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Friday, November 16, 2012

Nature and legends entwined at Fairy Cave

Visitors to the Fairy Cave, about 7km from Bau, near Kuching, would think that the four concrete structures at one of its entry points could have been constructed to store water.
Actually, they are remnants of fortresses built by the Japanese army during its occupation of the state in 1941.
Dihoi Nyaweng, a community leader of the nearby Krokong area related that the structures had been there for more than seven decades.
According to him, Fairy Cave and the nearby Wind Cave were among several areas in Bau used as bases by the Japanese then.
“They (Japanese Army) built these fortresses to defend themselves from enemy attacks but later abandoned them after the war,” said Dihoi.
He waits: The mysterious statue found inside the cave.
Today, the fortresses have added themselves to Fairy Cave’s colourfully rich history that also includes legends and superstitions.
Moreover, the cave and its surrounding sites have also been gazetted as a jungle park by the Forestry Department.
According to Dihoi, the local Chinese have built a number of shrines inside the cave which, coincidentally, has many interesting rock formations that resemble some of the Chinese goddesses. One even has a figure of the Buddha.
However, the Bidayuhs have their own legend about these peculiar formations.
“The legend tells of a village not far away from the cave, where the villagers once held a festival. A pair of orphans wanted to join the revelry but the villagers were cruel towards the two.
“Rather than sympathise and welcome the orphans to the festival, the villagers made fun of them and chased them away. For this heartless act, the villagers were cursed and turned to stone.
“The Bidayuh elders use this tale to explain the human-like rock formations found in the cave,” Dihoi said.
Although much smaller than the those in Niah and Mulu, the Fairy Cave does have its own charms and uniqueness, and it is still quite huge.
Eye-catching: Aview inside the Fairy Cave
Last year, it became the centre of attraction of thousands coming in for the “Rock On 2-International Rock Climbing Festival”, an outdoor sporting organised by the Krokong Development and Security Committee (JKKK Krokong) and Outdoor Treks and Natures Sdn Bhd.
To explore Fairy Cave, however, one does not need a guide. There is a tower with steps that lead to the entrance of the cave. Inside, visitors can easily breathe in its wonders just by climbing on its 100 concrete steps.
There is a boardwalk on the right side that will lead visitors all the way through the darker areas inside.
“Chances that you’ll get lost inside the cave is quite slim,” said Dihoi.
Nevertheless, Dihoi said while Fairy Cave remained as a popular destination among visitors everywhere, he also hoped that better facilities would be developed there.
“I believe visitors would want that,” said Dihoi, pointing out that apart from the steps, the only other facilities there were two toilets and a limited parking space.
Dihoi said Fairy Cave has great potential to be developed as a tourist destination, espe-cially among the cave enthusiasts and rock climbers.
He also suggested that a permanent building to be built there to house food stalls and souvenir shops.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

~Anglers Belong~: Welcome to Paradise !!!

~Anglers Belong~: Welcome to Paradise !!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Annah Rais Bidayuh Longhouse

The Annah Rais Longhouse is an authentic Bidayuh Longhouse located in the hill slope region outside of Kuching. This Bidayuh village is accessible by road and it is the nearest native village from the city. Take this longhouse tour and expect to enjoy the encompassing beauty of the scenery around the longhouse.
The Bidayuhs are mainly farmers and they plant crops like corn, rice, pepper, cocoa and local vegetables for their own consumption as well as for sales at the local city markets.
The chief of the longhouse is called the "Tuai Rumah". They are mostly very hospitable and friendly.
The Longhouse is about two hours drive from Kuching towards the Indonesian border. The interior is very spacious, perfect to accommodate families. It is located in very beautiful surroundings. It can be visited on an arranged tour, which usually includes a traditional welcome by the residents. Alternatively, it can be visited individually. A small fee has to be paid before entering.
The ladies performing a traditional dance
Welcoming the guest

Headhunters trophies

The clear stream by the longhouse

Activities that you can do here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kubah National Park

