Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Malaysian Mahseer Kelah sanctuary at Sungai Petang, Tasik Kenyir

I am proud to say that I have personally visited the Kelah sanctuary at Sungai Petang in Tasik Kenyir. I was actually in Tasik Kenyir with a retired army Col to do a recee for a potential adventure based project there. With the permission and support from Ketengah, a Terengganu state government agency, we got the opportunity to enter the well guarded Sungai Petang Kelah sanctuary. Compared to my first encounter with the Kelah which was somewhat more destructive, this visit was more ‘friendly’ so to speak.

The Sungai Petang Kelah sanctuary is located rather deep inside the huge Tasik Kenyir lake. To find out more about my adventures at Tasik Kenyir, click on the Kenyir ‘label’ on the right hand side of the page. From the Pengkalan Gawi jetty, one would have to take a speed boat ride to Sungai Petang. It takes about an hour or more to get there. At the rivermouth (Sungai Petang and the lake), there is a ranger’s floating office where visitors are required to register themselves. Note…if you decide to visit this Kelah sanctuary, you are actually required to obtain written permission from the Ketengah office. Ketengah’s office address and contact numbers can be obtained at the bottom of this entry.

The park ranger's floating post

The visitor's log book

After putting your name into the great book of visitors, you will then proceed upstream on a speedboat. Depending on the water level, the boat will stop as soon as the water becomes to shallow for it to go any further. You will then have to walk further upstream to the actual Kelah sanctuary spot. I was lucky that during my visit, the water level was quite high and the boat manages to get quite deep upstream. We only had to walk less than 30 minutes. If the water level is low, treks can often take up to an hour!

Work was on the way to upgrade the walking paths. Some areas were rather narrow and prone to corrosion. So, its good to watch out where you are stepping on.

You can never imagine how exciting and thrilling it is to witness the Sungai Petang Kelah Sanctuary. The moment we arrive at the ‘lubok’, the water was already churning up waves. The guides that brought us in carried with them bags of fish food. With one cast of a handful of fish food, the water immediately turns into a feeding frenzy of thousands of Kelah. And believe me…its by the thousands. The water literally bubbled with the Kelah’s mouth bobbing up and down swallowing gulps of the fish pallets. It’s simply amazing.

The water starts to boil with Kelah

Malaysian Mahseer everywhere! The fishes were so used to human that you can literally pick on up (not too long though) and feed them from your hands. Some of the fish pallets that dropped off from our hands and rolled off the rocks didn’t get the chance to hit the water as there were already some of the Kelah that pushed themselves out from the water trying to get to the pallets! Its simply amazing!

I just couldn't believe my eyes!

However, I was unable to see the really huge Kelah. The guide informed me that the Kelah are very shy fishes and the big ones tend to dwell a little bit deeper away from the humans. Once the Kelah hits a certain size, they will then make it down stream where they will roam the waters of Tasik Kenyir.

Some of us during this trip braved to put our feet at the water edge. Some of the Kelah nibbled on our feet, it was ticklish but the scary thought of a big fish giving us a nasty bite was enough to keep some of us well away from the water.

Me and one of them Malaysian Mahseer

It was magnificent...awesome in fact. I would even go as far as describing it more thrilling than fishing actually. The sight (and sound) of thousands of Kelah churning the water for food pallets is simply incredible. I never imagined such a place existed, what more right in the heart of beautiful Tasik Kenyir lake. I applaud the fact that efforts are already in place to ensure the survival of the Malaysian Mahseer. This Sungai Petang Kelah sanctuary can only be described as a must see place for all nature lovers.

NOTE: To read more about my adventures with the Malaysian Mahseer (Kelah), see ‘Malaysian Mahseer’ under ‘LABELS’ on the right side of this page.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Elephant burial place in tropical rainforest of Kelantan

Whenever I get to visit the Malaysian jungle, I always prepare myself to see and experience something different. It is a big part of any adventure. Seeing different flora and fauna of different shapes and sizes is all exciting but nothing quite prepared me when I first saw an actual elephant ‘burial’ site in Kelantan.

