Our journey from Ipoh to Belum was longer than expected. We have a brief stopover at the Archaeological Gallery of Lenggong Valley in Hulu Perak, about 80km from Ipoh. If you're rushing for time, I think you can give this place a miss. There's not much in the gallery. But since we're in the area, and we've come so far ..... we might as well take a look.
The gallery apart, Lenggong Valley has a significant place in the history for the early man and a goldmine for archaeologists. The well-known "Perak Man", ie the oldest human skeleton found in Malaysia, was discovered in one of the hilly caves nearby. But the original Perak Man's skeletal remains were in the KL National Museum, only a replica was placed in the gallery here.
To the untrained eyes, Lenggong is a typical small town. But this is the place where one of the oldest human civilisation outside the African continent once lived. Thus, UNESCO recognised the Lenggong Valley as a world heritage site.
We continued our journey to Pulau Banding in Belum, passing by small villages, plantations and then going through beautiful, winding hilly roads. Along the way, we saw signboards to warn us to "Beware! Wild Elephants" but alas, we didn't see any. Nearest town is in Gerik, Hulu Perak.
Pulau Banding is a man-made island located within the Belum-Temenggor Lake (about 330km north of KL). The Temenggor Lake Bridge connects the East-West Highway which crosses the lake. The resort was located right after the bridge on Pulau Banding.
The Temenggor Lake surrounding Pulau Banding was created after the construction of Temenggor Dam to generate electric power. It's the 2nd largest lake in the Peninsular.
Our resort was surrounded by one of the world's oldest tropical rainforests, ie the Belum-Temenggor rainforest complex. It's 4x the size of Singapore, comprises the Royal Belum State Park, Gerik Forest Reserve, Temenggor forest reserve and remaining waterbodies area.
It's also the largest area under forest cover in Peninsular after Taman Negara. However, its proximity to the Thai border and the presence of guerrillas in its jungles made it a security area right up to the mid-80s. After 1990, Belum started opening up to some forms of eco-tourism. The Royal Belum, which is still protected by police and military, is a real gem of rich biodiversity, wildlife and virgin rainforests. For the more adventurous, visitors are allowed in limited number, and need to obtain special permits from the Gerik office (at least 5 working days prior to visit). We've no clue of this requirement so we didn't manage to go to the Royal Belum State Park.
Our rooms were at this block at Belum Rainforest Resort. Do explore other accommodation options on this island, even camping! The rooms, as well as their monopolised activities, were much overpriced.
Side view with a lovely fish pond. Even though this place has no swimming pool, one of our boys managed to take a dive here! Hopefully the fishes were not traumatised.
Another block of rooms facing the lake. Not much of a lakeview here cos blocked by the trees, and noisier too cos closer to the highway.