This small nature resort began as a simple retreat from the city for our family. In 1984, Helen put an ad in the Malay Mail to purchase a rural lot. Walking through a rubber smallholding in Negeri Sembilan, she looked out to the Mantin hills and fell in love.
All the rubber trees were removed and durian seedlings were planted by Helen, David and their five children. Lovingly developed over the years, the family always referred to their home as the Dusun, or the Orchard. When it became apparent that others love the Dusun as much as we do, Helen and David decided to turn it into a nature resort in 2009. Starting with two houses, the Dusun expanded one house at a time to only five houses. Each house is unique and set apart from the others so guests can enjoy privacy and a sense of space, what this family most enjoys.
The Dusun honours sustainable development in farming and building, which has created a beautiful and healthy environment. The family has a good relationship with the local community. The business only hires from nearby kampungs and shops from small entrepreneurs and other interesting responsible businesses. Activities are designed to raise awareness of Malaysia’s beautiful natural heritage and support local traditions, communities and NGOs.
Life on the Dusun may be surprising to some, but it is designed for those who enjoy fresh air, lush greenery, jungle views, lingering meals with loved ones, peaceful strolls and the wonderfully uncoordinated orchestra of the birds, crickets and frogs.
We loved our Land Rover, back when it was hardly a nature resort, it was just nature.
David pondering how to get water to the newly planted durians.
Li-Lien, one of the five children, marcoting guavas to create new seedlings. She may have torn someone’s t-shirt to make that head gear. Li-Lien now owns Emas House.
The brick patio by our first house was where we used to barbecue and dine each night.
James, another one of the five children, is digging drains with Rudolph, an old family friend. James now owns Tapir House.
David, along with Kateh, Mani and Masa from the nearby Temuan village, pulling up the ceremonial tiang seri, the first pillar of the Ibu House, where David and Helen now live.
Helen and David clearing stubborn ferns to plant what is now the veggie patch in front of Tembusu House.
Our first structure on the Dusun built in traditional orang asli style. The walls were made of bark with holes that would open when it was hot and close up when it was cold. Tembusu House now sits on the same site.
With no running water while we were planting, we used to have lunch by the river each day after a long morning of working on the land. The simplest joys of the Dusun really are the best.