he has never tried it before. But after a couple of pouts and ‘pleases’, he gave in. We took a 10-minute Lead In ride which means there’s someone walking beside you, holding a rope attached to the horse’s reins. This is perfect for beginners. We opted for this one as it was a.) the fastest (we had another stop to go to before the sun goes down) and b.) the cheapest (Yep! Cheapskates and proud!). Though I really would have preferred a 90 minute trail ride, that would have to wait for next time.
For the price list, you can click here.
And our last stop – the Animal Farm. Known for being the best attraction for kids in Berjaya Hills, Alvin and I dropped by so we can play with the animals there. Yep, just like kids. Truth is, we’re huge animal lovers (just had to say it just in case I haven’t made it clear up to this point yet. Haha!) and we extremely miss our pets back in Manila.
Entrance fee is RM3 (Php38, EUR0.71, USD0.84) per person. You can also buy food for the rabbits and the deer for the same price. Do not feed them with human food as some might be toxic to them. You might be doing them more harm than good.
One thing I noticed though is how harassed the rabbits and the deer in the petting areas were. Most of them look stressed and ruffled as children run after them. Some would squeeze them hard and hurt them. Yes, it may not be the child’s fault as most of them don’t know what they’re doing (though some of them are honestly old enough to know that squeezing an animal will hurt it), but the parents should teach their kids not to this. I was appalled by how some of the parents just stood there. There was one kid who picked up a rabbit by its arms with no support on its bottom. The poor animal’s hind legs hung limply while the kid brought him to the other side of the petting area.
Just a suggestion to Berjaya Hills – please have some of the staff stay in the petting area and teach the kids the proper way of handling and playing with the animals before letting them play. Give them a bit of orientation, remind them to be gentle, and have a couple more of your staff on standby at the petting area to watch the kids and save the animals from extreme stress and even physical pain. These animals deserve better treatment than that.
So there. A day at Berjaya Hills. Alvin and I are planning to come back again with some of the people from the embassy. The boys can have a go at the Paintball arena while the girls can go for horseback riding or the tea ceremony. Would make a great bonding experience, right?