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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 84: Trekking and the largest flower in the world

MALAYSIA | Monday, 28 January 2008 | Views [1517]

Monday 28th January

I was up and about early, joining a tour of the local area which I had booked myself onto the previous evening. I met Ravi, our driver and guide for the day, and two girls from Toronto – Diana & Alex – who were also along for the trip.

First up was a visit to a local tribe, indigenous people who still lived a basic lifestyle and carried on many of the traditions of their ancestors. They wore western clothes and lived in wooden shacks, and the village leaders were paid to provide tourists with demonstrations on how to use the hunting blowpipe. The blowpipe is made of a long bamboo stick, and into that they place a small arrow (similar in size to a small wooden skewer) with poison in the tip (made from snake poison or an extract from a particular plant). We all had a go, aiming the pipe at a paper target on a tree, and we all managed to hit the target from about 10ft. It was quite easy to do, and it didn't require too much puff, as long as you aimed it carefully you could be fairly accurate.

After this rather touristy activity, we trekked into the forest, led by a guy from the village, to look for the world's largest flower: the rafflesia (named after Stamford Raffles, the governor of Singapore and general man about SE Asia). I was most keen to see one of these, and was happy to pay a bit more for the chance to see such a flower (being the great botanist that I am). We walked through the mud and the rain, over gushing streams and bamboo bridges, taking an hour to get to the area where the guide knew there were flowers in bloom. It had been a good trek, with more interesting scenery than that at Taman Negara, as it seemed more wild and off the beaten track (despite the fact that people came through this route everyday).

Once we got to the spot, we saw some flowers that were a week or so away from blooming, looking like big pink cabbage on the ground. When we finally saw a blooming flower, it was was large, about two feet in diameter, with large leaves and a bowl-like centre. It had been a week or so since it had bloomed, and it would remain alive for another few days, before it died and the flies got to work on it. We only saw one rafflesia, but the trek had been worth it, and the fact that we had worked harder for it made it all them more special.

We walked back the way we came, and were given some interesting facts and anecdotes about the flora of the forest by our knowledgeable guide. After lunch, we visited another tea plantation, a butterfly farm and, at the end, we stopped at a strawberry farm for some strawberries and ice cream. We got back to Tanah Rata at 16.00, dirty and tired, but very happy with how the tour had gone.

I met the girls later on for dinner, watched some TV back at the hostel, and then crashed out for the night. There was less noise about the place that night, and it felt good to lay down for some rest after an active day. 

Tags: The Great Outdoors


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