Saturday, January 31, 2009

My rainforest adventures is moving!

Hi everyone! Just to let you know that I will be moving my blog to a new site. The link is as below:

I am still working on the new site but most of the entries on this site has been transferred over. Most new entries will be on this new site.

With the new site going, I hope to be able to share with you more of my rainforest adventures here in Malaysia and the surrounding region!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

A beautiful morning by the lake…Part2

As the morning approaches, I lie in my tent wondering how this natural freshwater lake of Malaysia would be like. I did not get much sleep even though I was dead tired from being on the road for hours the previous day . I remembered waking up several times through the night as I re-adjust my body to the uneven ground below me. It was getting colder and colder and my biggest regret was not bringing a sleeping bag. At around 5am, I took a peek outside, only a few feet of visibility and the entire area was enveloped in a shroud of morning fog. I wanted to head out and start exploring but my aching body was unwilling.

An hour or so later, I forced myself up and went about as the sunlight broke through the horizon. The silence all around was (in a way) very deafening. I could hear the crisp of dried leaves crushing on my feet as I made my way to the jetty. The wooden jetty creaked at almost every step I took as it tries to hold my weight (I am NOT light). I did not want to make too much noise in the morning. Hoping to see some wildlife, maybe some unsuspecting birds or even a wild boar would make my day. Reaching the end of the jetty, I sat down quickly and took in the splendor and serenity of the lake.

This picture do no justice to the actual beauty of Lake Bera

Not long after, John emerged from the comfort of his tent and soon joined me at the jetty. We both sat down, munching on some banana chips, taking in the beautiful silence of the lake as the fog retreats…revealing a sight like none I have ever seen before.

Our tents by the lake

The lake, supposing to cover an area of over 6000 hectares seems small from the jetty. The lake is alive with water foliage giving it a rustic yet lively look. Clumps of green bush forms tiny islands scattered all over the island.

Breakfast by the lake could not have been better. Egg omelet and baked beans with bread. A good friend, simple breakfast and a lake to die for, what else can one asks for?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A natural freshwater lake of Malaysia; a journey back in time…Part1

Joining two enthusiastic friends, I recently visited a tranquil and almost hypnotic inland natural freshwater lake in the state of Pahang. Unlike the man made Tasik Kenyir in Terengganu, my experience at this natural freshwater lake gave me an insight to how life may have been hundred years ago.

We started our journey in the evening. Nature Guide John drove all the way. It was quite a long drive with several stops along the way to get supplies. We were planning to camp out, so canned sardines and instant Maggi noodles would be the order of the day. By the time we got to the town of Temerloh, the sun has set. It’s still a long way to go…so the journey begins.

Many stalls such as this along the way

Fresh fish, acar and salted fishes

On the way through Termeloh, we passed by some stalls selling local produce, which includes salted fish, acar, some kuih and freshwater fishes like Patin and Tilapia (African Mouth Breeders). The fishes are bred in the cages near the river banks. But…huh…were they pricey. A kilo of Tilapia was going at RM14! Same kind of fish, also from fish cages sold at major shopping centers in Klang valley only costs between RM4.50 to RM7.00 a kilo. Perhaps the fishes at Temerloh are tastier but for double the price in big cities, I’ll give it a pass.

Fish cages along the big river in Termerloh

No way I am paying RM14 a kilo for Tilapias!!

I have not been to this lake. John has visited this place once before and driving at night on this lightless road, surrounded by acres of palm oil estate can really be scary. It was pitch dark and the possibilities of running into animals like wild boars and cows is.

We drove slow and did a number of track backs. Missed some turns and some signboards were obviously missing. The directions we got from some of the locals weren’t all that helpful either. It was always the usual ‘not further down…’ or ‘near the fallen tree’. Somehow, we drove on and on and never seem to get to the place we wanted to nor did we come across a single fallen tree. There were fallen trees all over the place!

It took us close to 3 hours from the town of Temerloh to get to our destination. Our local contact has been waiting patiently for us. The last 10km of driving saw u weaving through narrow semi-paved roads in rubber plantations accompanied by the occasional pushbikes whooshing inches away from our car.

Stem and his son Moi have been expecting us. They are some of the friendliest and nicest souls I have ever met in my entire life. They offered us their bed in the simple wooden hut they call home but we had to decline. We brought tents and supplies…plus depriving them of their comfy bed is definitely not a nice thing to do.

