Quick! No time to waste now. The sun is rising and it's ascending fast. Get on your bikes, and whiz through the flat, sandy and sometimes soft sinking grit that trails the pathways. The Chalet Lake awaits your arrival.
You will immediately know when you've reached the Chalet Lake. Rows of coconut trees form a promenade to welcome you to the jetty. Water vehicles line up in neat and orderly files flanking the jetty. Get off your bikes and slip into the dug hole of the kayaks. And if your preference is still to work your calves and not your biceps, hop on one of the paddle-boats instead. Glide through the water and enjoy. Watch how the pink lotus flowers quietly part away, surrendering to the might of your vehicle as you slice through the still cool water. Quiet ripples lead and follow you gently. You are the master of your destination. There is just you and your arms powering the vessel to wherever you wish to go.
In fact you can paddle on all the way to the Rumah Melayu; and that is if you have a strong desire to paddle all the way back to the jetty under the hot uncompassionate sun in the mid afternoon. Perhaps a less fatiguing mode would be to retrieve your bike and cycle your way there. Unlike the lake, the sand has no means of punishing you by reflecting the sun rays onto your face. And the other good thing is that you are on solid ground.
The Rumah Melayu gives you what it truly is, a Malay House. Experiment and experience this for yourself. Stand facing by the long open windows; look out before you and soak it all in. Sprawled before you is the Chalet Lake with its serene and composed lotuses. Out there, the hot sun is blaring its mighty blaze. And yet, when the silent breeze enters through the long windows and into the spacious hall of the Rumah Melayu, it does not scald your cheeks. Quite the opposite, it is cool and it brings with it the moisture that it has accumulated from its journey across the Chalet Lake. And this would be your trophy for all that paddling around you have been doing on land and water.
Linger around until 11.30 and greet in a whole troop of nature lovers who will be docking in for a guided tour around the Rumah Melayu. Join in and find out why there are gaps in between the floor boards of the kitchen and not the rest of the house. Who designed it? And who built it? Be enlightened of how much nature plays in the design of wood carvings in the traditional Malay House. Pick up a tool or a household utensil and ask yourself how different it is from what you have at home. Follow the wooden steps into the little courtyard. Wonder around barefooted and feel the warmth of the softly padded soil that fertilises the kampung herbs surrounding the house.
Now that you have seen where the Malays live, you simply have to see what they plant to eat. The Paddy Lake supports the plot where the long stems of the paddy plant grip themselves into its muddy soil. When young, the bright green stalks sway cheerfully, synchronised to the quiet symphony of the breeze. When ripe, the stalks droop humbly to the weight of the heavy golden grains.
But this is not the main attraction here. Mosey along a little further and you will see some brown gourd-shaped casings slightly swaying in the breeze. These are the homes of the burung tempua, hanging from the lower branches of some trees. No one had brought them here, the birds had simply decided to introduce themselves to the ecosystem. This is one of the wonders, or more accurately, the unpredictability of nature. They will astound and amaze you when you least expect it.
The Exploration Centre
So you have left your footprints all around the sanctuary. You have seen, smelt, touched and been kissed by many a-gentle breeze. Yet, you haven't covered them all. Where is Paya Indah's mascot, the Purple Swamphen? And you only managed to see the end of the tail of a monitor lizard. But that's just nature. It's just its way of telling you that you can't win them all.
Maybe it is best that we leave them to their own devices, and instead be contented with a representation of them in the Exploration Centre There are photographs and models, descriptions and explanations of Paya Indah's flora and fauna and their preferred food, their habits and their habitats. There is also a Peat Swamp Forest zone where all you have to do is step in there, and let your feet fall into the motion of sinking into the muddy floor of a mangrove forest, minus the mud of course.
Baste yourself in some history of tin mining. This is only appropriate, for before Paya Indah surfaced, this area was nothing but an abandoned tin mining area. Indulge yourself with insightful knowledge of the various wetland zones found all over the globe. Get yourself familiar with these facts, because very soon it will become a very useful tool for you when you wander around Paya Indah. What you see now is only the beginning. In a few years, you will be able to see the wetlands of the world, all here in Paya Indah Wetland sanctuary.
And when 2pm comes, rest your tired feet and sit on one of the logs. An informative video show is about to begin. Be enlightened and entertained.
In all honesty, you cannot achieve to cover all the activities and sights in a day. There are the various species of bamboo plants along the Visitor Lake. There are also the Marsh Lake, Main Lake, Perch Lake, the gigantic Arapaima Fish, Batik painting and lots more. So, what do you do? The answer is simple : you can book for an overnight stay in one of the chalets here, built and constructed not to stand out as monumental achievements, but rather to replicate its surroundings.
Alternatively, you simply have to come again.
Article written by Hailey Hassan. 15th January 2003
Lakes in Peninsula Malaysia
Lakes in Sabah & Sarawak, Borneo
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