Want to jump into the peat canal?

I just came back from Riau, Indonesia, having visited Sime Darby's Nusa Lestari estate, which is part of oil palm concession held under PT Bhumireksa Nusasejati. It was an eye-opening experience for many reporters from Malaysia, Singapore and even local ones from Bisnis Indonesia, Kompas and Antara news agencies.

Throughout our visit in the estate, there were blue skies and ... fluffy white clouds dotted the skyline. Occasionally, there were slight drizzle as we commute in mini-speedboats (called panchor in Bahasa Indonesia) along the intricate network of canals in the estate.

It is interesting to note that villagers who live in low lying peatland rely heavily on canal transport. There are no internal roads

Here's a snapshot of one of the the "water buses" that children hop into to get to school inside the estate.

While the children here are familiar with the canal depth and know how to swim, they diligently strap on life jackets for their own safety.

The water in the peat canal is coffee-coloured, slightly sourish and mildly acidic. 

So if one were to immerse in the canal for sometime, he or she would have unsuspectingly undergone a beauty regime ... free of charge, too. One can almost feel the difference after a thorough shower with harvested rainwater as the skin is smoother to the touch.

At wellness spas and beauty parlours in Kuala Lumpur, ladies (and sometimes, men) pay hundreds of ringgit every month just to have a beautician apply natural chemical peels containing alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) to slough away the top layer of dead skin cells on their faces and bodies.

We hear the story of scientists noticing elderly workers at sake breweries in Japan had wrinkled faces but extraordinarily soft and youthful-looking hands. The researchers figured this anomaly was due to these elderly workers' hands being in constant contact with the fermentation process. They noted that the naturally-occurring liquid from rice fermentation is the miracle ingredient responsible for holding back the years.

Perhaps, one day, scientists might notice people who are exposed to peat water (but shielded from the ultra-violet rays of the sun) have relatively smooth skin, too.