Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Al-Attas Garden in Janda Baik - 4 August 2012

Besides being a well-known contentious writer, little do we know that Syed Hussein Alattas is also a self-taught gardener and an architect. He had built Taman Hana in Janda Baik from scratch and named after his wife. 

Taman Hana sits on a 8-acre plot of land in the quiet village of Janda Baik. It boasts a collection of 1,000 species of plants including fruit trees, more than 700 big flower pots and five buildings that include the home of the Alattas family.  The good news is that it is open to visitors every day. 


As we made our way past the entrance, this place appeared unkempt. It was well beyond its heyday (in 2008) but still showing off its faded beauty. Some parts were badly neglected, which was so unfortunate, because it originally was to be a quiet kampung retreat.


A mix of traditional Malay, Peranakan, Indonesian and colonial British architecture and a Minangkabau styled roof. Syed Hussein had actually started building the structures in 1982 and he spent a lot of time sourcing for the materials all over the country and abroad. 


The thing that strike us most is that everything seemed so haphazard. We learnt that Syed Hussein had used what's on hand in the surrounding area and recycling odd bits from all over. That's why there're lots of mismatched items, each with its own history and Syed Hussein's personal experiences. 

A clear stream ran through the middle of the property. Beautiful flowers and plants surrounded the compound. The walkways around the houses and some parts of the buildings and walls were constructed from stones found in the stream. Syed Hussein was inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to create a place where artistic souls can surround themselves with inspiration and learn.

Interestingly, Syed Hussein built the garden first and his family home last. Wacky and at the same time, charming.....

Taman Hana is indeed not a place where we could take it all in one glance.


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