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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gunung Jerai, Kedah, Malaysia

Gunung Jerai, located in the northern state of Kedah is 1200 meters above sea-level. In the olden days, Kedah Perak as it was then known played an important role as a navigating point for sailors from as far as the Middle East and Europe. Today, Gunung Jerai is Kedah's premier hill resort and recreational park. On a clear day atop the peak, the cool, refreshing mountain offers spectacular views of the rolling paddy fields of Kedah stretching up to Perlis, and the islands of Penang in the south and Langkawi in the north-west.
Like all other mountains, Gunung Jerai has its fair share of history and fascinating tales. Legend has it that Raja Bersiong, the 'king of fangs' once had his ancient kingdom within the Bujang Valley, at the foot of the mountain. Relics uncovered in the area provide evidence of a Hindu-Buddhist civilization dating back to the fourth century A-D.
Isolated from the other mountain ranges of Peninsular Malaysia, Gunung Jerai has a unique range of medicinal plants and herbs not found in other mountains.

Sungai Teroi Forest Recreational Park
A haven for a variety of unique mountain flora and fauna. Orchids, rhododendrons, pitcher plants grow abundantly within the park.
Hiking Trails along wooded areas leading to the picnic site provide opportunities for nature lovers to enjoy leisurely strolls. The beauty of Gunung Jerai is best experienced while jungle trekking through the natural splendour of this rainforest treasure. For the move adventurous, camping sites, are provided along the trails. Basic camping facilities are available at a nominal fee of RM3 per person.
For a cool refreshing retreat, 30 minutes of brisk jungle trekking from the Gunung Jerai Resort leads one to the breathtaking sight of a clear mountain stream cascading down the hilly slopes.
A visit to the Foresty Museum which is located halfway up the hill will provide a wealth of information on various species of wood collected from Malaysian highland areas.

Located 1.083 meters up the mountain is the 39-room Gunug Jerai Resort. Built in the 1920's, the original rest house is reminiscent of similar buildings in the English countryside. There are 6 family chalets, with a choice of either 3 bedrooms or 2 bedrooms, set amidst beautiful natural greenery and flowering plants. Each chalet has a dining and living room and is well equipped with cooking facilitiues.


Swiss Garden Resort & Spa Damai Laut

Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut (formerly known as Swiss-Garden Resort & Spa Damai Laut), a 4 star resort, open on 18 December 1997 is an international standards resort blended with the quiet charm of traditional Malaysian hospitality in a rich tapestry of comfort and luxury. Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut (formerly known as Swiss-Garden Resort & Spa Damai Laut) offers guest a wonderful retreat to nature. Providing superb hotel amenities coupled with attentive, personal service, the resort is perfect for business conferences or a holiday filled with recreational fun.
Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut (formerly known as Swiss-Garden Resort & Spa Damai Laut) is a very private hotel with 300 well appointed guestrooms overlooking the Straits of Malacca and Pangkor Island. It is located on a 425 acres of natural rainforest and surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, wetlands and offers beautifully landscaped gardens and large open spaces with breathtaking sea view for guests who want to relax and enjoy a wonderful retreat to nature. All rooms are equipped with amenities including High Speed Internet Access, IDD telephone, individually controlled air-conditioning, colour television with CNN International news service, Astro channels and in-house videos and an electronic safe in every room for personal documents and valuables. This resort is perfect for business or holidays complete with recreational fun. All rooms are air-conditioned and come with its own private balcony.
Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut (formerly known as Swiss-Garden Resort & Spa Damai Laut) offers a wealth of recreational options. Relax by the swimming pool, be pampered with a soothing Spa treatment, enjoy a game of tennis or squash or work out at the Fitness Centre. The centre comes complete with a fully-equipped gymnasium, male and female saunas, Jacuzzi, a steam room and Spa. Recreational and leisure facilities includes a free-form swimming pools, wading pool, board and computer games, children’s playroom, watersports centre and teambuilding facilities are available and a Convenience store.
Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut (formerly known as Swiss-Garden Resort & Spa Damai Laut) comes with an 18-hole (Par 72) championship golf course and a driving range.
The options for dining and entertainment at Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut (formerly known as Swiss-Garden Resort & Spa Damai Laut) range from casual to cosmopolitan. All-day dining at the Garden Terrace offers local and international spreads. The Blossom Courtyard offers exotic cuisine from the Mediterranean & European, providing a perfectly cosy ambience. The Gayam, an open restaurant on the sea that faces the sunset offers selections of Seafood BBQ dishes and wide array of concoctions. The Nineteenth Karaoke Lounge offers a wide selection of songs. The Blue Chip Lounge is the perfect place to sit back and relax after a day long tours or a sightseeing trips with our coolest beers in town whilst being entertained by the hotel’s resident pianist or band.
Welcome to the enchanting and mesmerizing resort by the sea, Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut (formerly known as Swiss-Garden Resort & Spa Damai Laut).

