By Joachim Ng
Every weekend, busloads of domestic tourists jam the streets of Ipoh for that savoury taste which they can’t find back home. Food adventure is Ipoh’s biggest draw, and our city tops the charts for gourmet crown of glory as it has one special ingredient: limestone water.
These fresh cooling waters bring health of body and spirit. Good nutrition is for sure, but health of spirit? Yes, the limestone hills surrounding Kinta Valley provide a calming ambience for Deep Nature Exploration — an untapped source of wealth for Perak and a light of wisdom for our sometimes confused nation. Every year, thousands of Malaysians go on pilgrimage overseas to find enlightenment. But those who know come to Ipoh.
Deep Nature Exploration is envisaged as a science-based multi-faith retreat with indoor and outdoor components. It takes you into the caves away from noisy street reality into a silent deeper reality; instead of a crowd you see emptiness, and all around you is a wall of calcium carbonate. From it we get plain soft chalk for use in farmlands to raise soil pH, and lovely hard marble for your house flooring. One is plain and the other is lovely; they constitute diverse forms of calcium carbonate.
Like Nature, human societies became diverse and each independent state produced its own civilisation (this word means “living in cities”). China as a historically unified state is one civilisation with two native religions — Taoism and Confucianism, resembling chalk and marble. Taoism is the plain spiritual way, and Confucianism is the polished social way. Hosted by the same language, they complement and complete each other.
However, West Asia-Mediterranean Europe produced a large number of independent states with an equally large outcrop of civilisations over a span of 5,000 years. Islam and Christianity fostered rival civilisations speaking different languages, and they morphed into bitterly warring opponents for control of territories. To harmonise their hearts, we need to discover origins. Deep Nature Exploration will take you via multimedia 3D presentation into the awareness of Kinta as a geopark of fossilised shell animals and corals once living in a shallow Kinta sea. The Kinta hills were born in water. Remarkable isn’t it? Water’s creative and cleansing power has long been recognised in Christianity’s rite of baptism and the Muslim ablution before prayers.
This is just a primer to stir your interest in discovering underlying connectivity, for there are deeper levels within the limestone hills of Kinta to explore in using science to gain a wiser understanding of belief systems and dissolve enmity.