There is more to do in Kuala Lumpur than meets the eye. Just next door is the state of Selangor, where a hidden gem welcomes you on an eye-opening outdoor and cultural adventure in Malaysia – The Jungle School in Gombak. Here are 7 reasons why this should be next on your list this holiday!
1. Gombak is the Secret Heritage Site You Didn’t Know About
Forget skyscrapers and street food, did you know that Gombak is on its way to become a UNESCO Heritage Site? Not too far from Batu Caves lies the largest ancestral home of the indigenous people, or Orang Asli, of Peninsular Malaysia. Out of 18 Orang Asli tribes in the peninsular, an astounding 10 can be found in the villages of Gombak!
Apart from the Hospital Orang Asli Gombak and the Muzium Orang Asli (both way too quiet for their own good), you would not have guessed that the indigenous community even existed here. The real treasure lies in the rainforest, where generations of Orang Asli have paved its winding paths. That’s where the Jungle School takes place!
2. Walk in the Footsteps of an Orang Asli
The Jungle School is a day tour programme started by Mr Raman, who originated from the Semai tribe. He decided to run it as a way of educating people on basic jungle survival skills, which soon progressed to sharing his unique cultural heritage.
Orang Asli tribes still have limited opportunities and outreach in Malaysia, so not many are aware that there are indigenous tours people can participate in. What’s special about this is that the guide is 100% local and passionate about this tour.
3. You’ll Get to Try the Blowpipe and Traditional Puzzles
One of the wildest things you get to do at the Jungle School is have a blowpipe contest. This traditional weapon consists of a long and specialised bamboo tube, along with handmade darts. Back in the day, hunters would dip the darts in the sap of the ipoh tree to poison unsuspecting animals or enemies. You’ll learn how to use it properly as you fire away at balloons.
If you love a challenge, you can try to solve the Kerchang. The bamboo puzzle is used to test one’s intelligence, especially when a potential suitor asks his future father-in-law for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Not as easy as it looks!
Read also: Into the Wild: the Jungle School of Gombak
4. It might be the Only Time You Can Start a Fire in the Wild
Okay, maybe some of you have started campfires before, but most city folk wouldn’t have a clue on how to spark a fire using wood. In fact, many parents like to bring their kids for a day outing in the Jungle School to experience what it is like beyond the world of city lights and technology. Raman believes that fire-starting is an essential skill everyone should have – do you agree?
5. Bet You Have Not Tried Local Food, Jungle Style
For lunch, you get to cook your own meal the Orang Asli way. The rice is cooked in bamboo, the meat is barbequed over a roaring flame, and water is boiled in bamboo to give it a naturally sweet taste. It’s a Malaysian food culture most people cannot claim to have tried.
6. Weaving Leaves is Strangely Satisfying
At the Jungle School of Gombak, you have the opportunity to try weaving using bertam leaves. Be sure to take a video when your guide elegantly unfolds the leaf bundle with a single shake.
7. You Can Support a Local Tribesman’s Cause
At the end of the day, the Jungle School was formed by the local community, for the local community. By taking part in the programme, you are providing Raman a chance to sustain his livelihood, share his rich indigenous culture, and train young Orang Asli to do the same.
Good to know
- Be prepared to trek into the jungle – don’t worry, it’s alright for beginners!
- You may want to bring waterproof shoes as you may have to walk across a stream.
- Bring insect repellent.
How to Join the Jungle School
It’s a pretty amazing experience for families and people who want to see another side of Malaysia, beyond Kuala Lumpur city. It costs RM100 (about USD25) per person, which includes the activities, materials and lunch.
- Book the 1-Day Programme in the Jungle School on Cuti.my
- Wait for your local expert’s confirmation
- Once confirmed, time for an adventure of a lifetime!