Monday, December 29, 2008

Sox’s Island; A fun day out for a furry friend in Malaysian jungle

Our effort to turn Christmas day 2008 into Sox’s day out turned out extremely well. At Hulu Yam, not only did we manage to find a spot with no one around (that’s also probably because we arrive VERY early) but we also found a river with a small island on it!

Sox have been very apprehensive about getting into the water so far. She did not even attempt to go near the lake’s water edge on the way here. The island we thought would be perfect to let her off the leash without having her storming off into the jungle.

I carried Sox over onto the island but decided to leave the leash on. Just in case if she pulls that ‘sprint’ dash again, it would (hopefully) be easier for me to pull ‘catch’ her. I let go off the leash and she was on her way exploring the island. Me and Meun were both very happy seeing Sox exploring the island on her own. Sox seems to be enjoying every bit of it and we are like proud parents watching their daughter running around on her own for the very first time.
It wasn’t long before Sox got really comfy with the island. She was running around…round and round, chasing every single thing that caught her attention. It’s like a small kid in a toy shop…amazed with the world around.

Sox chasing and barking at a floating leaf

Sox and I playing chase on the river

We spent like an hour half on that island. Meun and I enjoyed the dip, Sox enjoyed her run around and ‘freedom’ in the bush. Soon, it was time to go back. The long leash came back to affect but Sox didn’t seem to mind. Perhaps she had her fill of freedom for one day. So much so that she fell asleep as soon as we started the journey back home.

Our angel sleeping in the car after a fun day out in the jungle

Meun was right. We had lots of fun with Sox on her first day out in the bush. The trip has also somehow changed Sox’s perception on car rides. The following day as I was finished washing the car, Sox jumped straight right in without having to even coax her with treats. Yeah…Sox had a real fine day out and we’ll definitely plan another trip again.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sox’s day out in tropical jungle of Malaysia; the journey

A young Sox

Here’s our little darling...Sox. Sox is a mongrel that somehow decided to make our house her home. I was away in Tioman island when she came to the house. Meun called in a frantically panic yet cute way “Dear...there’s a dog in the house. It won’t go’s so cute”.
We have always wanted a dog and Sox chose us rather than the other way around. Its been close to half a year that Sox has been part of us. She is funny, energetic and full or expression. Though we try to spend as much time as we can with her, walking her around the housing area etc, deep down we know that Sox is a really an adventurer to bone. She’ll sometimes dash out the gate without her leash for a quick run, with me screaming at the top of my lungs for her to stop. She will look back but continue running. Right until she has had enough, she’d probably stop, give me that sorry face that will melt the coldest heart.

Anyway, Meun has been insisting that we have Sox as part of us on one of the jungle trips. Rather than Sox tagging along, it turns out to be us tagging along eventually! We want to make it Sox’s day out as well as an opportunity for her to learn to like car rides. So far, her car rides have not been pleasant as it has only been to the vet only. We want to change that. We don’t want her to associate car rides with sanitized, masked man with syringes and cold stainless steel tables only. Every time we were to start the car and call out her name, she would run away with tail between her legs.

So, we want to bring Sox out to the bush. Where she can roam free (on a VERY long leash), preferably a place with a river to see if she is okay with water. It is not easy to plan a trip in Malaysia for a dog. With a majority of Muslim friends, one has to be sensitive to their religious constraints. So, it took us a while to figure out a place that would be suitable.

Our curious and very ‘keh-po’ Sox

We packed the night before. Our minimum kits, Sox’s provisions, some food and a REALLY long piece of leash. The next morning at 6am on Christmas day and we were already in the car heading towards Hulu Yam area. Yup, it had to be THAT early in the morning to avoid the traffic as well as the public.

It was still pitch dark when we started our day

Along the way, we stopped at a big freshwater lake to give Sox a breather from the car ride. She was ecstatic!

Sox...checking out the surrounding

The quick stop at the lake must have made Sox realize that this car ride is different. We learnt a very important lesson during this ‘short’ stopover. We somehow ‘stupidly’ decided that maybe we can let her off her leash and let her roam free. The instance the leash was off...Sox went on her usual merry-go-round sprint. She even jumped over a big drain onto the road. That really freaked me and Meun out. Thank God there were no vehicles on the road. We finally manage to get her and the leash went on. Phew…

A freaky experience for us but obviously an exhilarating one for Sox. As we continued our journey, she took the front seat, literally.

