TASIK KENYIR, HULU TERENGGANU
20-21 January 2015
Arriving in Kuala Terengganu around mid-day, we drove around the town looking for a place to have lunch. We passed by some restaurants, parked the car and went into one with a decent crowd. After lunch we continued our journey to Tasik (Lake) Kenyir, our intended destination. Leaving the town, the one-hour drive took us across small and quiet villages.
Lake Kenyir Resort and Spa (for a review on the resort, please go to http://budgetglobaltraveller.com/lake-kenyir-resort/ ) sits on a hillslope at the edge of Tasik Kenyir, the largest man-made lake in South East Asia. The lake was created in 1985 to build the Sultan Mahmud Power Station. With a surface area of 260 square kilometres, it is the largest lake in Malaysia. From the Resort’s car park, a buggy transported the four of us and our belongings to the hotel’s reception desk.
It was drizzling and the place was very quiet except from the sweet melody of the Burung Murai or Magpies. We were probably the only paying guests for the night. The east coast region of our country was hit by the worst flood in decades during the last weeks of December 2014. Although the water had receded by early January, I was unaware that the water level in the lake is still very high. For such a huge lake to swell to a height of more than 2 metres, the volume of water it had received is simply amazing and unimaginable. The resort’s jetty is still submerged under water more than a metre high, and therefore water sports activities are suspended. Well, that left us with not much to do around the place apart from bird-watching, swimming at the pool or visit the spa.
Later in the evening we went out to have dinner at the nearby village of Basong. The directions given by the hotel staff was a bit sketchy. The road was dark and there was hardly any cars on it. After a few kilometers we decided to turn back and this time asked the security guard at the Resort’s entrance for directions. We found the eatery, but it was closed and so did the second one. We had no choice except to return to have dinner at the resort.
The buggy driver took us for a ride around the resort grounds en route to the main lobby. With the place so quiet, dimly lit, lurking shadows and tall trees, it was rather eerie even though it was only just after 8 pm. I wanted to nod in agreement when Hazmi commented that it’s an ideal setting for a horror movie.
On Tuesday morning I woke up to the sound of the Magpies. The ones here seemed to have sweeter voices and more melodious songs. The weather appeared slightly brighter and as I stepped out to the balcony, I saw a flock of may be 6 or 7 hornbills making their way from an island on the lake towards the resort. The Hornbills may be big, but they often perch at the top of the tall trees and hardly come anywhere near the ground. Thus, it is difficult to get a good snapshot with the camera phone. The Hornbills are usuallly heard before they are seen. Their presence are often noted by the squawking noise they make.
We checked out after breakfast. The Jeti Pengkalan Gawi is a few minute’s drive from the resort. Nik agreed on a charge of RM 150 for a 2-hour ride. Our first stop was the Butterfly Island. The place was submerged in a metre of water during the recent flood. They were a few varieties of free flying butterflies in an enclosure. This place is not officially opened yet. I am sure they will build up on their papillon collection in due time. Another section housed the tarantulas, jungle insects, frogs, a gecko and some small reptiles. There is also a section for the breeding of butterflies.
Our next stop was the Saok Waterfalls. The boat skipper dropped us off very near the waterfalls. The loud torrents of the cascading water was audible from afar. This is a beautiful and unspoiled place ideal for a picnic or a swim. However, the volume and speed of the water at the time of our visit was still above average. It may not be advisable to go into the gushing water until the season is less wet.
On our return trip, we stopped at the Herb Garden. It was opened in November last year. Some of the local herbs exhibited here are the famous Tongkat Ali, Kacip Fatimah, Mas Cotek, Akar Seratus and Misai Kucing. At a shed in the middle of the garden, visitors can sample some herbal drinks. The Tongkat Ali was very bitter while the other two drinks (Kacip Fatimah & Mahkota Dewa) were more pleasant for my taste buds. All the herbs mentioned are well documented for their health benefits. Tongkat Ali is used for the treatment of various ailments including diarrhoea, dysentery and wound treatment, just to mention a few. But, it is more widely known for its ability to enhance sexual activity in men. Kacip Fatimah on the other hand is traditionally used to maintain a healthy female reproductive system.
Before we arrived at the jetty, Hassan the skipper slowed the boat down for us to view the Lake Kenyir Resort & Spa from the lake. The main building that housed the reception desk, lobby, restaurant and swimming pool appeared grand from where we were. At the jetty, there were many houseboats available for hire. Each houseboat can accommodate up to 20 persons. For more information, please go to http://budgetglobaltraveller.com/boathouse-tasik-kenyir/
Tasik Kenyir has a lot to offer for anglers, bird watchers and nature lovers. Or, perhaps you wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy a quiet weekend in a lush surrounding, then this is an ideal place to head to.