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Monday January 23, 2012

Chinese students enjoy unforgettable nature trip

QIU HaoMing had always imagined Malaysia to have uninteresting jungles until he set foot in Perak.

What greeted the 16-year-old Guangzhou lad upon arrival in Ipoh completely changed his perception of the country.

HaoMing, who was among 93 Chinese students on a school trip to study the geology and environment of Malaysia, was captivated by the natural wonders of the green rolling hills and exotic flora and fauna in the Kinta Valley.

“The nature here is more beautiful than I had ever imagined and the experience of trekking through the jungles and breathing in the fresh air is truly wonderful.

“It was really an unforgettable experience when we trekked through the jungles around the Ulu Geruntum area and got bitten by leeches.

“Although I live near hills and nature back in China, this is the first time I was bitten by leeches,” said HaoMing.

Another student, Sun Zi Qi, 13, said the four-hour trek was challenging but rewarding as they were able to see the rare Rafflesia plant.

“I have never seen one up close. It was truly an unforgettable experience.

“It smelled terrible like something rotting,” said Zi Qi, who managed to snap pictures of the Rafflesia.

Together with their peers, the two stayed at traditional Malay village houses under a homestay programme where they were treated to Malaysian cuisine and hospitality.

Guangdong Province Education Association geology department head Prof Zhou SinBun, who led the group, said the trip was very rewarding as they not only learned about Malaysia but also its culture and people.

“Among the highlights was seeing the Rafflesia in Ulu Geruntum and the discovery of a rare limestone formation that resembled layers of meat at Gua Tempurung.

“I have only seen museum exhibits of such formations but never in real life. I hope the state government will add this to its list of tourism products,” he said.

Prof Zhou said a similar formation resembling a piece of meat was at the Taiwan National Palace Museum.

“It is actually banded jasper, a stone that accumulates layers over hundreds of years and various impurities add on to the colours, making it look like layers of fat and meat,” he said.

Prof Zhou estimated that the particular rock, which he saw in Gua Tempurung, was estimated to be 1m in length and had taken up to 1.5 billion years to form.

“It is much larger compared with the one that was being exhibited in Taiwan,” he said, adding that it was first time he had seen it in its natural surrounding.

The group was welcomed by state Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman at Gua Tempurung.

Their trip was organised in conjunction with Visit Perak Year 2012.

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