If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Hoary but true.
Perseverance in what you do is the sure way to success and happiness, insists Henry Law Ing Hua, 58, whose dogged pursuit of his dream of an agro-tourism resort has made him “the luckiest man in the world”.
Law was just eight when he was trained to follow in his father’s footsteps in the family nursery business. The late Lau Siong Nguong, a pioneer in the nursery business and an expert in bud-grafting fruit trees, established Kai Nguong Nursery in Sibu in the early 60s.
Law’s early association with plants nurtured in him an appreciation for mother nature and everything living and growing within it.
“Since my teenage years, I have dreamt of owning a piece of land where I could create a beautiful garden,” Law recalls.
He has now acquired that land and is transforming it into an agro-tourism park with many beautiful chalets and gardens. Law is the man behind Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort at km36 on the Miri-Bintulu Road in northern Sarawak.
Visiting the resort, about 30 minutes’ drive from Miri, I find the resort owner to be extremely affable and down-to-earth, and most willing to talk.
With the other nine siblings helping him out, the family business did very well in supplying ornamental plants, flowers and fruit seedlings to clients all over Sarawak. Soon the brothers branched out to Kuching, Miri, Brunei and Bintulu. Henry moved to Miri in 1978, leaving a sister and brother-in-law to take charge of the operation in Sibu.
Besides setting up Kai Nguong Nursery near the Miri airport, Henry also established a 120ha cocoa farm at Niah, 125km from Miri. Both did well but, more and more, Law came to realise that he was really doing things for other people.
“Although I planted many beautiful flowers and trees, I did not have a sense of belonging. I wanted to create something for myself,” Law points out.
Around 1990, he began searching for a piece of state land near Miri. His first application in 1991 was, however, rejected. Years later, he identified and applied for another piece of land outside the Lambir Hills National Park. Again it was rejected. This was in 2000.
“I was not discouraged by the setbacks. In fact, I had so much confidence that I started buying belian timber (Borneo ironwood) in 1993 in preparation for my resort,” Law says.
His RM800,000’s worth of timber purchase in 1993 proved to be the right decision because when he started building the resort 10 years later, the same timber cost more than RM4 million on the market. The turning point in Henry’s life was in 2002.
“On the second day of Chinese New Year, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud visited my house in Miri. What was supposed to be a 20-minute new year visit became an hour’s tour of the nursery next to the house,” Law recalls.
The Chief Minister loved his plants and flowers, and when he heard about the problems Law was having with his application for land, he promised to look into it. Law’s application was subsequently approved the following year, and he started working on it in May, 2003.
“This 315ha piece of land is mountainous with many steep slopes and valleys. My priorities were to survey the land and map out suitable access roads,” Law remembers.
He spent the first two years building basic infrastructure, including roads and plank walks, getting in electricity and setting up a water supply system.
“I built a tall wooden house under the trees and stayed there for almost four years until 2007. During this period, I worked tirelessly 15 hours a day, planning and implementing ideas for the resort,” Law says.
“Now we have 16km of motorable road within the resort, almost half of which has been tar-sealed,” he adds proudly.
In addition, he established a sheep farm and prepared several large ponds for rearing indigenous freshwater fish like padin, semah, empurau and tengadak. One of the ponds near the chalets contains more than 2,000 empurau fish (Tor tambroides). Costing RM450-RM500 a kilogram, the empurau is the most expensive fish in Malaysia.
“The resort is aiming to be self-reliant in terms of food and fruits, hopefully with surplus to sell,” Law declares.
The forests itself supplements the resort with edible wild fern and fruits.
The resort now has 18 beautiful chalets, a three-storey hostel that can accommodate 200 people, an outdoor restaurant and a conference room.
Camping, recreational sites and team-building facilities have also been built.
Visitors to the resort will get to see diverse flora, not to mention rare and endangered animals like hornbills. Most of the trees along the trails are labelled.
October and November are the best months to visit as this is when the trees flower and fruit.
Law now occupies the entire top floor of the six-storey main building, which houses among other things the reception, restaurants, conference rooms, a surau (prayer room) and 30 guest rooms.
My visit ends with Law inviting me to his very attractive penthouse. Standing on the spacious balcony overlooking the 480m mountain of the nearby Lambir Hills National Park, a satisfied Law says he is the most lucky man in the world to have been able to develop and own the resort. But the self-made millionaire is not done yet.
He has plans to further develop the land and make it one of the premier agro-tourism resorts in the region. With his son, a landscape architect joining him, Law is confident of even greater success.
Already on the drawing board are a mini zoo, a spa in the jungle, a suspension bridge, an organic farm, a herbal garden, a mini golf course and a centre for those who wish to experience life as a farmer.
Law is inviting interested parties to participate in joint ventures with him on a profit-sharing basis, especially in the agricultural and fishery sectors.
For bookings and details, call
(085) 613 888 (Miri office) or
(085) 407 198 (Resort).
Location, Driving Direction and Map to Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort