Chendoroh Lake was definitely one of the highlights of the second road trip. Rather than staying in a hostel, we tried something different- a homestay!
WHERE IS CHENDOROH LAKE?
The lake was our second stop in Malaysia after George Town but before the Cameron Highlands. It’s located in the State of Perak in North West Peninsular Malaysia. We were taught the name comes from the Malay word for ‘silver’ due to it’s states tin mining and mineral deposits. It’s around a 165-mile drive north of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
WHAT WAS THE RETREAT?
We stayed at SukaSuka Lake Retreat. It’s built up of 10 old chalets which have been relocated to create a mini village- the one I stayed in was from the 1930’s although the boys stayed in much older rooms. The place is completely eco-friendly as everything is powered by solar energy!
It’s right on top of the lake with facilities to swim, fish, kayak and canoe. You’re completely at one with nature as the retreat is settled far back from anywhere else.
OUR HOST FAMILY
We had three host relatives- a couple and their son. They were such a kind family, so eager to involve and teach us about their culture and life.
THE FIRST NIGHT
We arrived at the retreat in the evening, just in time for food. We sat on the floor and were taught how Malaysians traditionally eat, which involves using your right hand to pick up everything. The dishes we were given were all traditional- a collective favourite was the pineapple in a korma-like sauce!
Food is a very social affair in Malaysia so eating took up a good portion of time. The host family taught us about what is seen as normal for Malaysian’s- big families are still very common, for instance.
In addition to the social aspect, Malaysian’s have a little game. You have to accept more rice unless you finished before you’re offered. Saying no is deemed rude, you have to ask for ‘just a little bit’. So, by the time we’d all finished, we were stuffed.
After we’d all finished eating, some games were pulled out. Some were recognisable but one of them was Congkak. We’d seen this game being played on the floor of a Vietnamese market but had no idea how it worked- now we had the chance to learn! We probably forgot some of the rules as we were playing, but it was a fun, rhythmic game.
THE SECOND DAY- MORNING
Most people left before the games had finished for an early night as we had planned to go and watch the sunrise as we had done throughout the semester. However, there was a twist this day- we were going to kayak to find a better view!
Some of the group were newbies to kayaking whereas others had done it a few times before. The water was perfectly still and so it was good exercise but not too difficult. Either way, we managed to get out before the sunrise began. After a few people fell into the river, we headed back for the morning activity.
WALKING THROUGH THE VILLAGE
SukaSuka Lake Retreat is on the other side of a small river from a village which the host father walked us through. He took us for a few kilometres through a very rural area bar one major road. Every so often, he would stop to tell us about the local plants and their medical uses. Did you know that papaya leaves are excellent for raising platelet counts?
It was also great to see what Malaysia’s jungle regions look like with their rich, diverse foliage. After having a stop to get some iced tea and coffee, we headed back to the retreat to pack for the final stop of our road trip- Cameron Highlands.
About the author
Jasmin Dawling is one of Global Grad’s January 2019 students and is completing a full-time Bachelor’s degree with the Open University in International Studies. While this is her first time formally blogging, she has had plenty of writing experience in the past, from novel writing since the age of six to working on the school newspaper. Apart from seeing the sights of South East Asia and working on her degree, Jasmin spends most of her time either procrastinating or writing down her novel ideas, be it on her travelling-inspired new ideas or the 7-part series she’s been toying with for almost ten years.