Sox taking over the driver’s seat!

Well, the rest of the journey to Hulu Yam saw Sox perked up like a Cheetah looking out for its prey. Sox seems to be saying “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?....There yet?” Yeah...we got there eventually...

To be continued...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Getting to the Tree Top Walk, Sungai Sedim in Kulim

Now…get this. Do you know that the longest tree top walk in the world is in Malaysia? Well, it is and it is situated among the big jungle trees in Sungai Sedim, Kulim Kedah.

The place is called The Tree Top Walk Hutan Lipur Sungai Sedim. I am not sure what are the differences between a tree top walk and a canopy walk. I have done the canopy walk in Taman Negara eons ago and the only difference I noticed was that the one in Kulim is built on a permanent structure from the ground up with most of the walkways suspended on these supporting beams. The one in Taman Negara on the other hand is built with most of its walkway suspended from natural trees.

Me and my better half decided to explore this ‘world’s most’ during one of our road trips back to my hometown in Kedah. I couldn’t really remember how to get to the Tree Top Walk in Sungai Sedim although I have visited it two years ago. Back then, it was a work-recee trip, trying to establish a route for an adventure race (which did not happen).

Anyway, from Sg. Petani, we headed on the PLUS highway towards Butterworth. We then turn off onto the Butterworth Kulim Expressway (BKE) highway and drove straight into Kulim. Sungai Sedim is roughly 33km from the town of Kulim.

It was not easy finding this place. Unfortunately, like many other ‘Malaysian’ projects, there was barely enough signboards to get us there. We stopped no less than 3 times to get directions. Anyway, one local told us to head into the Kulim Hi-Tech Park and head on straight. We passed the Hi Tech park and that is only when we saw more signboards pointing the way.

Not many signboards to show the way, so ask around

After the kulim Hi Tech park, it was mostly winding, narrow and ‘remote’ road all the way in. Going in felt like forever.

Drive carefully as there are many of these locals on the side of the roads

There are more signboards within the few kilometers from Sungai Sedim

Closing on to the Sungai Sedim area, I can’t help but notice that the access road was still under repair and construction. 2 years ago when I visited this place, they were already working on the road and the bridge. In November 08, they are still working on it. Imagine the irony of building and completing the world’s longest canopy walk to then only worry about the access roads. Sigh…I sometimes wonder if there was any forward thinking plan in place when they decided to work on this project.

Even this welcome arch is still in works!

Finally, we arrived.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An easy walk in the jungle to a waterfall

An easy walk in the jungle to a waterfall is a dream come true for me. Unlike the 3 to 4 hours treacherous trek into Perlus waterfall and the hardcore (for me it is) 4WD ride into Tibang falls (I will post this a bit later on), my recent walk in the jungle was pleasantly easy.

I doubt if I would have found this waterfall in Perting, near Bentong without nature guide HappyYen’s help. He has been there several times, so I felt quite confident that we weren’t on a wild goose chase.

We drove my small red tank. The access paved road to Perting waterfall is generally okay. Sedans can make it to the end easy. With the car parked, we trotted into someone’s property and came to the river crossing. Yup, 2 minutes into the walking trail and we were already wadding through knee deep waters. Was I glad I had my Adidas kampung on! It would have been frustrating if I wore my pair of Merrel trail shoes!

After the river crossing, its easy peasy all the way. Gradual climb with well established trail. Oh…a word of caution, plenty of leeches. And leeches are always a good sign of wildlife and just after the river, we stumbled upon these prints. The prints are not fresh but they are still very visible.

Looks like this place is wild boar 'friendly'

Some HUGE print this is! Who could it belong to?

Along the way, HappyYen introduced me to some wild jungle plants. I saw some Senduduk Bulu and Mahang Telinga Gajah. Some sights along the trails: ‘

Fungus on some fallen tree

A very odd 'twist' to this plant

Well, not as interesting as Perlus but then again not as tough either. Under an hour and we are already at the waterfall. But the last 10meters to the waterfall was steep. Really really steep. It would be really difficult to descend if it was raining heavily.

