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Malaysia Travel Guide

Bizarre wildlife found in the jungles of exotic Borneo

Ask any Malaysian what is the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Sarawak and we bet most of them would give you the same answer: Magnificent mountains, wildlife, age-old rainforests, beautiful beaches and colossal caves.

This natural landscape allows for extraordinary biodiversity to exist while nurturing some of the world’s best-kept secrets… Or should we say, creatures? Most people have heard stories about the ubiquitous Hornbill that’s emblemetic to Sarawak but what’s out there that maybe you haven’t heard about?

Read on and learn about some of the most exotic and adorable, (OK sometimes!) animals that call our beautiful jungle home. We’ll even tell you where you can find them so you can play your own fun game of “Where’s Waldo?” Malaysian Wildlife edition! Believe us, there is #MoreSarawak than you know!

Horsfield’s Tarsier

These adorable little critters look eerily similar to a particular character from Star Wars. If you’re guessing Yoda, you’re right! Except that they don’t talk in riddles or read your minds – their superpower lies in their excellent leaping and climbing skills.

They are nocturnal, but thankfully, their big eyes to help them manoeuvre in the dark. Interesting fact, the size of one eyeball of the Horsfield’s Tarsier is the same as their brain. This makes them the largest-eyed mammal in the world relative to their body size!

Tarsier clinging to a branch

Photo by Christine Wehrmeier on Unsplash

Don’t be fooled by their cute demeanour, though! They are the only living carnivorous primate species. They feed on insects and small invertebrates, using their sharp sense of hearing and their nifty hands to detect and ensnare their prey.

Where to find them: Mulu National Park

Sun Bear

Even though they’re small, they can be very aggressive so if you see one, don’t mistake it for a cuddly teddy bear! The sun bear is arboreal, so you’ll need to keep your eyes on the trees if you want to see one and you can only see them in our rain forests in Southeast Asia.

They are essential to our ecosystem because they help disperse seeds while also keeping pesky termites in check, which means there is less destruction of our tropical trees which in turn means our atmosphere is clean enough for us to live healthily.

When they do come down from the trees, they also dig for invertebrates in the soil, enhancing the forest’s nutrient cycle through the mixing of rich and poor soil. Unfortunately, their global population has declined 30% over the last few years, making them the second rarest bear species next to the Giant Panda.

wildlife in Borneo - sun bear

iStock: wrangel

Their tongues are up to 25 cm long and help them to satiate their voracious appetite for honey. Because of this, they are also sometimes known as “honey bears”. You can tell the Sun Bear apart from other bear species from the horseshoe marks on their chest. Fun fact: No two markings are the same!

Where to see them: Matang Wildlife Centre

Microhyla Nepenthicola

If that’s too much of a mouthful, you can call it the “Matang narrow-mouthed frog”. That’s only the easy part. Spotting one of these rare creatures in the wild is, well rare! This newly discovered species is the second smallest frog in the world, around the size of a pea, and they make their homes around pitcher plants. They can only be found near Mount Serapi which is located in Kubah National Park.

wildlife in Borneo - second smallest frog in the world

Source: Reuters

They were discovered after scientists tracked the unique and powerful croaks of the males. Talk about a little body with a big voice! Because they were only discovered recently, not much is known about them. However, if you are lucky enough to spot one, make sure you are wearing ear plugs!

Where to find them: Kubah National Park

Sambar Deer

Did you know that the heaviest recorded Sambar Deer weighed an eye watering 550kg?! That’s slightly more than half a ton! So if you do go looking for the Sambar deer, make sure you are wearing running shoes!

sambar deer at matang wildlife center

Source: Matang Widlife Center

Despite their relatively large stature, these animals are pretty elusive; They are only really active at dusk and at night. When disturbed, their first instinct is to freeze before responding to predators with loud barks and foot stomping.

If that isn’t enough to frighten anyone or anything, their mane will rise in a confrontational manner! Imagine this half-a-ton of muscle and jungle survivor towering over you! Like I said, make sure you are wearing running shoes.

Where to find them: Mulu National Park and Matang Wildlife Center

Lesser Mouse Deer

Don’t be fooled by its name! Even though they look like a combination of a mouse and a cute deer, the mouse deer is neither a mouse nor a deer! Confusing I know but you can’t blame us for its name!

