Monday, February 28, 2011

Caught Napping

Have you ever seen a monkey taking an afternoon snooze?

At 4:00pm, this group of Dusky Leaf Monkeys (Trachypithecus obscurus) were relaxing at the front porch of a resort along Jalan Teluk Datai  and then two of them started to fall asleep...

Their zzz postures...

I didn't know that monkeys take afternoon naps like I do. They were so adorable!

... Read full post ...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Who Is This Peek-A-Boo Reptile?

This beautiful little reptile was trying to evade our cameras while slithering in between the leaf litters and twigs.

What is this species?

I don't know - yet. After having checked my new book, "A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia" by Indraneil Das, I can closely match this species to be a keelback snake belonging to the subfamily of Natricidae, however, I am not sure of its genus. Or this snake may be a different family. This field guide is colourfully illustrated and was published in 2010.

Location found: Lubuk Semilang Forest, Langkawi
Forest type: :Lowland Rainforest (less than 200m asl)
Length (TL): Between 70-80cm (estimation only)

Can anyone please help to confirm this species of snake? Thank you.... pppsssssttt...

Dorsal view

Lateral view

... Read full post ...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Sabah On a Shoestring 3: Sepilok-Sandakan-Sepilok Part 1

The melodic song sung by an unknown bird woke me up at 6:30am at Paganakan Dii longhouse. This birdie flew in very close to the balcony and it was doing the same for a few times. Because I was curious to know what sort of bird that was singing, I forced myself out of the comfortable bunk bed, climbed down the bunk ladder gently, took out my binoculars and tip-toed out to the balcony. 

A flow of cool fresh air gushed through my nostrils and straight into my lungs as soon as I opened the door of the balcony. I tip-toed to the end of the balcony, I waited and I listened. I spotted some fast movements in the foliage of the ferns below and then it stopped. I sung that tune to call. I waited again. No sign of that birdie. Maybe my morning out-of-tune drove the birdie away.

While Aida was still asleep, I tip-toed out of the longhouse to catch some birds before our breakfast and our van pick up at 9am. With only a 10-minute drive from Paganakan Dii, will be the place where the Man of the Forest gathers. 
The morning look at the dining area of Paganakan Dii

A complimentary English breakfast prepared us for the day of another exploration. I managed to spot a few birds before departing Paganakan Dii: Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis), Yellow Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier), Red-Eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus), Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus), Rufous-Tailed Tailorbird (Orthotomus sericeus), Brown Barbet (Calorhamphus fuliginosus).

I felt a bit nauseous as soon as I saw buses and buses loaded with tourists got off at the entrance to greet the Man of the Forest. Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center, read more here. Oh well... I was one of them - the tourists too. After paying the entrance fee and a charge for my camera, we entered the gate on a beautifully maintained boardwalk which cut into the dense of the jungle.

"Crack..." .. all of us turned towards the direction of the crackling and rattling sound. The big movements of branches and trees swaying, our eyes opened in awe and like other tourists, I put my camera up, all ready to click. Here they came, the young ones and the huge ones. We welcomed them like the King of the Forest instead of what they were called as the Man of the Forest.

I love that move... a Perfect Split! Any Yogis-to-be would love to be able to do that
And they were all heading to one spot. Breakfast hall.
Orangutan canteen
It was queer to have more than a hundred of homosapiens watching a handful of these creatures feasting in the center of platform. While the homosapiens' drooled with the sight of orangutans, these creatures' mouths drooled with the sight of delicious tropical fruits. Even though I disagree with the practice of feeding the wild animals, for this case, it is exceptional. These orangutans were once dependent on the center for healthcare, food and training before becoming independent. These were the ones that came back to the center just to feed. There were others that had found their place and did not return to the center.
I observed this young fella feeding on the bananas and I thought it was greedy to have some  bananas in its feet too.

This young fella climbed up the cable and sat on a branch away from the group. It sat on its own feasting on the bananas. 
The right feet was grasping on a branch while the other was grasping the bananas. Not long after, I understood the reason why this young fella acted a bit greedy.
A group of these cheeky Pig-tailed macaques "attacked" the canteen... scavengers!

We spend only less than one hour on the entire boardwalk before they closed the gate. We felt a bit disappointed that they had to close the gate and we were not able to do any birdwatching. And so, we spend some time at the community hall to watch the video on the rehab center. Please be aware that this rehab center is only open during the feeding time.