Contact Person :
Swiss Garden Golf Resort Damai Laut Reservation Centre
Email : or
To assist us in answering all your enquiries, kindly specify the
hotel's name and quote the following reference number -> 1163

Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill), Perak, Malaysia

Bukit Larut was founded in 1888 and is Malaysia's oldest hill resort. It rises to a height of 1,035 meters, just 3km (10 mins drive) from Taiping, Perak. It is located in the wettest part of the country, as the hill station experiences the highest rainfall in the country. William Edward Maxwell who was appointed as Assistant Resident of Perak in 1875 worked and lived in the Larut area. Taiping was a beautiful basin, surrounded by lush tropical jungle and lofty hills. The cool, jungle air brought in by the morning breeze prompted Maxwell on a quest for a hill station who sourced this place for hill resort. Hence Bukit Larut was formerly called as 'Maxwell Hill'. The road leading up to the 1,000m high summit, winds through lush shady forest. After the ride up, you will be rewarded with fresh and cool hill top air and a breathtaking view at the Larut Rest house.
Bukit Larut is not nearly as developed as other popular hill resorts of Malaysia such as the Cameron or Genting Highlands but it is widely known by Green Peace Lover, Botanical Scientists, and Flora and Fauna Specialist World Wide.

In Bukit Larut there are hundred & thousands of rare species of flora and fauna which you can hardly find anywhere else on this earth as it is not explored and contaminated by human development.
Gardens cultivated with care, cool and fresh air and the crystal clear water bring refreshment to your soul & body. The best part is the natural sounds made by nature when the cool air blow in the forest and the sound made by animals.

The hill abounds with groves of evergreens and vibrantly colored flora and fauna. Roses, dahlias, daisies, pansies, petunias, lupins, and marigolds abound in profusion. The cool climate also favors golden sunflowers with reputedly the largest variety in the country.

Midway to the top is the Tea Garden House that was once part of the tea-estate. The view at this point is magnificent and features the entire Taiping town as well as the Lake Gardens. Also visible are the suburbs of Aulong and Simpang and the 19km stretch of Taiping - Port Weld road.

Lake Garden comprising of 62-hectares parks is one of the biggest and most beautiful parks in the country. It offers lush greenery, a beautiful lake abounding with freshwater fish, a gazebo and a colourful profusion of flowers. The Taiping Zoo probably the oldest zoo in the country, is another attraction located within the Gardens. Admission to the other facilities available at the Gardens include a 9-hole golf course, fishing and aqua biking in the lake area.

Bukit Larut Rest House,
Bukit Larut, Taiping. Perak
Tel:  05-807 7241

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Adeline's Rest House, Perak, Malaysia

Get Back To Nature

For a back-to-nature weekend with a difference why not try Rumah Rehat Adeline (Adeline’s Rest House) at Kampung Geruntum near Sungai ltik, just 7 Km from the Perak town of Gopeng.
However, if you like your creature comforts then this may not be for you, but If you enjoy outdoor hobbies and, have an adventurous spirit, then read on.
The Rest House is set in a spacious plot of five acres containing a number of well established Durian trees.
Within walking distance from the Rest House a sparkling waterfall tumbles its way down an obstacle course of boulders through shady forest. This is also the haunt of White crowned Forktail. Eventually the turbulent river levels off to a more meandering route to create some quieter pools that are safe for bathing.
For those with a keen interest in nature there are some excellent opportunities for pastimes such as photography, bird and butterfly watching, as well as more active outdoor pursuits.
Birdwatchers, for instance, can expect to find species such as Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Red-crowned Barbet, Black headed and Stripe-throated Bulbuls, and Rufous tailed Tailorbird, Barn Owl in the nearby oil palm plantation, Great Hornbills and, more recently, a small group of White-crowned Hornbills, judging by his apt description of this species’ “punky white hair-do”.
Butterfly enthusiasts will not be disappointed either. A small hot-spring bubbling to the surface in the plantation just a short drive from the Rest House created a perfect habitat for a colourful gathering of male Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing, with a number of other species observed in the plantation and many more near the waterfall.
The experienced botanist, as well as those who simply have a layman interest in tropical flora, will find that the nearby forest has plenty to offer, not least of all being the fact that one of the famous Rafflesia species grows here. Obviously, if you are keen to see and photograph one, it will be worth checking with Adeline prior to booking to find out whether there are any in bud or even flowering at that time. She can also organise for a guide to take you to the exact location.
More strenuous activities such as jungle-trekking, white-water rafting on the Kampar River, abseiling, and exploration of the nearby Gua Kandu caves are also available.