These shy, mysterious little critters are less than 50cm long and can be found on forest floors feeding on leaves, shoots, fruits and sometimes even fungi. With round bodies and spindly legs, they look almost like plush toys!

lesser mouse deer

Source: critterfacts.com

But while they may look like toys, peek inside a Mouse Deer’s mouth (we don’t recommend you do so), and you’ll find long fangs that give Dracula a run for his money!

Despite being land mammals, they can also hold their breath for up to four minutes and to escape prey, they’ll often leap into water and actually scurry across river beds to avoid getting caught! Yes, they can even hold their breath for 4 minutes underwater!

Due to their small size, they are commonly preyed upon by other animals, so they have to live quiet and secluded lives. However, a male will angrily beat his hooves when agitated or to ward off predators and warn other Mouse Deer of danger.

Where to find them: Lambir Hills National Park

Hornbill

There are so many things to be said about our state mascot. Sporting majestic beaks, Hornbills have impressive neck muscles (to support the weight of their regal bills) and are incredibly loyal to their families. They mate for life and will bond to defend each other against predators!

These beautiful feathered creatures also have their own ‘language’ – They speak to each other in a sort of morse code! It’s been said that the noise resembles that of a steam engine. This form of ‘communication’ is especially important and it’s how a male Hornbill sends messages to his mate through the barricade she makes during her nesting period.

rhinocerous hornbill

Source: Casper1774 Studio/Shutterstock

Hornbills have a great significance in Dayak culture. For them, Hornbills signify the spirit of God, and they have to be treated with respect. It is said that if a Hornbill is sighted flying over their residences, good luck will be granted to the whole community!

Altogether there are 54 species of Hornbills in the world, 8 of which are found in Sarawak! No wonder Sarawak is known as the “Land of the Hornbills”.

Where to find them: Piasau Nature Reserve, Mulu National Park, Tanjung Datu National Park and Batang Ai National Park

Slow Loris

Tiny, cute, big eyes… But not cuddly! Although they look adorable, these nocturnal creatures are one of the few venomous mammals in the world.

slow lorris clinging to tree branch

Source: wordatlas.com

Surf the internet long enough and you might recall watching a video of a Slow Loris getting tickled. What many people don’t know is that the pose of the Slow Loris of its arms raised is a defensive pose and not one of enjoyment.

Unfortunately, not many people knew this, and when this video gained traction, many people wanted to own Slow Lorises as pets because of how ‘cute’ it looked.

As slow lorises are venomous with a potentially deadly bite, their sharp pointed teeth are often clipped with nail cutters without anaesthesia for the pet trade.

This makes the pet trade one of the greatest threats to the survival of this species, which places them as vulnerable on the IUCN red list. Here in Sarawak we’re protecting all our Slow Loris as best we can. Have fun looking for them but don’t try and tickle them!

Where to find them: Bako National Park

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Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

Siniawan Old Town Night Market

Siniawan Old Town Night Market

Siniawan Night Market takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Located 21 km away from Kuching city, this small town is a beautiful place to spend the evening eating and being merry. The street is lined with old wooden townhouses, and Chinese lanterns light the street below.

Over the recent years, the old town of Siniawan has begun to really invest in their weekend night markets, promoting their traditions and cultures while breathing new life into the local economy through tourism.

Pitcher plant rice, locally called Lemang Periuk Kera is one of the ‘trademark’ foods you can find here along with other traditional Chinese, Malay and Dayak food. The Lui Teh and Ngo Hiang are also recommended.

Find out more about events and happenings on their website!

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Tourism Malaysia

Malaysia’s best kept secret: Gunung Mulu National Park

By Vishnu Krishnan
Gunung Mulu National Park can only be described as pure magic. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has a plethora of animal and plant species that dwell within the confines of its lush primary forests, dozens of caves and Mulu Mountain.

One of the most unique features of this national park is its vast cave system that is centuries old.

The Wind Cave system, as its name suggests, is famous for the strong winds that gust through its chamber. The crowning glory of Wind Cave is the cathedral-like cluster of stalagmite and stalactite formations in the King’s Chamber.