A very steep decent down to the river

The descend felt longer than the entire trail. One slip and you’d probably be gliding all the way down. Not to worry though, there’s plenty of rocks and trees along the way to ‘stop’ you! Cross the river to the other side and walaaah….Perting Waterfall

For a waterfall that’s so easy to access, there’s bound to be a catch. The place was rather littered and there’s a big group camping there. Some guys were perched on the rocks with fishing rods, only to realize later than another group has set-up a net in the river. Well, there go the fishes.

I enjoyed this easy walk in the jungle to Perting waterfall. Its near to KL and is relatively unknown. There seems to be a lot of wildlife and spaces to explore here, so I’ll definitely be back.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nature Guide HappyYen

This is nature guide HappyYen. He is one of the most interesting persons I have ever met in the jungle to be honest. Our paths first crossed at Chilling Waterfall in Kuala Kubu Baru. The next time around, we met in the jungles of Ulu Sendat during a bush course. Then there was the trip to the waterfalls in Simpang Pulai and Sungai Nenggiri. He kept on popping up whenever I am heading out into the bush.

So, I recently decided that perhaps I should purposely plan a trip with him. So, off we went to a waterfall in Bentong Pahang on a lazy Sunday morning. I was glad he came along because there is no way I would be able to find the waterfall without him. I guess the trip allowed me the opportunity to know him better as well as to find out why he calls himself HappyYen and the reason behind his obsession with Chilling waterfall and adventure.

HappyYen is probably one of the most outspoken, lively and sociable friends I have come to know. His opinions about life, human relations and everyday things have definitely prompted me to look at things from a different light. A person who really loves his food, this is one Malaysian nature guide who, in a spur of the moment will set off in search of good food, the biggest Chengal tree and even exotic jungle animals!

HappyYen can be contacted at 017-369 7831

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Langkawi resort with jungle animals

I have stayed in many resorts but this is probably the only Langkawi resort with jungle animals that I have ever stayed in! This resort is really something.

It wasn’t the rooms, the service and not even the food that impressed me. Rather it is the amount of wildlife I saw during my stay in the resort. The animals weren’t in cages. They were roaming around free going about with their usual activities without much care about the people around them.

For a 5 star resort, I would imagine that this place would be sanitized of any animals, let alone wild animals. The first day there, I was out walking and I saw this monitor lizard crossing the road. It didn’t dash off upon seeing me. Instead, it actually allowed me to get just within a few feet to photograph her. The lizard really reminds me of Tioman island where it is also teaming with monitor lizards. For a resort that transports its guests around on minibuses, I am surprised that there is not a single road kill around, especially a monitor lizard.

Nothing special I suppose. Out of no where I heard some noises coming from the roof of one of them chalets. I looked up and I was surprised to see a group of Duskie Leaf Monkeys (Trachypithecus obscurus). Also known as the Spectacle leaf Monkey (obviously!), they are more commonly known by the locals as Lotong. They are cute! And best of all, they just got on with whatever they were doing even with me sending bolts of lights at them to take pics.

There are many Duskie Leaf Monkeys on this resort

I later found out that the resort have rather strict rules when it comes to dealing with the jungle animals that makes their property part of their home. There can be no trapping or killing strictly. No wonder the jungle animals of Langkawi flourishes here.

Oh…that’s not all, besides the common and destructive Macaque, I also manage to spot many squirrels and lizards. This resort is like a wildlife sanctuary!
Having seen the Macaques, Langgors, squirrels, lizards and a monitor lizard, I never imagined that this resort would have anything else to offer. Until I saw this perculiar thing clinging to a tree. It was motionless but it just doesn’t seem to be part of the tree.

A closer look and it turns out to be a Flying Lemur (Cynocephalus Variegatus). I was astounded. I have trekked some jungles and here I am face to face with a Flying Lemur in a 5 star resort in Langkawi! And mind you, the resort was operating on almost full capacity most of the time. I stood there staring at it in amazement.

My friend had to pull me away for lunch. During lunch, I spoke to one of the waiters and he said that the resort has not one but a few resident Flying Lemur. What??!! Not one but a few. I thought this guy was just pulling my leg until the final there, just before check out hour, I saw these on two separate coconut trees.

On a coconut tree just by the pool in broad daylight!

Two Flying Lemur on one coconut tree! A couple perhaps?

