Rice museums may not be big on your list of things to do in Southeast Asia, but if you’re travelling through Langkawi, a visit to Museum Laman Padi (Rice Garden Museum) is worth it. The island of Langkawi is part of Kedah, a state known as the rice-bowl of Malaysia and the highest producer of rice in the country. In honouring its grand rice-bowl title, Langkawi opened the museum in 1998 as an exhibition centre for local rice-related artefacts, charts, photographs and rice planting tools, aiming as well to be an eco-tourism draw.
The weathered sign on the busy road barely indicates a sightseeing venue. You’d almost not know the museum existed, as it’s surrounded by vast acreage of paddy in different stages of growth, depending on the time of year. The fully operational 14-acre paddy field was designed to improve the quality and standard of the local farming community through helping to teach traditional agricultural techniques.
It showcases the historical and cultural importance of traditional paddy-farming and offers the visitor a hands-on understanding of the methodologies of rice cultivation. Yes, you can wade out into the flooded paddy field and have a go at planting and transplanting seedlings. Even a few minutes of this will greatly increase your appreciation for rice production (and that nasi goreng). Transplanting the seedlings or ‘saplings’ into the flooded fields takes hours of bent-over work, with water up to your mid calves.
There’s also a herb garden on site with detailed descriptions of various medicinal plants and their uses. Many of these plants are still commonly used by locals today. These tried and true natural first aid remedies save time and money as well.
Museum Laman Padi is located off Jalan Pantai Cenang in Pantai Cenang (Cenang Beach) across from the Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort. They’re closed on Fridays and — be warned — many public holidays. There’s no entry fee for this little blast to the cultural past and there may or may not be someone available to answer questions in the museum itself, so it could be worth calling ahead — you also wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to scratch planting rice of your bucket list.
By Vanessa Workman
Last updated on 27th August, 2014.