Tasik Bera

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June 18th 2010
Published: July 5th 2010
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Tasik Bera

Tasik Bera At SunsetTasik Bera At SunsetTasik Bera At Sunset

A fibreglass making a sharp turn on the placid water by the main jetty of Persona Lake Resort.
Tasik Bera ( Lake Bera )
It was much more mysterious than...Lake Placid. Heck...it's not even in the listed places of Travelblog.

You probably have seen the movie about the T-Rex size crocodile that went rogue, harvesting human mucking around the lake instead of its staple bovine diet, hand fed by its owner, a white hair grandma living by the lake. Unlike the deceptive heavenly temperate atmosphere with pine trees lined azure lake in that movie, Tasik Bera is medievally quiet with a foreboding ambiance of something strange or monstrous lurking in its shadowy, murky waters. So much so,even when out on the lake, the marine officer forbids anyone from running their fingers in the water while the boat is moving. It would entice some big fishes into thinking its lunch time for a quick bite. A resort staff confiding of seeing a fish the size of a Volkswagen in the water and showing me a photo of another local standing beside a branch tethered fish almost as big as he was, pretty much keeps one hands within the boat!

It's unlike the man made artificial or cosmetic lake adorning on some golf courses or a botanical precinct
Early Morning KayakingEarly Morning KayakingEarly Morning Kayaking

The morning view of the lake, with a lone kayak in the distance.
in Putrajaya, with haute couture landscaping works and honeymooner friendly boardwalks, which you could go to anytime you feel urbanely outdoorsy.

Tasik Bera is an acquired taste. A visual delicacy of sort fitting only to a certain clientele probably those life science nerds and geeks coming from the scientific communities but not to camera totting resort minded tourists with only a cursory strict visual diet of a walk and see guided tour. It's a lake that has not a visual gallery that you could walk by like in a zoo or a wildlife park, expecting to see another specie after only a few leisurely steps.

Tasik Bera needs you to have the time and patience to appreciate her environs. The time to look for the things you heard or seen and expecting to be lucky rather than deserving. Patience to either look for it high and low, far and wide or waiting for it to show itself and be prepared to be...disappointed..at the very least.

Two of the aquatic plants in the assignment's specification are the White Water Lily and the Water Trumpet which are endemic to the water world of Tasik Bera. The Water Lily
White Water LilyWhite Water LilyWhite Water Lily

The solitary water lily, endemic to this wetland.
is unlike any other lilies elsewhere on account of its size and distribution. While other water lilies are bigger and colorful, the Water Lily of Tasik Bera is white, smallish, and almost solitary. You wouldn't be seeing a patch of them but a solitary flower on an expanse of water, usually by a quiet waterway. Don't expect to get closer all the time or able to navigate or wade to it. The water might look shallow but the bed is quicksand muddy.

The Purple Water Trumpet or "Keladi Paya" is more elusive. It lives in slow moving shallow water under the shade of trees by the bank and not out in the open. Almost three days traipsing around Tasik Bera, we couldn't find a single sprout. I believed non of the people working with us in the field has seen one before. The last one observed was about 8 years ago.

Pretty much, just about everything that moves in the air, on land, on water and in the water we heard about Tasik Bera is elusive. It's there alright but just like any other wildlife reserves, wildlife doesn't just step out from its hiding place and introduce itself.

Boys from the Semelai indigenous, posing by the trail of a reed field near Pos Iskandar, the largest Semelai settlement at Tasik Bera.
It's more aural than visual. We could hear some among the tree tops, thrashing in some bushes or seeing its wide wake on the lake front. It's worth nothing, based on previous scientific observations, this lake is home to a wide variety of 200 avian species, 50 species of mammals including the Malayan tigers and 94 species of fishes. The exotic animals being said to be around this lake include the hardly seen Malaysian False Gharial (freshwater fish eating crocodile), Striped Giant Soft-Shelled Turtle, Malayan Giant Turtle and reticulated pythons. Oh ya, the Volkswagen size fish too.