Office Address:
No.1 jalan Sungai Itik,
Jalan Wayang,
31600 Gopeng,
Perak, Malaysia.
Office No: 05-3592833
Office Fax: 05-3592835
Mobile phone No. :
6019 556 1113 (Ian),
6017 572 1113 (Adeline)


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Felda Residence Trolak Sungkai Perak, Malaysia

Resort Location

Felda Residence Trolak is a beautiful resort perched on a hill in the midst of a vast plantation in Sungkai, Perak, Malaysia. It is about 120 km from Kuala Lumpur.
The resort is within easy access of the highway and old trunk road, making it a convenient destination for leisure travellers, local tourists, and corporate guests.
Perak State is located on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula, at the northern approach to the Strait of Malacca. It extends deep into the peninsula, with its eastern border marked by mountains of the Main Range.
Malaysia, meanwhile, is one of the gems of Southeast Asia. It is a land of geographical and cultural diversity where the treasures of the past and the present coexist. The country is home to towering skyscrapers, ancient relics, and natural wonders that never cease to enthrall its frequent visitors.

Location Information

While staying at Felda Residence Trolak is an unforgettable experience, the resort’s strategic location makes it possible for guests to explore other places of interest:
  • Felda Residence Sungai Klah – 18 km
  • Orang Asli Settlement – 18 km
  • White Water Rafting Adventure Place – 20 km
  • Deer Farm – 25 km
  • Ipoh – 100 km
  • Centre Market, KL – 128 km
  • KLIA Airport – 160 km
Karaoke Evenings
It is time to chase the blues away! Let loose and sing to your favourite tunes with friends and family. New talent discoveries are yet to be made, why not it be you? A popular recreational activity that is light-hearted and entertaining, singing almost always breaks the ice and bridges the gaps!
Endless Fascinating Activities to Keep You Entertained
To make your stay even more exciting, indulge in the full range of comprehensive facilities and activities which includes fishing, boating, tennis, squash, badminton, seasonal fruit picking, jogging, deer and aviary farm, gymnasium, indoor games and karaoke. Enjoy the refreshing waterfalls; explore the mysteries of nature by going jungle trekking. Whet your appetite for adventure by exploring the famous Gua Tempurung cave culminated by Gunung Besut mountain climbing. Or break a sweat on our courts! From tennis courts to local sepak takraw, at FELDA Residence Trolak, we are committed to providing to with the best sporting facilities and options to encourage a fun and healthy vacation time, every time!

Boating and Fishing
A scenic and tranquil site, the recreational lake in the area provides you with the opportunity for a relaxing time out on the water with your friends and family. If fishing is a hobby, this would be the perfect moment to indulge. The surrounding manicured rolls of green are a wondrous sight in itself.

Main Team Building Activities
Rope Course and Obstacle Course Circuits -Both the rope course and obstacle course circuits are located within the resort premise. The rope course circuit, consisting both low and high rope elements is situated adjacent to the campsite inside the resort's jungle zone. The 10 elements of the low rope course include Swinging Plank, Bailey Bridge, Monkey Crawl, Swinging Tyres, Zigzag Traverse and Spider Web etc. And the 5 elements for high rope include Burma Bridge, Multi Rope Traverse, Single Rope Traverse, Abseiling & Repelling and Flying Fox.
The obstacle course is strategically built within a fruit orchard situated in the centre of the resort complex itself. The 10-course circuit includes elements such as the Electric Fence, Swinging Plank, Triangle Bridge, Monkey Crawl, Low Wall, High Wall, Tarzan Swing, and Hanoi Tower amongst others.

Nearby Destinations  

FELDA Residence Hot Springs
Just 12km away is a a splashing and exciting getaway, the FELDA Residence Hot Springs is nestled in the serene and lush forest patches, surrounded by hills and clear cold mountain streams and rivers. All 6.5 hectares enjoy the scenic view of well-tended oil palm plantation and durian orchard amidst a haven of tranquility. Its unique concept of a specially designed free flowing Hot Springs Swimming Pool and Therapeutic Park at the foothill of the Titiwangsa Range 200 feet above sea level is indeed creatively engineered to attract visitors who appreciate the wonders of nature.
The water flowing from the hot springs has several therapeutic healing effects. Since ancient times hot springs have been claimed to have positive effects on ailments (Link to Hot Springs sub site main page)
Sungkai Conservation Centre
Conservation effort at this centre focuses on captive breeding programmes for the sambar deer and several other indigenous pheasant species. This 50 hectare centre was opened in 1971 to develop and maintain a sustainable genetic breeding pool for each of the rare and endangered species it maintains.
The ultimate aim of this centre is to release breeding stocks of these animals back into their natural environments. The Sungkai centre currently has about 63 Sambar deers, 15 Timor deer and 14 mouse-deers The pheasant species available here include 11 crested and great argus pheasants, 29 mountain and Malaysian peacocks, three green pea-fowls and 19 crestless and crested firebacks.
Popular also with touring school children on holiday-learning-excursions, this centre positively promotes the importance and necessity of fauna conservation amidst fast-paced modernization and growth.

