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Friday, June 30, 2017

Permaculture Perak Jungle Farmstay: Day 3

On our third and final day of our jungle farmstay at Permaculture Perak in Lenggong, we had pan-baked bread for breakfast with passionfruit and nangka (jackfruit) jam and some ulam (edible herbs) - daun kadok, ulam raja and misai kucing.

[Justin's bear head-shaped bread]

[Pan-baked bread with edible herbs]

As we readied to leave the farmstay, we bought jars of passionfruit and nangka jam, and candied nutmeg.

[Passionfruit and nangka jam, and candied nutmeg]

At about 11.45am, we left the farmstay to return to Lenggong town. After retrieving our car from the rest house, we headed to Lata Kekabu - a popular waterfall. It was already 12.30pm when we arrived. Instead of playing in the stream closest to the parking area, we took a 10-minute walk and were rewarded with the sight of the waterfall. Here, we had the whole place to ourselves.

[The waterfall at Lata Kekabu]

[View looking away from the waterfall]

We left Lata Kekabu at about 2.00pm for lunch at the Restoran Tasik Raban. They are famous for ikan bakar (grilled fish) and various traditional Malay dishes.

At about 3.45pm, we bid farewell to Ladia, Amy and their two kids, and headed back to Penang.

Overall, it was a very interesting experience for all of us. Being an off-the-grid farm with intermitent solar electricity power, it was a welcome change to be less occupied with electronic devices for the three days we were there. It's not a holiday resort. It's more of a permaculture-driven, back-to-basics, sustainable-living farm. Hence, there's a certain "jungleness" feel to the whole place, bearing in mind that Ladia and Amy run the whole place by themselves, save for the occasional volunteers. Truly an experience we and the kids will remember.

Permaculture Perak Jungle Farmstay: Day 2

Early on the second day of our jungle farmstay at Permaculture Perak in Lenggong, we were awakened by the resident cockerel. We had homemade granola and freshly harvested passion fruit for breakfast.


After breakfast, we walked around the farm. Beneath where we camped, on the ground floor of the Kilang, there were a chicken coop, and a cow shed. The chickens are reared for eggs and meat, and the cows for manure and their trampling on the soil. A few stingless bee (lebah kelulut) hives were kept outside the farmhouse. A few dogs helped guard the farmstay.


[Julian collecting eggs]

[The very shy cows]

Around the farm there were all sorts of fruit trees, herbs, and vegetables. There were durian, passion fruit, lime, pomelo, star fruit, banana, pineapple, tumeric, misai kucing, ulam raja, cinnamon, pumpkin, bitter gourd, hill rice, yam, and gourd just to name a few. Ladia is also experimenting with chestnut, vanilla, and mushroom. Permaculture Perak is not a commercial farm. So, whatever is grown is more for the family's consumption.

[Chestnut seedlings]

[Mushrooms grown on logs]

Before noon, we decided that we would let the children go fishing at the fishpond just behind the Kilang, but not before digging for earthworms. Although there were some good-sized tilapias in the pond, the kids only managed to land the small ones which were then released. It was a good experience for them nonetheless.

[Digging for worms]

[Jianna's catch]

Later in the evening, we went for a short 20-minute jungle hike through a ginger grove to a pool. Along the way and back, we picked-up a few leeches.

[Ginger grove hike]

[Another cool dip]


After dinner, we prepared the dough for the farmstay's traditional pan-baked bread. It was a creative experience, adding whatever spice you wish. For this batch of dough, Ladia mixed in cumin and oregano. Then, we all had some fun shaping our own bread and left them aside to rise overnight.

[Dough-mixing fun]

Permaculture Perak Jungle Farmstay: Day 1

We went on a jungle farmstay holiday from 25-27 June 2017 at Permaculture Perak in Lenggong, Perak. What was once a tea plantation with abandoned buildings is transformed into a permaculture farm. Antonia and Aileen joined us on this trip.

On 25 June 2017 (first day of Hari Raya), we arrived at Rumah Rehat Lenggong (Lenggong Rest House) at around noon. We were met by our host, Ladia, and had lunch in Lenggong town with his wife, Amy, their two small children, and two other guests.

After lunch, we visited the popular caves of Lenggong - Gua Kajang, Gua Puteri, Gua Asar, and Gua Ngaum. Gua Kajang was excavated for archeological purposes in 1917.

[Cave entrance]

[Cave interior]

At about 4.00pm, we were back at the rest house to load our luggage onto Ladia and Amy's 4WD vehicles, leaving our car at the rest house for the next 3D/2N. The ride to the farmstay was an adventure by itself as the terrain was really very rough at some stretches. Situated about 500m above sea level, the farmstay is not very far from Lenggong town but the terrain makes it rather remote and inaccessible.

[All set for the rough ride]

[View of the farmhouse from the access road, hidden by lots of vegetation]

[Looking away from the farmhouse]

[The farmstay is about 300-400m away from the transmission towers that overlook Lenggong town]

Instead of staying in the rooms in the farmhouse, we opted for indoor camping on the upper floor of a neighbouring building - what is known as the "Kilang", i.e. of what must have been the factory building of the tea plantation. Between the 8 of us, we shared 3 tents with beddings in each tent.

[Entrance to the Kilang]

[Indoor camping on the spacious upper floor of the Kilang]

[Relaxing outside our tents]

Besides the use of the regular toilets at the farmhouse, the Kilang had a few composting toilets. Using it is a unique experience for the regular urbanite. You pass urine and/or motion directly into a bucket (a regular toilet seat was placed above it for comfort). After cleaning yourself with tissue paper (no water is used), you sprinkle a layer of sawdust over your pee or poop. When used properly, the smell from the toilet was minimal. After a certain period, the contents of the bucket is used as fertiliser.

[Composting toilet]

At around 5.30pm after we had settled in, we went for a dip in the farmstay's very own "jacuzzi" cum fish spa - a small pool just a stone's throw away from the farmhouse. The water comes from a mountain stream. Since it was already late evening, the water was icy cold!

[The farmstay "jacuzzi"]

[When all is calm in the jacuzzi, it's fish spa time!]

On our first night, we had a coconut shell-fire barbecue dinner of fish, pork, and corn. We also had mashed potatoes and lemang. We ate off banana leaves laid out on the table.


In the evening and night, it was cooling. At night, as we gazed skyward, we saw many many stars, far more than on an average night in urban areas.