Malaysia’s Best Kept Secrets are Utterly Green

Malaysia’s Best Kept Secrets are Utterly Green
Three Outstanding Nature Hideaways. Untouched. Unspoilt. Unveiled.

Wonder where to get away to, away from the conference venue, while in Malaysia? Yes, away from the concrete jungle, the urban crowd or the usual malls? Well, every visitor to Malaysia can look forward to a break as an antidote to civilisation. Some say the sound of music calms in many ways. If so, then the sounds of Malaysia’s majestic nature hideaways will echo like an orchestra beyond imagination and enlightenment.
Though Malaysia’s land mass is small compared to many other countries, some of the world’s most untouched and vast nature hideaways are easily accessible and have fortunately been kept low profiled, less commercialised and ‘new’ even amongst locals. Go ahead, be adventurous and indulge in an exploration of immense natural proportions. Take a look at these incredible selections that will set you on a trail for many more.

This 117,500 hectares (454 sq.miles) state park sits within the 130 million years old Belum-Temenggor forest reserve that stretches far north into Thailand and is the largest continuous forest ecosystem in Peninsular Malaysia. Indeed, it is a living museum of bio-diversity, much older than the Amazon and the Congo, and much of it unexplored. This reserve is an important protected water catchment area, a bird sanctuary as well as passage for a major 215 km. (133.9 miles) east-west highway. In 2017, Malaysia submitted to UNESCO to gazette this park as a World Heritage Site.

For nature lovers, or anyone looking for a nature-sojourn of a lifetime, this park offers numerous possibilities. Fancy a houseboat lake cruise? Or kayaking, drop by an indigenous village, night trekking or walk on a salt lick?

Look forward to expand your knowledge about Nature, as this park is home to many endemic flora and fauna. Including four species, out of 26 of the endemic and world’s largest flower Rafflesia, 89 species of mosses, 48 species of ferns and 374 species of flowering plants. Then there are 10 species of hornbills, the largest variety found at any one place in the world. Not forgetting the four species of mammals that are endemic: the Asian elephant, the Malayan tiger, the Malayan tapir and the Malayan gaur. Look closer and you will find 18 species of frogs and toads, 97 species of moths, 67 species of snakes, 28 species of cicadas and 132 species of beetles! To ensure that the park remains pristine and protected, visitor permits are required and guided tours are recommended to this Malaysian hideaway that nature has kept for all to see.

This ‘cloud forest’ reserve, managed by the Pahang State Forestry Department, is located in the district of Cameron Highlands, where great tea plantations, orchards and farms are spread across vast undulating valleys. This 900-hectare Mossy Forest is mythical, almost spooky, always wet, misty and evokes enchanting imageries of fairy tales. For the record, the highest tarmac road in Malaysia is found here.

Visitors need permission to go jungle trekking or hiking into this dense landscape with tree branches, roots and undergrowth hugged by thick mosses, lichens, orchids and ferns, that leads towards the peak of Mount Brinchang perched at 6,666 ft (2,032 metres) above sea level. The wet, slippery trails of this forest is best ventured with experienced tour guides. Indeed, there are up to 14 trails that are open to hikers in this world’s oldest, 200 million years old, tropical rainforest.

There is now a 2,000-metre long elevated boardwalk and a 50-metre high lookout tower for an eye-opening above-ground view of the forest. Be awed by the mist in this ancient and rich depository of exotic flora and fauna, much of medicinal value, and home to a community of about 400 indigenous people. Sorry folks, this is no walk in the park. Put on appropriate attire, have a brave heart and challenge yourself through this foggy, humid, captivating and mysteriously hidden eco-retreat for an amazing experience.

Some call this the forgotten island, compared to the island of Penang. Some relish the endless mystery and colourful history that it evokes at every sunrise. If you have been on the iconic Penang bridge going towards the island from the mainland Jerejak Island is hard to miss on your left. This (1.40sq.mile) island was what Sir Francis Light set foot on first before heading to make claim on discovering Penang island.

‘Jerejak’ in Bahasa Malaysia means ‘grill’, as in grills of a jail cell. This appropriately describes the fact that throughout the island’s 150 years history it was a leper colony, an immigrant quarantine station, a refugee camp, a tuberculosis sanatorium, a Haj returning pilgrims landing site, a rehab centre for secret society members, a detention centre and a prison. This is Malaysia’s Alcatraz! But all have changed, or gone. Remnants of a multi-racial cemetery with 5,000 graves, about 100 marked, an 1896 Roman Catholic Church and barrack buildings are still visible amidst the lush greenery all around.

Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the city is just a 10-15 minutes ferry ride from across the Penang island to Jerejak. Day-trippers in search of serenity and adrenalin-driven nature lovers have many options nowadays to explore the adventure-laden activities on this island by themselves or at one of the many island resorts. Whether you are a history buff or seeker of forgotten souls this is indeed a treasure island awaiting your selfies and untold stories!

Malaysia is blessed with many other wonderful nature hideaways besides these incredible choices. Their majesty exists right here for you to discover and enjoy in their purest form. Your experience could be life-changing, immensely educational, and never forgotten as best kept secrets!
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