$3.2m dragon attraction opens in Johor

YONG PENG (THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A 106.9m-long dragon tunnel, dubbed the Prosperity Dragon, is the latest tourist attraction in this small southern Johor town.

Vying for a place in the Malaysian Book of Records as the biggest dragon tunnel in the country and potentially clinching a world record too, the celestial structure sprawls on more than a hectare of the Green Garden of Che Ann Khor Yong Peng Association grounds at Taman Kota Impian here.

Costing RM8m (S$3.2m) and three years to build, the interior of the hollow dragon structure is adorned with Chinese cultural and religious paintings.

Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar launched the dragon tunnel yesterday.

He was accompanied by his son Tunku Temenggong Tunku Idris Iskandar at the event which was also attended by 5,000 local and foreign visitors.

Sultan Ibrahim planted a tree at the site.

The spectators were entertained to a lion dance by 99 lions and also a dragon dance performance.

State Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said the dragon would attract more tourists to the district and boost the state's economy.

"This dragon is a symbol of prosperity for Johor and I hope Green Garden will become an iconic destination.

"The 24 paintings portray the teachings of the Buddha on honouring and obeying parents and another 18 paintings depict the afterlife," he told reporters during a media conference yesterday.

Visitors have to pay a minimal entry fee to enter the "dragon's body" which is an air-conditioned tunnel to view the paintings.

"Everything about this structure is related to the number nine, which represents prosperity and luck for the Chinese community.

"Inside, there are 108 stairs and the length of the dragon is 315ft. Both figures add up to the number nine," Datuk Tee added.