I would prefer to call in an event rather. I have seen it on TV in far off places like Africa but never thought I’d see it here in Malaysia! It was during a field trip in May 2008 with nature guides John Chan and Yen that I experienced this ‘event’.

None of us planned to see this elephant burial site. The trip was so impromptu that I wasn’t sure if there’s even a plan to begin with. All I know was we are going to some caves in Kelantan and then Taman Negara via the Merapoh entry.

We first arrived in Gua Musang. This is when John got in touch with a local fellow nature guide. After some chatter and over a plate of ‘roti canai’ we were off to Gua Pintu. It is here that we told about the elephant burial site.

The elephant remains near Gua Pintu

This place gives me the goose bumps I lie you not. The sight of these huge bones and other remains is both scary and magnificent at the same time. According to the locals, this particular site has been the burial ground for at least 2 adult elephants.

Most of the remains have either rotted away or being stolen by other animals. The news of this burial ground traveled fast and soon, more and more people came to have a look. As a result, the place gets more ‘intruders’ and some of the elephant remains start to go missing. So, the good local villagers took it upon themselves to protect this special place. They got together, formed a local ‘care taker’ and invested some money in putting up a fence to keep animals (and humans) from disturbing whatever is left of the remains.

A fence was built to stop more of the remains from going missing

This elephant burial site stole the show. I don’t think if there is any other such site in Malaysia that offers this. I related this to the accompanying guide and he told me some parties are suggesting changing the Gua Pintu (Door Cave) name to Gua Gajah Mati (Dead Elephant Cave). The elephant burial site is really awesome but to change a cave’s name just because of that would be rather extreme I reckon.

No one knows exactly how or why the elephants chose that particular place. Perhaps it is the cave. But locals belief that area has long been the chosen place. An ageing jumbo would come to the site when the time is right. It will then lean on one of them trees and slowly slump to its last breath. This was the tree purportedly ‘leaned’ down by the last elephant that lay to rest here.

Can it be that a dying elephant leaned on this tree?

I am not sure if the tree part is true or not. But…if I were to describe the place, I would say it’s an eerie place with a peaceful feeling to it. It’s a place that will give you the goose bumps without actually scaring you away. It’s a sad yet magical place for such an astonishingly beautiful land creature to call the resting place.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kelah; Malaysian Mahseer

Kelah or also popularly known as the Malaysian Mahseer is undeniably one of the fishes that tops any Malaysian angler or fish hobbyist’s wish list. This I know because when I was first introduced to fishing, people were already telling me stories of this elusive and prized fish.

The name Kelah commands respect and awe each time it is mentioned. For many years of learning to cast the line and tying the right knot for the hooks and sinkers, I imagined this fish to be found only in some great rivers and lakes, not even close to the fish ponds and small rivers that I was familiar with.

I love fishing. Though many of my friends (even my wife) occasionally highlights my ‘lack of patience’, fishing is still very much part of me. When I was in the primary school, off-school hours were mostly worm digging sessions and fishing. I rarely went home empty handed from any fishing trip. Mom would be beaming with her son’s catch and my brother just can’t wait to enjoy them on the dinner table. Fishes that I usually catch includes Tilapia (The African mouth breathers), Lampam, Sia, Baung and of course the vicious Haruan (Snake Head).

The Malaysian Mahseer or Kelah

I encountered my first (from the wild) Kelah during a multiple day trekking trip in Taman Negara. It was sort of like a tour group organized by an adventure company (can’t remember the company name). It was years ago. Eons ago to be exact. Back then I still had my 32 waist and a six packs to show off.

As the group trekked deeper into the tropical rainforest, the jungle suddenly changed. The canopy was so high from the ground and it literally covered the whole sky. The rivers became much narrower, fast flowing but almost crystal clear. It was here that I first come eye to eye with the Malaysian Mahseer.

