Tasik Chini: A Work of Art

by Audrey Lim, Apr 4, 2001 | Destinations: Malaysia / Pahang

There are only two natural lakes in Peninsula Malaysia and both of them are located in the state of Pahang. Tasik Chini is a beautiful spot - a lake formed from the natural damming of a river valley. Located about 100km from Kuantan, the capital city of Pahang, the lake is Malaysia's second largest natural lake and is made up of a series of twelve lakes.

Tasik Chini is well known for its many myths, thus attracting busloads of tourist from all over the world to the spot each year. According to legend, there is a mythical dragon that lives in the lake and is the guardian to a lost city of gold. The city used to reside over the location of the lake. Around the lake live the Jakun people, a group of Orang Asli (aboriginal tribe). They believed that there is a serpent by the name of Naga Seri Gumum (Loch Ness Monster) who guards the lake. The serpent is also recognized as the spirit of the lake. Legends or otherwise, these myths have enticed numerous archeologists on scientific expedition to Chini.

Legends aside, the lake by itself is an awesome place, offering breathtaking beauty for its visitors. It lies majestically among 12,000 acres of lush tropical wilderness, so refreshing that it is actually possible to explore the place without feeling tired. The lake is also subjected to regular periods of expansion and contractions. It reaches its full glory and is at its largest during the monsoon periods of October to January.

Tasik Chini is also home to over 144 species of fishes. This is not a surprising fact as the lake has been left untouched for centuries. The best time for anglers would be between the months of November to January, as the lake would be swollen by then, thanks to the monsoon season that increases the size and depth of the lake.

Besides fishing, the lake is also a fertile ground for bird watchers. There are more than 200 species of birds recorded around the area, making Tasik Chini the premier location in Peninsular Malaysia for bird watching. Follow one of the three bird watching trails - it'll bring you through different habitats. If you're there during the months of October to March, you'll get to see the migratory birds as they come in to Chini from the northern parts of China to escape the winter.

With such lovely flora and fauna at Tasik Chini, it is no wonder that avid photographers flocked to the place. A shot of the picturesque lake with the majestic Gunung Chini (Chini Mountain) in the backdrop in the early mornings or while the sunsets is a must! And if you're there during the months of July to January, the beautiful sight before you will blow you away - imagine the surface of the lake blossoming into a garden of pink and white lotuses. Its contrast against the green lily pads is simply beautiful! Another way to enjoy the beauty of the lake is by going on a river safari.

If you're in an adventurous mood, try out some of the challenging off-road driving routes that'll take you through the jungle and swamp areas. These routes are only accessible by 4-wheel drives and promises to offer excitement to thrill-seekers. And if you're interested in jungle trekking, it will be a good idea to hire a guide to lead you through some of the natural surroundings. This way, you won't miss a thing, as these guides are pros in their field.

For accommodation, you can have the option of staying at the wooden chalets or camp out under the stars. There are also a few restaurants for you. To get to Tasik Chini, you can catch the bus from Kuantan town. It is also accessible by road from most areas within the Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore.