Tasik Pedu - Kedah Malaysia

NOTE: Unfortunately Pedu Lake is no longer accessible to the general public. What used to be a pristine very large piece of rainforest has now been logged thoroughly, leaving large wastelands overgrown by invasive vegetation. This is only one of many, many sad situations in Malaysia. Greed has no boundaries. Give a young civilisation all the tools to be a better, more progressive society... and it reduces itself into a regressed , degenerative generation of leeches

Travelling all the way from KL, some 6 ½ hours northwards, didn't feel too mundane as the highway took us past scenic limestone hills of Perak and into the flat coastal plains of Kedah where chessboard patterns of paddy fields filled the landscape. Dotted around are odd-looking scarecrows, seemingly put together more to complete the picture perfect rather than to frighten the crows!

We turned off at the Gurun exit from the highway, taking us east into the interior of Kedah and to the lake so many of us have heard and read about but remains elusive. As the narrow road snaked further into the heart of Kedah, a sense of adventure began seeping back into our blood, raising our heartbeats, pouring adrenaline down our throats. The landscape slowly changing - villages lining the roads, melted away. Natural barricades of tall undergrowth and lowland-forested trees, many flowering this time of the year greeted us with a scent of freshness. Like the smell of the garden lawn after a refreshing mid-afternoon downpour.

We arrived in the late evening at our resort, Desa Utara Pedu Lake Resort. We really didn't expect such a relaxed setting, well not from the brochure anyway. In fact we really had no idea what to expect. Yes! The chalet rooms have air-conditioning, hot water and satellite TV and yes!, there are outdoor activities such as jet skiing, boating, a swim in the pool, and indoor activity like a game of pool or karaoke. So why come the all this way just to indulge in activities we can find in all other resorts around Malaysia? Brochure and recommendations aside, we just had to find out for ourselves. After all, so much has been documented locally and abroad about the traditions of honey gathering in these parts of the woods, that we just had to make a trip for some first hand experience.

Having parked our car at the terminal beside the entrance to the resort, we took a ride into the main resort area. Cars are not allowed in the main resort area for fear of parking congestion and we'd like to believe that it is a resort that encourages their guests to walk a bit and absorb the pristine environment in the 400 or so acres the resort sits on.

After a few minutes of formalities, we checked into the lake view chalets, which has an open view facing west. The balcony sits on the water's edge and after the day's drive, the temptation proved too much to resist we crumpled into our chairs for a magnificent sunset. The roaring red sun sank lower as evening beckoned. Sunrays skimmed over ripples, spreading across the surface, turning the lake a brilliant orange.

Boat ride around the lake

The next day, we took a boat ride round the lake. The lake itself has many islets that used to be peaks or mounts, and now are the only areas still above the flood level. The ridge facing the resort is really an island, there's more lake round the other side. Around the corner, the resort's Sports and Recreation manager and a former army commando pointed out to us a floating hut in a cove.

Below the surface of the lake, there is an entire forest of trees and loggers have come to cut the submerged trees. A highly specialised and dangerous job, the divers are paid to go deep into the sunken forest and source for the right tree to cut down. Suited up in their heavy gear, with breathing hose connected to the surface, these divers drop to a depth of 60' or more. It's dark; it's still, and the meshes of branches make their descent difficult. A snag could mean death. Some trees are very buoyant, shooting up to the surface, sometimes even before the trunk is sawn right through. Imagine being entangled in the branches of the tree when this happens. Riding with the tree all the way to the surface as it rises above the waters before splashing down, like a cork being released underwater. What an experience! The Pedu lake golf resort has boat trips into little canals around the lake where there is a greater chance of spotting wildlife. The otters are often out in large family groups, in search of food. The younger family members are seen frolicking and fooling around in the shallower parts. Huge monitor lizards are also residents of the lake but are usually shy of people and passing boats.

The waterfall

There is a beautiful waterfall not far from the area - a walk on the main road and then a little trek into the jungle. This place may be a little tricky to find on your own so try asking for some help from the resort staff. For those who are keen to seek out some wildlife in the area, the resort staff are well-versed with the 1 to 2 night trek up the ridge just to the back of the resort. A rather difficult trek but not impossible. According to the guides, they have seen evidence of large mammals such as the Sumatran rhinoceros and tapirs in the area. At the top of the ridge, there is a majestic view of the Pedu and Thailand.

However, unlike Taman Negara in Pahang, there are no hides where visitors can hold up for the night in wait for any exciting wild animals to trot by. Camping equipment should be brought along with you if you should want to take on this challenge. Having 'conquered' the peak, there's always the consolation of a relaxing bath and all the luxuries that come with staying at Desa Utara and the Mutiara Pedu Lake & Golf Resort