Yup…our group fished the Malaysian Mahseer out from the Taman Negara rivers that time. I have not a clue that time that what we were doing is illegal. In fact, I didn’t know that there was going to be fishing either. Otherwise I would have brought my rod and reels as well. Though it was not part of the itinerary, obviously some of the guides came prepared with all the necessary baits.

I did not do any fishing (Honest!). In fact I was not even allowed near the river as the presence of humans (as I was told) would scare away the fishes. So, I stood a distance away, waiting to witness the exciting moments. Sure enough, several Malaysian Mahseer Kelah was caught. I can’t help but take picture with one of them fishes. Here’s a scanned picture of me with one of them Kelah.

Yes…it was (and still is) illegal to fish in the National Park but ignorance is blissful I suppose. I believe you are allowed to fish at certain parts of the park only. You’d have to check with park authorities to be sure.

Well, this ‘first’ encounter happened years ago. And since then, I have come to realize how endangered they are and how these fishes remain as part of the Malaysian heritage. These days, I still look out for them when I go fishing but its all catch and release. But more importantly, I have spent some time and effort visiting some of Malaysia’s Kelah sanctuaries to support and also share with people the importance of protecting this magnificent freshwater treasure. I will write more about some of these Kelah sanctuaries soon.

NOTE:To find out more about the Malaysian Mahseer or Kelah sanctuaries, look under the ‘LABEL’ segment on the right side of this page.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tioman ferry

Tioman ferry is probably the cheapest way to get into this tropical island paradise. I have been on the ferry a couple of times these past few months and I thought the experience (and information) would be useful to share.

will depart from the Mersing jetty. If you are traveling by bus, chances are the bus will end at the Mersing bus station. It takes about 20 minutes to walk to the jetty. Alternatively, you can take a taxi but expect to pay nothing more than RM10 (lets all keep it that way!).

There are two Tioman ferry service providers from Mersing. Mersing by the way is the most common departure jetty to Tioman Island. The ferry operators are:

Tel: 07-799 4811
Fax: 07-799 5696

Tel: 07-798 2986
Fax: 07-798 2980

Not exactly a ferry but a speedboat that I once had to take. Very fast but can be very uncomfortable

Prices of ferry tickets are around RM35 on way. You’ll get some discounts if you are a local or you can prove that you work with one of them resorts on the island. The tickets are sold as early as 5am. The ticket sellers try to take advantage of the early passengers that arrives and they will most probably push you to purchase an ‘open’ ticket back as well. It is OKAY to get the tickets from them. The tickets sold by them are valid and costs the same. They probably get some commissions from the actual boat operators. Other ticket counters usually opens at around 630am as the first ferry is usually 7am.
If you plan to head to Tioman Island and thinking about taking the ferry, consider doing the following:

If you plan to head to Tioman Island and thinking about taking the ferry, consider doing the following:

  • Call up in advance and make your booking. I have personally done my ticket booking with Fast Ferry via Fax and they actually have a record book that records all the bookings. By Malaysian standard, not bad at all I would say.

  • Call up and find out what are the ferry schedules. The reason I did not display the trip schedule is that on a number of occasions, they increase/ reduce the number of ferry trips due to weather, sea conditions, peak/ low seasons etc.

  • Purchase the return ticket straight away if you already know the dates that you are heading off. This way, you need not worry about where to get tickets when you are on the island.

  • Like the ferries that ply the Kuala Kedah – Langkawi and Kuala Perlis-Langkawi routes, the ferries used are all closed up with strong diesel engine smell inside. The air-condition is usually very cold, the seats rather narrow for my big size and in-house TV that is certain to show some pirated movies (if they show any at all).

    Most of the island is still covered in thick tropical rainforest jungle Furthermore, the island’s villages are scattered and there is no proper paved roads connecting them. So, almost each village has its own ferry jetty.

    One of the many stops the Tioman ferry makes

    You MUST know which jetty/ village to get off. To name a few, there is Tekek, Juara, Genting, Paya, ABC and Salang. All these places are on the island itself and the ferry will stop at each village one after the other. Its kind of like a bus making stops at each bus stop to drop/ pick passengers.

