An interesting diversion
At a glance Herbwalk Langkawi simply appears as a modest home surrounded by an eclectic assembly of potted plants and shrubbery. No garish signs with opening hours appear anywhere and if not for a small roadside sign, the location itself is easily missed. But for anyone fascinated by the medicinal uses of plants, it’s well worth stopping by.
Herbwalk Langkawi is the pride and joy of Dr Abdul Ghani, who practised medicine in Langkawi for 30 years before concentrating on the study of traditional Malay and Islamic medicine. The prompt towards natural medicine came after realising his wife was allergic to most of the drugs he was using in his clinic, making even the most basic of ailments a challenge to cure. In addition to his own research, much of Dr Ghani’s knowledge has been passed down from his grandmother, who was a traditional Malay healer as well as Tuan Hj Talhi, a renowned Malaysian herbalist.
First opening their garden gate to the public in 2007, this tour offers an interesting introduction to Malaysian, as well as non-indigenous, medicinal plants they have collected over the years. Now boasting more than 500 various species scattered seemingly haphazardly around the compact premises, there is some method to the good doctor’s madness, as the collections themselves are grouped into at least seven overlapping, unmarked areas.
As your eyes become adjusted to the vast surrounding foliage, you may be able to test your own plant ID talents and recognise some old favourites, such as the multi-purpose ginger (curcuma) plant. Or be perplexed by the mysterious ‘miracle fruit’ (pokok ajaib), which has the ability to trick your taste buds into making sour flavours taste sweet.
First timers determined to document their excursion may well want to be armed with a camera and notepad, for no sooner are you pondering the information given about one plant the energetic doctor might be continuing his running commentary elsewhere. And if you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask. He has plenty of information that could come in handy for those travelling off the beaten paths, far from traditional pharmacies.
Located on the east side of Jalan Ayer Hangat between the Kilim river ferry turn off and Durian Falls, Herbwalk Langkawi is a not-for-profit organisation and is available for tours by appointment only. The non-strenuous tour takes about two hours and usually includes light refreshments. Contributions collected from visiting guests are put towards the upkeep of the plant collections and aid funding for their continued work.
Address: Batu 8, Jalan Ayer Hangat Ayer Hangat, Langkawi
T: (012) 452 3404;
Coordinates (for GPS): 99º49'54.01" E, 6º24'55.22" N
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A short contract job in a (Singapore) hospital initially landed Vanessa in Southeast Asia, where she decided to take a break from her medical career for more creative endeavours. She is presently basing herself in Langkawi, Malaysia from where she continues her exploration of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and other destinations on her bucket list.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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