Busloads of vacationers, overseas and native, cease by the perimeter partitions of Istana Mersing, or Istana Flintstones, because it’s popularly recognized, every day.
They’re mesmerised by the multi colors and distinctive form of the constructing, which immediately brings to life, for them, the house of the Flintstones, a household immortalised within the fashionable Hanna-Barbera cartoon.
The journey from Johor Baru to Mersing is nearly a two-hour journey through a 130km trunk highway, however the initiated is aware of it’s value it as a result of such a palace is the one one in every of its sort on this planet.
The Flintstones was an American animated sequence framed in opposition to a romanticised Stone Age backdrop and was massively fashionable throughout its run from the early to mid-1960s. In 1994, it was additionally made right into a film that includes large title actors like John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Halle Berry and even Elizabeth Taylor.
The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, an enormous fan of this cartoon household, has saved the legacy of the Flintstones alive via his palace.
It’s situated on a sprawling 24ha website overlooking the ocean, with a nine-storey lighthouse, which remains to be underneath development. It apparently has 17 rooms, together with two presidential suites.
The 2-storey palace, constructed to resemble a large cave from the cartoon sequence, additionally has a museum and personal library, which homes 60,000 unique Marvel comics sourced from Australia.
His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim mentioned that he has been a fan of the cartoon since younger.
“I can keep in mind coming dwelling from faculty and ready for the cartoon to be on tv. Fred Flintstone, the primary character, stays my favorite.
“I might by no means get bored watching the sequence as a result of it brings again many good recollections of my childhood.”A life-sized duplicate of Fred Flintstone’s automotive from the present sits prominently close to the palace entrance.
It has specifically designed wood panelling on the automotive physique and faux-stone end on the wheels and chair, which was a present from the King, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, when he was a Crown Prince.
It’s a aid to know that the automotive isn’t feet-powered like within the sequence!
It was a privilege when the Sultan personally carried out a tour of his palace for this author and his colleague, Nelson Benjamin, the bureau chief of The Star workplace in Johor.
A person gifted with the power to recollect even the best particulars, Tuanku offered each bit of knowledge on how the construction was put up, and the place the supplies have been sourced.
“Each little factor was constructed from scratch and it was all correctly finished, ” he mentioned as he confirmed me a letter from the Hanna-Barbera firm granting Tuanku permission to assemble the Flintstones-themed palace.
Tuanku revealed he’s underneath strain to open the palace doorways to guests. “I’ll focus on with my son (the Crown Prince) about which sections of the home could be opened to the general public, ” he mentioned, including that it took 5 years to rework the once-swampland space.
Sultan Ibrahim additionally added that a number of recycled supplies, together with damaged marble items and KTM’s outdated wood railway sleepers, have been repurposed and made into furnishings to provide the place a country look.
He added that they’ve an on-site sawmill and a few 350 individuals, together with skilled carvers, engaged on the venture.
The quirky constructing, which homes all the things from swinging chairs to an enormous aquarium, is a bona fide personal theme park, which might match something in Disneyland or elsewhere.
My favorite a part of the palace is the dinner desk, the place projectors positioned on the ceiling beam down transferring animations of Fred Flintstone cooking.
There are additionally kitchens in varied elements of the palace. Unknown to many, His Majesty is a wonderful prepare dinner, and has restaurant-standard kitchens.
Sharing his imaginative and prescient of Mersing, His Majesty mentioned he hopes to rework the coastal city and put it on the world map. He added that folks all the time journey to Mersing – which is situated on the east coast of Johor – en path to close by island paradises resembling Pulau Rawa and Pulau Tioman.
Rawa Island was referenced within the 2018 blockbuster Loopy Wealthy Asians, though the elements depicting Rawa have been, actually, filmed in Pulau Langkawi in Kedah.
“We would like individuals to remain on the mainland.
“To realize this, we want good inns and eating places to cater to vacationers, particularly day trippers, ” mentioned Sultan Ibrahim, including that effort is required to enhance the jetty and clear up the Mersing river, which is congested with ferries and cargo vessels.
With eco-tourism a key income stream down south, Sultan Ibrahim added that there’s now higher management of the variety of divers within the space with the institution of the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park.
“Now we’ve got park rangers and an workplace to observe all of the actions across the marine park.
“The permits are issued by the native council and we will now higher shield the marine life across the space and stop individuals from simply anchoring their boats indiscriminately or carting away the marine life, ” he mentioned.
He added that the RM200 cost for divers was used for conservation efforts, however it is going to value extra for boats and rangers.
“We need to emulate Sabah of their efforts to guard their marine parks, ” he mentioned.
Conservation efforts apart, it’s the palace which takes centre stage because the Sultan’s jewel within the crown.
And if there have been a catchphrase to encapsulate the glee one experiences when seeing his abode, Fred Flintstone’s iconic “Yabba Dabba Doo!” ought to just do properly.