    NOTE: See where and how to take a bus to Mersing jetty under ‘Label’ section on the right side of the page.

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    Tioman Island’s Jungle; a world of unexpected surprises

    If anyone asked me, I’d say Tioman Island’s jungle has more to offer than its beaches or diving sites. That…plus the fact that I don’t dive 

    Anyway, this tropical island’s jungle really packs a punch. The first time I visited the island was for business and I flew in by Berjaya Air. To date, only Berjaya Air’s special (small) plans can land and take off from the tiny airstrip on the island.

    As the plane approaches the island, I couldn’t help but notice the vast greenery that still carpets the island. Besides well known beaches and dirt cheap beers, Tioman is in fact rather contrasting to Langkawi in terms of development (buildings, malls, roads etc). Tioman in a way is rather under-developed. In my books, this is good news. There is only one main road in the main village of Tekek. There is no proper paved road that connects the many villages on the island. The tallest building on the island probably belongs to some resort. There are no petrol stations. Fuel is sold in recycled mineral water bottles. One can literally count the number of cars on in any particular village. No shopping malls. No cinemas. No bowling alley. This place is amazingly ‘preserved’ considering that its one popular holiday destination.

    It was a business trip that visit, so I did not have much time or opportunity to venture into the jungle. However, I did manage to convince one of the resort’s staff to give me a first hand tour of an old abandoned jungle trail. The trail used to be part of the resort’s activities but it has been abandoned for quite a while due to safety reasons.

    The trail starts somewhat near the marine center of the resort. A flight of steps that later leads into the bush. The jungle is different. Except for the additional markers of arrows and ropes built in when the trail was operational, the jungle looked really pristine. One thing that really stood out about the jungle is the numerous large stones strewn all over the place

    The huge rocks seem to be stacked one on top of the other, creating cave like features that required crawling and some maneuvering to pass through. The ‘caves’ we were told are favorite haunting places for snakes, porcupine and bats. One surprising thing we found out was that Tioman island is actually free from wild boars. For an island with a majority of Malay (Muslim) inhabitants, this is rather surprising.

    The trail took us about 1 hour to complete. It was a real eye opener that walk. Tioman jungle can only be described as different and mysterious. Probably mysterious enough to entice me for another visit.

    NOTE:Find out more about this tropical island of Tioman by scrolling the ‘Label’ section on the right hand side of this page.

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Jungle boots; Gear for tropical rainforest

    This is my jungle boots, another one of my Malaysia. I have tried many types of shoes but have found only two types that are suitable for the Malaysian rainforest jungle and terrain. For easy to medium type of terrain in the Malaysian jungle, you would have got to go with the Adidas Kampung (that’s another story though). But if you are going into the jungle for longer period of time, then the jungle boots may be your best option.

    Here I have a pair of boots which I believe to be from the Vietnam War era. I got this from a surplus shoe vendor in K.L. He got it bulk from the States and I believe this particular model has been superseded with newer (and better perhaps) models.

    Anyway, for less than RM100, I can’t complain. The boots are almost brand new and were in perfect condition. My pair of jungle boots is size 11.5 and it has a marking ‘RO-SEARCH’ (I have not a clue what this means) engraved on the soles.

    I have worn this pair of boots into the Malaysian jungle before. On one particular trip, I walked close to 8 hours in total through rivers, slippery mud and some steep terrain. That and some observations, I have come to the conclusion that they are one of the best boots/ shoes for the Malaysian jungle. Here’s a few reasons why…

    are adapted from real life experiences of the people (army) that spent time in the rainforest jungle. Whether it is the American army during the Vietnam war or the British in then the Malaya jungles fighting the guerillas, I am sure the type of gear they come up with is well suited for that environment.

    Take for instance the upper cotton canvas. This canvas is heavy duty and is easily water permeable. This makes sense as in the Malaysian jungle, it is wet all the time. You’d either be crossing water ways or walking in the rain. Either way, you are bound to get wet. The single layer canvas is thick and strong; it absorbs water but is also easier to dry than other types of insulated linings found on other shoes/ boots. I believe it will also provide me some protection from snake bites (though I am not looking forward to testing that out).