Almost every visitor to Kuching has seen Kubah National Park, whether they realise it or not. This massive sandstone ridge with its three mountain peaks – the 911m high Gunung Serapi and the slightly smaller Gunung Selang and Gunung Sendok – is clearly visible from the Kuching Waterfront. Situated only 22 kilometres from Kuching, Kubah is not only the most visible but also one of the most accessible of Sarawak’s National Parks.
Kubah was established in 1989 because of its exceptionally rich plant life, and only opened to the public in 1995. The Park covers an area of 2,230 hectares, and comprises the heavily forested slopes and ridges of the Serapi range. At heights of between 150-450 metres, Kubah’s soft sandstone is punctuated with bands of hardened limestone which have created a number of beautiful waterfalls.
Kubah’s most famous feature is its palms. Almost a hundred different palm species can be found in an area of just over 22 sq km, making Kubah probably the richest palm habitat for its size anywhere in the world. But Kubah’s palms are not only abundant – they are also historically and ecologically important. Many of Kubah’s palms were first described by the great Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari (1843-1920), who spent 3 years in Sarawak from 1865 to 1868, and recorded his findings and experiences in a remarkable book, Wanderings in the Great Forests of Borneo.
As well as its palms, Kubah has many other striking attractions; its spectacular primary rainforest, its rich selection of orchids and ferns, and its crystal clear jungle streams, waterfalls and bathing areas, to name just a few. The rainforest scenery has even caught the attention of Hollywood; in 1987 Gunung Serapi was the principal film location for Farewell to the King starring Nick Nolte - as you approach the entrance to the park HQ you will see the film set to the right. The Sleeping Dictionary, starring Jessica Alba, was shot in the nearby forest foothills adjacent to the park, which provided a stunning backdrop for the film.
The forest at Kubah is mixed dipterocarp, with small areas of scrub forest and isolated patches of kerangas. This rich forest, the park’s proximity to the coastline and its general terrain all ensure that Kubah is home to a variety of wildlife, including bearded pigs, 50-plus bird species (including argus pheasants and black hornbills), sambar deer, mouse deer, civets, porcupines, squirrels and numerous species of amphibians and reptiles.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rafflesia...the world's biggest flower

Gunung Gading National Park has a very special star attraction - the Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower - and the park is one of the best places in Asia to view the Rafflesia’s spectacular blooms. Gunung Gading sprawls across four jungle-clad mountain peaks, and its dense primary rainforest is criss-crossed by crystal clear streams and waterfalls.
Gunung Gading was gazetted as a park in 1st August 1983 primarily to provide a conservation zone for the protection of the Rafflesia. It was opened to the public in 1994 and visitors can now view one of the most spectacular plants found on the planet. The park is easily accessible from Kuching on a day trip. Those wishing to stay longer can enjoy Gunung Gading’s other attractions - particularly its rainforest scenery, waterfalls and jungle trails. Some of these trails lead to the peaks of the mountains that make up the park and offer challenging jungle treks.


The Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower, is a parasitic plant found only in Southeast Asia, and then only in sub-montane hilly forests at elevations between 400-1,300 metres. Sir Stamford Raffles and Dr Joseph Arnold were the first Europeans to discover the Rafflesia. In 1818, whilst on a field trip near the town of Bencoolen (Bengkulu) in Sumatra, they came across a huge specimen that measured 97 cm in diameter. This species was later named the Rafflesia Arnoldi. When news of the discovery reached the botanical community in 1820 it caused quite a sensation with murmurings of disbelief.
There are thought to be 17 species of Rafflesia, some of which may already be extinct. Three species are found in Sarawak - the Rafflesia Pricei, Rafflesia Arnoldi and Rafflesia Tuan-Mudae, which is actually a type of Arnoldi. Only one species, R. Tuan-Mudae, is found at Gunung Gading.
The Rafflesia is as unusual as it is spectacular. Much of the flower’s biology remains a mystery to this day. It has no specific flowering season and it has no roots, leaves or stem. The Rafflesia depends on a host vine - the tetrastigma, a member of the grape family. Scientists are still unsure why the Rafflesia associates itself with the tetrastigma vine or how the seeds of a Rafflesia germinate and grow. What is known is that threads of tissue spread out within the vine and absorb nutrients. After 18 months a small dark brown bud appears.
Such a long period of growth means that there is a high risk of damage; even when a bud forms there is no guarantee that it will mature into a Rafflesia flower. A bud takes nine months to mature, when it may measure up to 16 cm in diameter, and studies have shown that a high percentage of buds do not survive, as they are susceptible to both drought and heavy rain.
After nine months the brown ‘leaves’ of the cabbage-like bud open, revealing the underside of the petal-like lobes. It takes several hours for a flower to open fully. There are usually five thick and fleshy red-coloured petals, covered in lighter coloured spots, warts and blotches. The Rafflesia only blooms for 3-5 days, before it starts to blacken and rot. Although it is quite common for a number of buds to occur in a cluster at the same site, it is rare for two plants of the same cluster to bloom at the same time.
Rafflesia flowers are either male or female, and therefore cannot self-pollinate. For pollination to take place, a male and a female flower must bloom at the same time and pollen must be transported over considerable distances. In the Rafflesia’s case pollination is carried out by carrion flies, so whilst in full bloom the Rafflesia gives off a foul smell of decaying flesh to attract them. Seeds are thought to be dispersed by rodents and other small mammals which eat the flowers. Scientists remain baffled, however, as to how the tiny seeds infest the roots and stems of the host vine.
Loss of habitat is the greatest threat to the survival of the Rafflesia. Its reliance on the tetrastigma vine does not help matters. With other endangered species it is possible to implement a range of conservation measures such as trans-location and the establishment of nurseries. However, these measures are not possible with the Rafflesia due to its very high degree of specialisation. The establishment of totally protected conservation zones is the only way to preserve this unique plant.
Gunung Gading National Park in Southwest Sarawak is such a conservation zone. Gazetted in 1983, the park covers an area of 4,106 hectares and forms a safe and secure habitat for the protection of the Rafflesia.


