A recent trip to Tasik Chini for work showed me how much I have yet to explore in my own backyard.
There is an air of mystery surrounding this lake.
According to local folklore, this 69.22 sq km lake that comprises of 12 fresh water lakes and swamps is home to “Naga Sri Gumum” – a dragon with iron scales.
The hills that surround the lake are believed to resemble the dragon’s back.
It is also believed that the ruins of an ancient Khmer kingdom, laden with gold, lies at the bottom of the lake.
Legend has it that a Khmer monk and a group of refugees who fled their country made the lake their new home and planted the first lotus.
The lotus species that covers a large part of Tasik Chini is the Nelumbo nucifera – referred to as the sacred lotus and found in many ancient sites in Asia including Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the Mendut monastery in Indonesia. The lotuses usually bloom between June to January.
The locals here, have plenty of legends and stories about this lake if you have the time to listen.
One involved the crash of a British military plane into the lake in World War 2. It has never been retrieved apparently.
The locals are also careful about picking plants, fruits and flowers from the forest and lake without seeking permission from “guardians” of the area.
They also believe that one should not venture out in the forest alone during certain times of the day (usually after dark).
I’m not clear as to what will happen if you break these rules, but I don’t think I’d like to find out!
I’m sure the locals have their reasons for these beliefs, and if you dare to find out what happens, there are camp sites, chalets and home-stays along or near the shores of Tasik Chini where you can spend the night.
Liaise with the local guides, especially the Orang Asli who live in the area. No one knows the place better than them.
This lake is home to least 87 species of fresh water fish, 304 animals including 189 bird species.
It is also a source of livelihood for the Jakun and Semai tribes in four villages around this area.
The livelihood of the tribes and the ecosystem in this site were severely affected by uncontrolled development, agriculture and logging in the areas surrounding it in the past.
The mistakes made were acknowledged and efforts are now underway to rehabilitate and revitalise the lake, as well as to control and monitor development around the area.
Some improvements can be seen, but there is still much to do.
Read about efforts to rehabilitate the and revitalise Tasik Chini: http://www.star2.com/living/living-environment/2016/11/18/can-a-dying-lake-in-pahang-be-revived/
Things to do at Tasik Chini
- Visit the Tasik Chini Research Centre
- Take a boat ride or canoe around the lake
- Trek through the jungle and hills surrounding the lake
- Experience life as the locals do at homestays in the area
- Visit the Orang Asli villages, their culture and way of life
- Get local boatmen to take you to the best fishing spots
- Set up camp and experience living in a forest by the lake
- Explore fresh water and peat swamps around the lake and the Bebar Peat Swamp forest
- Visit the Teladas Umbut, Mentagan and Terapai waterfalls in the area