After a bit of searching around, we finally found a suitable camp ground. A clearing near a jetty to the lake. It was already 11pm when we started pitching our tents. Our bodies ache and tire from the long drive but the anticipation for what’s in store the following day had our hearts beating. We can’t wait to see this natural freshwater lake of Malaysia.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Completed my Malaysian version of birch bark box; Part 2

The strips of tree bark that I have soaked overnight have really soften up. This made work so much easier. This would in turn be the cordage I need for sewing the box together.

I started the sewing process by using just a simple stopper knot


I soon came to realize that perhaps this palm leave material is not all that suitable after all. The surface of the material is made up of small lines that make it very susceptible to tear. At this point, I realize that perhaps I should have aligned the lines vertically as opposed to horizontally to avoid tears. Then again doing that means that the tear may follow vertically.

Anyway, I did not want to re-do this. So, what I have come up with is a small strip to act to help reduce the stress that will tear the wall.

The small strip added to reduce stress

The stress is quite significant with the edge eagerly popping away

For the two ends of the box, I used this dried up wood. They are supposed to be used for my bow drill but what the heck  They are not the most ideal pieces around because they have that soft middle core. I decided to use them anyway as this is just my first attempt (experiment).

Shaping the wood pieces to fit the box

To keep the base piece in place, I decided to use the thorns from Boganvila.

As for the lid piece. Since the wood already has a soft inner core, I decided to thread it through and make a loop that will pull the lid off. I did a simple back splice to create the loop. Underneath the lid, the cordage is tied to a piece of stick.

It took me about 2 hours to complete this. It’s a hurried job and not pretty. Obviously there’s lots of room for improvement on this one. Below is the final product. Comments, suggestions are most welcomed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Malaysian version of birch bark box; Part 1

I was inspired by the many posts on BCUK on the little boxes / containers made from birch barks so I decided to try to make a Malaysian version of it.

Of course in the Malaysian jungle, its much easier to just get bamboo for this purpose. But I thought the romance involved (the cutting, shaping, sewing etc) is much more enticing. So, this is my first attempt at it.

I live in KL, so the closest material to the birch bark I can find is this material from palm plant planted along the roads. Not sure what it is called but it could from the Royal Palm gang :P

I took one home, dried it and cut into pieces.

The material curls up once dried

Sox just can’t help but to sniff around when I am doing stuff

The cut up material plus some old, dried up tree barks for cordage

I started by rolling and then tying up the main material to the size that I wanted. Using a steel needle, made some holes for the stitching.

I need some cordage to sew the pieces together. So, I decided to use some of the bark from a tree I collected from the jungle recently. Turns out that they have harden, so into a bucket of water they go.

Some soaked tree bark to be used as cordage

To be continued…

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My first attempt at a figure ‘4’ deadfall trap

This is my first attempt making a figure 4 deadfall trap. The idea has been lingering in my head for quite some time after watching one of Les Stroud’s Survivorman series on Youtube.

Having watched it once done by Les Stroud, I can’t say that I really know what mechanism that really ‘makes’ the trap. All I know for sure is that it looks like a figure 4. I found a few more clips on youtube on the same trap, so…based on my memory, I attempted to make my first set at Sox’s Island.

Unfortunately, me and Meun brought Sox along (after all, it is her island). So, while I try to concentrate on making the trap, my mind was even more pre-occupied with Sox’s endless running exploring the place.

20 minutes into making the trap in the jungle, I had to give up. Me and Meun are just too worried that Sox may wander off, never to be found. Sox we love and not willing to loose.

So, many hours later, while watching TV, I picked up my Carbon Steel Mora and begin carving a set of figure ‘4’ deadfall trap from some leftover processed wood I got a few months back from the hardware shop for a home DIY project.

The pieces of wood and my Mora knife

The wood that I am using isn’t all that easy to work with. They are rather hard. But I was determined and my sharp carbon steel Mora really helped to make work faster and safer. There are 3 main pieces. Two that’s generally of the same length and the other is the longest that makes the horizontal piece of the ‘figure 4’ and is also the trigger for the whole trap. Below are pictures of the trap’s assembly.

Note the batteries at the end of the horizontal piece. Bait goes there

Note that there is a notch made, somewhat in the middle of the horizontal piece. I initially missed this part and scratched my head how to get the whole trap to work. See below for a clearer picture of the ‘notch’. The notch is not too deep though. It helps to make the ‘trap’ extra sensitive.

