06: Malaysia > Perak > Another Rafflesia Quest

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20 Jan 2007

We are going Rafflesia hunting again today after getting confirmation from Prof Kamarudin “Pak Din” Mat Salleh last evening. Rafflesia blooms for only 3 days, and today is supposed to be the 2nd day, the best day to view this magnificent creation of God.

The site is deep in the Sungkai Forest Reserve, some 11km east of the central Perak township of Sungkai, located about 125km north of KL. And this is our trusty transport for the jungle adventure.
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Aina, our youngest kid, is my travel companion for today. Soon we are on our way, and the incessant rain since the last few days does not bode well.

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For one thing, sitting at the back of the 4×4, we are soaked 😐 . For the record, I’ve once before ridden at the back of such ute, in downtown Bangkok through lunchtime traffic!
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And the bumpy bad road is not making things any better, especially for a 40-something set of bones and joints.
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Meanwhile, a row of wild bananas on the side makes a wonderful sight.
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After fifteen minutes on the awful dirt track (seemed like an hour when you’re being shaken and tossed around), we arrive at the head of the trail to the Rafflesia site proper.
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The forest surely looks refreshing and inviting …
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… and inside it, the greenery is indeed invigorating …
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… but the rain is a real damper. Umbrella in the forest?
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Not to mention roaming leeches, activated by the wet environment.p11907481.JPG

Twenty minutes after entering the trail, and fighting with the leeches, here it is … well, the Rafflesia bloom-wannabe. This is R. cantleyi, the same species in my previous tale.sungkai-20-01-2007-11-03-29.JPG

Nobody really knows why, but there has been an aborted blooming of the flower, possibly upset by excessive water running down the slope due to continuous rain. What a shame, but it does happen. These are fickle things. 🙁
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No real excitement over the partial-bloom, but I almost slide down the slope! Dang, the soil is so slippery.
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Nearby, there’s still hope for future blooms in the coming months. A parasitic Rafflesia bud grows on a tree trunk.
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And another one here.
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A few more here.
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In fact, the skinny tree on the left is laden with the parasites. When they bloom, it’s gonna be spectacular, like spotlights looking down.
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Two vines copulating.
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But it’s soon time to hit the trail back to the car.
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Along the way, a spider patiently awaits a clueless prey. Seems like a poisonous species.
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Finally back at the car, and Aina is ready to mount.
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Beyond, the narrow dirt track winds itself further into the unknown forest. We duly make a 5-point turn to return to Sungkai.
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The rain gets heavier, and Aina is enjoying every second of it. 🙂
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We suddenly have company, another 4×4 out of nowhere.
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Before reaching Sungkai we spotted Bambi and family (aka sambar deer) at a wildlife centre …
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… together with a couple of beautiful birds – the Rhinoceros Hornbill
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… and the Crested Fireback. All kept in captivity for breeding purposes..
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Leaving Sungkai, we enter the North-South Expressway to return to KL, and do lunch at Ulu Bernam R&R. It has been an interesting outing, though the lack of a full Rafflesia bloom was a tad disappointing. I’m sure there’ll be other opportunities.
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Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Pak Din and missus, and Mat Ros & Jazreen, for making this occasion that much more enjoyable. 8)

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