In total, I saw 4 different Flying Lemur individuals. 4 individuals on a 5 star resort’s property! What resort is this? Naaa…I am not telling. Suffice to say that it is an expensive 5 star Langkawi hotel and I am not doing free advertisement for them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Adidas kampung; the ultimate tropical jungle shoe

Adidas kampung- shoes for the tropical jungle

The Adidas kampung is a popular shoe when it comes to choosing the right shoe for tropical jungle of Malaysia. This cheap yet practical piece of footwear has decorated the feet of Malaysians for generations, especially among rubber tapers and estate workers for as long as the independent of Malaysia perhaps. Its light, fully water resistant and simple design makes it even more attractive among those venturing into a jungle that is constantly wet and humid.

Adidas Kampung is up for anything. They are shoes for jungle hiking. Great footwear for tropical water paddling and they make excellent tropical shoes for river crossing and general camp wear.

There are a number of designs for this rubber shoe. The one characteristic that makes the shoe stands out is the fact that it is wholly made of rubber. Some comes with fake shoelaces (they are actually rubber, part of the shoe itself) and some do come with simple cords.

Why is shoe called Adidas Kampung? Well, there is this one particular model that comes with studded soles. The entire shoe is still made of rubber and the sides are painted with 4 yellow stripes. Because of these stripes and the fact that they are the only ones normal kampung folks can afford as soccer boots…hence the name Adidas Kampung. The name was so popular that it is used to blanket almost all the similar types of rubber shoes available.

Looks familiar? The four yellow stripes that makes an Adidas Kampung

There are a number of reasons why this rubber shoe is the preferred choice by many locals for the tropical jungle. Its construction of being 100% rubber makes it fully water repellent, easy to drain out water and easy to dry. Compare this with any of the boots we can find in the shopping mall, to dry a pair would probably require only some dabbing with a piece of dry cloth! But of course, the rubber wear is by far not a perfect shoe. There are a few things one got to remember when using them.

For jungle use and river crossing, some people would actually recommend making two small holes on the sides of the shoe to help drain out water. Some models already come with ‘holes’ but more often than not, they are sealed tight out from the factory. But it is easy to solve this. Just grab a scissors or a knife and make the holes yourself. Very easy.

Use a sharp knife to make them holes

In the Malaysian jungle, crossing rivers and being drenched by constant rain makes any pair of our normal shoes a nightmare to walk in. The only setback I would say with these rubber shoes are its lack of ankle support and not so durable soles. The shoes are no hi tech bit of gear, they are simple and very basic. Their soft soles mean that they get eroded or eaten in much faster than usual shoes. This is especially when one walks on tarmac.

I have two pairs . One pair I use as my tropical jungle footwear and the other I keep in my motorbike’s storage box. I change into them whenever I travel in the rain to keep my work shoes dry.

Honestly, I don’t think anything beats the Adidas Kampung for light or medium walk in the jungle. For longer expeditions and trips, perhaps the more robust jungle boots would be much more suitable.

Thinking of those Cr*@s sandals? Well, if you can afford them to be thrashed in the jungle, then go ahead. Also, Cr*@s do not give you the traction you need, no matter what they claim. Have seen them worn on tracks, you can see how they ‘slide’ when it rains.

This new pair of Adidas kampung for my wife costs only RM4.80!

But with prices ranging between RM5 and RM10 per pair (yet another reason why they are the best jungle shoe) as compared to the hundreds of ringgit for a pair of Cr*@s, the decision is more than obvious I think.

Where to buy adidas kampung? If you are in KL town, some hardware stalls around Chow Kit or Jln Ipoh sells them. The Pasar Malam opposite Sunway Pyramid every Wednesday nights have them too.
Out of K.L? Head to almost any hardware, sundry or shops selling agriculture products and you are likely to find them. This is especially true with places where there’s many rubber plantations.

So…to summarize:

  • Water-repel, easy to dry.

  • Cheap…really cheap

  • Practical (use it to walk, camp use and rivers)

  • Easy to obtain

  • Field proven

  • Almost zero maintenance

  • Cons:
  • May not provide the support needed for tough climbs/ treks

  • Soles wear out pretty fast

  • Soles are soft, vulnerable to punctures. One can literally feel what’s been stepped on

  • Shoe may ‘slip’ when descending steep slopes

  • Monday, December 8, 2008

    A Malaysia lake holiday… Kenyir boat house Part 2; Cooking & hygiene

    There is really not a better Malaysia lake holiday than a Kenyir boat house. Ask any Malaysian what’s important when holidaying and I am quite sure food is one of them. On a boat house, you have control over the food you’ll be eating because you can cook them yourself!