    Compare to some shoes/ boots that claim to be ‘waterproof’. Undeniably, these shoes are well built and I wouldn’t mind a pair myself if I am heading to colder dry environments. But these shoes/ boots if worn in the Malaysian jungle can quickly turn into a ‘flooding’ nightmare. Especially if worn on a long trek. Imagine wading through rivers or when it is pouring buckets. As sure as the shoes are in keeping water out, they too will keep the water INSIDE the shoes from escaping out. One would have to remove the shoe each time and pour out the contents constantly. That would mean many stops in between and higher possibility of damage to the feet.

    My jungle boot’s soles have this peculiar design that is rather common these days with other military boots. I once wore this jungle boot on a trip to a waterfall with a couple of friends. The trail was rather steep and it was muddy because of the rain. My friends slipped and fell no less than 5 times each, partially because of the shoes they were wearing. I am happy to say that on that trip, I was the only one with a clean bum at the end of the day!

    In the Malaysian rainforest jungle, you will get wet. That is a fact. There is no point trying to fight that. You’d better off being prepared (mentally and physically) for it. That is why I feel that this jungle boot best suits the Malaysian rainforest jungle. This pair of boots comes with bits and pieces that are already made for the wet conditions. The water draining holes at the sides of the boots is a good example. These holes serve as ‘outlets’ to allow both water and air to pass through…both ways. Crossing water bodies with this boot means water gets in and later drains through these holes.

    In addition to that, the holes also allows for the needed ventilation. The air circulation I think (though as minimal as they may be) helps to ‘air’ the feet. God knows my feet need them!

    Ah…the part I like (or am amazed) most about this boots is the inside soles. It’s a sole that’s made of plastic netting, works like a strainer. There’s layers of them with the sides all burnt and sealed together. Here’s a picture of them insoles.

    According to wikipedia, these soles are “…ventilating insoles made of fused layers of Saran plastic screen, first invented in 1942”. Am not all that sure if it’s the same one but they sure are cool. Have a close up look a t the insoles. I took the picture below against the bright sky. Can literally see through them.

    Well, this insole definitely does not absorb water. Unlike the conventional insole. Also, one side is rather rough and the other side is smooth. The rough side actually presses against the inside of the boots, creating a friction that stops my feet from sliding front and back.
    The downside? Without a pair of socks, stepping barefoot onto this ‘Saran’ insoles isn’t the most comfortable. They give this ‘needle’ sensation that really keeps you on your feet (perhaps that’s what they are designed to do!).

    To summarize (based on my personal experience)...This may not be the most comfortable shoes/ boots for the feet to walk on but they are built to suit the environment. Perhaps there are newer designs/ models available that are built with better comforts. But compared to the typical designer looking shoes you’d find in the market that claims to be ‘outdoor’ worthy, this pair of jungle boots doesn’t slip, helps keep them leeches out and are damn practical!

    Just one word to describe this pair of jungle boots I think...awesome.

    Leech Socks; Gear for tropical rainforest

    I have recently added the leech socks into my tropical rainforest gear kit. After years of sharing my blood with the jungle leeches, I suddenly come to realize that all the blood that I lost plus the itch scratching that I have endured is simply plain unnecessary. Or perhaps I have grown beyond the years of being ‘gung-ho’ and have become more of a ‘softie’ person…favoring to avoid the scaring bits and possibilities of infections.

    The leech socks are actually not all that technical or special actually. The one that I have is made of plain beige colored cotton with a drawstring at the top. I have used it on several occasions and have found them to be quite effective. The only down side of it is that it tends to slip down as the drawstring sometimes comes undone. This can be easily rectified I suppose, using a bungee cord or stretch band instead of a string. Below is my leech socks.

