By James Gough
The Roots, a resort dedicated to eco-tourism on the banks of the Kinta River in Tanjung Rambutan, had their first intake of visitors from the German European School in Singapore recently. Comprised 71 students and four teachers, the group was a five-day field trips throughout Perak.
The resort’s study programme focuses on raising awareness of environmental conservation and sustainability issues, particularly to young people who have the power to shape the future of our planet.
The students, whose average age is 13 years, were taken on action-packed field trips from Gua Tempurung at Gopeng and its surrounding adventure camps to Matang Mangrove Forest at Taiping where they had a chance to re-plant mangrove seedlings, thus replenishing an important habitat for many endangered bird species found nearby.
Conservation of indigenous cultures is also part of the programme and as such their trip included a visit to the Orang Asli village at Kampong Tonggan, Ulu Kinta where students integrated with the children of Orang Asli families. The ice-breaker activity was singing the song ”heads, shoulders, knees and toes” repeatedly but in various dialects starting from English to Bahasa Malaysia.
Back at The Roots, the students learnt to play sepak takraw, made a poster inspired by the Orang Asli visit, and even had some target practice using traditional Orang Asli blow-pipes.
For a sense of adventure the students visited Kellie’s Castle where they participated in a quest designed by Ecofieldtrips that took them through its dungeons and secret passageways to discover the tale of The William Kellie Smith family.
Ipoh history was a major focus throughout the week especially the tin industry culminating in a fun tin panning session.
Throughout the week the students were led by a team of eight experienced biologists to learn about the diverse history, biology, people and attractions that Perak and Ipoh have to offer.
According to the co-owner of the resort, Bridget Hedderman, the programme for this first batch took over eight months to prepare together with her team of biologists. Bridget herself is an experienced biologist and conservationist with a Masters in Education and is pro-active in marine conservation and education.
For the remainder of the year Roots already has bookings from another 10 schools from countries like France, Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong as well as KL and Penang.
One of the visiting teachers said that the Roots programme was one of the best programmes available for eco-tourism and educating young minds. With this in place, Perak now has a tour programme, albeit a study programme, which enables participants to appreciate the diverse natural attractions available in the state, as well as to learn about its history.
The new Perak fieldtrip has certainly taken off to a brilliant start and if the response of the first batch of students is anything to go by, it has taken firm root for The Roots to receive more students in the future!