Royal Belum State Park in northern Perak is a 130-million-year-old rainforest, a fact that not only put the park on the world map, but also Malaysia for having the world’s oldest rainforest. Interestingly, Royal Belum State Park was only discovered around 200 years ago by a couple of Siamese royalties. The British then took over the forest and included it as part of Perak through the Anglo-Siamese Treaty 1909.
On 3 May 2007, this 117,500-hectare park was gazetted as State Park after being bestowed with royal status by the late Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, on 31 July 2003. It is important to note that Royal Belum State Park is part of the Belum-Temenggor Forest Complex which is four times the size of Singapore!
The name ‘Belum’ is said to have derived from a stick insect called belalang (grasshopper), which is believed to emit sounds that are similar to the pronunciation of the name.
To fully admire this wonderful gem, Gaya Travel Magazine and Tourism Perak recently organised a familiarisation trip called ‘Dah Ke Belum?’, which loosely translates as ‘Been to Belum?’. 25 journalists, bloggers and social media influencers were brought to experience and promote Royal Belum State Park as a premier tourism destination in Malaysia, together with Ipoh and Tanjung Tualang.
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE IN ROYAL BELUM STATE PARK?
Cruising along the river
From Hentian Royal Belum Amanjaya in Pulau Banding, Gerik, we departed on a cruising houseboat for two days and a night. From the moment the jetty disappeared in the distance, we began to be surrounded by a panorama of seemingly untouched forest and river. We were lucky that the weather during the first day on the houseboat was clear, allowing us to truly enjoy the pristine tropical environment. On the second day however, it rained heavily and the wind was strong. Thanks to our experienced houseboat pilot, all of us remained safe and we continued enjoying our experience. We even get to see a family of wild small-clawed otters swimming in the lake and gambolling along its bank from our boat while waiting for the rain to stop.
One of the exciting activities that we did was bamboo rafting while swimming in the lake that was green in colour due to the chlorophyll-containing algae that indicates the richness of the lake’s biodiversity. It was not easy navigating the raft with a bamboo paddle, but the experience was fun and worthwhile, giving us ample opportunity to take interesting photos and selfies.
Swimming with mahseer at Kelah Sanctuary, Sungai Ruok
We arrived at this place in 10 minutes by speed boat before continuing the journey for another 15 minutes by foot. The trek to the place can get tough and slippery trek as long as you wear suitable footwear and be cautious all the times, it surely is safe. As soon as we arrived, the view of a waterfall and mountain river filled with hundreds of kelah (mahseer) fish kept us in awe. In no time, we found ourselves already in the refreshing water, swimming and frolicking around with the ticklish, friendly fishes.
Visit the Orang Asli settlement
The Jahai tribe is indigenous to Royal Belum and it is a must for travellers to pay them a visit. The famous village is called Kampung Aman Damai but during our visit, the villagers were already in their fifth day of moving to a new area that would incorporate vegetable farms such as tapioca, lemongrass and chillies. Interestingly, their houses are made of natural wood and materials such as medang, meranti, kayu arang and bamboo as main components and cucuh leaves for the roof. The head of the village named Pangwa explained to us about their lifestyle and culture, and even showed us the footprints of the elephants that roamed the area the day before. The new place where the village is moving to is inhabited by 12 families.
Exploring the Salt Lick at Jenut Papan
Salt lick is a sort of ‘natural animals’ clinic’ where animals, mostly herbivores, obtain nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and zinc. To arrive at this location, we trekked for about 15 minutes, passing through a camp site and a suspension bridge. This salt lick is produced from a spring that naturally exists amidst rocks.
If you wish to witness animals like tapir, barking deer and mouse deer licking the salt, come here between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Since it is an actual wildlife sanctuary, do not be surprised if you happen to bump into predators like tigers, so it is important to trust and pay attention to your guide’s instructions at all times.
Plenty more activities to experience if you intend to stay longer:
- Spot the enormous Rafflesia
- Fish for the giant snakehead
- Trek to waterfalls such as Sungai Kooi, Semelian, Tiang and Mes
- Visit Gua Batu Putih
|Note: Interested travellers should visit Casuarina Hotels’ website at www.casuarinahotels.com.my/hotel/boathouse/boathouse-casuarina-temenggor1/ or call +6 05 529 9999 to arrange their houseboat trip to Royal Belum State Park.|
WHAT WE EXPERIENCE IN IPOH?