Location Address

35600 Sungkai, Perak, Malaysia
Tel: (6)05-4388687
Fax: (6)05-438 8868/438 9377

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Masjid Ubudiah, Perak, Malaysia

The stunning Ubudiah Mosque with its golden domes and minarets has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most beautiful mosques in the country. It has graced many a magazine cover, and is a source of pride to the locals as well as a symbol of their faith.
Located in Kuala Kangsar, Perak. Built in 1917 during the reign of the 28th Sultan of Perak, Sultan Idris Murshidul'adzam Shah I. It was commissioned on the orders of the Sultan who vowed that he would build a mosque of great beauty as thanksgiving for recovery from an illness which plagued him in those early days. Colonel Huxley, from the Public Works Department, were ordered by the Perak Government to build the mosque and he commissioned A. B .Hubbeck, a government architect and Mr.Caulfield as the chief engineer. On Friday, 26th September 1913, Sultan Idris Mursyidul'adzam Shah, officiated the construction of the mosque.The mosque was officially opened in 1916 by Sultan Abdul Jalil Nasarudin Syah, successor to Sultan Idris. The cost to built the mosque is said to be about $200,000 and it took 4 years to complete. It consist of 'Moghul' style onion domes, symmetrical in design with a central dome of imposing dimension, four wings with four smaller domes and a total of 24 minarets of diverse heights.
According to story, one day during a ceremony and a feast to celebrate circumcision of Raja Khalid, son of Sultan Abdul Jalil, His Highness elephant, named Kulub Chandan and his mahout, Kulub Said, fought another elephant named Kulub Gangga and his mahout, Uda Dabok (the latter belong to Raja Chulan). The marbles and materials for the mosque were totally destroyed. The battle lasted about several hours, only when Raja Chulan called his elephant by name and commanded it to stop fighting. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gua Tambun, Perak, Malaysia

Gua Tambun ( Tambun Cave) is one of another interesting place. The caves bear 2,000-year-old paintings dating back to the Neolithic era depicting the life of early inhabitants of the peninsula. For such a significant historical site, it has been ashamedly left obscure and relatively hard to locate. To get to the cave, you will need a good pair of walking shoes and have to climb a flight of relatively steep concrete 141 steps overgrown with weeds and leaves. A smooth limestone cliff overhangs the ledge. 
On this white stone, 20 feet or more above the ledge, are a number of paintings of wildlife, people and abstract designs. Gua Tambun is believed to be one of the caves in Malaysia with hematite (iron oxide) drawings. Discovered by Lt. R.L Rawlings of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Q.E.O Gurkha Rifles in 1959 while on a routine patrol in the area, he unearthed one of the greatest finds in Malaysian History.
There are 30 forms of paintings on the wall, which include human, abstract and animal designs depicting their surroundings. A few of them were about 3m across. The paint is dark purple, in others, dull red. Some of the figures are obviously men, rather crudely drawn. Some of the animals are easily identified,others are rather vague.  
But most of the paintings are quite clear; there are wild boars and a dugong, a tapir and some deer. The deer are particularly interesting, they all have the appearance of pregnant does, and one even has a small infant drawn inside its swollen belly! At one time, this gallery of pictures extended for more than a hundred feet, but time and the weather have obliterated a large portion of it.
However, enough remains to prove that at one time men living in Lembah Kinta, although primitive, were able to illustrate their lives rather vividly. Intriguing enough, there are even seashells found at the base of the 'cave', signifying that the area was once, in all probability filled with and surrounded by sea water, but this would have been thousands of years ago. The cave also contained some Neolithic artifacts but have since been removed. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gua Tempurung, Perak, Malaysia