A chamber for Kings (Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/visitmalaysia/4677581017)

A chamber for Kings
(Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/visitmalaysia/4677581017)

Take a 400 metre suspended plank walk to Clearwater Cave. Here you’ll get to see the mighty Clearwater River gushing through the cavernous expanse that leads to a clear pool at the end. The locals believe that swimming in the pool will rejuvenate your youth.

Clear Water is an emerald dream! (Source: http://mulupark.com/tours-activities/advance-level-adventure-caving/clearwater-connection/)

Clear Water is an emerald dream!
(Source: http://mulupark.com/tours-activities/advance-level-adventure-caving/clearwater-connection/)

To get to the next cave system, you need to cross the world’s longest suspension bridge between trees. The Canopy Skywalk stands 30 metres high and is 480 metres long.

On the other end, you’ll come across an ancient Penan tribal burial ground. Beyond that is one of the greatest caves in the world, Deer Cave. The cave dimensions are hard to fathom until you step into the 122 metre tall gaping hole.

In the middle of the cave, is perhaps the most gorgeous sight in the world, the Garden of Eden. Imagine a pristine patch of forest illuminated by the evening sun, shining brilliantly like emeralds. It’s a slice of paradise!

You don’t get much closer to heaven then at the Garden of Eden (Source: http://www.wondermondo.com/Countries/As/Malaysia/Sarawak/GardenOfEden.htm)

You don’t get much closer to heaven then at the Garden of Eden
(Source: http://www.wondermondo.com/Countries/As/Malaysia/Sarawak/GardenOfEden.htm)

Once you exit Deer Cave, don’t rush off yet. Stay until 6pm to see billions of bats streaming out of the cave to feed. If you have a pair of binoculars, watch the cunning owl hawks swoop on their prey.

Sarawak Chamber is one of the largest known cave chambers in the world by area and the second largest by volume after the Miao Room in China. Its surface area is a whopping 162,700 square metres with a volume of 9,579,205 cubic metres.

Experts say it is so large you can fly a jumbo jet through the middle of the cave without touching the walls. Crazy! The trail to the chamber takes about three hours before reaching the mouth of Gua Nasib Bagus or Good Luck Cave.

The Sarawak Chamber is basically the gaping mouth of the world! (Source: http://afwan.blogspot.my/2006/03/sarawak-chamber.html)

The Sarawak Chamber is basically the gaping mouth of the world!
(Source: http://afwan.blogspot.my/2006/03/sarawak-chamber.html)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The primary forests of Mulu are among the best places in Malaysia to observe local flora and fauna. The primordial serenity of these jungles are so tranquil and vast. If you are lucky, you can spot bearded pigs, hornbills, clouded leopards, vipers, tarsiers and even tigers.

The trees are extremely tall and beautifully buttressed. If you trek deep enough, you’ll be able to see pitcher plants and many other exotic species.

Finally, for the more adventurous trekkers, Gunung Mulu Mountain is a tough but exciting climb. The rock pinnacles of Gunung Api and Benarat are unique jagged rock formations that tower above the landscape and add to the mystical feel of the park.

The Pinnacles of Mulu Mountain (Source: https://www.experiencetravelgroup.com/borneo/exp/gunung-mulu-national-park)

The Pinnacles of Mulu Mountain
(Source: https://www.experiencetravelgroup.com/borneo/exp/gunung-mulu-national-park)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on Gunung Mulu National Park, including where to stay and how to get there, head to their website: http://mulupark.com/

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Tourism Malaysia

Exploring Taman Negara

Taman Negara is the crown jewel of tropical rainforests in Asia. Reputed as the oldest of its kind in the world (130 million years old), it has evolved amid natural disasters and been generally unmolested by human civilisation — creating an epicentre for the most diverse distribution of flora and fauna on the planet. There’s 150 mammal species ranging from tiny rodents to magnificent Indian elephants, 479 species of birds and a host of native animals unique to Malaysia.

 

Established in 1939 under British rule, Taman Negara is a whopping 4343 square kilometres spanning three states. The expanse is covered in a criss-cross of meandering rivers, rapids and waterfalls; a mountain range and lush valleys with 30 to 40 metre canopies that obscure the sunlight.