Miniature Wonders Art Gallery
At only MYR5 per person as the admission fee, this two-storey gallery mainly features dough-made sculptures depicting Chinese legend, folklore and history created by Phoon Lek Kuin and his father-in-law. Travellers are bound to be amazed by these painstakingly detailed artworks, especially the half-sized walnut that contains 100 figurines that can only be seen clearly under a magnifying glass! Other impressive exhibits include dioramas such as ‘Along the River during the Qingming Festival’, ‘Terracotta Warriors and Horses’, ‘The Monkey King Caused Havoc in Heavenly Palace’ and ‘Tang Dynasty Royal Banquet’.
A: 49, Jalan Market, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
T: +6 018 579 0492
In the heart of Ipoh, Concubine Lane charms local and international travellers alike due to its beautiful, colonial-styled buildings, besides its adumbral history; this was where Chinese tycoons and British officers hid their concubines back in 1908. These days, the area has been turned into as a fancy tourist spot where travellers can find stylish souvenir shops and eateries that peddle snacks such as iceball and rainbow cheese toast. Though this lane is connected to two other lanes (Wife Lane and Second Concubine Lane), it remains the busiest.
Han Chin Pet Soo
Hakka Miners’ club named Han Chin Pet Soo was established back in 1893. The place was so mysterious that no one other than the club members and VIPs were allowed to step inside. It turned out that the place was notorious because it was the place where miners engaged in vices also known as ‘The Four Evils’ such as gambling, opium, prostitution and The Triads (Secret Societies). Today, it has been converted into a museum where travellers can learn more than the dark past such as the advent of the lucrative tin-mining industry in Perak and the early history of the Chinese in Ipoh.
A: 3, Jalan Bijeh Timah, 30100 Ipoh, Negeri Perak
T: +6 05 241 4541
Labu Sayong Signature
Set within a traditional Malay house, the recently opened Labu Sayong Signature is a restaurant offering authentic Perak dishes such as Ikan Purbakala Sayong (deep fried seabass stuffed with 27 herbal ingredients served with chilly ginger sauce), Kurma Kambing Biji Ketumbar (braised lamb with coriander, cumin, fennel and coconut milk), Udang Lemak Asam Payas (simmered tiger prawns with tamarind, shrimp paste and turmeric coconut gravy) and Wadai Kiping Gula Kabung (flour dumpling with palm sugar), all of which are totally gratifying.
A: Labu Sayong Signature, Persiaran Meru Raya 1, Bandar Meru Raya 30020 Ipoh, Perak
T: +605 237 5237
Whether it is for business or leisure, Casuarina@Meru Hotel is a meritorious choice. Conveniently located at Bandar Meru Raya that is only minutes away from Ipoh, the hotel offers 146 cosy and stylish guestrooms complete with high-speed Internet access. It also has a Business Centre, an executive boardroom, three meeting rooms, seven function rooms and Aman Jaya Convention Centre, which which is the largest ballroom without pillars in Ipoh, making it suitable for conferences, exhibitions or even weddings.
A: Casuarina@Meru Hotel, No. 1-C, Jalan Meru Casuarina, Bandar Meru Raya, 30020 Ipoh, Perak
T: +6 05 529 9999
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE IN TANJUNG TUALANG
Perak Agrotourism Resort (PATRO)
Spanning across 268 hectares of land, PATRO is an integrated boutique agrotourism resort that combines the elements of nature, agriculture and rural tourism. It has six types of accommodations namely tube camp, deluxe villa, Peranakan villa, super deluxe villa, family twin villa and Kutai suite. More than just a stay, it also has six educational attractions such as mango orchard, duck pen with salted duck egg production, chilli fertigation, stingless bee farm, and forest secret herbal garden. Guests can also partake in horse-riding, bike-riding, petting zoo, paintball, ATV-riding, camping, paddle-boating and kayaking.
A: A15, Tanjung Tualang, Perak
T: 1 800 22 8772
Watch this video to follow our journey!