In tropical island-countries, rice is king. A meal is not a meal without rice, and the national economy is not as vibrant without its good production. Rice is bread for Asians, the staple food that, when absent from a meal, makes an Asian person feel he has not eaten at all. The island of Langkawi in Malaysia takes its regard for rice a step higher. It honors this humble grain through the Laman Padi Rice Garden. The Rice Garden has a museum that educates people about rice, a farm that shows people how it is cultivated and harvested, and a restaurant to whet people’s appetite for delicious rice.
Laman Padi Rice Garden is a vast 14.30 acre land located at Pantai Cenang, only ten minutes away from the international airport at Padang Matsirat, which is about 25 minutes away from Kuah, the capital and commercial center of Langkawi. The garden-museum opened in June 1999, and people have learned to appreciate the many artifacts, educational charts, photographs and rice-planting tools that are on display. Through the years, visitors especially from non-rice-producing countries have gained important understanding about the role and significance of rice in the lives of Asians, specifically of Malaysians.
What’s inside Laman Padi Rice Garden?
A museum. The Galeri Warison or Heritage Gallery allows visitors to see and touch traditional rice-planting tools that are actually being used by Malaysian farmers. The display also educates people about how rice is planted, cultivated and harvested.
A farm. From Galeri Warison, visitors can get a glimpse of the 8.6 farm paddy that is made up of a multi-tiered rooftop garden and an herb garden. The rooftop garden allows the visitors to see the rice-planting activities in the field from an elevated vantage point. Other than that, the willing and the adventurous may be allowed to experience the actual work of farmers. They may participate in the planting activities regardless of the season, and may be allowed to handle traditional tools and perform both the traditional and modern methods of rice cultivation and harvesting. Tourists get to be a Malaysian farmer for a few moments and get their feet muddied and wet. The rice paddy is called Laman Variati or Garden of Variety.
The herbal garden, on the other hand, provides hands-on information on the medicinal properties of rice and how it is being used in folk tradition to cure diabetes, high blood pressure and other illnesses. The herbal garden is called Laman Herba.
A restaurant. The Laman Padi restaurant serves traditional Malay dishes that use rice as one of their ingredients. The star of the restaurant is the kuih, popular snack or dessert in Malaysia. It is a bite-size pudding that is made from rice or glutinous rice. The restaurant also features rice-based food demonstrations.
Admission to Laman Padi Rice Garden is only RM 2,00 for adults and free for children. It is open every day from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Other attractions include another restaurant (Laman Ria Grill), traditional rice village, health spa, and souvenir shop. Occasionally, special events, festivities and exhibitions are also held in the Garden.