Monday, October 12, 2009

Sabah Orchid Tour Day 2 Part 2 - Oct 1 2009

Here's part 2 of Day Two.

Apparently, there is now a direct flight service from Kuching to Mulu! For return tickets direct from Kuching to Mulu and then from Mulu-Miri-Kuching, I paid a total of only RM343. That used to be how much it cost for a return flight from Miri to Mulu! A deal too good to pass up.

Part 2 of Day Two
Lunch at Gunung Emas
OL010293 OL010301
Lunch stop at Gunung Emas and enjoying the view out on the verandah.
Cool fresh air and breathtaking scenery.
So we left Kipandi at around lunch time. It had been a most enjoyable visit but there was more to come! Tony had arranged for Linus (the park manager) to serve as our guide up the mountain. First, we drove to a rest stop called Gunung Emas for lunch. Tony had recommended the deer meat dish here so we got that. Gary got some fried rice noodles and I believe Peter and the ladies got fried rice. Beautiful scenery from the back of the restaurant. We sat out on the verandah overlooking sweeping valleys. The air was cool and fresh and we were about 1600m above sea level. Lunch was served and the deer meat was pretty tasty, fried with shallots, leek and ginger and served with white rice. Up in the mountains, I noticed that drinks were never served with ice, even though it really wasn’t that cold. I like ice with my cold drinks to help dilute the sweetness.
OL010312 OL010314
Deer meat stir fried with leek, ginger and fried rice noodles (right).
Orchid paradise
Orchids are abundant in the mossy forest
DSCF7101 DSCF7122
Coelogyne radioferens on the left and Bulbophyllum catenarium
Once everyone was satisfied and full, we proceeded up the mountain to a small national park/forest reserve nestled somewhere in the middle of the jungle. Linus took us into the forest trails here and my jaw dropped at the amount of orchids and epiphytes on the trees. At first, I thought the park staff had gathered them from nearby jungles and planted them there, tying them to trees or planting them among the leaf litter on the ground but no, everything was natural! Coelogynes, Bulbophyllums, Dendrobiums and terrestrials, it was something I’d never imagine before. There were orchids on tree trunks, on the ground, on the tree tops, at the base of trees, left, right, front, back, center, above and below. It was orchid paradise! And being a protected park, the plants should have at least some level of protection from poachers. Sadly however, I was told that most if not all of the rarer species such as paphs in the area have long been stripped away.
We spent quite a long while just enjoying the beauty of the surroundings. Places like this really need to be preserved for all future generations to see and appreciate. Kids these days spend way too much time indoors and when they do get out of the house it’s into an indoor place again like the mall or the cinema. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but kids need to realize how important it is to have green and healthy forests, preserved and unspoiled because they serve as vital green lungs to our ever expanding cities. Not to mention the amazing diversity in such natural places.
Who knows, the cure to cancer may go down with the last tree to make way for monoculture crops such as oil palm. Besides being extremely unsightly, oil palm plantations also displace countless species of wild animals and wipe out beautiful and rare plant species such as orchids. I believe that even if we all stopped buying oil palm products the march will still continue because palm oil is traded on the market and production of bio-diesel is becoming more significant. However, someone mentioned that oil palm is going through a phase like what all previous monocultures went through before it, cocoa, rubber, pepper etc. One day there will be so much surplus that people will start replacing their oil palms with other crops.
Well back to the park. We also saw a yellow Spathoglottis species flowering along the roadside. Beautiful flower with a small lip, Gary did mention its name to me but I can’t remember it (not kimbaliana). Also saw a lot of Nepenthes tentaculata, the type found here have more squat pitchers compared to those I came across in Kuching. It was quite heartening to see how quickly the yellow Spathoglottis and the N. tentaculata colonized some disturbed forest patches. Baby plants were springing up everywhere.
DSCF7172 DSCF7166
Nepenthes tentaculata and Spathoglottis sp. have colonized some of the open disturbed areas.
We also learned about the medicinal uses of a common kerangas (heath forest) shrub with purple flowers. Name escapes me, sorry. Traditionally, the leaves are used to cure small wounds. Take the leaves and crush to a paste and smear on cuts and light wounds to stop the bleeding and dry it up. The unopened buds of the flowers can be chewed on and the juice swallowed (but not the pulp) to relieve minor stomaches or diarrhea.
We also had the pleasure of photographing a most beautiful mini bulbo, Bulbophyllum lohokii which we were told has a very limited distribution area. It was a very eye popping experience, finding the explosion of species diversity in the mossy forests of Mt. Alab. It was well worth the drive.
Giant Tiger Orchid
We left close to sunset, stopping by a village house by the main road to take photos of a huge clump of Grammatophyllum speciosum on the way back. This thing had multiple spikes and as we all walked over to try and take photos of it, the house and plant owner came out to greet the party. “Lima ringgit satu gambar,” he told me. He wanted RM5 per photo. Yes, that’s per photo, not per person. That must be how he got enough funds to build that handsome new house next to his old one. haha Anyway, Peter had the best deal of all, he had a video camera! At 30 frames per second, he must have had like RM45 000 worth of photos the five minutes he spent in there hahaha!
Some of us walked further down the road to look at some dragon fruit plants. Some were flowering and in fruit but no one was around. We made a quick retreat back to the car after discovering dogs had been actively fertilizing the area.
We arrived back in the city past sun down. I was actually quite concerned about leaving early and arriving before dark as I hate driving at night with all the lights from on-coming cars giving me a hard time. Thank goodness by the time night fell, we had driven into the well-lit city roads.
Once we parked the cars at the guest parking lot of the Hyatt, I headed back to 1 City Hotel just nearby to check into my new room. I had requested a room on a different floor and with two twin beds for the night. Why two twin beds? Well, one to put my stuff on, lay out clothes etc and the other to pass out on.
The new twin room I requested, free of cigarette smoke, good!
It was quite a tiring day but we had another event to attend to. Tony Lamb had told us that the Sabah Minister of Tourism, Dato Tengku Adlin had invited us out to dinner at a seafood restaurant at a place called Kampung Nelayan (Fishermen’s Village). So soon as we all showered and changed, we were on the road again but this time, driven in a 40 seater tour coach with a tour guide to accompany us.
DSC00078 DSC00080
Extremely tasty fresh shrimp and a cultural show at Kampung Nelayan
Dinner was very good. First course, fresh prawns (or shrimp if you will), still alive and swimming in their tanks scooped out and dunked into hot water and served immediately to us. Wooooweeee shrimp doesn’t taste better than this! Many more courses followed including a particularly tasty one was stuffed chicken meat. There were three kinds of stuffing that I tasted, I believe one was shrimp. Yum! There was also a dish called sayur Sabah or Sabah vege. It’s kinda like asparagus but with a tougher texture. Dessert was a very simple but very tasty serving of coconut pudding scooped out of fresh coconuts and served in bowls. We were told it’s easy to make, just take a fresh coconut, take the water and mix in some custard powder or agar powder, cook and then let sit till cool. Refrigerate before serving. Absolutely delicious. Good food, good company, great atmosphere and a wonderful host who was very concerned about our needs. Thank you very much! It was a perfect end to a very satisfying day.
Do check out my Flickr site for the complete Day Two photoset:

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...