We left Gunung Lambak feeling tired but in high spirits. The drive to Kahang took a little over 30 minutes. The bus turned into a narrow mud track and a short, bumpy ride brought us into small plots of emerald green paddy fields. They were nothing compared to the terraces in Ubud or the endless seas of green in Thailand, but it was still quite a spectacle. Even before we brought our bags into our room, the little one couldn’t wait to get into the water for some serious wading on the artificial beach, but this being a school event, he had to resist that temptation. He was more bored than tired as he surveyed his surroundings, waiting for an opportunity to set himself free.
Like my little one, the things that impressed me most about this resort were the beach and the floating bungalows. It’s like a cross between Bora Bora and the boat houses of Sangklaburi. At 5.30pm, we dragged our dirty, sweaty bodies out to the field to get even dirtier.
We checked out the lotus ponds and flocks of wild ducks. This being a rice farm, some muddy activity was obligatory. Off came the shoes and the little ones were down in the mud pit.
Their first job was to clear the weeds – a species of kangkong (which might go well with cuttlefish and sambal). A Filipino friend once remarked that Singaporeans treat weeds like gourmet food. Well, after she’s tasted our sambal kangkong, she decided that weeds are not that useless after all.
Anyway, I wish the eco farm would allow people to bring some of their own ingredients and use the kitchen to prepare their own food. The food here was OK, but still not up to the standards at Dr Chan’s Kitchen.
The second step was to grab a stalk of rice seedling and plant it in the mud. My little one seemed more keen on playing in the mud than planting rice.
After mud-bath, we headed back to the assembly area. One of the caretakers went into the water to wash her feet. My little one took the cue and walked right in. Not contented with just washing his feet, he climbed onto a bamboo raft dangled his legs from it. When the other kids started climbing onboard and the raft sank under their weight, he laughed and waded out till the water was almost at his chest level.
I didn’t manage to capture this part as my camera battery had gone flat. We had dinner and with nightfall came the campfire. I can’t remember the last time I attended a campfire, but we sang and danced just like we did many years ago. We headed back to our rooms once the campfire was declared closed by the most senior person in the group. Sleep was not difficult even though there was a power outage at Kahang that night and we had to shower with our torchlights.
The next morning saw my little one engaged in his favourite pastime of throwing stones into the water. In fact, he seemed to have started a trend as the other kids were also throwing stones into the water. We had some breakfast and no sooner had he finished, my little one decided to explore the floating bungalows. One of them had a daring open concept probably inspired by the bungalows at Bora Bora. I guess this would be a nice place to honeymoon for those with no friends and relatives to impress. If you only need to impress them on Facebook, this may even pass off as a new place at Bora Bora.
After a beautiful morning walk over the lake, it was the fish’s turn to be fed. Unfortunately, the fish didn’t seem to be hungry that morning. After the fish-feeding, Mr Wong took us on a walk around the “buffer zone” which is a Malay kampung demarcated from the farm by a tiny stream.
The locals grew durians, betel nut, bananas, coconuts mangosteens and even flowering cactus. With no mortgage to pay, a stream with so much water flowing all year round and so much edible stuff growing by themselves in the backyard, I too would be complacent.
It was quite an educational walk, but the highlight of the whole walk must be the moment one of the students in the group called me “gor gor”. I almost wanted to look for a mirror and check to see if this eco farm had some magical rejuvenating powers. Overhearing this, the most senior member of the group (who kept referring to herself as one of the “younger” ones) laughed till she almost choked.
We returned to the farm and checked out the paddy fields. Under the late morning sun, the fields came alive with green glow of abundance. We walked past the lake and upon suggestion by our trip leader to try out the obstacles, I realised that we have not made full use of some of the interesting facilities.
In stark contrast with the glowing fields, are the remains of a dragon fruit plantation. This plantation was abandoned when the trees here were plagued by some disease. According to Mr Wong, lesions resembling chicken eyes appeared on the fruits.
We went back to the assembly hall and Mr Wong taught us to make key chains by sawing off slices from tree branches. We then wrote and decorated the slices. It was quite a nice learning experience, but the little one would definitely have preferred the water obstacles.
Of course, this trip is not particularly challenging for me, but seeing my son so happy in this environment and yet somewhat restricted because it’s a school trip, I was inspired to build something like this for him when he grows up. This trip gave me a few good ideas.
We went back to shower, packed our bags and after a prize presentation and closing address by the most senior person in the group, we grabbed our bags, boarded the bus and headed for home with a brief stop at a coffee factory at Kluang. The most senior member of the group (who kept referring to herself as one of the “younger” ones) must have her coffee.
For those who would like to know more about their eco farm, you can read their blurb on their Facebook page.
The first and only Certified Organic Rice Farm in Malaysia, sprawling over 260 acres, provides free and easy farm stay.
It is uniquely a back-to-nature health enhancing eco lifestyle farm, with life enrichment programmes namely, secondary mountain trekking, a try at the ‘Asli’ water obstacle course, mountain climbing, fringe jungle walk, cycling, star gazing, bamboo rafting, organic farm produced meals, quality dragon fruits, coconuts, vegetables, herbs, with abundant river and rice farm fish, ducks, animals etc; vying to promote biodiversity in ecological organic agriculture and farming.
The Farm is a fully integrated organic-agro-eco farm with pollution-free river water irrigating the farmland from the 1,010m Belumut mountain.
Kahang Organic Rice Farm was certified full organic status in December 2005 by the Malaysian Agriculture Ministry over a stringently monitored conversion period since 2001. The farm’s fair price organic products are also available in the Singapore and Indonesian markets.
Mission Statement: World Abundance and Harmony Through Organic Agriculture
© Chan Joon Yee
Chan Joon Yee’s travel classics
are available on Kindle. Readers in Singapore and Asia Pacific region please switch to Kindle Australia.