Years ago, the resort was opened with much fanfare, introducing it's French and Japanese themed tourist spots as the main attractions. So, we thought it's time we pay a visit to check out what the hype is all about.
Although technically located in Pahang, the place is rather near to KL, about 30-40 km from where I live via the MRR2 expressway. However, after going past the unguarded guardhouse, we have to drive for another 20 minutes through a narrow and winding road before reaching the drive-thru ticket booths.
What could have inspired such an explicit warning?
There are four main areas that we wanted to visit: the Colmar Tropicale, Botanical Garden, Japanese Village and a rabbit farm. The RM 10 ticket purchased at the ticket booth includes the entrance for everything except the rabbit farm, which we found out was actually located before the ticket booth.
The Colmar Tropicale was inspired by the 16th Century Colmar Village in Alsace, France, except it is located in the middle of a tropical forest (hence "tropicale"). There are French themed architectures, carnival stalls and restaurants inside the village and, believe it or not, an arcade center.
Cuckoo Clock Tower.
To mildly put it, it was an underwhelming experience. Giving your restaurants Frenchy names and installing French-like buildings, or even asking your hotel reception staffs to wear French themed uniforms, does not make it a French village. The least you could do is get some people to walk around or man the stalls in French period costumes and maybe, just maybe, speak with an European accent. And where are the mimes?!
First of all, we're pretty displeased at the fact that we need to take a 10 minutes hike by foot up a ridiculously steep hill because for some reason, they won't let us drive into the area even though there are perfectly legitimate and empty parking bays up there. The botanical garden is located halfway up the slope, before the Japanese village. It might be associated with the village as there is a Japanese restaurant in the garden.
Like it's namesake, a Zen garden-like path leads into the Japanese village features a Japanese tea house and small shack. There are also a small stream and a customary Koi pond. At the entrance was a large signboard outside that awkwardly announces that this is "the world's first Japanese tea house in a tropical forest"!
Oddly, we weren't allowed to enter the tea house and they were peddling boxes of green tea satchets which I could've bought from the supermarket for a cheaper price. Other than that, the Japanese Village is by far the best place of the three even though it is relatively the smallest. I would like to say that the Japanese Village alone is worth the ticket price, but the Colmar Tropicale and Botanical Garden left a bad taste in my mouth.
The rabbit farm was an afterthought because we only remembered to visit it while on our way back.
First of all, we visited the place on a Friday morning, so that might explain the lack of other visitors / tourists. But I can't help but feel that what made Bukit Tinggi famous in the first place is no longer there, as if the place has suffered from a budget slash yet there is a new hotel under construction there. If you're planning a visit, you might have better luck on weekends where there might be a crowd to lift the ghost town vibe, perhaps making it easier to ignore the shortcomings that plagues the resort.