Banyan buttressed roots in Taman Negara

Banyan buttressed roots in Taman Negara

 

As the forest reserve is so big — it would literally take years or even decades to fully explore with scientists discovering new species all the time — we have condensed the itinerary to focus on the

must-see sights and must-do activities for first time visitors.

 Jungle Trekking

You can’t go to Taman Negara and not trek into the depths of the jungle. During the day you can see rare jungle flowers and take amazing photos at the base of 40m tall trees with gargantuan banyan buttressed roots. Also keep your eyes peeled for sightings of the gorgeous pitcher plant species. There are various trails to choose from, all for different levels of ability. For the more adventurous, check out the 53km long distance trail from Kuala Tahan to Gunung Tahan. It takes seven days and six nights and is one of the most challenging trails and seldom explored in the park.

Night Jungle Walk

The fun begins when the sun sets. Most fauna here are generally crepuscular (active between dusk and dawn) or nocturnal so the best time to catch a glimpse of native wild animals is after dark. Some trails run along rivers that are known to be feeding grounds for seladang (Malaysian gaurs), deers, monkeys and wild boars. If you are really lucky, you may spot a well-camouflaged black panther stalking in the trees or a herd of elephants dipping their trunks into the stream. If you fail to spot any wildlife, head to the salt licks and the animal observatories at Tahan Hide or Kumbang Hide, where there is ample deers, wild boars and Malayan tapir to see.

The Canopy Walkway at Taman Negara is a must!

The Canopy Walkway at Taman Negara is a must!

Canopy Walkway

Taman Negara’s canopy walkway is arguably one of the longest in the world at 530m and is 40m above the ground. The dense canopy is home to a myriad of bird species and arboreal animals that have formed complex ecosystems at such altitude. It is also common to see certain trees towering above the walkway and these giants are estimated to by thousands of years old. Interestingly, the walkway was initially built for research purposes, but is now the most common attraction at the park and can be reached by boat or trekking, just 1.2km from Park HQ.

 

Orang Asli Villages

Although Taman Negara is relatively pristine and untouched, the tribal people have coexisted here for thousands of years. The Batek and Semokberi aborigines have beautiful rustic settlements where they use blowpipes and spears to hunt game. They are very approachable and friendly people but are extremely superstitious as well so visitors are advised to respect their traditions and cultures. If you want to take a photo of them, make sure you ask for permission first.

Batek people have been living in Taman Negara for centuries — nationalgeographic.com

Batek people have been living in Taman Negara for centuries — nationalgeographic.com

Adventure Exploration

If you are an adrenaline junkie, jump on a wooden boat that will rip through the seven river rapids of Sungai Tembeling. The rapids are highly rated and you will definitely be drenched by the end of the journey. Alternatively, you can cruise upstream to Late Berkoh, one of the most photographed areas of Taman Negara. There’s also finishing adventures for the serious angler, with popular spots including Kuala Perkai, Rincing, Rawa and Lata Said. The best fishing months are during drier months in February to September of the year.

A journey to Late Berkoh will be one to remember — www.tamannegara.asia

A journey to Late Berkoh will be one to remember — www.tamannegara.asia

Gunung Tahan

Gunung Tahan is the tallest peak in Peninsula Malaysia at 2,187m and takes four days to reach the top with camping needed each night. Depending on your fitness levels, you can traverse the old trail which usually take six to seven days of trekking through valleys.hilly areas and rivers and is 32km longer. You will need to register and pay a small fee for access and be sure to have water proof flash lights with back up batteries as well as a custom built first aid kit. To learn more about Gunung Tahan hiking, click here: http://www.tamannegara.asia/packages/other-packages/gunung-tahan-expedition/

For more information about your ultimate Taman Negara experience go to: http://www.tamannegara.asia/

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

Soaking in healthy prohibited springs during Mount Kinabalu, Sabah

Soaking in healthy prohibited springs during Mount Kinabalu, Sabah

Located during a feet of Mount Kinabalu, Poring Hot Springs is an alfresco sulphur open with an altitude of about 1600 feet. It is famous for a efficacy in treating skin diseases. The sulphur spas are perfect to modernise you, generally for relieving your bruise muscles after a prolonged stand adult a peak.

