Malaysian Madness!

An account of exciting adventures half a world away (and 12 hours in the future)!


Tasik Kenyir Revisited... on a houseboat!

Yes, I spent 3 whole days floating around on South East Asia's largest man-made lake, Tasik Kenyir, in a houseboat with 29 students and 7 teachers. My friend Amy P, another ETA and owner of the picture website I shamelessly promote Amy P's Photos, invited me to tag along with her school, SMK Ibrihim Fikri, for a photography/enviornmental field trip. Now, don't let the word "houseboat" evoke images of luxurious 30 feet long yatchs and private sail boats, but I'm talking a floating trailer home!! Haha, it was absolutely fantastic in just about every way. Despite getting severe sunburns, AGAIN, I had a great time and sort of wish I could always live in a floating trailer home.

Here is the houseboat on which the females stayed... Our destination was the edge of Malaysia's national park called Taman Negara which means "National Park" in Malay. It is the OLDEST rainforest in the world at 130 million years old because it was spared the devastation of the Ice Age. The boat ride to the edge of the park took about 6 hours.

Here is another kodak moment of the awesome houseboats... Seriously, I'm going to retire on one of these things... If these things can float I have faith in anything. They come equipped with a bathroom, kitchen, lounging area, and room for about 15 people to sleep comfortably. Plus, there is constantly a swimming pool in the backyard, frontyard, and sideyard!

The travel time was lengthy so it offered a lot of opportunity to relax and take in the scenery. Like this student, Ariff, I was constantly taking naps. It was a great way to catch up on some SERIOUSLY needed sleep.

Alright, so I'm obsessed with these boats, but here is another fun shot of me on the deck enjoying the fresh lake air.

I've been to Tasik Kenyir 6 times because I'm in love with the place but I've never really posted pictures of it. Everytime I go I feel like I'm on the set of Lord of the Rings. It's gorgeous. It's weird to be on a lake and see palm trees and tropical images because my hollywood image of a lake is just some quaint pond lined with pine trees in upstate New York where the rich go to escape whatever the hell they escape. I really could live at Tasik Kenyir for the rest of my life. It's very peaceful and the atmosphere is so mellow.

Oh yea, the lake is great! What a douche...

Our trip included 3 different stops on the Lake and near the entrance to Taman Negara. The first was called Gua Bewah, which is a GIGANTIC cave in the middle of nowhere. The cave is well maintained even though not a single person is around. It reeked of something that could have been any combination of mold, bat crap, Terengganu air, and whatever else, but it was a huge and interesting cave.

I don't have pictures of the cave itself because I figure you can all picture one yourselves. However, I liked this shot I took inside the dark because you couldn't see anyone at all, but the flash here exposes everyone. Also, I like the line of muslim students drifting into the darkness.

Everything is bigger in tropical countries and Malaysia is no exception. This is a gigantic leaf that was at the cave entrance and I had 12 year old Khaira stand behind it for perspective. By the way, Khaira is the normal size of a 12 year old girl, that leaf however, is not, haha.

Fish is absolutely not part of my diet, nor will it ever be. However, being on a houseboat for 3 days is good enough reason to be eating fish. There was a lot of time to fish and everyone caught a ton of fish, including this sucker. This fish, I don't remember the name, just call it ikan besar (big fish), sells for 50RM/kilo. It's expensive. However, because of the mistakes of the catcher the fish ended up escaping. I was secretly excited after watching the way it was handled. I think SCUBA diving is making me more sensitive to the rights of our underwater friends.

I preferred the less varietal aspects on the menu like cucumber, rice, and whatever was not fish. I love the composition of this photo.

I'm telling you, sleeping on these amazing boats was perfect. You coud just curl up anywhere and snooze as we putted along. I'm going to buy one, maybe I'll never come home.

Of course you can't travel anywhere in Malaysia without going to a waterfall. This is called Air Terjun Lasir and I visited it the second time I went to Kenyir. It's massive. this picture is only about a 1/5 section of the falls. And, as if I would not do so, I ripped off my clothes and jumped right into the water and swam for 2 hours straight.

There was a sweet rope swing at the falls that I spent a lot of time on.

The last stop on our journey was the Taman Herba (Herb Garden). It was a cool place to see a lot of plants I don't know the names of and just walk around and enjoy nature. Malaysia has an herb called Tongkat Ali that everyone loves to get me to drink because of its sexual powers for men. However, when you drink normally it is in teas and coffee. This herb garden had fresh shots of the stuff, just the herb in boiled water. It is NOT good, by itself. There is a female version of the herb called Kacip Fatimah for the ladies who might be interested in tasting it.

