Popular Posts

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Enstek: A trip to a perfect hideaway

Enstek: A trip to a perfect hideaway

By C S Wan

I first heard it in Melaka _ at a food court in Limbongan to be precise.

Limbongan, Melaka: Where it began

Over our breakfast of lempeng, Hanafi recounted the incident while Rashid chimed in at appropriate points, to provide some hilarious details.
It was a tale about Hanafi’s attempt to capture some monkeys which had been making frequent forays into his farm. Instead of using traditional traps fashioned from hollowed-out coconuts, he thought it would be more humane to trap them within an enclosure constructed from zincs and plywood.

The zinc enclosure

One morning, Hanafi and his friends were relaxing at the balcony when the silence of the place was broken by a loud thud and rumble from within the enclosure.

Dah kena,” Hanafi shouted as they rushed towards the railing of the balcony. The enclosure began to shake and rattle violently and moments later a monkey emerged from the enclosure. With a facade of calm composure, it sat on the edge of the enclosure with a ripe banana in its hand. It began to peel the banana with deliberate slowness, pausing to cast taunting glances at the onlookers.Then it proceeded to eat the banana, slowly, unhurried; relishing every single bite.  Fully satiated, it glanced at the onlookers and in a final act of derision tossed the banana peel back into the enclosure before scurrying and disappearing into the woods.

A monkey snapped to attention as the Major approached
Caption and photo courtesy of Merli

On a cool, cloudy Saturday morning as the car hummed its way towards Enstek for a house-warming party, I tried to suppress a smile as I recalled the incident. Chatting and laughing, we were enjoying the leisurely drive, when we suddenly caught sight of a signboard with the words ‘ Nilai Pajam’.

“Doesn’t look familiar,” Peter said, as he slowed down the car and brought it to a halt at a road shoulder. 

We decided to proceed and a few metres ahead a signboard boldly announced the exit road to Sepang and KLIA. We realised we had missed the correct turning but we were not unduly worried as the detour and the little adventure, provided a welcome break from the monotony of our mundane existence. A short distance ahead we turned into the road leading to Bandar Bukit Makhota and not wanting to make further exploration we made a U-turn at the toll plaza and were soon on the road to Nilai. As we drove through Nilai Town, excited voices were calling attention to once familiar landmarks and this was followed by moments of marked quietude as we passed through less familiar territory.

“Enstek!” A voice from the rear seat, called out.
Peter guided the car towards the indicated direction and we found ourselves on a narrow and virtually deserted road.
A muffled ringtone sounded from the car's rear seat and all ears strained to listen to the conversation.
“Where are you now?”
 The concerned voice told us we were already late for our rendezvous.
“We’re on a narrow road with a mosque to our left.”
“ Can you see the name of the mosque?”
Blurry eyes began to peer and strain at the writings on a notice board, but all the efforts were in vain. An awkward silence that ensued was an unspoken acknowledgement of our predicament.  A comforting voice at the other end of the line said,

“ I think I know where you are. Just wait for us there.”

A black sedan soon appeared and  being grandly escorted to our destination by two prominent figures, I began to relax and soak up the view of the countryside.

The twists and turns in the road soon gave way to hilly terrain with narrow road flanked by towering trees and undergrowth. Then as the car crawled up a gentle gradient, a grand house loomed before us. 

As we stepped into the compound, our host, Hanafi, greeted us warmly and guided us to our table. A sumptuous buffet was already laid out on a long table and among the wide variety of local delights were home-grown vegetables and venison from his farm.

Gan, SL, Wan, Peter, Koot
Photo courtesy of KC

Jee, May, KGH
Photo courtesy of Ben

'Are they from the same batch ?'
Caption and photo courtesy of Rashid

Tn. Fadzil and wife
Photo courtesy of Ben

A token of appreciation
Photo courtesy of KC
Audrey, Harry
Photo courtesen

Mrs Koot, Audrey, Ben
Photo courtesy of KC

While we were savouring the delectable fare and sipping fruit cordial specially concocted by Ben, Hanafi appeared at our table bearing two casseroles filled with rendang. Out of earshot of the other guests, he whispered,

“This is rendang ayam kampong, specially for the cikgus,”

Shortly, afterwards, he approached our table with a bowl of tapai. I was intrigue at the sight of the tapai as it was the first time I was seeing tapai wrapped in rubber tree leaves.The tapai appeared, magically disappeared, and then reappeared from the table and within minutes only the empty leaves were left to bear testimony to its popularity.

Tapai daun getah

...satu tangkai ada tiga tapai
Captions and photos courtesy of Rashid

Just when I thought, we had eaten our fill, Hanafi had another surprise for us. 
" Sambal telur itik," he announced.

“Where is the monkey enclosure?” I asked Rashid as he came to our table.
“We can see it from the balcony. We’ll go there after our meal," he replied.

A while later we were following closely behind Rashid as he led us to the balcony. From the wide, open balcony I found myself looking, admiring and appreciating the panoramic view that stretched below us.

The panoramic view from the balcony

Half-obscured by a tree with bare branches, I could see the zinc enclosure used for trapping the monkey. In front of the enclosure a  solitary, stationary 'tiger' lay stretched on the ground, keeping an eternal watch for intruders and predators.

A 'tiger' keeping a vigilant look

 Just beyond the zinc enclosure, under the grid shadows of towering trees, the murky shapes of deer could be seen grazing in a fenced-in area.

"Behind the deer pen there is a river," Rashid told us.

Obscured by grassy embankment and trees with dense canopy, the unseen river and what lay beyond it lent a touch of mystery to the place.

While we were content to view the farm from the balcony, unknown to us, the more adventurous and physically fit 'youngsters' had trekked across the uneven ground to get a closer look at the animals. 

'What are they up to?'
Caption and photo courtesy of Rashid

Deer grazing in fenced-in area
Photo courtesy of Jee

Another view of the deer enclosure
Photo courtesy of Rashid

A close-up view of the deer
Photo courtesy of Teo

Pond teeming with red tilapia. Get ready your fishing rods.
Photos courtesy of Rashid

A gaggle of geese to keep away intruders
Photo courtesy of Rashid

As I caught sight of a brick barbecue pit, immediately below us, my mind began to conjure up images of tantalizing meat sizzling over coal fire and mouth-watering pizza being baked to a crisp golden brown. 

'Next trip, we will use this place to bake our own pizza'
Caption and photo courtesy of Rashid

As I paused to take another look at the view, I began to picture the occupants of the house waking up to the crow of roosters and being greeted by a cacophony of animal sounds radiating from creatures in the wood and those in the cages: the shrill shriek of monkeys, the chirp of the early birds, the cluck of chickens foraging for food, and the honk of geese keeping away intruders. 

'A drill sergeant' stands guard over the property
Photo courtesy of Hanafi

I could also visualize the residents waking up early to catch  the first glimmer of golden light peeking above the line of tall tree tops.

Glimmer of lights over the tree tops
Photo courtesy of Hanafi

The sun was already high up in the sky when we finally finished viewing and inspecting the farm. As some of us had other prior engagements, thanking the hosts for the fine food and hospitality, we took our leave.

One for the album before we head for home
Photo courtesy of Ben

As I picked my way gingerly to the car, in my heart, I knew Hanafi had chosen the right place to build his dream home. Within a few minutes drive from the nearest town and concealed from the road by stately trees with thick foliage, it was the perfect hideaway for escaping from the hustle and bustle of city life.

1 comment:

  1. While the article captures the imagination with its description of the beautiful natural surroundings of Enstek, admittedly, the servings of Rendang Ayam Kampung and Sambal Telur Itik were what captured my attention!