The Rafflesia is a rare flower with a short flowering period. Therefore a certain amount of luck is required if your visit to Sarawak is to coincide with a Rafflesia in full bloom. The park staff monitor the progress of the Rafflesia buds very closely, and usually know when a flower is about to bloom, so visitors can check with the park headquarters (Tel: 082-735714) or the National Parks Booking Office in Kuching (Tel: 082-248088).
A plankwalk is situated near the park headquarters in an area where Rafflesia are often found. Park wardens also take visitors on guided walks to flowers that are blooming deeper in the forest. Visitors should take notice of the warden’s instructions and tread carefully, to avoid damaging any buds on the forest floor.
Although Rafflesia have no set flowering season, blooms are more common at Gunung Gading during the wetter months (November to February). They are also more common on the lower slopes of the park’s mountain peaks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Orang Utan...the man of the jungle.

The orang utan (pongo pygmaeus) is found in the rainforests of Malaysian Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah), Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan) and North Sumatra. It is one of the world’s largest primates, and is almost completely arboreal (tree living). The word “orang” is Malay for “person” whilst “utan” is derived from “hutan” meaning forest. Thus, orang utan literally translates as “person of the forest”.

A mature male has large check pads and a pendulous throat sac. Adult males can reach a height of 150 cm (5 ft), weigh up to 100 kg (220lbs) and have an arm span of 240 cm (8 ft). Females are about three quarters of the height and half the weight of the males. Both sexes are covered with long reddish hair. Orang utan have a low reproductive rate, females usually giving birth to a single infant once every 7-8 years. Females reach sexual maturity at 12 years of age but generally don’t have their first offspring until two or three years later. Males reach sexual maturity at 15 but their cheek pads may not fully develop until a few years later. The life expectancy of orang utan in the wild is unknown but is thought to be less than in captivity, where some have lived to over 50 years of age.

Orang utan are primarily fruit eaters and spend most of the day roaming the forest foraging for food. They are particularly fond of wild figs and the pungent smelling durian. Although fruit is their most important source of food, they also feed on young leaves, insects, bark, flowers, eggs and small lizards. Each individual builds a new nest each night, a safe resting place 12-18 metres (40-60 ft) up in the roof of the forest.

Wild orang utan are generally solitary. However, adolescents often gather in pairs and females occasionally form temporary groups of four or five. This rather lonely existence stems both from the relative scarcity of food in the rainforest and from a lack of predators. A mature adult roams a vast area of forest every day in order to find enough food to satisfy its healthy appetite. Its huge size also eliminates the need for ‘group defence’.

The orang utan is an endangered species and is totally protected by law in Malaysia, Indonesia and internationally. Today, there are an estimated 20-27,000 orang utan left in the wild (perhaps 20,000 or so in Borneo and the rest in Sumatra). Deforestation, human encroachment on their habitat, indiscriminate hunting and the live animal trade: all are factors that have contributed to a decline in their numbers. To gain a better understanding of the orang utan and re-introduce rescued animals into the wild, both the Indonesian and Malaysian authorities have set up rehabilitation programmes. Sarawak’s centre at Semenggoh is open to the public so visitors can find out more about these highly intelligent creatures of the rainforest.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Proboscis monkey

The proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) or long-nosed monkey, known as the bekantan in Malay, is a reddish-brown arboreal Old World monkey that is endemic to the south-east Asian island of Borneo. It belongs in the monotypic genus Nasalis, although the pig-tailed langur has traditionally also been included in this genus – a treatment still preferred by some.
The monkey also goes by the Malay name monyet belanda ("Dutch monkey"), or even orang belanda ("Dutchman"), as Indonesians remarked that the Dutch colonisers often had a similarly large belly and nose.
This species of monkey is easily identifiable because of its unusually large nose.


Proboscis monkeys belong to the Colobinae subfamily of the Old World monkeys. There are two subspecies:
  • Nasalis larvatus larvatus (Wurmb, 1787), which occupies the whole range of the species;
  • Nasalis larvatus orientalis (Chasen, 1940), restricted to north-east Kalimantan.
However, the difference between the subspecies is small, and not all authorities recognise N. l. orientalis.

