New Straits Times
Elephants at Temerloh centre ‘miss’ performing for tourists
Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food, so said Hippocrates. And this mantra is inspiring an ambitious new player in the country’s culinary-scape, writes Intan Maizura Ahmad Kamal
CHERRY and friends are among elephants at the National Elephant Conservation Centre in Kuala Gandah here who haven’t seen visitors for almost four months following the implementation of the second Movement Control Order and the floods in Pahang.
It also meant four months of not being able to entertain visitors with performances.
Centre chief Muhammad Khairul Adha Mat Amin said it had opened to the public since Feb 22, with visitors complying with the standard operating procedures (SOP).
Since interstate and interdistrict travel was not allowed, he said, locals, especially residents in Lanchang and Temerloh, could visit the centre and watch the elephant performances to boost the state’s tourism sector.
Despite the centre’s closure for nearly four months, mahouts had continued to train the elephants, he added.
“Mahouts train the elephants to maintain their fitness and skills. We hope visitors will come and see Cherry and her friends perform.”
He said visitors were encouraged to use the services of a tourist guide, for a fee of RM30 for a group of 10 people.
“The guides are locals who work with the centre to take visitors to see and explain about the elephants and activities in Kuala Gandah. They also ensure visitors comply with the SOP.”
He said visitors could feed the elephants watermelon, sugarcane and napier grass, as well as watch them bathe in a river at the centre.
The oldest elephant at the centre is 85year-old Loki Mala and the youngest is 6month-old Kelaik, he added.
The 20ha centre houses 32 elephants. It is open from 10.30am to 4.30pm daily. Admission is free.
“MY sister didn’t really like me when I was younger! We fought a lot. Over anything. It got worse by the time we were in high school. Thankfully, things were a little better when we reached college,” deadpans the handsome, bespectacled young man seated across from me as he throws a mischievous glance towards a svelte young lady standing by the display counter engaged in deep conversation with one of the restaurant staff.
As if sensing his gaze, she turns slowly before lobbing in his direction one of those inexplicable looks that only siblings would probably understand.
“Yeah, we’re talking about you!” hollers Danial Yik, chuckling with mirth.
The look of mischief still lingering in his eyes, he turns to me and muses: “You know, we don’t really mix well together because my element’s more like air (I’m a Gemini) and Mimi is like fire! But thankfully, when we’re doing something together, we kind of complement each other!”
A good thing too, I joke, as Danial chuckles goodnaturedly, inferring to the fact that the siblings do after all have to put their heads together and make their synergy work for their latest undertaking.
Together with Mimi’s fiance, Keanu subba, one of Malaysia’s mixed martial arts stars and keto diet practitioner, they make up the core team behind staple Eats, one of the latest — and possibly most ambitious — restaurants to hit the country’s culinary-scape, offering organic, nutritious gourmet food. Tucked away discreetly in a hidden sanctuary within the maze-like Plaza Arkadia in Desa ParkCity, Kuala Lumpur, staple Eats specialises in wholesome and keto-friendly dishes and desserts.
All their ingredients are certified organic/ natural, gluten-free, GMO-free, vegetable oil-free, preservativesfree, sugar-free and MsG-free. Their raw produce are derived from grass-fed, free-range and wildcaught sources. I duly learn that wholesome eating is nothing new to the dynamic siblings, having been fuelled with a healthy diet by their health-conscious parents ever since they were young.
As Danial puts it... “We’ve been on the gluten-free food wagon since our teens because our parents were convinced by a ‘natural’ doctor (who didn’t believe in antibiotics etc) that it really does work.”
FilliNg the caNvaS
Warm rays of sunlight stream in through the over-sized windows along one side of the restaurant, basking its elegant inner sanctum in an ethereal glow.
The presence of sheer drapes hanging from the high ceiling, fluttering softly by the slightest touch of a breeze lends a dreamy feel.
Meanwhile, colourful gerberas add a pop of colour on every table, and soothing Hawaiian music...
Wait! Hawaiian music? I turn incredulously to Danial for an explanation. After all the dreamy drapes and ethereal glow, somehow mellow Hawaiian strains in the background seemed, err, a little incongruous.
Once again the laidback Gemini responds with a hearty chuckle, before replying matter-of-factly: “Don’t you feel relaxed here? It makes sense kan!”
As laughter ensues from his nonchalant explanation, Danial, who had, prior to the pandemic, been studying Architecture in Melbourne, Australia proceeds to share that they didn’t really have a concrete concept in mind as far as the interiors were concerned when they first started.
“We literally had a blank slate,” he recalls, adding that what they did have on the canvas was a kitchen, toilet and dining area. And his architecture background.
“We didn’t want people to be so crammed to each other so having space was important. Also, we’d ordered these custom-made rattan chairs, the marble tables and once those were put in place, we added on from there.”