    You can prepare and cook your meals in the ‘mini’ kitchen on a boathouse. A typical boat house comes with basic cooking area. Do not expect refrigerators, blenders or ovens though. Expect basic stoves, food preparation table, basic utensils etc. Some of the operators provide food catering as part of their services. Consider this if your group is hopeless in cooking! Alternatively, you can stock up your own food supply in an ice box and prepare your own food. However, note that most boat crews are local Malay Muslims. When you choose to prepare your own food, you will be required to share your meals with the crew (as a courtesy as well), so make sure your food is acceptable to their religion and belief. If you plan to bring your own beverages (beer, liquor etc), do inform the operators in advance so as not to offend them. However, getting drunk is not only impolite but is also very dangerous when you are floating on big open waters.

    Most Kenyir boathouse kitchens are very basic

    Depending on your cooking ability (and loads of creativity), food on a boathouse can be really good. The fresh fish comes from the lake and with some basic ingredients, you and your group can really enjoy some good tasting food.

    A great Malaysia lake holiday…good friends & great food!

    Everyone digging in

    Toilets are available of course. Then again, toilets are most basic with most waste going back into the lake. A complete recycle circle they say. Most are squatting type but I am sure some of the more ‘flashy’ boathouse would come equipped with seat toilets, water heaters etc.

    Water supply for the entire boathouse comes from the lake itself. There will be a water pump that fills up the water tank on top of the boathouse, supplying to all water needs. It is therefore best that one boils the water before drinking.

    Yet again, most are very basic, squatting types generally. I have to admit that all the boats that I have been on have the wastes going straight back into the lake.

    Night time can be very peaceful and extremely dark. Boat houses come equipped with electric generators. However, most operators do not operate their generators throughout the night. Generators are not only noisy but they pollute the air around. Lights out are usually around 11pm. It is wise to bring your own head torches or at least hand torches, just in case you need to get up in the middle of the night to answer nature calls.

    To me, Tasik Kenyir is the ultimate Malaysia lake holiday there is. With good company, fishing, good food and hours on a boathouse enjoying the beautiful lake, what more can one ask for?

    Thursday, December 4, 2008

    Holiday on Lake Kenyir boat house Part 1; A Malaysia lake adventure

    A lake holiday in Tasik Kenyir can really be a wonderful experience. What better way to do it than on a boat house! With all the basic comforts of a home, one can really get use to living on a boat house in a lake surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. I would call it the rainforest accommodation on water.

    We packed like tonnes of gear, not too mention people

    I manage to dig out some pictures of one of my trips to Kenyir somewhat in 2007. It was a trip organized among a bunch of us from the same company. Almost 10 of us, 4 kayaks, a whole load of food and supplies and a beat-up van to bring us there. Oh… not forgetting the fishing rods as well.

    I remembered the van struggling up Karak highway. I have never experienced being in a vehicle at full capacity yet doing like 10km/h. I swore one could actually overtake the van on foot. But after an enduring 9 hours (half asleep) drive on the road, we finally made it to the lake…with the van still in one piece…hooray!

    Spirits were high. We were all very excited to get away from the office and be able to do anything but work. All 10 of us, plus the kayaks, gears and other stuff goes on the boat house we chartered with ease. There’s a lot of space to spare actually.

    This is the boathouse me and my mates actually hired once. Big and comfortable.

    There’s also the engine room, the captain’s bridge and the staff cabins. The captain’s bridge of course is not as high-tech as one would expect. They are rather basics, with the huge wheel, a radio and at times a GPS. Yup, the locals know the lake like the back of their hand and they use landmarks to tell the way. Note that most boat houses do not anchor up and sail at night. It is almost impossible to navigate in the pitch dark. Negotiating floating logs, sandbars and even crossing animals in the blanket of darkness is risky business.

    With rates ranging from RM800 to RM1500 per nite depending on the ‘frills’ and little comforts that one can afford. This trip, we took a basic Kenyir boathouse. It has an upper deck which is the sleeping area and it fits all of us just fine..

    One open sleeping area!

    For hygiene purposes, I would suggest that you bring your own sleeping bag, bed sheet etc. The ‘upper’ deck can be rather hot during the daytime (unless the boat is under a big shade) but temperature can drop rather drastically during the night time. In any case, during the day time you ought to be swimming, fishing, paddling and enjoying yourself. Not sleeping!