I thought this was a pretty exciting tree on the island. I'm sort of jaded by tall trees that are hundreds of years old anymore, but it's still nice to go back and admire the pictures.

Here is the top in case the cropped version was sort of unfulfilling.

Alright, the weekend ended up being a lot of fun because I was around new students who were fascinated by seeing me. It's nice to be a novelty every now and again. But more importantly because I was able to check out a place I love on a sweet HOUSEBOAT! I also taught the students how to play "I spy" "Truth or Dare" and I helped teach some how to swim! I was pretty much swimming at all hours of the day. On the last day I swam across the lake, about 1 km at the place where we were, to see a fish farm.

This particular farm was rearing Tilapia, the fish that's supposedly not so fishy, but I don't care, it's fish. The fish swarmed toward me when I approached their pen because they thought I was there to feed them. They were jumping out of the water they were so excited. It was kind of like eating in the school dormitory at night time for the bedtime snack. The students go crazy for the sweets they get.

I still have a blog about Kuala Berang coming. Also, I'm going back to Borneo this weekend to see the other state of Malaysia called Sarawak, so look for that blog. I also want to put blogs up about my students and what daily life is like here. I received an email from one student who said, "Zach, I like you but you're kind of boring." Yea, he is totally crazy because boring is the LAST adjective you could use for me as a teacher. I go to extremes to be exciting and I put a lot of time in my lessons. He's a cool kid and I thanked him for the email, but something's wrong with him, haha. Anyway, so I'm going to have some fun blogs about crap like that, and trust me, there's a ton of it! I'll try not to be boring (and I swear I'm not being defensive about his email, it's really humbling and funny so I'm just over-exaggerating it). Until whenever, bye


At 25/4/06 2:57 AM, Anonymous heidi said...

hey! i love the pictures. (except the fish farm...kind of disturbing). the houseboats seem interesting. i think i'd be afraid i'd fall through the deck boards! they don't look so safe! i'll come live on the water with you though! i bet it would be so calm and relaxing!

i told mom to call you but she didn't have any minutes left on her calling card.

At 25/4/06 8:17 AM, Anonymous Bethany said...

Zach! Your blog is amazing! Your Uncle Matt and Aunt Jill came down for Easter and we had a fun time talking about your blog and the many adventures you seem to be having. I am so jealous of all the pictures and I can't believe you found NEMO! lol But really the pictures are really awesome and I have enjoyed reading about all of the good times you are are having. Take care buddy and stay safe....don't get eaten by any crocodiles :)
Your favorite cousin,

At 25/4/06 11:36 AM, Blogger Jessica & Blake said...

Hey Zach! Great post. You're going to have so many awesome pictures when you come back. I love the one of the girl behind the huge leaf. Hope you're having a good week!

At 27/4/06 7:12 AM, Blogger Robyn said...

oh BABY. make sure you bring some of that potent love drug to our wedding night motel six room. hot.

At 27/4/06 10:09 AM, Blogger Jessica & Blake said...

Blake: Wow always amazing! The Houseboats are pretty darn amazing. They remind of stories my dad would tell me about the junks that people live on in china. It always amazes me how much we need as Americans to be "happy". Then to see people who crash wherever, and find novelty in an American english teacher. Who really does have the more advanced country?...Ponder that

At 23/6/06 8:35 PM, Anonymous ahli chung said...

hei.. good one you have !! your photos is touching.

If you do like Malaysia nature, here I have more photos take I explore for the past. Adventure stuff... hope you like it as well.



At 23/6/06 8:37 PM, Anonymous ahli chung said...

hei.. good one you have !! your photos is touching.

If you do like Malaysia nature, here I have more photos take I explore for the past. Adventure stuff... hope you like it as well.



At 13/7/06 9:55 PM, Anonymous Haw Chuan said...

Great blog. I love the picture of 2 girls preparing a meal. I came across your blog as I was researching on the house boat trip we are about to take. Some questions:
Do they provide power sockets from the generator? We'd like to run a laptop for downloading pics and recordings.
Is the bathroom both a shower room and a toilet?
Can any cell phone get a reception in the middle of the lake?
Thanks a bunch. Pls reply to

At 6/6/07 4:17 PM, Anonymous dX-Xel said...'s really nice pic!!

At 18/8/09 5:37 PM, Blogger Mie-G said...

hey man!
nice blog and very glad that you had a great moment in Malaysia.
Checkout my Kenyir trip photo at
Click Here

At 6/7/10 8:23 PM, Blogger Kosmos said...


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