Floating under the stars in the hot springs of the Lost World of Tambun, life couldn’t have been more perfect for the Benders. Originally from Perth, Australia, the family of four has been on the move for the last three years, travelling the world. A road trip around Peninsular Malaysia, with a month-long base in Penang, brought the family to Ipoh for a short vacation.
Said Erin Bender, 34, “We had a car and drove from Penang after reading about the Lost World of Tambun while checking up on Ipoh’s attractions on the internet. We were intrigued by the photos of the water theme park, especially the many different activities that one could indulge in regardless of age. As we run a family-centric travel blog “Travel With Bender”, with two kids in tow, the Lost World was just the ideal place to visit. It was a quick and uneventful 2.5 hour journey.
“Upon our arrival, I remember the heavy mist skirting the mountains at dawn. It was a breath-taking sight that gave us a surreal sense of being out of this world – more like something out of Jurassic Park! Nonetheless, it was indeed a welcoming morning greeting. After only spending two days at the Lost World, our daughter, Mia, asked if we could relocate from Penang!”
The travel writer and her husband, Josh, who is also in charge of photography, not only explored the city but took the opportunity to go beyond city limits, to check out the magnificent limestone outcrops of the “dark and mysterious” Gua Tempurung, among other places.
Erin recalled, “I would have loved to tackle the adventures offered by the cave system at Gua Tempurung; climbing the stairs, witnessing the beauty and shapes of stalagmites and stalactites formed over millions of years, or even swimming in the rim stone pools and sliding through river caves. However, with two young children, we could only go as far as they could manage. As you can imagine, it wasn’t very far!
“I’d love to be able to spend more time to enjoy the huge caverns made up of majestic marble columns and seek out the spider web of smaller caves. It would certainly be a memorable adventure but that would have to wait until the kids are older.”
A lot of visitors consider Ipoh to be a “small big city”. It was no exception with the Benders. Erin said, “Ipoh may be a city but it feels very different to the other big cities that we have visited. We loved the isolation of the place, of it being close to nature and yet enjoy the convenience of city life, and its ability to feel small yet big at the same time, if it makes any sense!
“If only there was a little more development in Ipoh, instead of just Lost World of Tambun, I believe visitors would come to Ipoh for more than just a weekend break, like we did.
“Instead, food became a major attraction for the duration of our stay in Ipoh. We couldn’t pass up on the delicious roti tisu or the mouth-watering roti canai, not forgetting a hot plate of nasi goreng or the sticks of satay that I could eat by the bucket load!”
Note: An edited version of this article [Around the world with The Benders] was published on 17th October, 2015, in the now-defunct The Malay Mail. Photos courtesy of The Benders.
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