Physical description

Closeup of a proboscis monkey face
The proboscis monkey is a large species, being one of the largest monkey species native to Asia. Only the Tibetan Macaque and a few of the gray langurs can rival its size. There is pronounced sexuality dimorphism in the species. Males have a head-body length of 66 to 76.2 cm (26 to 30.0 in) and typically weigh 16 to 22.5 kg (35 to 50 lb), with a maximum known weight of 30 kg (66 lb). Females measure 53.3 to 62 cm (21.0 to 24 in) in head-and-body length and weigh 7 to 12 kg (15 to 26 lb), with a maximum known mass of 15 kg (33 lb). Further adding to the dimorphism is the large nose or proboscis of the male, which can exceed 10 cm (3.9 in) in length,and hangs lower than the mouth. Nevertheless, the nose of the female is still fairly large for a primate. The proboscis monkey has a nearly long coat. The fur on the back is bright orange, reddish brown, yellowish brown or brick-red.The underfur is light-grey, yellowish, or greyish to light-orange. The face is orange-pink. The male has a red penis with a black scrotum. Both sexes have bulging stomachs that give the monkeys what resembles a pot belly. Many of the monkey’s toes are webbed.


Social behavior

Proboscis monkeys generally live in groups composed of one adult male, some adult females and their offspring. All-male groups may also exist. There are some individuals that are solitary, most of which are males. Monkey groups leave in home ranges that overlap and there is little territoriality.Proboscis monkeys live in a fission-fusion society, with groups gathering at sleeping sites as night falls. There exist bands which arise when groups come together and slipt apart. Groups gather during the day and travel together, but individuals only groom and play with those in their own group. One-male groups consist of 9–19 individuals while bands can consist of as many as 60 individuals. One-male groups typically consist of 3–12 individuals but can contain more. Serious aggression is uncommon among monkeys but minor aggression does commonly occur.Overall, members of the same bands are fairly tolerant of each other. A linear dominance hierarchy exists between females. Male of one-male groups can stay in their groups for 6–8 years. Replacements in the resident males appear to occur without serious aggression. Upon reaching adulthood, males leave their natal groups and join all-male groups.Females also sometimes leave their natal groups, perhaps to avoid infanticide or inbreeding, reduce competition for food or elevation their social status.
Proboscis monkey pair


Females become sexually mature at 5 years old. They experience sexual swelling, which involves the genitals becoming pink or reddened. At one site, matings largely take place between February and November while births occur between March and May. Copulations tend to last for half a minute. The male will grab the female by the ankles or torso and mount her from behind. Both sexes will encourage mating but they are not always successful. When soliciting, both sexes will make a pouted face. In addition, males will sometimes vocalize and females will present show their backsides. Mating pairs are sometimes harassed by sub-adults. Proboscis monkey may also engage in mounting with no reproductive purpose, such as playful and same-sex mounting. Gestation usually last 166–200 days or slightly more.Female tend to give birth at night or in the early morning. The mother then eats the placenta and licks her infant clean. The young begin to eat solid foods at 6 weeks and are weaned at 7 months. The nose of a young male grows slowly until reaching adulthood. The mother will allow other members of her group to hold her infant. When a resident male in a one-male groups is replaced, the infants are at risk of infanticide.


Proboscis monkey are known to make various vocalizations. When communicating the status of group, male will emit honks. They have a special honk emitted towards infants, which is also used for reassurance. Males will also produce alarm calls to signal danger. Both sexes give threat calls, but each are different. In addition females and immature individuals will emit so called "female calls" when angry. Honks, roars and snarls are made during low intensity agonistic encounters. Non-vocal displays include leaping-branch shaking, bare-teeth open mouth threats and erection in males, made in the same situations.


Range and habitat

Juvenile proboscis monkey in Bako National Park, Malaysia
The proboscis monkey is endemic to the island of Borneo and can be found on all three nations that divide the island: Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It is most common in coastal areas and along rivers. This species is restricted to lowland habitats that may experience tides.It favors dipterocarp, mangrove and riverine forests. It can also be found in swamp forests, stunted swamp forests, rubber forests, rubber plantations, limestone hill forests, nypa swamps, nibong swamps, and tall swamp forests, tropical heath forests and steep cliffs. This species usually stays at least a kilometer from a water source. It is perhaps the most aquatic of the primates and is a fairly good swimmer, capable of swimming up to 20 m (65.6 ft) underwater. It is known to swim across rivers. Aside from this, the proboscis monkey is largely arboreal and moves quadrupedally and by leaps. It is known to jump off branches and descend into water.