    Leech socks

    There are better looking leech socks for sale definitely. Some are made of polyester material with already sewn in elastic calf bands. These will of course cost more but if you are heading into the bush often, they are perhaps the better choice. Mine costs me only RM15 when I bought it last year in Endau Rompin.

    Yes, they are so simple that I reckon anyone can make a set themselves as long as they have a sewing machine. All you need is to actually find a suitable material that is comfortable to wear with your shoes and the weaving of the material is tight enough to keep the leeches out. Add a drawstring or better still an elastic band and you are all set.

    Gear for rainforest waterfall; Jeram Perlus.

    I reckon I have to come up with a list of gear for waterfall Jeram Perlus trip this coming Sunday, 26th October 2008. The last time I was at Jeram Perlus, I befriended a couple of leeches, loads of thorns and a huge jungle tick.

    Compare the size of the tick to my lense cap!

    It has been raining these past few weeks. If the jungle is wet, my blood sucking friends will be crawling all over the place and walking isn’t gonna be easy either as the trail is mostly slippery mud and soil. These ‘challenges’ will be there to greet me for sure.

    So, perhaps I should be gearing up to be more prepared for what’s to come. The leech socks with my long pants all tucked in will hopefully keep the leeches out. A small pack of tobacco in hand will unwillingly force the leech off me (if they somehow manage to get on).

    My shoes of choice this time would still be my jungle boots. Have not much chance to put it into good use. A few more wears and I should have it broken in. Something I need to do in preparation for long hikes in the future.

    New toys I am putting into this Jeram Perlus trip is my new Garmin GPS Map 76CSx and my (not new) Yaesu VX170 VHF radio. Since this will be a trip with John, we may put the radio into good use for communicating between the walking party.

    Other gears would be my standard lot. My minimum kit and my Macpac Tekapo 45+ standard pack.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Rainforest waterfall Perlus, second visit on 26 Oct 2008 nature guide friend just invited me to join him and a group to a this coming Sunday, 26th October 08. Doesn't seem like a bad idea. It will be the Deepavali weekend so, I still have the day after to recuperate. The waterfall is called Perlus or Jeram (waterfall in Malays) Perlus. Its located in the Hulu Langat area, known also as Pangsoon, just a bit more than an hour's drive from K.L.

    I have been to the waterfall Perlus before. Perhaps a month or two ago. With a couple of friends (including John). It's some hike. Not the easiest I would say. But the waterfall was all worth it. Have a look at the pic.

    The picture ain't all that good. I know. But it really is a beautiful waterfall. As long as there's not too many people, otherwise it would be really crowded. This trek isn't all that easy for a couple of reasons. First, it's up and up all the way, with very slippery trail. And if its raining season (like now), I reckon the place will be teaming with leeches by now. Have a look at the 'invasion' the first time I was there.

    Yup...those socks did not manage to keep them out.
    After all this, I think I will be better prepared the next time around. I will put a list of 'precautions' next.


    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Parang Ilang Kayan from Sarawak

    A month back, my friend John visited the interior of Sarawak in the region of Baram and came back with him several ‘souvenirs’ to share with. He was kind enough to give me a bag of Baram rice. Baram rice is well known as a fragrant rice, farmed organically.

    The other item John brought back was the Parang Ilang Kayan. ‘Parang’ is a Malay word that has generally been used to describe a cutting tool perhaps equivalent to the machete. Kayan is one of the many ethnic group of the Dayaks living in Borneo and they are known to be fierce warriors and head hunters. I did a bit of research on the Kayans but there seems to be rather conflicting statements from one source to the other.

    Anyway, this entry is about this Parang that John brought back. I can’t help it, so I bought one piece from him. First look, it looks like any ordinary Parang. But a closer examination reveals some interesting stuff.

    First of all, I will have to state here that this ‘parang’ is obviously mass produced. It is either for tourist souvenirs or for mass local distribution for everyday use. After a close inspection and the fact that I paid only less than RM100 for it, I reckon it is mass produced for local use. I would expect to pay a few hundred ringgits if it was a private item belonging to a Kayan.

