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Tea Leaves

Pandemic unlocks a city dweller's love of nature

Malaysian biodiversity project offers conservation lesson for Asia

Sunrise in Penang as seen from The Habitat Penang Hill, with the twinkling lights of the town in the distance. (Courtesy of J&A Productions)

It seems strange to say that I discovered my love for the outdoors only when I was trapped at home in Kuala Lumpur during Malaysia's pandemic lockdown. But perhaps it's not so strange after all. Staying inside the house for weeks on end, with only a tiny balcony to connect me with the outside world, was enough to make me long for wide-open spaces.

Every chance I got, I headed to a local park to see seasonal flowers in bloom, or huffed and puffed up local trails, inhaling lungfuls of fresh air. And that's why, on holiday in Malaysia's northwestern Penang State when lockdown measures eased, I headed straight to The Habitat Penang Hill -- a sustainable ecotourism project on the edge of a tropical rainforest thought to be more than 130 million years old.

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