“What are those ducks doing?” asks one of our goggle-eyed friends during a walk around the property called ‘Eight Acres’. Uncle Kam, our tour guide turns to look and replies, nonchalant, “Oh, they’re mating.” Later, in the privacy of our shared accommodation, we four urbanites admit that we have never see such a thing before.
At the time, though, we are forced to pay attention to Uncle Kam as he continues with his story about this eco-resort in Raub Pahang which recently won a prize for Best Eco Initiative. He says that when his son, Paul Kam (Group Managing director of ‘D Jungle Resorts’, which owns ‘Eight Acres’) first brought him to the property, it was the sound of water cascading from the waterfall nearby that convinced Uncle Kam to support his son’s dream to create this sanctuary. That was four years ago.
Today, ‘Eight Acres’ has evolved into a place that can only be described as a banquet for the senses. To appreciate its extraordinary beauty, you must set aside the creature comforts available at other resorts like air-conditioned accommodation, toiletries on demand and an à la carte menu.
Instead, embrace communal eating, apply liberal amounts of insect repellent and open your heart to the warmth and hospitality of its gracious hosts. In so doing, you may come to see that ‘Eight Acres’ is a place where the humans and animals don’t merely co-exist – they have just about switched places. Where the humans have been lovingly creating and building this place, the animals are involved in scandalous sexual behaviour, acts of horror and even attempted murder.
For instance, there’s Justin, who is in charge of all recreational activities, tenderly stroking an injured bird who made the mistake of flying into the ceiling fan. Uncle Kam monitored the planting of a whole host of trees on a particular section of the property, “because we wanted to create a colony for birds to come.”
Then there is ‘Java House’, a structure brought over from Java, Indonesia, and reconstructed here on ‘Eight Acres’. Imagine the scene from its balcony during the twilight hour: a waterfall on your left, verdant tropical flora in the background with a majestic ‘Tualang’ tree right at the top, and row upon row of Heliconia and Hibiscus on your right. When night comes, the Orion constellation is prominent in a cloudless sky.
The geese, on the other hand, says Justin, will soon have to be confined to a particular area. Decidedly destructive, they’re eating all the plants that they can get their beaks on.
Uncle Kam adds to this and says that they sometimes fight with each other. He points to one gander on his right and says it has two followers. On his left is another group where the gander is called ‘John’. The two groups don’t like each other. If you use your imagination and put words into the honking of the geese on Uncle Kam’s right, it’s possible to conjecture they are fighting over which one is going to spend time with John after dinner.
Uncle Kam then points to the serene lake supported by the use of gabions in the middle of the property. He narrates the horrifying tale from three years ago when a snake emerged from the murky depths and bit into a shrieking duck preening itself on an islet.
Confusion reigns supreme when Justin says that there’s a new animal on the property – a cross between a duck and goose. We decide to call this aberration of nature a ‘guck’.
When we try our hand at archery, ‘Lamb Chop’, the resident sheep tied nearby, complains non-stop and looks upon us with trepidation. It’s probably afraid of becoming our supper at the barbecue pit lest our arrows miss the target and find ‘Lamb Chop’, instead. The next day, sans bow and arrows in hand, when we say hello, the furry darling ignores us.
It is with a heavy heart that we leave ‘Eight Acres’ after our brief sojourn with nature. But we carry with us very happy memories of this little piece of heaven on earth.
‘Eight Acres’, Lot 7822, Mukim Gali, Off Sungai Klau, 27630 Raub, Pahang, Malaysia. For more information, visit http://eightacres.net