Always expect accidental lucky than deserving when you go into this reservation. A lot like UFO sighting so to speak. The ones that accidentally see it either don't have the cameras or those that do, aren't prepared for it and the "professional" ones with the right gears and technique who are send in later eyes wide open would probably not get anything it at all. To any photographer coming into Tasik Bera, it would be a better idea to have your camera attached to the longest zoom that could do close up as well. You just never know what could spring out
Dugout CanoesDugout CanoesDugout Canoes

Dugout canoes berthing by the bank of a small creek, Sungai Jelawat, near Kampong Jelawat. These dugout canoes or "Bot Jalor" is the mode of transport of the Semelai, the indigenous of Tasik Bera.
next, 20m away on some tree trunks after getting your close up done. Wildlife don't wait for you to get ready. Ever. Or thinking you are quick enough to get them napping.

Tasik Bera is the largest freshwater riverine lake in Malaysia, looking like a shriveling root stem of a Ginseng southwest of Pahang near the Negeri Sembilan border. It looks like a multiple flows of water suddenly going wide and slow, through a series of expansive flatlands or plains studded with reed fields, screwpines hemmed labyrinthine waterways and tiny islands of screwpines groves before congregating to Sungai Bera and continuing its journey to Sungai Pahang. Geographically, Tasik Bera is about 35km long and 20km wide over 6000 ha.

There were many stories about the lake. It was said, the lake was once home of a Khmer city and the passage for the Siamese to reach Negeri Sembilan and Melaka during the warring heydays of the Malaccan Sultanate. It is also home to a multitude of river monsters lurking in its dark murky waters much like the romanticism of the Loch Ness, with lanky long necked monster peering out of its water or huge anacondas slithering on
Persona Lake ResortPersona Lake ResortPersona Lake Resort

The only resort is on the north shore of Tasik Bera.
the lakeside of the rubber or oil palm plantations. Still, beside these eerie stories of mystical proportion, the lake is a favorite haunt for anglers with documented catches as big as 70kg. Trust me, just google 'Tasik Bera' and you would come across a photo of a man standing beside a fish almost his height.

The indigenous said to have been living for over 600 years around this wetland is the Semelai, with the largest settlement in Pos Iskandar, on the southwestern corner of Tasik Bera. Previously outsourcing everything they needed from within the lake, the Semelai has gone commercial either working or owning large tract of rubber plantations, oil palms and they even have a boat touring association called SABOT ( Semelai Association for Boat and Tourism). Don't expect to see their villages of rickety wooden shelters of bamboo splits walls and nipah thatched roofing or seeing them plying the lake in their tree trunk dugout canoes called "Bot Jalor". Nowadays you would see them on the lake on their fiberglasses and the low profile narrow wooden Jalors are reserved to the sundry incidental chores and the streams. They are pretty contemporary and commercial compared to other indigenous in Pahang, or elsewhere for that matter. You might like to discuss and bargain the fares for just about anything you wish to do with them.

There is a major construction and landscaping works on the northern shore of Tasik Bera where the only resort is located. It is estimated, the main seaworthy type concrete and steel jetty would be completed by end of August 2010 and so would be the landscaping works around the resort. Persona Lake Resort is the resort to go for weekend tourists and has facilities for just about any "walk, row, fish and see" tourists. The rooms are air-conditioned and the restaurant cafe is opened until 9pm. The Nasi Lemak with sambal bilis is the dish to ask for during breakfast...and lunch too. Tasty and sumptuous...and so too with just about all the other dishes. Pretty exotic. For instance...I have never tasted a Nasi Goreng Kampong with so much else in it than rice, unlike other places with so much rice and a very lot less else in it. It was a potpourri of bits and pieces of leafy vegetables, chunks of salted fish, anchovies and God Knows what else!.

There are three ways to go to Tasik Bera. From Kuala Lumpur, it takes 3 hours through Temerloh and then to Bera, the district where the lake is. Usually this would be to the resort, which is about 4.5km from the roadside where the Forestry & Wildlife Department housing complex is, about 1 hour from Temerloh. You need to register at the gate. The other two ways are from Segamat, Johor and Bahau, Negeri Sembilan and the place to go is Pos Iskandar. Pos Iskandar, previously Fort Iskandar was a militarized settlement for the Semelai during the Communist Insurgence era and has the largest Semelai settlement within the lake. Pos Iskandar would be the "happening" place to go for those lens buckling Indiana Jones who have no qualm sweating it out on the great outdoors. For those mild manner Clark Kent, you would definitely like to stay on the "metropolitan" side of the northern shore where the resort is. Quiet, peaceful and almost serenely sedated.


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