Gua Tempurung is a cave in Gopeng, Perak, Malaysia. It is popular among spelunkers, or caving enthusiasts. More than 3 km long, it is one of the longest caves in Peninsula Malaysia. Part of it has been developed as a show cave with electric lighting and walkways and there are a range of tours of different lengths and difficulty. A fine river cave, the river passage runs about 1.6 km through the hill. There are three very large chambers and some spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.
Brief History: The cave was first identified in 1887 in the Map of Perak-Malay Peninsula, which indicated a mountain spelt as “Gunong Tempoo Rong”. The Department of Minerals and Geosciences estimated the age of the rock formations in the area of Gua Tempurung to be between 250 and 400 million years. The cave was also known locally as Gua Perah. Perah is a type of fruit similar to rubber seed. In the old days, there were many Perah trees near the cave. Before 1935, tin mining activities on small scale took place in the cave. During the World War 11 (1939 – 1945), the cave became a refuge for locals from the invading Japanese. The Malayan Emergency period (1948-1960) saw the cave being used by the communists as their hideout. The cave walls have hand drawn pictures and words by the communists. There are also inscription of hate slogans and song lyrics against the Japanese army. After the Emergency period, mining activities in the area resumed. In 1975, the Perak State Government appointed a cave researcher and enthusiast, J. Crowter of the German Society of Caving to carry out research on Gua Tempurung and to help turn it to become a recreation area and a tourist attraction. Circa 1994, the State Government carried out a feasibility study and in 1995, work to develop Gua Tempurung as a destination began in stages. The cave was open to the public in November 1997 and entrance fees were introduced and collected by a joint-venture company formed by Yayasan Perak and a private company, which managed and maintained the place as one of the state’s tourist attractions. In 2004, the State Government appointed APT Consortium Sdn Bhd to take over the management and maintenance of Gua Tempurung and the appointment remained valid till today. The cave continues to attract both locals and foreign tourists, with many coming from Europe, Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Singapore and other countries in the Asian region. The number of tourists has been increasingly steadily from more than 50,000 in 2005 to over 70,000 the following year.
Spectacular Features: Large and intricate cave system with beautiful speleotherms like stalagmites, stalactites, rim stone pools, curtains, straws, calcite crystals and pillars. These and more form the natural limestone cave architecture. The most commonly known formations are stalagmites (growing on the cave floor) and stalactites (growing on the cave ceiling or wall). Just remember this “mantra”: the “mites” go up and the “tites” come down! They develop when the calcium bicarbonate containing water drips down joints in the cave roof. The drop can partially evaporate and it hangs a little. Small amount of calcium carbonate is also deposited and it leaves a cascading effect. When the drop drips, partial evaporation happens and when the drips splash on the floor, they cause stalagmites to grow. Generally, stalagmites are thicker than stalactites, which are thin and fragile. When stalactites grow too long, they break easily. 

Classification: Karst cave. It is a cave of marble limestone (calcite calcium) of the Kinta limestone type.
Cave Age: More than 400 million years old.
Cave Length: 1.9 km.
Cave Height: 120 metres.
Number of Domes: Five gigantic domes with ceilings resembling coconut shell (tempurung), hence its name Gua Tempurung. Gua is the Malay word for cave.
Galleries: The five domes form the showcase galleries beginning with Golden Flowstone Cavern, Gergasi (Giant) Cavern, Tin Mine Cavern, Alam (Universe) Cavern and Fallen Warrior and Battlefield Cavern.
Underground River: The river is called Sungai Gua Tempurung. The river passage runs about 1.6 km through the cave inside Gunung Tempurung. 


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Belum Rainforest, Perak, Malaysia

