Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Where city dwellers go to farm

Where city dwellers go to farm

There is something humbling about growing up in a small town which is known to the outside world as a district covered in tropical forest, where villagers still fear visits from tigers in their backyards.

A less well-known neighbour of Temerloh of ikan patin-fame and Kuala Lipis which produced the country's most popular female singer, Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Jerantut offers serenity to nature lovers like no other.

Ask locals where you can go to enjoy a refreshing splash in the waters of Sungai Pahang and they can easily give you a number of options.

There's Lata Berkoh, the river which schoolteachers cross to teach in the Orang Asli schools inside Taman Negara. Or Lata Besin, where you can picnic with family and friends.

Not a fan of the water? No worries, as Jerantut still has a long list of charming attractions for the thrill seeker in you.

Reach the highest point in Peninsula Malaysia by climbing Mount Tahan and learn about the secret life of bats in the Kota Gelanggi cave complex.

Ikan patin may be associated with Temerloh but Jerantut is never short of freshwater fish.

It is either freshly caught from the river or harvested in the growing freshwater farming industry in the district.

Locals accept only the best ikan patin masak tempoyak and expect the dish to be served at every wedding.

The phrase "everybody knows everybody" holds true here. Just mention the name of your father or mother and the kind makcik at the nasi campur stall will gladly give you a discount because she knew your parents from school.

When I was a teenager, people could only shop at the row of shoplots in front of the bus stand. Nowadays, there is even a big supermarket next to my housing area.

Many non-locals are buying land and developing farming and poultry businesses here. It only takes about two-and-a-half hours to travel from KL to Jerantut, making it a great place to have a farm.

A friend of mine makes weekly trips from Kuala Lumpur to Jerantut to harvest vegetables on his small farm and sells them at one of KL's Sunday markets. He said farming has given him a new appreciation of nature.

Having grown up in Jerantut, I could not agree more. I hope this trend of city dwellers coming back to nature (especially in Jerantut) will continue grow.

My late grandmother used to own a plot of land here, where she and my mother and aunts would tap rubber trees and plant vegetables to sell at the market.

I heard many tales of encounters with the famed Pak Belang and snakes.

Even though the land was converted into a housing area nearly 10 years ago, every time I pass by the "Welcome to Jerantut" signboard that faces a block of stone that used to be a part of the kitchen of my late grandmother's house, I would be reminded of her and the simple communal life that I used to live before I moved to Kuala Lumpur to chase my dreams.


The clock tower in the old town.

~News courtesy of New Straits Times~

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