    Bring your own kayak for a paddle!

    To be continued...

    Monday, December 1, 2008

    Tasik Kenyir boat house; Malaysia lake rainforest accommodation

    A Tasik (Malay language for lake) Kenyir boat house is arguably one of the best ways to explore this huge man-made lake. With an area of over 260km2, one would require a mode of transportation that is self sufficient, comfortable and practical to see the most of the lake. What better way to do it on a Tasik Kenyir boat house.

    Some boathouse looks rundown but can be very comfortable inside

    I have visited Tasik Kenyir several times. Each time I go there (usually for relaxing and fishing), I will engage one of them boat house. They are not super fancy but enough to make my stay relaxing and enjoyable. Imagine a boat house as a moving caravan home on water. They have all the basics you need. This include toilet, sleeping area, cooking area and some even comes with TV lounge.

    The boat houses in Kenyir are mostly modified fishing boats. The boats are extended on each side with cylindrical metal pontoons. This not only increase the flooring space but it also increases the stability of the boat tremendously. The best part is that because the lake is fresh water, the metal pontoons do not rust easily. There are no barnacles growing on it, the most you will see is green moss.

    There’s ample space around a boathouse for you to relax and absorb the scenery around

    With the pontoons in place, there are now more ‘base’ for to build more space on the boat. Platforms are extended to the sides, back and front portion. What follows is then the upper floor, where the ‘accommodation’ blocks are located.

    There are no fixed designs for the boats. I have seen many versions of Tasik Kenyir boat house and they varies, perhaps by the creativity of the builder and also the amount of ‘bells & whistles’ the owner/ financier wants to put in. Some Kenyir boat house comes with all the modern facilities like satellite TV, water heaters and even a karaoke set. It all depends on what one’s liking and budget.

    The boat houses are normally accompanied by at least two caretakers. They spend most of their time at the captain’s helm and ensuring that everything is in order. Engines are typically very noisy and being diesel engines, they have this very strong smell.

    The boat houses don’t travel very fast thanks to its design drag, weight and possibly the engine capacity as well. This I think is a good thing. Fast moving vessels like speedboats create way too much waves/ ripples that they break and corrode the loose soils at the shore line. Over the years, islands gets smaller and shoreline becomes a steep drop, making it very difficult for anyone (or any animal) to land on.

    What I like most about the Tasik Kenyir boat house is its ability to travel to almost any part of the lake. It provides the basics necessities while is still and adapts well to the natural surrounding of the lake. The boat house is so flexible that you can probably move it from point A to point B anytime and with ease. It allows me (and my mates) to choose where and how we wanna spend our time on this beautiful and enchanting lake… away from the nosy neighbors and work. Blissful…

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Fishing in Tasik Kenyir; A Malaysia lake adventure

    Tasik Kenyir fishing is one activity you would not want to miss in this huge man made lake. It is a Malaysia lake adventure you would not want to miss.

    This group is definitely on a fishing trip with all the smaller boats being tugged along

    I have done a few fishing trips to Tasik Kenyir. Me and my mates normally hire a boat house and spend about 3 days 2 nights out on the lake fishing and relaxing.

    There are plenty of them fishes in the lake

    I am not a serious angler myself but the occasional thrill of reeling in the fish is so very satisfying. It makes the 9 hours road drive and few hundred ringgits spent really worth it. I have caught fishes like Lampam (Puntius schwanenfeldii), Baung (Mystus sp), Sunhok or Ketutu, Sebarau (Hampala macrolepidota) and of course the famous Toman (Channa micropeltes). Of many shapes and sizes, some fishes are however very illusive and difficult to catch. Depsite my multiple fishing trips, I have never once caught the famed Kelah or Malaysian Mahseer (Tor tambroides).

    Baits used to fish in Tasik Kenyir varies and at times a matter of preference. Different fish prefers different kind of baits of course. You can use artificial lures to attract fishes like Sebarau and Toman but very unlikely for you to land a Lampam or Baung. If you are not sure about which bait to use, ask the locals there. I have used bread, earth worms, insects, fermented palm seeds (Kelah’s favorite), life frogs and even chicken intestines. Catfish loves that kind of stuff.

