Valarie (Zalindah) is a region designer whose work I have covered on multiple occasions in this blog; working on her own or with with Jayden Mercury, she has created a series of memorable region designs over the last few years, all of which I have enjoyed visiting So I was delighted to visit her most recent design for 2021, which opened in August within a Homestead region.
A solo design by Valerie, LANA presents a rich, and in places quirky, setting. The name she has chosen for the setting is rich in its potential meanings – loyalty, wool, an alternate form of the names Alana or Helen, the name of a village in the Tyrol region, and so on. Here, Valerie offers her own definition for the word for the name of her design:
To be ‘calm as still waters’ or ‘afloat’, holding on and inhaling what the world has to offer despite experiencing loss. Allowing nature to take over, seasons to tease you and animals to be our friends.
– LANA, About Land description
It’s an interesting introduction to the region, suggesting as it does this is a place of recuperation from loss, together with the idea of renewal and recovery, of giving space. Almost all of this is present within the region, which offers itself for rest, exploration and enjoyment; but whether drawn to it out of a sense of loss or not is really down to personal circumstance, although there is more than enough within the setting to allow memories free passage as we explore.
This is also place, as the description notes, that teases visitors with the four seasons, from a tropical summer in the south-east, through warmer summer greens around the middle of the setting that rise to a large northern hilltop rich in the sense of spring. These are balanced to the west by an autumnal setting that surrounds a small pair of roads and their buildings and, north of this, an avenue of trees that carry the darker green of later summer days as they skirt the base of the springtime hill to reach a small winter’s headland.
It is on the western side of the region, sitting in the bay between autumn and winter, that the landing point sits. This has the first quirk in the region, a short spur of rail line that extends into the water to end in a photo backdrop and on which a single railcar sits. The latter blocks the walk to shore and must be waded around, although this is not an inconvenience, as it reveals the first hint of the oriental touches to the setting in the form of lanterns floating in the water.
Further oriental touches can be found across the setting – such as in the winter headland, for example, where torii gates lead the way to to the upper part of a pagoda sits on a rocky outcrop or up on the springtime hilltop, ripe in Sakura blossom that surround a koi house and its little garden. Not that the far east is the only influence here. The route from tropical beach to hilltop spring, for example is marked by ruins that might be considered medieval in looks – but could also be from central or southern Asia (as well as having a slight elven lean to that as they reach up to the Japanese-style bridge that spans the hilltop’s bubbling stream.
The animals mentioned within the About Land description take multiple forms, from the familiar to the fantastical. Most seem to be standing guard or observing what is going on close by. For example, a floating market in the central lake that carries echoes of Indonesia is being watched over by tigers, while, the route between beach and hilltop appears guarded at various points by a black panther (bringing forth thoughts of Bagheera, Mowgli and India) within the ruins, an albino lion along the path leading to the Koi house and between them, on the bridge, a flying (if wingless) dragon.
To the west, in the little urban setting with is overgrown streets and tumble-down buildings, deer away discovery, watched over by the statue of a Chinese dragon sat before a torii gate, whilst overhead, a chinthe-like dragon hovers with lazy wing flaps. Even the path from the landing point is watched over by a red panda – albeit it one of the stuffed toy variety (and a little oversized!). More animals await discovery, but I’ll leave them for you to find.
Throughout all of this are places to sit and relax, some in the open, others at the townside cafes or in the Koi house, and one neatly tucked away under a hill that might be missed by the hasty. Needless to say, there are also numerous opportunities for photography.
Finished with a gentle sound-scape, LANA adds-up to an engaging visit rich in detail without feeling crowded, with room to explore without feeling you’re constantly bumping into others.
- LANA (rated Moderate)