The retreat is nestled in 500 acres of fruit orchards, vegetable plots and herb gardens, cultivated on what was previously virgin jungle, which still lines the perimeter of the land. The retreat was founded by a Taiwanese Master who discovered that the energy in the area was unusually strong, and could be harnessed for health and healing. So the land was acquired and the jungle was turned into a rich plantation of common and exotic fruits, medicinal herbs, and organic vegetables.
The retreat is frequented by many Taiwanese and local groups who come on organized “energy-enriching” retreats. Many are Yoga, TaiChi, Qigong or spiritual groups. The retreat is not a religious centre but is suitable for any meditative or spiritual group. There were another Qigong Master and a Taoist Master with me this time.
Various structures were built to harness the different energies according to Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM), that is, the Five Elements governing life ( including health and disease ) – namely, Earth, Water, Wood, Metal and Fire.
Accessing the valley is via a red-earth road from the main road into the jungle, and one is greeted by a gate reminiscent of the twin towers in one memorable scene in the first of “The Lord of The Ring” trilogy, albeit, a much smaller version. The skinny but friendly gatekeeper also looked like a man from one of the mystical lands! Beside the “towers” is a simple concrete structure with holes which serve as windows for those who reside there in seclusion as they undergo intense meditation and/or spiritual training.
The land is strewn with paths that join the different structures and areas, and in the perimeter is the 7 kilometer hiking trail that is the highlight of any visit to the retreat. The hike starts in the early morning after a light breakfast.
We were in a group of about 20 people, including children. Three eager dogs led the trail, making sure no wild animals would harm us. My 5½ year-old son was in the leading party, and remained so throughout. The little fellow was full of energy and was not even a bit tired after completing the hike, whereas another boy of the same age had to be carried by his parents after sometime. Must be the Qi in his genes!
What was expected to be a leisurely walk along the well-trodden path turned out to be a real adventure as we climbed up steep hills and carefully inched down slippery slopes, at all times trying to avoid the elephant and wild-boar dung ( some with mushrooms sprouting on them ) that were strewn all along the path. I started the hike happily doing my Qigong walk, but had to abandon it very soon as it was difficult to concentrate on the breathing and movements when I had to concentrate on not stepping on the mud and dung at the same time. Besides, the Qigong walk is suitable only for flat land or mild slopes. The hiking trail was too undulating, and after half-way, we were panting every time it was upslope. My wife made the mistake of bringing our 14-kilo 2½ year-old daughter along, and she had to be carried throughout the hike. So it was doubly difficult. My wife carried her much of the time as a sure way to lose weight fast! After sometime, she developed blisters on her feet and I had to take over. Even our guide and hostess, Ms Junely Yap, had to help when both of us were too exhausted.
The hike was well worth the trouble. Along the trail were wild flowers and exotic fruit trees. There were different scents complementing the varying scenes. I saw wild Tongkat Ali and cinnamon trees. I also saw a pygmy durian tree for the first time – the kind you can pick the fruits while standing on the ground. Lucky Valley is famous for its succulent and tasty fruits, and so my next trip there will probably be during the fruit season ( which somehow, is not the same as other orchards and plantations ). We had a taste of the luscious fruits when we were served a hybrid of nangka-cempadak (two varieties of jackfruit) at lunch.
Walking along the path strewn with fresh dung and knowing that the elephants and wild boars could not have been too far away was really exciting. Besides, being amidst the jungle trees and standing on a hilltop overlooking the lake and the valley makes one feel really close to nature.
There are ponds and lakes that are covered by many species of water-lilies and lotuses. The fishes for our meals are home-reared, and are caught fresh just before being cooked. Recreational fishing is not encouraged though it would be a haven for such enthusiasts.
The lakeside bungalow allows activities like meditation, discussions and exercises to be done right by the waterside. It must really be a soothing experience doing Qigong on a platform above the water, something I hope to do the next time when I bring my Qigong students with me there.
There is another bungalow that has been turned into an integrated health centre, run by a Taiwanese doctor who is also trained in TCM. He has sophisticated medical equipment to complement the traditional methods (of using herbs, acupuncture and massage ). It will be a centre for Energy Medicine and TCM. This medical centre also represents the Wood element, as its lecture hall is a large wooden hut right by the jungle.
Our kind host, Dr KS Lee, is one of the locals instrumental in developing and running the retreat. He is a remarkable doctor. Although trained in Western Medicine, he is a gifted herbalist, and can tell the healing benefits of most of the wild herbs that grow in the valley. Through his efforts, the herb gardens are so successful. In fact, the Pahang state agriculture authority regards the entire Lucky Valley as a model of a successful agricultural venture. It will certainly become a very popular eco-resort too.
The pagoda is a cylindrical building topped by a dome. The entire land is rich in iron ore, which makes the earth red, and gives it a strong magnetic field. There is also tin and alluvial gold. The pagoda sits right over the richest metal deposits. There is a viewing platform that gives a splendid view of the surroundings, including the lake with the lakeside bungalow perched on its side. With a good pair of binoculars, the view was even more exhilarating. The only thing that was hidden from view was the star of Lucky Valley – the Energy Pyramid.
The most spectacular and unique structure in Lucky Valley is its pyramid. It is a 2-storey high hollow pyramid with a spacious interior. It has a raised central platform, surrounded by empty space and small rooms. The platform is used for meditations, Yoga, Qigong and other energy-mind-body exercises. Talks and lectures can be held at the peripheral space.
I have heard so much about this pyramid in the jungle. Some friends who returned from there had reported feeling their energy levels raised, but nothing prepared me for what was going to happen when I stepped into the pyramid myself.
After a few minutes standing on the platform, listening to the explanations given by Dr KS Lee, I started feeling the Qi-energy swirling around in a clockwise direction, and I allowed my body to be moved by it. So I went into a slow clockwise spin which gradually became faster, much like a whirling dervish, and then even faster and faster like a helicopter-spin, with my arms stretched out. When it started, I was almost at the edge of the platform, and I knew the energy was bringing me to the centre of the platform, which was the centre of its vortex. So while I was spinning rapidly, I had to tell my wife, who was standing at the centre, to step aside as I knew the energy would bring me there. When I finally reached the centre, I continued spinning for a while until I slipped, since I had not taken my socks off because I had not anticipated anything like that to happen. Fortunately, I only fell gently, and in spite of the vigorous spinning, was only mildly and transiently giddy as I lay on the floor. Then, I was promptly up on my feet without any giddiness. I felt good and energized after the experience.
The energy of the pyramid is so strong that most of the small trees at its perimeter are obviously bent towards it. If one looks carefully, it would seem that even the branches of the surrounding tall trees are also attracted to it.
The Energy Pyramid demonstrates the immense influence of the Sixth Element – Qi or Life Force – on our bodies and all life-forms.
It was indeed a memorable experience, even though we spent only one night there.
The rooms were clean, the food nutritious, and the people were very friendly. My next trip will certainly be a longer stay. This is the perfect place to hold a Qigong retreat and I will certainly organize one with my students. Then maybe some of them will also spin with me!