Rumah Tiang 16: Gateway to Hidden Gems of Lenggong

By Mei Kuan

*Photos by Mei Kuan and Gisele Soo

A family-run heritage stay along Jalan Hj Md Nor in Lenggong, Rumah Tiang 16 (16 Pillars House) has been serving as a gateway for many to explore the hidden gems that the town has to offer. 

Ipoh Echo spoke to Lenggong-born Abdul Nasir bin Jalaludin, the proprietor of Rumah Tiang 16 cum local host in order to learn more.

Abdul Nasir bin Jalaludin

Befitting its name, the 0.3-acre traditional wooden Malay house features 16 pillars. It is a family inheritance across three generations dated from the early 1970s. 

“A typical kampung (village) house would have 12 pillars but due to our big family of six siblings, my late father decided to make it bigger than the usual so we could have more comfortable space,” Nasir, also fondly known as Nash, recalled.

A fusion of the Rumah Bumbung Panjang Perabung Lima (a Malay house with roof resembling a five-sided pyramid) and Rumah Kutai (a Malay house with elaborate carvings) of Perak, the double-storey structure featuring retro naco glass panels on the lower level, traditional wooden windows on the upper level and a lush garden is a sight to behold.

“To me, the signature of a Malay house on stilts is its tall staircase and the overhanging decorative arch. Hence, that is the spot I would have my guests photographed at as a memento of their stay,” he expressed.

Signature photography spot of Rumah Tiang 16

Look forward to a full ceremonial Malay-style protocol to welcome your arrival during check-in!

Nasir was inspired to open up his own residence to the public in May 2019 to create awareness of Lenggong as a UNESCO site and generate a green tourism economy to the community. 

The other mission which came later into the operation was to provide a cross-cultural stay experience: “I had fellow Malaysian guests from other ethnicities confessing that they have been wondering how does it feel to be living in a traditional wooden house on stilts, with beautiful ornamental wood carvings and set up in rural Malay kampung ambiance.”

Since then, the former hotelier with more than 20 years experience in grooming 5-star hotels, resorts and luxury spas both locally and abroad, has been pioneering the rural community-centric hospitality, also widely known as community-based tourism, in his hometown via Rumah Tiang 16—his new found passion.

When he returned to Lenggong back in December 2017, he was surprised to discover its UNESCO title which is yet to be known by many domestically and internationally.

“I wish to create awareness of Lenggong’s gems, especially its coveted UNESCO archaeological status which is very uncommon worldwide, let alone in Malaysia!” he enthused.

Ultimately, his vision is to put Lenggong on the tourist destination map, preserve its rich heritage and provide economic sustainability for the local community especially post-pandemic.

With a customisable itinerary, a stay duration of 3 days and 2 nights is recommended for one to fully immerse in the experience.

According to Nasir who knows Lenggong like the back of his hand, among the family-friendly highlights are the world-class archaeological sites, backwater cruises, cottage industries, local delicacies, scenic views, eco parks and to top it all, the raw-rural hospitality by the locals.

One of the forest eco parks

Scenic views
Scenic views
Backwater cruise

One example of a lesser-known, must-visit spot is Bukit Jawa, an open Palaeolithic site with evidence of early human activities dating back to 100,000 to 200,000 years ago from the discovery of a stone tool workshop that used river gravels from the ancient Perak River. 

Bukit Jawa, an open Palaeolithic site

“However the crown jewel of Lenggong’s archaeological find is the meteorite impact site that created an 8km diameter crater and the very rare suevite rocks,” he shared.

A heritage dinner which features the signature dishes of old including kebebe (an appetiser made of about 14 types of young fruits), a 48-hour slow-cooked ikan pindang daun seniar (fish curry), gulai kemahang (yam stalk curry), and gulai pattani (beef green curry) is served in the house while the rest are outside at different locations every time. 

“This is how I give back to my local community, by having them prepare meals and get paid for it. For lunch and dinner, the menu changes according to what is being caught in the river and what has been harvested from their garden,” he pointed out.

For instance, one can get to enjoy a one-of-a-kind picnic lunch at a thatched roof hut in an orchard owned by the amiable Mak Ani and Abah Yik in Kampung Chepor with the must-try sambal picit (fish sambal), ulam keladi lambok (fresh herb salad with yam stalks) and cendol sagu rumbia (shaved ice dessert with sago palm) among others.

Picnic lunch at a thatched roof hut in an orchard in Kampung Chepor
Cendol sagu rumbia (shaved ice dessert with sago palm)

From overnight stays to day excursions, the response received to date has been overwhelming: “I’m proud to share that Rumah Tiang 16 has hosted guests from more than 25 countries during our short operation span from May 2019 to March 2020, ranging from national ministers, celebrities, sport athletes, foreign high officials to ambassadors.”

The 50-year-old shared his biggest motivation as he keeps moving forward: “Giving back to my community in terms of economic gain and in turn getting them to be proud of themselves in all aspects. They will in turn impart this wisdom to their successors/inheritors thus preserving the tangible and the intangible traditional values. It’s a chain effect!”

Do take note that visits are by appointment basis only: “As this is a community-based tourism, I need to ensure my community involved in the itinerary are given ample time to prepare the needful.”

Ever ready to assist, he added, “We also closely monitor updates and put into practice the required health and safety standard operating procedures issued by the authorities.”

The unique history of Lenggong, complete with a heart-warming community, no doubt warrants a return trip. To quote Nasir, “To know Lenggong is to love Lenggong!”

Rumah Tiang 16 is located at Lot 12, Jalan Hj Md Nor, Kampung Kubang Jambu, Lenggong 33400.

For more updates and bookings, visit its Facebook page



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