Once again, the tussle between economics and environment is turning out that environment is losing the battle. Logging has now crept into the Temenggor area and loggers are happily at work, turning 170million year old rainforests to hardwood material for ever hungry consumers in Asia, Japan, The USA and Europe. Precious research areas are being torned down to make cheap furniture and toothpicks - all disposable, all dispensable. The rainforest wont be growing back anytime soon especially when the rain sets in and washes away the top soil. All we will have is a scar and what may be even worse - more palm oil plantations or acacia forest plantations. Monotone will be the landscape soon if we dont voice out our concerns.
Total coverage of the forest reserve is reported to be about 290,000 hectares. The Belum area is divided into lower and upper sections.The Upper Belum area covers 117,500hectares of inpenetrable jungle which stretches into the Thai-Malaysian border. This vast jungle patch acts as a natural barricade and is gazetted a security zone. Belum and Temenggor reserve parks have been left pretty much intact because the State of Perak has decided to preserve the area as a permanent nature reserve for research. The Upper Belum is of 90% virgin forest whereby the lower half is generally covered by secondary forest. That's a lot of good jungle cover to research on!!!
Much of our prescribed medicines were distilled from herbs and plants. Researchers from all over the world are racing against time to find cures for diseases and ailments such as
Cancers, Alzheimer's, Parkinsons, Meningitis etc. They believe the elixir is locked in the secrets of the rainforest plants. But rainforests are being cut down at such astonishing rates, we may one day destroy the Garden of Eden hidden within and destroy all hopes of cures for our diseases.
Belum, belum, beluuuummm! This is the sound made by a large grasshopper that makes it home in the jungle. Hence, the name. Although most of the adventure packages will take you through secondary forests, there are areas in Lower Belum that is pegged with huge Meranti, Cengal, Keruing and Merbau species. These are names of rainforest hardwoods that are becoming increasingly rare. The rainforest soil is surprisingly poor in nutrients.
Once an area is exposed, the remaining nutrients in the soil easily leaches away and what lies underneath is clay and sand. If you have the time, try digging into the earth. The black, rich soil covers only the top thin layer, underneath is a desert of lifeless base. It is a wonder that anything can grow at all. But it does. This unfaultable ecosystem has been thriving and weathering changes for over 150million years. Many of the large hardwoods you may see around you have survived 150 to 600years of weathering. That is already a heritage worth saving
Belum is rich beyond any comprehension. But how can it be? Many would not be able to identify with the importance of this ecosystem. Many people see the jungle as unkempt backyards that need to be tidied and cleaned up so that we can use it as another playground or work space. That is exactly what happens to many of our pockets of jungles, let's hope that life will be sustained at Belum!
Treasures may not always be there glistening for all to see. The real treasures are always hidden and it takes a while to find. After our boat ride round the lake and the trek to the salt lick, we ended up at another Orang Jahai village, where we were introduced to the head of the village. He was happy to see our guide for he had lots of treasures for him. We were a little puzzled as to what he was to do next. The headman dragged out a bulging gunnysack from under the bamboo hut and turned the sack inside out.
‘Your loot’, he said. The guide was delighted. Tied up in neat bundles, were all sorts of vegetation harvested from the area. These plants looked pretty ordinary to us. Some lianas, several types of roots, leaves, bulbs…looked like someone had just cleared his garden of weeds. These, we were told, each contained powers of healing. The plants were medicinal herbs that have been collected and used by the orang asli for generations. All types of ailments could be ‘fixed’. Even love potions can be arranged…with a dash of ‘cenuai’ to complete the potion. Not to mention the tongkat ali and the rafflesia buds. 
The Rafflesia is a strange plant…. the fact that when it is in bloom, it stinks to high heaven, gives enough weight. Unlike other plants, there are no leaves to process carbon dioxide and sunshine into sugar and oxygen.
There are no roots to soak up water and minerals from the earth to manufacture into proteins. What is found are long strands of tissue-like filaments that penetrate the vines of the host plant. Host plant? Well, yes…. Rafflesia is a parasite which means that it doesn’t need to make its own nutrients. It just sucks the nutrient out of its host which is, another plant. The large fleshy flower is what we usually notice. This is the flower’s sexual organ, sometimes found sitting on an overhead vine or usually languishing in the damp forest floor below. The reddish brown colour of the petals, sprinkled with white freckles exudes a most unpleasant stench, similar to rotting flesh or carrion. Some believe that the stench attracts flies and other insects which help disperse its seeds. Others believe that large animals could be agents for this seed dispersal. In order for the seed to germinate, it was found that the vine of the host plant must be damaged in some way so that the filaments of the seed may infiltrate successfully. The damage to the host vines could be made by trampling hoofs of large animals. The seeds adhere to the passing animals’ hoofs and are transported to other places where they can find host plants to attach to. This cannot be disproved or proved. However, it is found that the flowers most often occur in big game areas and less in other areas.
There is even more to tell of its ‘discovery’ and its claim to fame as the largest flower on earth. In the year 1818, Sir Stamford Raffles was posted as Governor to Bencoolen in Sumatra which was then, the administrative centre for the British East India Company for Western Sumatra. Raffles’ interest in natural sciences was insatiable. A respected and popular member of the Royal Society in London, Raffles arranged and persuaded a fellow society member - Dr.Joseph Arnold to accompany him on an expedition into the interiors of Sumatra. It was on one of these expeditions that they stumbled on a discovery which was to puzzle botanists for a long time. Unfortunately, Dr Arnold died too soon of jungle fever, before presenting the report to the society. The new found flower was given the scientific name, 'Rafflesia arnoldii',in honour of the two gentlemen.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kellie's Castle, Perak, Malaysia