    According to some websites, the ‘parang’ that is used by the Kayans are Parang Ilang. It seems that the Ilangs are designed and made to be easily withdrawn from the sheath and the blade itself is made sort of ‘hollow’ on one side to ease it’s sinking (slicing) through limbs or wood. Menacing isn’t it.

    I am no blade experts but there were a few things that really caught my attention when I examine the blade further. The sheath was made entirely of wood and jungle produce. The splicing (& plates) and ending of the material used to tie the sheath together is nice. I would like to learn the splices/ plating for sure. Below is a close-up of some parts of the sheath.

    A close up of the Parang Ilang's sheath

    The other side of the sheath

    Can anyone teach me how to do this

    There is also the handle. Nothing fancy here. It feels nice and it gives a good grip. Some of the Ilangs I saw up for bids on ebay have heavily decorated handles. Mostly with carvings. Those of course are either very expensive or (on the extreme side) special ‘made’ for sale to the RICH & famous.

    Now for the blade. This of course is the most interesting part. The blade is probably the most interesting part of the overall Parang. The total length of the blade is roughly 39.5cm with the widest part about 4cm. See pictures below:

    The concave side of the blade

    The 'hollow' side of the Parang Ilang

    The curves on the back bone towards the end of the blade. The end of the blade is sharp and one can only guess what it is used for. But notice the difference between the surface of the blade on the left picture compared to the right picture? Well, the reason for this is actually due to the blade’s somewhat hollow characteristics on one side (in the left picture). The other side (right picture) is somewhat concave, making it polish-able. So…the view of the Ilang from the front would look something like below:

    Concave on one side, hollow on the other

    This design it seems helps to make ‘slicing’ easier for the user. Yikes...

    If you are a right hander and facing a tree trunk, swinging the Parang Ilang into the tree from a cutting angle would definitely get you a nice deep cut as the ‘curve’ side of the blade would help angle the blade inwards towards the tree. This is perhaps the purpose of the design. However, if you are still holding the Ilang with your right hand and attempt a ‘swing’ at the tree trunk from your left side, there may be a possibility that the blade bounces off the tree. The concave side may ‘push’ your blade away from the tree. Hmm…this would be rather dangerous, especially when used in the hands of an inexperience bushman (like me!). The blade may bounce off and hit my body or any other object standing nearby. That’s a scary thought.

    Overall, I (personally) think this Parang Ilang is a great piece of blade. I like the shape, the hand work and of course the blade. However, being a novice parang user, I am not all that confident if this blade is suitable for me to use in the bush.

    The sharp pointy end and the concave blade is just too risky for someone who is still struggling with a 3 inch fix blade. Like what Ray Mears said in his Bushcraft book, "The Parang is the most dangerous cutting tool used in bushcraft." Can't agree more. This one good looking Parang Ilang will (at this moment) stay in my pile of knife collection.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Why blog?

    The leeches, mosquitoes, creepy crawlies, snakes and occasional humongous ticks...what is there to not like about the Malaysian tropical rainforest? Well, compared to having pretend that you enjoy work in the office, I'd rather be eaten alive by the leeches actually.

    I have always seen the jungle and the great outdoors as a place for me to escape the daily routine everyday life. Its a place where I can be far from people (especially the office crowd) and be with myself and mates that matters. Savor the immensity of the rainforest, breath in the fresh air and relax in the peaceful natural surrounding.

    I am by no means a six pack adventure hunk that races through the jungle, abseil waterfalls and runs back after all that. I am far from that. In fact, I am the opposite of all that! I prefer to take my own time to walk (partially cause I am not fit :P ), smell the roses as I walk and hopefully be able to find a nice place to set-up camp and relax. It is the peacefulness of the jungle that keeps calling me back. And I do try to do exactly that whenever I have the chance.

    So...this blog is dedicated to all my jungle adventures. Rather than have pictures all burnt in a CD kept in a folder, I thought perhaps it would be a much cooler idea to share it with the world. So...welcome to my world!

    Myself and Alex at Chilling Waterfall