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Temenggor Dam


Field of Mirrors

Ever heard of the Temiar or the Jahai? Or perhaps on a more familiar note - the Senoi or the Negritos?

These are names; names of tribes we call &;the Orang Asli&;. There are 18 Orang Asli or indigenous tribes in Peninsular Malaysia. Many of the tribes prefer to live by lakes where they reap the profits. In Tasik Bera lives the Semelai, in Tasik Chini lives the Jakun and here at Tasik Temenggor are two tribes : one called the Jahai, the main sub-ethnic group of the Negrito; and the other called the Temiar which forms the main group of the Senoi. But the difference is that the Orang Asli people living in Temenggor lake didn&;t used to live by a lake for there wasn&;t a lake during the time of their forefathers. Not until 1975, when the construction of Temenggor&;s Hydro Electric Dam began. Temenggor was in fact, a pristine valley where Orang Asli peoples roamed and lived.

Despite occasional sabotage acts by the Communist Party of Malaya(CPM), the project went ahead and was finally completed in 1977. Within a year of completion, the entire valley was flooded, creating an 18,000hectare pool of water measuring 80km long, 5km wide with a depth of 124metres (at its deepest). The loggers who were retained to work on the areas were taken by surprise by the unexpected rise in water level after the dam was completed. Their equipment is still sitting, idling at the bottom of the lake.

Not only are there logging equipment found at the bottom of the lake but also an entire village called Kampong Temenggor, Padang Cermin (Field of Mirrors) - what used to be a training ground for the anti-Japanese resistance Force 136; and also the Orang Asli&;s ancestral grounds.

The villagers totalling 400 were airlifted from the village and relocated to a government-built village by the edge of the lake. No rescue attempts were made to save the stranded animals because of the threat of communist attacks then.

The flooding eventually created 80 islands from the 80 hills that used to make up the landscape of Temenggor valley. The many tributaries bring cool fresh water down from the surrounding highlands and also acts as nurseries for the lakes abundant fish stock.

Dream Therapy

About 5,600 Orang Asli live at Temenggor, made up of the Temiar, the Jahai and the Kinchu tribes.

The Jahai tribe is a sub-group of the Negrito. They are generally shorter, darker skinned and have very tightly curled hair. They lead a semi-nomadic life, engaging in a little bit of hunting, a little bit of gathering, a little bit of fishing and a little bit of cultivation. The forefathers of the Jahai were nomadic people and they lived on lands until the food in the area has been exhausted whence they moved again. Today, many of the Jahai people live in settlements provided to them by the government but there remain a few families who have retained their own villages outside of the settlements.

The Temiar tribe is the other major Orang Asli population residing in Temenggor. H.D.Noone, the first anthropologist to study the Temiars, described them as the &;happy people&;. Also known previously as the Northern Sakai, the Temiar communities were often raided by foreigners. Until as recent as the 1930&;s these foreigners captured and sold the Temiar to the slave trade. As a result the Temiar remains to this day - incredibly shy, with a general mistrust of strangers.

These gentle folk have no written script and speak a Mon-Khmer language called Temiar. They live in extended social structures and share their catch as well as their money, clothing and other items. In the Temiar language, there isn&;t a word for &;to marry&;. The old ways of the Temiars did not warrant couples to marry and the practice of polygamy was widely accepted. But as times are changing and influences of other religions come into play, the Temiars now live in individual huts rather than in the longhouses that used to serve their ancestors. However, the tribe maintain the same building structures as their ancestors have taught them. (The Badan Warisan in Jalan Kia Peng, Kuala Lumpur commissioned a few Temiars to build bamboo huts as showcases. Please click on Badan Warisan on more about the Temiars' building skills.)

Many Temiars have converted to the Muslim faith but there are others who practice their animistic ways. They remain strong believers of their &;religion of psychotherapy&; - also called the &;Senoi Dream Therapy&;. The Temiar individual believes that dreams are a mythical experience in which the person&;s soul wanders about the forest in search of guidance. In other words, they communicate with their spirit guides through dreams. Even their dances and songs are dream-inspired. Religious ceremonies for the Temiar often concentrate on performances by spirit mediums at night and it involves an intoxicating performance of choral singing, dancing (bersewang) and trances. It has been mentioned that the women&;s choral singing is rendered as one of the finest native choral music in South East Asia!

The basis of the Orang asli&;s survival is to maintain the mutual respect they have for their environment as have their fathers and the fathers before them. They ask for little and are contented with living at the fringes of their jungle. But their future may be in jeopardy for there are plans to assimilate them into a show-and-tell performance agenda for future &;eco-tourists&;. There is a danger that one day soon, if not professionally managed, these admirable tribesmen and women will be reduced to showpieces like what the North Americans once did to the heroic &;Geronimo&; and the Indians.

more on temenggor dam story...