    Since Tasik Kenyir itself is huge, one starts to wonder where to even drop the line. My experience there (and the local guides) tells me that the fishes are normally found around the shallow waters of the lake. Some parts of the lake is 100 feet or more deep. I really wonder if anything can survive in that depth. Most of the good fishing is nearing to the shores or at the river mouths.

    Fishing around shallow waters, especially for Tomans

    As for myself, I admit that I am not much of an angler. The fishes I caught back when I was a kid seem to be much bigger than even the ones I see at the wet market. Then again, even the wet market seems so much bigger when I was a small 15 year old. And ever notice how the person next to you seems to be reeling in more (and bigger) fishes than you? Well, that is sort of the ‘norm’ when I go fishing. So, my mates know where exactly to position their rods each time.

    My good mate Ben beaming with joy with his catch

    Then of course there are moments when you just wonder why the other person have such good luck. I witness a guy pulling in a huge Toman once and from that day on, I reckon I am just not born with the ‘fishing luck’.

    Look at the size of this Toman compared to my 25 liters Osprey daypack!

    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Snakes Malaysia; A (too) close encounter with an Ular Kapak Hijau

    I recently had a (really) close encounter with one of Malaysian snakes that is super-poisonous it seems. The irony of it all was that I (nor anyone from the group I was with) realize how potent this snake is. After innocently posting a picture of the snake on this blog, my good bush friend Pak Abu manages to identify it as a Pit Viper. Now Pit Viper s doesn’t sound friendly at all do they?

    This is the snake I saw during a trek up to Perlus Waterfall with a group of walkers. It was lying all curled up on small tiny branches just about ankle height off the ground in the middle of the walking path. I was the last person walking in the group when I suddenly saw a few walkers stopping in the middle of the trail, squatting and snapping pictures. There were giggles and laughter…that made me really curious.

    Turns out to be a small green snake. Unknowingly, yours sincerely too took the opportunity to take some photos. There were some leaves covering it, so I moved them leaves with a stick I found nearby (this is probably the smartest thing I did that day). I manage to get closer, a couple of inches away to take the picture. As I am writing this, scenes of Austin Stevens (of Animal Planet, NOT the wrestling dude) fooling with poisonous snakes flash through my mind. I am just glad I wasn’t dumb enough to follow his ‘actions’ that day.

    Could this be Trimeresurus hageni?

    Photos I took and to the waterfall I continued on. I have been to some jungle but never really come across a snake like this. During my childhood when I was growing up in the small town of Baling, Kedah, my dad always shared scary stories about a particular snake called Ular Kapak. He told me that some of the locals call it Ular Kapak Bodoh (Ular-Snake, Kapak- Axe, Bodoh- Stupid). They call it so because it choose to curl up in the middle of walkways, paved roads even and will remain there no matter what. Even if someone or something comes along and it decides to puncture the ‘visitor’ with venom filled fangs, it will still stand its ground and continue curled up at the same spot…as if nothing had happened.

    This is especially dangerous for local villagers, especially at nights. Riding bicycles or motorbikes, it is common back then to see riders (and pillions) to raise both their legs high up in the air whenever they see a pile of ‘something’ on the road ahead. Even if it turns out to be just a pile of cow dung. But if it is the Ular Kapak Bodoh, there is a probability that it will strike at you. With legs raised up high, passer by will be spared from the snake’s venomous bite. Thanks to it’s ‘bodoh-ness’ of not edging away, locals will then stop their vehicle, find a piece of long stick or bamboo and finish the snake off. End of another ‘road’ menace they say.

    Oops…back to this snake. Thanks to Pak Abu, I think I have managed to track down exactly what it is. It is called the Indonesian Pit Viper or Trimeresurus hageni. Local Malaysians call it Ular Kapak Hijau. This (and any other pit vipers for the matter) is not a snake you want to mess around with. All Pit Vipers species in Malaysia it seems injects the hemotoxic venom that degenerates body tissues and destroys blood cells. They have this diamond shaped head and their venom is so potent that they can kill an adult human.

    I wondered that day why this particular snake did not move away… not even an inch despite so many people walking by (it was still there when I started walking back from the waterfall). Probably because it is nocturnal. Perhaps it is the ‘way’ of the Trimeresurus hageni or perhaps it is deep in slumber from a good meal. Or perhaps like Pak Abu said… ‘it has nothing to fear coz it knows for a fact that it can bring you down with just one strike’. I rest my case.