Don’t forget this notch!

Well, a little bit of fine tuning here and there and I finally manage to test out my deadfall trap. Below is a picture of the set-up.

So…what’s next? I would really like to try this trap out in the jungle. Curios to what kind of jungle animal I may catch. In the videos on Youtube, most uses a big heavy rock with a flat underside (to flatten the catch). Not so easy to find such rocks in the jungle (probably a good chance in Tioman’s jungle), so perhaps improvisation is the modus operandi. I am thinking of building a simple cage of bamboo or wood which is heavy enough to keep the catch inside.

Yup…can’t wait to go back into the jungle to try out my figure ‘4’ deadfall trap. But of course, the next time around, I will be using natural wood from the jungle and not wood from the hardware shop. Can’t wait….

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tree Top Walk of Hutan Lipur Sungai Sedim, Perak.

I enjoyed my visit to The Tree Top Walk of Hutan Lipur Sungai Sedim, Perak very much. Though getting there wasn’t easy, I would say that they trip was all worth it. The canopy walk was much more than what I have expected.

Entrance fee is RM10 for an adult and RM6 for children for a 925meters worth of nerve wrecking height among the trees. The structure used for the Tree Top Walk (TTW) in Sg Sedim is built onto the ground. Unlike the canopy walk in Taman Negara that is built between natural trees, this TTW gives me more confidence in terms of stability and built.

The Tree Top Walk in Sedim is built on artificial bases

The designs and built gives me the confidence

Yup…yup…I am afraid of heights. I admit it. The TTW in Sg Sedim is built using really huge metals, with railings and bolts at sizes I have never seen before. I honestly doubt if this is a local ‘Malaysian’ design.

One gotta have the stomach to take in the heights and occasional 'swaying'

A word of advice…go to the toilet and do what you need to do before you get onto the walkway. It’s almost a one kilometer walk and the height may actually make you freeze, so having to answer nature’s call while on the walkway isn’t a situation you want to be in!

There are signs such as these that helps to identify plants

Its a loooong way down

Height is one thing and although the structures are built on a solid foundation, I still felt the walkway sway at certain span of the bridge. This happens whenever there is a strong wind and also when there are other walking heavily along. Its kind of scary at the beginning but you’ll get used to it after a while. Along the walkway, there are many labels and signs indicating how high you are from the ground. It seriously is very high, some places more than 10 meters.

I am glad I made the road trip to The Tree Top Walk at Sungai Sedim that weekend. I had a great time with my wife, my mom and aunt. Though there are many other things to do there but I think only the Tree Top Walk of Sungai Sedim is worth the while.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Things to do at Sungai Sedim, Kulim

There’s plenty of things to do at Sungai Sedim. The place itself is actually called Hutan Lipur Sungai Sedim, sort of like a recreational park. Like many other hutan lipur around the country, the Sungai Sedim area has been ‘developed’ with basic amenities for visitors. These include parking area (RM2 per entry) public toilets (RM0.30 per entry), camp grounds, hostels etc. All of course comes at a minimal charge.

Sungai Sedim is also a river rafting place

Sg Sedim itself is a popular place for white water paddling. Rafts or kayaks, paddlers can expect to enjoy up to 15km of rapids. Worth noting though that water level can be rather disappointing, especially during dry seasons.

Even underneath the bridge became a picnic spot

When I visited the place in November 2008, the place was packed with weekenders. There were people camping but mostly having family picnics. People came with their families with carloads of supplies of home cooked food, picnic mats, rubber tubes and even sound boxes. The place was alive with mostly locals enjoying their holidays by the river.

There’s also an accommodation facility here. Dormitory style. I stayed here for a night the last time I visited the place. But back then, nothing much was available. We even had to head out to get feed. Now, the place is more organized, with catering and even some team building facilities

Hostel looks well maintained

Scaffolding and metals sheets for an abseil wall...I'll pass

This place is packed with locals. I felt a bit uneasy to be honest walking around this place. There were eyes following us cause we were obviously not locals. Sigh…

Anyway, I wasn’t there for a picnic but for the Tree Top Walk. And that my friends, is a really interesting experience! (next entry)

Click here to find out how to get to Kuala Sedim.