A nature escape just 2 hours from KL
Who are they and what they do
Janice Heng and David Foon live and work in Ipoh. Nature lovers and parents of three boys, they enjoy spending their spare time in natural sites and traveling around Malaysia and South East Asia at an unhurried pace.
A few years ago, they bought a piece of land, a durian orchard, at the foot of the Cabang mountain (Gunung Cabang) and the Cameron Highlands, 6.5km from GOPENG so that they could spend their weekends exploring the jungle, trekking or just enjoying their area.Not long after, they bought a simple Malay traditional timber house, dismantled it and rebuilt it on their land. With a few additional amenities, they were able to open a guesthouse in May 2008. The guesthouse is divided into two parts: the Malay house raised on stilts with two dormitory-rooms and one large corridor or platform; and a wooden chalet with two furnished bedrooms and private open terraces. A recent addition is a two-room chalet just next to the Malay house.
David and Janice increased the height of the stilts of the Malay house in order to create a comfortable and cool verandah. A few tables and chairs make it an enjoyable place for meals and for long evenings with table games available here. Table tennis and darts (both the British and jungle versions) are also available to entertain guests.A multipurpose hall has also been erected and is suitable for groups as well as for families.
David and Janice understand the needs of travelers and they welcome families with kids in a safe, clean and comfortable environment. The lodge itself is environmentally-friendly as it has its own waste water treatment on site, outdoor furniture made of recycled furniture and wood, energy saving amenities and local nature and culture is promoted to visitors. This is definitely a sustainable tourism initiative that deserves support.
What a traveler can experience
Spend one day and night there (minimum) and RELAX.
Accommodation is very basic but comfortable: Janice and David provide clean thick comfortable foam mattresses with pillows, clean linen and blankets. There is no furniture in the Malay house, no fan and of course no air conditioning. And there is no need for all of this because nights can be quite cool and even cold during the rainy season (for people used to a tropical climate). Nevertheless fans are provided. Those who enjoy spending the night outdoors can sleep underneath the house in camp beds or settle into their own tents in an area especially put aside for camping. Shared bathrooms are available (2 showers and 2 toilets), with cold water only. Meals can be organize for the traveler.
Visit a Rafflesia trail with the Semai guidesof Ulu Geroh village. Ulu Geroh is made up of three Semai (orang asli) settlements just about 3km from the guesthouse. The forests surrounding Ulu Geroh are extremely rich in a single species of Rafflesia (R. cantleyi). The Semai villagers preserve the Rafflesia buds and sites and can guide you to one of the blooming Rafflesias if there are any available during your stay. You can’t go on your own to these sites because they are on Semai land. Janice and David can arrange a tour with one of Ulu Geroh guides if you make a request a few days in advance. Further information is available in the SEMAI post.
Enjoy the natural environment, forest and fresh white water sites: jungle trekking and bird watching in the Kinta Forest can easily be arranged with nature guides or on your own. The Ulu Gerentum and Ulu Kampar rivers down the road provide myriad opportunities for white-water sports (rafting, kayak, tubing) and some relaxed swimming in the chilly water falls. Janice and David can arrange white-water activities with licensed companies that have all the security and safety precautions required. A two day trek to Cameron Highlands from Gopeng Rainforest Resort can also be organized. (This is recommended for only the fit as it requires about 10 hours of trekking per day.)
Learn from the Semai: A common interest in nature is a sure-fire way of connecting with the Semai: ask them about the plants, animals, insects; their knowledge is immense. Drop the “I am here to save you or save nature” attitude. Instead, respect and trust their knowledge and stay humble in order to catch a bit of what they know. The contribution you will be asked to pay for the guiding or entrance fee goes to the SEMAI NGO that preserves and protects the forest and to the guides themselves for the service that they provide to you. With this contribution you help them to live a better life in their own land on their own terms. Check for the packages available on brochure attached to this post and ask Janice and David for other arrangements.
Janice Heng : mobile (+60)12 516 8200
Location Kampung Geruntun, 31600 Gopeng, Perak
Website : www.gopengrainforest.com/
How to get there
By train : The closest station will be Batu Gajah. You can reach Batu Gajah in 2h45mn from KL Sentral station (Sentral Kuala Lumpur) with one of the KLS-Ipoh trains. Check on KTBM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad) website for the route map, timetables and fares at http://www.ktmb.com.my. From Batu Gajah you can take a taxi or wait for an omnibus leaving for Gopeng from the bus station.
By bus : there are a number of bus that leave for Gopeng. Most bus companies going to Ipoh from KL, Johor Baru and Singapore stop in Gopeng (if required to, and if informed earlier) before reaching Ipoh. You can check this link for a bus companies list : http://www.ipoh.com.my/transport/bus.htm. If any of you get the information and experience the journey by coach, please share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
By car from Gopeng (exit 135, expressway E1) : follow the signboards towards Gopeng town. Turn right at the bus station, cross the downtown and follow the signboards of My Gopeng Resort witch are the bigger. You will need to drive about 7km on a narrow road through different villages until you reach Gopeng Rainforest Resort.
Written by C.Bossis, Kuala Lumpur, 1-Dec-08
Permission granted to reproduce for personal use only. Commercial use is prohibited.