Screams from a newborn baby echoed through the corridors of a small farmhouse, one spring day in the year 1870. A healthy baby boy was born into the Easter Kellas estate to the Smith family and was christened William Smith. The golden years of the Victorian Era was at its peak. The British empire was secured spanning from the New World to India and into South East Asia.
William Smith grew up in a little farm close to Dallas on the Moray Firth in Scotland. As the Victoria era blossomed for a new class of elite, spearheaded by innovative technology and inventions - the working class were pushed harder into poverty and frustrations. Perhaps it was the drive to escape from the droll of intense poverty that sent William Smith to far off lands looking for opportunities.
Young William Smith who later called himself William Kellie Smith, (Kellie being his mother's maiden name) left his homefarm in Dallas in search of the rich life he dreamt. It is not known when Smith arrived in Malaya nor do we know why he chose to explore opportunites in Malaya. However, the young, amicable man of 6ft 3ins in height was accepted into the community with ease
In a small working communty of planters, miners and entrepreuners, Smith found business opportunities readily available. Having bounced around on a few successful and unsuccessful ventures, he finally had a great windfall working with a rubber planter named Alma Baker. Alma Baker had obtained a few government contracts to make roads in South Perak. William Smith snapped up his invitation to work together and made a huge profit from these projects. With the money, he purchased 900acres of land just south of Ipoh and cleared the jungle for his rubber plantation and homely estate. He named this estate, Kinta Kellas - Kellas in memory of his family farm back in Scotland and Kinta being the area of the large basin in where the estate is situated
With his empire falling into place as planned, William Kellie Smith formed a London-based company. He was then appointed manager of the estate and was paid a handsome salary by the London Board. Rubber being in demand in the early years, he made a fortune. Running in parallel with the demands of raw materials to fuel the new industrial boom, he further amassed more wealth as larger dividends were paid out to him by his London based company.
In 1909/1910 he built a Moorish styled manor for himself, his wife Agnes Smith and their first child, Helen Agnes. The manor sat on a little knoll just by the bend of Sungai Kinta or the Kinta River, commanding a clear, unobstructed view of the Kinta Valley. Its grounds were groomed into pockets of lush gardens, open spaces, lawns and a lake - added to complete the estate ambience. In Britain during the Victorian era, many young, rich, enterprising men took to buying old manor houses, castles and estates to accentuate their stature in the social circles and for a long period, such activities were well accepted. 
Perhaps it was this influence, perhaps it was the birth of his son that niggled him into building a larger more stately home. Construction of the new manor began somewhere after the birth of his son Anthony in 1915. Not much of the first home is left today, apart from the covered walkway, an open courtyard and part of a crumbling wall. The 'new' section of the stately home was to be an extension to the existing home, hence there isn't a kitchen nor a servants' quarters to be found. Many estate homes in the early years were designed so that the servants' quarters, utility rooms and kitchens were housed in an annexe and connected only by a covered walkpath to ensure no disturbances.
This new wing was to take 10years to build. Smith had employed an Indian taskforce to work on the construction. However, in the early 1920's, an epidemic of 'Spanish Flu' broke out and many of his estate workers including those working on the construction died after a short period of illness. The heads of his workforce requested that they build a temple for the deity Mariamman to ask forgiveness and protection for the people living on the estate. Smith agreed and had all his people feverishly working on the temple which was completed in a short time. The temple was built some 1500m from Smith's home. Today, the local community still pays homage to their gods at the temple. A little statuette of Kellie Smith stands alongside the deities on the roof of the temple probably watching over his little estate and the descendants of those that have worked and looked after him in the years when he was Sahib of the Kinta Estate
After the completion of the temple, everything returned to its normal state of affairs and work was diverted back to the construction of the manor house. In 1926, together with his daughter, William Kellie Smith made a trip home to Britain.The reasons for his trip is unclear but it is believed that they were to return to England for a short reunion with his wife and son. It is believed that Anthony was sent home to continue his education and Agnes had accompanied him. Back in Europe,William Kellie Smith was believed to have made a detour trip to Lisbon, Portugal to collect a lift (elevator) which he had ordered for the manor. Unfortunately, Smith never made it back to Malaya. In December 1926, Smith succumbed to a bout of pneumonia and passed away in Lisbon. He was buried at the British Cemetery.Agnes sold her interest in the Kellas Estate and Smith's distrought family never returned to Malaya.
Anthony Kellie Smith was killed in World War II and Helen never returned.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lata Kinjang, Perak, Malaysia

Lata Kinjang Waterfall

The spectacular waterfall is clearly visible from the main highway when you are heading north from Kuala Lumpur. Nonetheless, the access to the waterfall takes you through town and village road some 20-30 minutes from the highway exit. 

At the base of waterfalls, there are parking areas and food stalls, though I could do without the latter because of the garbage they bring from the wrapped food and canned drinks. For the initiated, you may begin your climb on the properly marked trail to view the majestic waterfalls much closer.

There is a series of falls ranging from a few meters to tens of meters higher. I climbed up to somewhere in between where there is a suspension bridge where you can view the a portion falls at its full glory. There are various spots that offer small and natural pools for a quick bath.

