Taiping recently, packed in two vans. The highlights were the Taiping Lake Gardens, the Charcoal Factory and the Mushroom Farm.
The Taiping Lake Gardens is a beautiful and scenic place, very popular with tourists and locals alike. The young and vibrant teachers were very excited with the place and took lots of photos in all kinds of poses. The more matured ones also joined in the fun. All of us were amazed at the sight of the trees which are more than 100 years old and had to be propped up by steel columns to prevent them from collapsing. The long branches hovering over the lake is really a sight to behold.
Along the way, we also visited the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve, the largest mangrove forest in Malaysia covering 40,000 hectares. Presently, it is one of the best managed mangrove forest reserves in the world. While we were there, we were informed that mangrove trees are actually a source of natural good barrier against tsunamis.
The Charcoal Factory nearby is one place that should not be missed. We were taken on a very interesting and educational guided tour to see how heavy logs of mangrove (bakau) were placed in huge kilns and baked. Fifty tons of logs would result in only ten tons of charcoal at the end of 32 days.
The Wonder Farm Mushroom is another interesting place to visit. Here again we were given a guided tour to see how grey oyster mushrooms, white oyster mushrooms, Ling Zhi and black fungus were grown. There is definitely detailed tedious care to ensure that the mushrooms will thrive!
Finally, the most rewarding from the trip is the delicious and comparatively cheaper food in Taiping. We loved the wide variety of hawker food at the food courts. For RM5 we could get a bowl of Curry Mee, at RM6 for a plate of fried Kueh Teow. What a steal!
All in all, it was a good time of bonding and getting to know one another better outside the classroom. Seeing the funny and sometimes crazy side of a teacher is really something. And seeing who would rush for the bathroom and who would allow others to go first also tells you something else in the character of a person.
We thank God for an enjoyable three days and with the desire to yield greater understanding amongst us, we are already planning the next retreat!