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Friday, March 10, 2006

RIMBUN DAHAN: A Tropical Garden Paradise

Friday, March 10/06
Nine more days and we're on our way! Today I fit everything into the suitcase and there was room to spare (for the shopping I plan to do!) Just a few more last-minute details to take care off before our departure.

The latest exciting news is the prospect of a special tour to a tropical garden paradise called Rimbun Dahan. I was told about this place by an on-line friend who is a botanist. He told me to check out their website, which I did: and he suggested I try and see the place. So I owe a big thanks to you, John. Otherwise I might have missed out!

I was immediately captivated by the photos of this beautiful 14 acre estate, located 27 miles outside of Kuala Lumpur. The compound of Rimbun Dahan is a center for developing traditional and contempoaray art forms. The buildings are designed by the Malaysian architect Hijjas Kasturi. As well there is a 19th C. traditional Malay house relocated from Perak and restored.
The main house merges modern and traditional materials and design that reflects the Malay house on stilts. The traditional house (rumah uda manap) features hardwood carvings by Chinese artists.

A 14 acre garden surrounds the houses using Malaysian style landscaping with indigenous plants, fruit trees, forest trees, herbs, spices and vegetable gardens, palms, orchids, as well as medicinal and fragrant plants. Angela Hijjas writes for the Malaysian Nature Society's magazine The Malaysian Naturalist based on her experiences with her garden. Within the garden compound there are various species of wild-life including many bird species, two types of monkeys: the ubiquitous long-tailed macaque and the dusky lanjur who like to hang out in the rambutan trees eating the fruit. There are also many lizards (some that grow quite large!) and occsionally wild pigs that appear after the rains.

The Rimbun Dahan Residency Programme is a token of appreciation to Malaysia and Australia
for the opportunities that have been provided for the architect's family. It is a program available to both Australian and international artists.

When I read about this garden paradise, I thought what a wonderful story it would make, so I requested a tour , and the Malaysian Tourism has offered us a special trip to Rimbun Dahan in return for me writing about it. I feel really privileged by this opportunity. It still seems almost unreal that I am actually going to Malaysia. This trip, which I won as a door prize at a B.C. Association of Travel Writer's gala, is a fantastic 'gift' to me. In exchange for this wonderful opportunity I want to write some special stories about this exotic country and all the marvelous adventures that await us. So stay in touch, because this is only the beginning of a truly amazing adventure.

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