After having soaking fun in the waterfall, it is time to move on to Klah Hot Spring that will take approximately 1 and a half hour drive. Upon arrival at the hot spring lunch will be served. You will taste the traditional curry cooked by the locals here and then you will have your own free time to go for swim in a pond, get free foot massage by walking through a short track of small stones arranged specifically to give you massages or for the Jacuzzi.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pangkor Island, Perak, Malaysia

Pulau Pangkor is an island off the coast of Perak in north-west peninsular Malaysia, reached by ferry from Lumut. It has a land area of only 8 square kilometers, and a population of approximately 25,000 people. It is heavily promoted as a low-key tourist destination by the Malaysian government, but fishing and fish products remain major industries.
Historically, Pangkor was a refuge for local fishermen, merchants and pirates. In the 17th century, the Dutch built a fort in an effort to control the Perak tin trade. In 1874, it was the location of a historic treaty between the British government and a contender for the Perak throne (The Pangkor Treaty), which began the British colonial domination of the Malay Peninsula.
Pangkor is famous for its fine beaches and a mix of low budget to 5 star accommodations. Teluk Nipah and Coral Bay on the north west of the island is extremely popular with travellers from Europe. The quality of sand in the Pasir Bogak Beach is far superior to that elsewhere on the island. The sand is golden brown, quite similar to most leading prime beaches. There are a few resorts in Teluk Nipah or Nipah Bay.
Well-known for its sandy beaches and clear waters, visitors can bask under the sun and swim. There’re also plenty of water-sports facilities available for you to jet-ski or take a speed boat round the island. The popular beaches include Nipah Bay, Pantai Pasir Bogak, Teluk Ketapang, Pantai Puteri Dewi and Emerald Bay. Snorkelling is another activity you can do here.
Nipah Bay is the most popular beach with plenty of huts, chalets, resorts and restaurants. However, the beach is still able to maintain its natural beauty. Unlike the other beaches, it has corals, sea cucumbers and even hornbills flying around during the evenings.
Visitors can also take a look at the traditional fishing villages and have a small meal at the many stalls along the streets. Walking through the villages will enable you to glimpse the culture of a Malay fishing village at its best. You must also try the local salted and dried delicacies of fish and shrimps from the sea such as ‘Satay Fish’.
During the day, you can also visit the Fu Lin Kong, a Chinese temple with its own mini Great Wall of China. At Teluk Gudang, the remains of a Dutch Fort built in 1670 can be seen. Only the stone foundations and carvings left on a large rock by the soldiers remain, called ‘Batu Bersurat’. Other interesting places to visit include the fish farms where, for a fee, the fishermen will show you around. You can also ask them to catch a fish for a local restaurant to prepare for you.
The main attractions in Pangkor Island are the beaches. Other attractions include:

  • Pangkor Town
  • Fishing Villages
  • Fu Lin Kong Temple
  • Kali Amman Temple
  • Batu Bersurat and Tiger Rock
  • Dutch Fort (Kota Belanda)
  • The Tombs
  • Tortoise Hill

Pasir Salak. Perak, malaysia

Pasir Salak is a historical place in Perak, Malaysia, where an important event in Malaysian history took place, the uprising fight against the colonial presence, when J.W.W. Birch the first British resident in Perak, was murdered by the local statesman Dato Maharaja Lela and Sepuntum. Today, Pasir Salak is also the name of the parliamentary constituency where the place is located.
The complex was build in 1987 in honor to the people who helped to shape Malaysia as it is now. It is a reminder for the present and future generations of the sacrifice made by chiefs and warriors of Perak in defending their dignity, customs and religion. The complex consists of different buildings in traditional Malay style.

The Museum
The museum is very well designed with sceneries depicting the historical significance of the area. There are two levels, the upper level with a good review of Malaysian history. The lower level have a beautiful collection of the history of the "kris", a weapon typical for Malaysia, Singapore, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand. Around the museum, there are traditional Malay houses rebuild which gives you an idea how people used to live. Although some of the buildings need maintenance, some others are in excellent state. For anyone interested in the turbulent history Pasir Salak is an essential visit.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sunway Lagoon, Selangor, Malaysia

       One of the interesting place in Selangor is Sunway Lagoon. It's Malaysia's Premier Theme Park and has become the most visited tourist destination in the country.   Sunway Lagoon is strategically located in the township of Bandar Sunway in Petaling Jaya. Spanning 80 acres, the Lagoon draws fun seekers from all over with its reputation as a fascinating land of fun and excitement. Sunway Lagoon is separated into 3 major themed lands, each boasting their own exciting attractions. Find entertainment, adventure and excitement all in place. A place where you will bring back more than just memories.  Sunway Lagoon, being part of Malaysia's first fully-integrated themed resort - Sunway Lagoon Resort, offers visitors the conveniece of a 5-star hotel, a grand shopping mall right next door and other ultra-modern facilities.