Lenggong Valley is a World Heritage Site and is home to four archaeological sites. Perak Man, an 11,500-year-old complete male skeleton was discovered here and it’s the oldest human skeleton found on the Malay Peninsular. Perak Man had a curved spine and malformed hand and in those days deformity generally meant being an outcast. Despite this, the relics buried with Perak Man tell us that he was quite important.
We spent two nights at a homestay called SukaSuka Lake Retreat, hosted by lovely Muslim family Aziz and Asiah and their young son Azam.
Suka = like, suka suka = be happy
Beautifully located next to Chenderoh Lake, the retreat sits on the bank of the first man-made dam built in South-East Asia and is set up like a small and cosy village with different buildings sitting up high on stilts.
One morning Aziz took us for a walk around the village, showing us local plants and how natural medicines are used. We took a rest at a modest stall for kopi (coffee) or tehran (tea). I had a cooling sweet milk tea with ice.
I had the most fun at a cooking class run by Asiah where we made dishes for our last night together.
The vegetarian dishes we made were pajeri nenas which is a pineapple curry (made from Asiah’s grandmother’s recipe), a green bean dish rendang kechang and my favourite, sambal kachung tanah, a crunchy flavour-packed sambal with toasted peanuts and tempeh. I just wish I had the recipe so I could make it at home!
We had a BBQ dinner where we all wore colourful traditional sarongs, ate with our hands and sat cross-legged on the floor. Aziz explained that a good dinner is a noisy dinner so a lot of conversation was required!
It is the responsibility of the host to serve more rice onto your plate when it’s empty and each guest serves themselves the dishes they’d like to eat.
Eating like a local
To eat with your right hand you roll the food into a ball with your thumb while the third, forth and pinky fingers hold the food (catchment area) and the pointing finger holds it in all place. You then use your thumb to gently push the food into your mouth. It takes a bit of getting used to but once you get the hang of it, it’s quite a nice way to eat.
As well as what we cooked earlier, dinner included steamed rice, a red spinach salad and very moreish banana fritters for dessert. After the meal we relaxed together and played games including chonkas (a game with marbles) and solitaire.
I had such a lovely time at the retreat. Our host family was lovely, it’s a beautiful spot and two nights gave us enough time to enjoy a relaxing stay.
On the morning of our last day we packed up and headed to Kuala Kangsar (kuala means where the rivers meet) to visit the Royal Palace and Mosque. It was here that we said farewell to our kind and generous hosts.
Up next: A few days in the interesting and delicious city of Penang.
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