Accommodation & Packages to Perak ~ Ipoh, Gopeng, Taiping, Lumut , Pulau Pangkor, Maxwell Hill , Kuala Kangsar, Belum and Surroundings

Accommodation :


| Felda Residence Trolak | Felda Residence Hot Springs Sungkai |


| Adeline's Homestay | Adeline Villa | Ulu River Lodge |


| City Homestay Ipoh | DWJ Hotel | Excelsior Hotel | FairPark Hotel | Grand View Hotel | Heritage Hotel | Hillcity Hotel & Condo | Impiana Hotel | Kinta Riverfront Hotel & Suites | Majestic Hotel | MH Hotel | Paragon City Hotel | Regalodge | Ritz Garden Hotel | Seri Malaysia Ipoh | Sun Golden Inn | Syuen Hotel | The Banjaran Hotspring Retreat | Tower Regency Hotel & Apartments | YMCA Ipoh |


| Casavilla Hotel | Casuarina Inn | Flemington Hotel | Hotel Furama | Hotel Fuliyean | Legend Inn | Panorama Hotel | Potato Hotel | Taiping Perdana Hotel | Sentosa Villa | Seri Malaysia Hotel | SSL Traders Hotel | Taiping Golf Resort | Vistana Micassa Hotel |

Maxwell Hill

| Bukit Larut Hill Resort | Cendana |


| Best Western Marina Island Resort | Lumut Country Resort | The Orient Star Resort | Swiss Garden Resort & Spa Damai Laut | Marina Cove Resort |

Pulau Pangkor

Teluk Nipah | Anjungan Beach Resort & Spa | Mizam Resort | Havana Beach Resort | Nipah Bay Villa | Palma Beach Resort | Hornbill Resort |

Dutch Fort | Tiger Rock |

Pasir Bogak | Amaya Pangkor Resort | BestStay Hotel Pangkor Island | Coral Bay Pangkor Resort | SeaView Hotel | Golden Beach Resort | Puteri Bayu Beach Resort | Pangkor Sandy Beach Resort |

Teluk Dalam | Teluk Dalam Resort |

Teluk Belanga | Pangkor Island Beach Resort |

Pangkor Laut | Pangkor Laut Resort |

Kuala Kangsar

| Double Lion Hotel | Rumah Rehat Kuala Kangsar | Perak Riverside Resort |


| Belum Rainforest Resort | Banding Lakeside Inn |

Packages & Trips :

Camping Trips

| Trans Gopeng - Cameron Highlands Camping & Trekking | Ulu Geroh Rafflesia Trek & Rafting Trip |

Water Activities

| White Water Rafting at Gopeng and Caving at Gua Tempurung |


Malaysia Lakes

Lakes in Peninsula Malaysia

| Tasik Bera | Tasik Chini | Paya Indah Wetlands | Tasik Pedu | Temenggor | Tasik Kenyir |

Lakes in Sabah & Sarawak, Borneo

| Batang Ai |


Malaysia Rainforests, Sanctuaries and Parks

Peninsula Malaysia - Rainforests, Sanctuaries and Parks


| Bota Kanan River Terrapin Wildlife Conservation Centre | Royal Belum State Park | Sungkai Sambar Deer and Pheasant Wildlife Reserve | Temenggor Forest Reserve |


| Endau-Rompin National Park |


| Taman Negara - Kuala Tahan | Jenderak Seladang Sanctuary | Kenong Rimba Reserve | Kuala Gandah Elephant Centre | Taman Negara - Merapoh | Tasik Chini Trek |


| Kuala Selangor Fireflies | Kuala Selangor Nature Park | Sungai Dusun Rhino Sanctuary |


| Langkawi Mangrove Swamps | The Datai, Langkawi | Ulu Muda Reserve |

Negri Sembilan

| Ulu Bendol Reserve | Berembun Forest Reserve | Gua Batu Maloi Forest Reserve |

Sabah and Sarawak - Borneo Rainforest, Sanctuaries and Parks


| Semengoh Wildlife/Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre | Bako National Park | Niah National Park | Kayakking in Kuching | Kayakking with Dolphins | Borneo Highlands Kayaking and Semengoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre Adventure Trip | Mulu National Park | Tenyok Rimba |


| Tabin Wildlife Reserve | Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre | Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary & Sukau | Gomantong Cave |


Short Adventure & Nature Trips

Peninsular Malaysia

Water Activities


| White Water Rafting at Gopeng and Caving at Gua Tempurung |


| White Water Rafting at Sungai Selangor | Abseiling and Tubing at Sungai Selangor |

Camping Trips


| Taman Negara Inner Jungle Trip (Trekking) | Kenong Rimba Camping |


| Endau National Park Camping |


| Trans Gopeng - Cameron Highlands Camping & Trekking | Ulu Geroh Rafflesia Trek & Rafting Trip |

Trekking Trips


| Jungle Trekking in Langkawi's Treasured Rainforest | Trekking For Families with Kids in Langkawi |

Nature & Countryside Trips


| Kuala Selangor Fireflies | Kuala Gandah Elephant Centre |

Birdwatching Trips


| Birdwatching in Langkawi |

Nature Photography Trips


| Escorted Nature & Wildlife Photography Trip in Langkawi |

River Kayakking Courses


| River Kayakking Basic Course at Sungai Selangor |

Combination Trips

Nature/ Highland/ Island

| 7 Days 6 Nights Malaysia Nature & Island Trip | 9 Days 8 Nights Malaysia Highland, Nature & Island Trip |

Borneo ~ Sabah & Sarawak

Water Activities


| White Water Rafting Day Trips |


| Kayakking in Kuching | River Cruise with Dolphins | Borneo Highlands Kayaking and Semengoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre Adventure Trip | Kuching Caving Adventure | The Kuching Tringgus Trail (Landrover Adventure) | The Bau Gold Mining History Trail |

Mountain Climbing


| Mount Kinabalu Climb |


| Mulu Pinnacles Climb | Mount Trusmadi Climb |

Birdwatching Trips


| Birding in Sabah,Borneo |

Nature & Countryside Trips


| Garama Wetland Cruise |

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