Mount Kinabalu is a top rise in Southeast Asia and a top rise between a Himalayas and Papua New Guinea. The name ‘Kinabalu’ came from a Kadazan word ‘Aki Nabalu’. The Kadazan are a biggest racial organisation in Sabah. ‘Aki’ refers to ancestors while ‘Nabalu’ means mountain. The Kadazan people trust that spirits from their ancestors live in this mountain.

On a towering is a Kinabalu National Park, one of a world’s largest forest areas. The park itself is bigger than Hong Kong and Kowloon altogether and has some-more than 5 thousand kinds of plants (not including mosses) such as orchids, rhododendrons, pitcher plants, oak, and a world’s largest flower Rafflesia. This flower can grow adult to one scale in hole and weight 10 kilograms. There are also some-more than 100 class of mammals, reptiles and 300 class of birds here; numbers that accounting for half of their populations in Borneo. Because of a unenlightened forests, abounding and profitable healthy ecosystems, it was listed as a National Park and Reserved in 1964 as an critical biological charge and investigate center. In 2000 it was strictly listed as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.

Although many people around a universe came to plea themselves by climbing a peak, about 80 percent of visitors come usually to revisit a Kinabalu Park and surrounding area. There are several inlet walking trails and a canopy walk, waterfalls, a botanical garden, orchid center, entomology museum, dining comforts and also an outside prohibited spring. So after a rise climb, revisit a prohibited open to chill and relax – that’s what we did.

To strech a prohibited spring, we take a canopy walk. Pic: Virginia Tam.

To strech a prohibited spring, we take a canopy walk. Pic: Virginia Tam.

After a 3 hours expostulate from Kota Kinabalu city to Kinabalu Park, we arrived during a famous Poring prohibited open that produces geothermal exhilarated groundwater from a Earth’s crust. The open was found by Japanese soldiers during a Second World War and primarily a comforts were built usually for Japanese soldiers. Hot springs (onsen in Japanese) have prolonged been normal open showering places in Japan. As a volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsen sparse along a length and breadth. Today, they are mostly grown into spas and for tourism. It seems even during war, they couldn’t live though a prohibited springs.

Surrounded by succulent forests and lively hills, a open is a square of paradise. Once we go by a opening we pass stalls offered towering crystals and other souvenirs and there is even a Japanese bamboo timber though over this we will see a open and how healthy it is!

The opening pointer during Poring Hot Spring. Pic: Virginia Tam.

The opening pointer during Poring Hot Spring. Pic: Virginia Tam.

It is divided into 4 areas: a soak bath zone, feet shower pool, cold H2O pool, and private bedrooms behind a record cabin. The healthy open H2O flows from taps into bathtubs – usually one chairman is authorised per bathtub. The morning we went was still so there were a few dull tubs to select from. We got in to soak a sleepy feet there.

Water from these springs appears a small chalky and emits a clever smell of sulphur so be prepared for that. The H2O heat also varies from 29 Celsius to 60 degrees depending that open conduct we choose. Locals believed a sulphur is glorious for a skin and generally good for restorative acne. And a minerals in a H2O have certain healing effects on skin disease, women’s diseases, asthma, neuralgia, arteriosclerosis, rheumatism, muscles sores and aches.

One chairman one pool, how cold is that?! Pic: Virginia Tam.

One chairman one pool, how cold is that?! Pic: Virginia Tam.

What we found truly extraordinary was a views we could suffer here of a changing towering view with butterflies and birds drifting atop your head. There was also a poetic healthy smell from all a plants.

If we are bashful to bath in public, we can compensate a small some-more for a private room located in a cabin behind a prohibited spring. Each room can accommodate dual people. Remember to move your swimsuit as we are not authorised to get exposed in open in a Muslim nation and a towel, a change of garments and drinks.

To get there it is really good to licence a automobile or self drive. However if we are roving alone, we can take a train to Kundasang Ranau Merdeka during Field long-distance train hire in Kota Kinabalu city. Get off during a opening of a park. The train runs daily 07:30-17:30.

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