Eight bountiful acres

loading The green lake teeming with fish next to 8 Acres.

The king of fruits, despite its assaulting, pungent scent, has the uncanny ability to tempt the most unwilling of taste buds. And where best to savour the fruit than 8 Acres, a tranquil getaway of wooden chalets nestled deep in palm oil plantations close to the unassuming town of Bentong in Pahang.

The way to 8 Acres was very fruitful, pun intended. In the car with friends and colleagues, we made a brief stop along the trunk road for some nangka. Each fruit was bigger than two footballs put together, and its sweet, heady scent was simply heavenly to the olfactory.

I’m not a nangka fan, but seeing how the fruit cast its “spell” on my friends was amusing – one bite was all it took for them to get hooked, and it introduced a new fragrance into the four-wheel-drive truck, infusing the confined space with a zesty, tangy aroma. I couldn’t help but wonder if the curious fruit contained endorphins, as everyone seemed to be blithe with laughter.

A rocky ride

The journey took longer than expected, stretching almost two hours – akin to travelling from KL to Ipoh. We passed Bentong and turned into a narrow road sandwiched between rows of oil palms. Traversing deeper, the somewhat-tarred road gave way to rougher, bumpier conditions that weren’t sedan-friendly.

Amidst the ubiquitous oil palms, we spotted a collection of rubber trees which I wouldn’t have recognised if it weren’t for the blackened cups strapped to the trunks to gather latex. We briefly stopped to collect some stray oil palm fruits scattered along the road – the plantation workers must have missed them. It was amusing to witness the antics of city slickers – my fellow travellers – at the discovery of nature’s bounty. We should get away more often to be more nature-savvy!

The airy common hall with its glass facade. Guests sit back and soak up the scenery, play indoor games or just chill out on big cushions.

Standing tall – the leafless, mysterious tualang tree.

A waterfall cascades into the inviting pond.

Acres of lush greenery

When we reached 8 Acres, what I saw made me agree that the grass was indeed greener on the other side – and a whole lot lusher, too. I was greeted by the sight of an emerald lake surrounded by undulating hills filled with durian trees and other unfamiliar flora and fauna. It can only be described as a sanctuary for the soul.

Situated next to the lake was the 8 Acres retreat that boasted a hall as spacious as a volleyball court. The earthy brick wall facade with rustic wooden flooring and straw-woven mats exuded a warm sense of home. You can soak in the breathtaking landscape of foliage, partake in indoor games or simply chill out on the giant cushions provided. Those who crave adventure can go jungle trekking or even rent a mountain bike to blaze hilly trails. The only discomfort was the sweltering humidity, but at least there weren’t any mosquitoes.

Guests get to sample farm-grown durians at 8 Acres.

A plethora of flora and fauna

As Kam, the friendly owner of 8 Acres, showed us around, picture-taking became our primary objective, for obvious reasons. Each curious-looking plant species beckoned to be captured in interesting angles and compositions. An occasional squirrel would dart in front of us or sprint up a tree. We spotted a bunga kantan plant with blossoming pinkish flowers, which are used in curries and asam laksa to give it the familiar piquant taste we Malaysians love so much.

Great cempedak! One bite will leave you wanting more.

Kam pointed out a tualang tree that reached towards the sky, a solitary trunk with wiry branches. There are legends about this tree – spirits are believed to inhabit it, and for that reason many loggers leave it alone. Moving on, we adjourned to a pavilion nearby to sample farm-grown durians and cempedak. While the king of fruits was deliciously bittersweet, the cempedak stole the limelight for being so tangy and juicy.

Five durians and dozens of cempedak later, Kam brought us to a waterfall just a stone’s throw away. It was a great respite from the afternoon sun as we dropped our bags and dipped in right away. Due to the dry season, the pool was shallower than usual but the emerald-green waters were nonetheless simply rejuvenating. There was a pitch-black crevice on the irregular slopes next to the waterfall, which beckons at any adventurous spelunker.

Time passed by indolently, but we knew that the longer we lingered at the waterfall, the hungrier we would get. With a heavy heart, we snapped our last photos and left the area of raw beauty behind, knowing that we have taken a piece of nature with us. We thanked Kam for his overwhelming hospitality before leaving the beautiful haven of 8 Acres.

Lim Shu-Lin works in a leading local financial institution and has been freelancing as a copywriter for over 15 years. She writes passionately about travel and personal experiences, poems, inspirational quotes, social, economic and political observations or opinions, and short stories.

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