With state borders reopened and regulations eased, the government has urged Malaysians to help boost domestic tourism by travelling local (following SOPs, of course)! Heeding this call, the fam and I decided to go for a short day trip to Tanjung Sepat, located on the fringes of Selangor, to feast on seafood and check out some attractions. I’ve been here a few times (you can read about what to do in town here) – so I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are some places I missed out on, like the Kuan Wellness Eco Park.
The park was founded as an ecotourism attraction, in addition to being a birds nest business, which is a booming industry in Malaysia. In Chinese culture, birds nests created by swiftlets (using solidified saliva) are considered a delicacy, and they are eaten for their purported health and beauty benefits.
The main building is a 3.5-storey swiftlet house, the ground floor of which doubles as a visitor centre. Traditionally, swiftlet nests are collected from caves, but these days, swiftlet houses (rumah toko) are becoming increasingly popular. These are enclosed concrete structures meant to emulate the dark, warm environment of a cave.
The museum is not big, but the exhibits are educational. There’s a mini theatre where you can watch a documentary on birds nest harvesting, how to differentiate the different types of birds nest, what to look out for when picking out one for consumption, etc.
Structure of a rumah toko.
Running a swiftlet house is more than just having a building – there are multiple factors to consider including pest, water quality and bacterial control. Pests such as rats and certain insects, as well as predators like owls can snoop in and destroy the swiftlet population, so keepers have to be vigilant to ensure that the swiftlets are protected, there is no contamination and it yields the best results. Typically it takes six weeks before the nests can be collected, as you can’t harvest them if there are young swiftlets within.
Samples of birds nests. Sometimes you get stuff like faeces, feathers, mold, broken nests, etc.
Top grade birds nest are usually pure white, with minimal breakage and contamination. Previously, ‘blood’ nests – nests that are tinged red – were much sought after, as it was believed that the red colour came from the blood in the saliva of exhausted swiftlets hurrying to finish their nests.These blood nests fetched a very high price, sometimes much more than regular birds nest. We now know that the red likely comes from exposure to nitrites (in caves or the swiftlet houses), and can actually be harmful.
I mean the idea of eating bird saliva is probably quite gnarly to some, but why anyone would wanna eat bird blood vomit (and pay 10s of 1000s of dollars!) is beyond me lol.
Bottled products for sale. Birds nest is usually sweetened with rock sugar. Sometimes they can also include other ingredients such as jujubes (red dates).
Despite its purported health benefits, science has never really backed birds nest as a health food, although those who swear by it will tell you otherwise.
Aside from the museum, there is also a mini zoo of sorts within the park, which has a RM5 entry fee. I do not recommend visiting this, as the enclosures are poorly maintained and the animals are unkempt. In fact there was a dead bird in one of the cages, and the other birds were taking turns doing something we shall not write about in this family friendly post @-@. The caretaker removed the poor thing after my mom alerted him, though.
Rabbit enclosure. You can go in to feed / play with the rabbits. They looked dirty and some of the ones that were in cages had sores and wounds, with patches of fur falling out. Not good.
At least the fish looked okay.
A nice building for photos. The inside has a small shop selling organic products. Next to it is another building with a nostalgia theme, selling snacks and children’s toys.
Cafe area where you can order birds nest soup and other snacks.
An outdoor display of vintage cars.
Overall, Kuan Wellness Eco Park is a place you can consider visiting if you’re in Tanjung Sepat, although I wouldn’t drive all the way here just for it. The birds nest exhibits are interesting and educational, but the mini zoo needs some serious upkeep.
KUAN WELLNESS ECO PARK
408, Tanjung Layang, Kampung Batu Lapan, 42800 Tanjong Sepat, Selangor
Open on Sat / Sun only : 9AM – 5PM