By Yiqi Wang – When my father suggested a family farm stay in Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm, my first thought was “ What?! A kampung stay with no aircon and no water heater?!” Needless to say, I did not hold high hopes for the farm and was even slightly dreading it. But the minute our car drove into the farm and I was greeted with the picturesque scene of quaint floating chalets on still waters, I was charmed.
Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm, a Johor Farm Stay Experience
Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm, or KOREF for short, has a distinctly “kampung” vibe and an uncommercialised, untouched quality that is seldom seen in tourist attractions. The minute I alighted from the car, a chicken strutted past me, eagerly pecking on the grounds. I could also hear the crows of roosters in the background; definitely a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of city life in Singapore.
KOREF is the first and only organic rice farm in Malaysia. However other than rice-farming, it also offers outdoor activities and accommodation for visitors. For my family of four, we chose the floating chalet farm stay package with 4 in a room that included 4 meals and 5 outdoor activities at 245 RM per person.
True to its name, the chalet sits atop the manmade lake, and we needed to walk on wooden planks over the lake to reach our chalet.
The interior of the chalet was incredibly basic with no TV set, no wifi, no air-conditioner and no water heater. Part of me wished that there was air-conditioning, but another part of me was also kind of excited about my impending basic stay. It made me feel like I was back in the 1960s, reliving my parents’ childhood memories growing up in attap huts.
Zipline over the lake
After hastily gobbling up the delicious tea prepared by the locals in the farm, we proceeded on to our very first activity which was ziplining over the waters! I was originally raring to go, but when I was all strapped up and about to take my first step out, I ended up screaming non-stop from fear of falling into the lake. Haha. However once I started flying over the waters, all my fears melted away and a sense of sheer adrenaline rush took over.
With the wind blowing across my face, the great view of the colourful houses floating on waters and the green paddy fields in the distance, it was a fantastic experience. In fact it was even too short for my liking! Towards the end of the journey, my feet even dipped into the cool waters as there was a degree of slant in the flying fox design. The feeling was just plain shiok in the hot and humid weather!
Right after the adrenaline-pumped session, I proceeded to the paddy field and got a taste of transplanting rice seedlings, another must-do in Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm. Walking bare-footed into the mud and bending over under the hot sun to transplant rice seedlings was no easy feat and it wasn’t long before I gave up. Because my hands were all muddy from transplanting, I didn’t even manage to snap selfies with my handphone! Argh, what a pity. So for future visitors, do come prepared with your cameras in clear pouches if you would like to snap pictures.
Other than the above guided activities, we were free to roam around on our own most of the time. Another activity I enjoyed was bamboo rafting on the waters. I’ve tried kayaking and canoeing before but bamboo rafting was new to me.
I thought it would be easy but it was surprisingly hard to manoeuvre. In less than 5 minutes, my father and I lost our balance and fell clumsily into the waters! So unglam!
Evening was spent cycling around the farm on the bumpy narrow roads before proceeding for a sumptuous seafood hotpot dinner, with a family- style karaoke session ending the night. Thankfully, there were no other guests fighting for that one and only karaoke room, and my family and I got to belt out the tunes to our heart’s content. There was a surprisingly large list of Chinese songs available, many of which were new songs.
In spite of misgivings about the spartan furnishings in the floating chalet, I had a restful sleep. Even though there was no air-conditioning in the chalet, it turned out to be quite cool at night. In fact, I even felt cold while sleeping, probably because it was near the lake which resulted in a fall in temperature. The lake was even shrouded in mist in the morning! The mist gave the peaceful lake an unearthly beauty. Even tree leaves and spider webs were glistening with dew drops.
Our itinerary was filled with action-packed activities, yet my favourite part of the farm stay was simply swinging beside the lake. It was so so peaceful and so very different from swinging in the HDB playground. In KOREF, the swings were located just at the edge of the lake, meaning my feet were extremely close to touching the waters when I rocked myself to and fro. Plus the views of the lush greenery and glistening waters in front of me were unbeatable.
Johor Farmstay, a Great Relaxing Trip in Malaysia
In spite of my initial reservations about an ulu farm stay in KOREF, it ended up being surprisingly gratifying, reminding me to appreciate family-bonding time and the simple pleasures in life. KOREF is 2 hours and 30 minutes away from Johor Customs. So add this place in your itinerary if you ever plan for a relaxing trip to Malaysia!
Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm Location:
KM 43, Jalan Kluang – Mersing
From Kluang Town: 45 minutes
From Johor Customs: 2 hours 30 minutes
+60-012-7683149 (Mr Tam)