This is an out-dated piece, we went there last March. But since I’ve published the article in Bonda magazine, might as well published here as well.
Desaru is located approximately 88 kilometers east of Johor Bahru, on the South China Sea. The journey from Kuala Lumpur is around 3.5 hours, where the new Senai Desaru Expressway (after PLUS exit) will take you straight to Desaru. There are few beach resorts in Desaru, but I think the place is still considered as secluded an unspoiled. Located on the eastern tip of the Malay Peninsula, it comprised of around 22 kilometers of sandy white beaches accompanied by the glistening waves of the South China Sea. Desaru is also not far from Legoland, but we decided not to go there yet as my son has not reached the minimum heights for some of the rides.
If your kids love animals (like mine!), one of the most interesting places to visit in Desaru are the crocodile farm. It is located in Kampung Belading, Teluk Sengat. If you are coming from Kuala Lumpur, you will actually pass the area before arriving Desaru. Located at a secluded palm oil plantation, the crocodile farm has thousands of these fierce reptilians (and still expanding!). The crocodiles were divided by age and gender. While we were there, the worker was so friendly, explaining to us details about the crocodiles such as its food, anatomy and habitat. The worker used a long stick to show how the crocodile responded so quickly with its tail when it was disturbed. Using the stick, the worker also able to show us where is the crocodile’s tongue located, since most of us there did not know where it was exactly. There was all kind of crocodiles there; including the 135-year old crocodile, the oldest inmate there. Interestingly, for the brave ones, baby crocodiles can be taken out gently for petting. Nonetheless, we were informed that there were no crocodile feeding shows there. We saw one in Sarawak a few years ago which was quite amazing.
Another favorite places for my son was the Desaru Ostrich Farm, Teluk Ramunia. Honestly, I prefer this place more than the crocodile farm, perhaps due to my not-so-fondness to the reptiles. The ostrich farm was established in 2001 with more than 300 ostriches around. I found out that this is the most complete ostrich breeding facility in Malaysia. We are really impressed with the farm as its personnel gives thorough explanation on the ostriches. It was a wonderful informal education for the children.
The ostriches are in the large sandy compound, close to their natural habitat in the wilds. You will start with the beginning; they will show you the hatching area where they keep the eggs. We were lucky as there was an egg hatched on that day and my son got to hold a newly-hatched baby ostrich. After watching the hatching part, you can try to stand and balance yourself on the ostrich eggs!
The ostriches are grouped based on their ages. The little ones are put under the roof as they are not strong enough yet to face the Malaysian-weather. As they reach teen years, they are move to none rooftop sandy area. We were informed that sand is a must for the ostrich. They cannot walk on other kind of soil. They also need sand to eat food since they do not have teeth on their own. As such, they bite some sand before their meal.
Most of the ostriches were friendly. We even manage to see the male ostrich performed its mating dance, showing its beautiful feather while emitting loud sounds. As like other animals, the males are more attractive than females, which is opposite to human I suppose! The male ostriches have beautiful black feathers and red beak, whilst the females have grey feathers. Although friendly, the mothers remain protective of its eggs. As such, only the farm owner can take the egg, not the other workers. Visitors are allowed to pet, stroke and feed the ostriches. Nonetheless, ostriches are attracted to glittering object so it is good if all the jewellery were kept out of sight before you enter the farm. For more adventurous children, a ride on trained bird’s back is available. Notably, there was also one cassowary bird there, living amongst the ostrich. We were informed that the bird was almost endangered in Malaysia.
In addition to the ostriches, there are other varieties of birds reared in the farm such as the Polish Chicken. The only thing I did not like about the farm was that it also has a monkey in a cage. After finish touring the farm, you can try ostrich-derivative delicacies next to the farm such as the ostrich satay, burger or their egg’s omelette.
At night, we went to see the fireflies along the mangrove wood after a delicious seafood dinner. My son definitely so happy to see fireflies for the first time! We were informed that the best time to come and see the fireflies is during the new moon period as it will be completely dark at that hour. Other than all the animals’ sightseeing, we really enjoyed the Desaru beach. It was definitely not crowded, breezy and my son just loves playing with the white sand. For the mommies, there are plenty of hammocks and good spas to rejuvenate yourself!