Monday, 8 July 2013

In search of 'The Perak Man' - Part 1

“Salam Perak Aman Jaya!”

That is how you will be greeted when you go to Perak. Why Perak you say? Well, let me tell you a story of one particular weekend in Perak. I was lucky to get an invitation from Tourism Malaysia to a FAMTRIP – UNESCO Lembah Lenggong. Led by 13 Tourism Malaysia officers and our awesome tour guide, Mr. Zukni, a group of travel agents and media mostly from Kuala Lumpur, my excited-self included, traveled to Lenggong, Perak to explore and ‘get familiarized’ with Lenggong Valley. The valley was officially inscribed as UNESCO’s World Heritage site on July 1, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

"The World Heritage List (of Lenggong Valley) includes 981 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage, which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value." - UNESCO

The Geological Museum in Ipoh is also the biggest in the country.
The Museum Officer explaining to us the various layers of the earth's crust.

The trip to Lenggong Valley started off on a cool Saturday morning in Kuala Lumpur, and our first stop took us to Muzium Geologi in Ipoh. Established in 1957 by the Geoscience Department, the museum exhibits the biggest collections of fossils, rocks, minerals, gemstones and cassiterite (also known as tin ore) in Malaysia. I, for one felt like a kid in a toy store, super excited and eager to play, I mean learn. The museum consists of seven (7) zones and we started off with the history of the museum and earth. We were then moved to the following zones and learned about fossils and rocks formation, as well as, the different kinds and purposes of minerals, crystals and gems in Malaysia and around the world.  I have never seen so many odd looking but beautiful stones in my life before. Imagine what Jules Verne had to learn while writing Journey to the Center of the Earth.

My kids are going to love this!
Among the vast exhibits in the museum are these animal fossils.
Precious stones and marbles are among the products of natural stones.
The various types of tin ore, most of them found in Malaysia.
Our tour ended in Mineral Exploration & Marine Geology activities and Technology zones. We were explained about geological hazards and disasters in Malaysia, current technologies, researches and proposed geology developments that include two geoparks in Sabah and Sarawak. All in all, it was a very informative tour and I was pretty sure it left an impression on some of us. 

After spending about an hour in Muzium Geologi, our hungry stomach started to make a funny noise. From Ipoh, we traveled 80 km north to Lenggong – our main destination - about an hour away. The countryside of Perak is filled with lush greenery, unique old houses and buildings. The journey definitely took me to another era

Its 'makan time'!
These are real delicious kampung dishes!
Restoran Tasik Raban was waiting for us when we arrived. Plates of delicious local dishes were served on the table. I am not a fresh water fish, or ‘ikan darat’ fan. They smell too fishy for my liking. However, this trip changed that. First time ever I tried their famous grilled Tilapia fish and I was blown away. Cooked to perfection with all the spices, definitely a must-try when you go to Tasik Raban’s famous stop. It’s a small restaurant away from the town but visited by VIPs and people from all walks of life.

The fish are well grilled before the gravy are poured on top.
Fancy a plate of Kerai fish?

I could tell that some of us could not wait to get to our next destination, Galeri Arkeologi Lenggong, in Kota Tampan, where Perak Man was found by Prof. Dato’ Zuraina. Now Perak Man is another fascinating story that will be told in the next blog. So we left the restaurant and headed to the gallery to meet Mr. Mohd Shahrin Abdullah from Jabatan Warisan Negara for the briefing on Perak Man and site visit itinerary. During the briefing, I felt so proud when I heard the story of the 7 Malaysians (Mr. Shahrin included) in St. Petersburg, Russia who fought so hard for Lenggong Valley to be nominated as a world heritage site. We are indeed a tiny nation with a loud voice. Malaysia Boleh!

The gallery and archeological sites are located in the middle of palm oil plantations and I could clearly see Banjaran Titiwangsa in the background wherever I turned. I would trade the whole Kuala Lumpur for this view. Teamed up with clear blue sky and clouds, the air was clean and fresh. I love this countryside.

Replica of the skeleton of The Perak Man.
Several specimens of deposits, minerals and prehistoric rocks collected around Lenggong Valley are displayed in the gallery park. Some of these rocks dated as far back as 1.83 million years ago. Fascinating! Quartz, alluvium and volcanic ash of Lake Toba are among cool artifacts on display There are more exhibits in the gallery building that include the discovery of Perak Man in chronology order, cave paintings, replica of Perak Man skeleton and stone tools found dated thousands of years ago in Hulu Perak. The group definitely was eager to visit the real archeological site the next day and witness the historical valley.

Lenggong Rest House welcomes us!
At the end of the first day, we checked in at Rumah Rehat Lenggong for a good sleep and rest. Tomorrow would be a day full of adventures in Lenggong Valley. Better put on my Indiana Jones costumes. Until next time!

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