Because Paganakan Dii only accepts cash for any payment and both of us were running out of cash, we needed to head to Sandakan for the ATM. It was convenient for us as there was a bus stop for a public bus which comes right into the orangutan rehab center to Sandakan. However, it it best to check the time of the public bus. We waited for almost half an hour for the bus to arrive and we managed to catch a male Brown-Throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) frolicking around.

A slow one hour bus ride took us on a 25 kilometers journey to Sandakan where we walked around the town to run our errands. The town itself was a bit disappointing, crowded and I didn't feel safe with its surrounding. 

Another slow ride back to Sepilok and we arrived at the roundabout turnoff to the rehab center at 3:15pm. There is a center next to the orangutan rehab and it was one of our itinerary for the day. At 3:15pm, it seemed a bit of a rush to explore. And because this day would be our last night, we decided to go ahead. A white Kancil car was waiting by the road and the driver was looking at us, as if he was inviting. We walked over to his car and after a short negotiation, we paid him to take us there to save us the walking time. Rainforest Discovery Center (RDC), here we come.

On my next Sabah post... a gliding wonder that almost smacked on our heads!

... Read full post ...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Sabah On a Shoestring 3: Aida's Dream Hotel

There is always a purpose in a journey. Aida has been drooling in wanting to stay and experience this accommodation. I haven't got any idea and all I heard was Aida's rambling on how good and impressive this place was.

Since I was on holiday and there were two attraction spots nearby that I wanted to check out; so I told myself to go with the flow! 

After a night of mozzies camping along the Kinabatangan River, it was a nice treat to stay in something cozy. Another reason I agreed to go with Aida was because the price met my limited budget.

Welcome to Paganakan Dii...

A journey by a local bus from Kampung Mengaris to Sepilok took us almost two hours. We were sitting close to the rear of the bus and then I heard the bus conductor shouted, "Sepilok!!" Sepilok!!". I was disorientated and then I heard another call "Sepilok!!". We fell asleep. I quickly woke Aida up and we grabbed our backpacks to get off the bus. I felt a bit embarrassed because the locals sitting nearby were staring at us.

We were picked up by a van after a call made by Aida and the van was new, comfy with air-condition. About 5 minutes of the van ride, we were surrounded by oil palms and mini recreation facilities were tucked in between the palms. The van ascended a slope that took us on a higher elevation and I saw the lowland rainforest below amidst the oil palms plantation. Midi, the quiet and stocky van driver ushered us to the reception area. A friendly, soft spoken gentleman, Yus; greeted us and showed us to the "longhouse". 

Aida and I initially had some problems pronouncing that "Pa-ga-na-kan" word. Sabah has the largest indigenous community known as the Kadazan-Dusun and Paganakan Dii literally means "The Family". 
I saw Aida's eyes were full of enthusiasm admiring every corner of the architecture of Paganakan Dii. The "longhouse" is actually a dormitory style with bunk beds and we were lucky that only a few were taken. So, we were able to have choices of which bunk beds for us to lay our tired bodies on. As I opened the doors behind our bunk beds, I was relaxed to be able to view the secondary rainforest on the balcony.  

While stepping on the balcony, I was amazed with the additional features they added on. Safety net! Wow! A bonus point for this longhouse.

The picture was not well taken to show the safety net clearly. Well, I am sure you can find it.

Wherever I go and stay whether it is in a resort, hotel or a backpacker's, the utmost important room that I must be satisfied with will be the TOILET and SHOWER ROOM! I did an assessment by randomly checking the toilets and the individual shower rooms. Toilets... clean, no rubbish strewn around and there were bum papers available. Sniff, sniff... hmm... OK. Shower rooms, clean, not much hairs gathered on the floor, there is a water heater for each room (even though I don't use water heater) and sniff, sniff, sniff... no smell. Great... all checked and ISO-WCHINNER approved!

It was an evening for us to just relax and do nothing. We took our own sweet time to unpack, shower and get ready for dinner. Aida went crazy with my camera and started to take pictures in almost every corner she saw on our way to the dining hall.
Aida went crazy and did her bouldering
Woks as bathroom sinks
A spot to relax and unwind

This is a perfect place for us as there are breakfast, lunch and dinner available, otherwise it will be a hassle for us because we totally relied on the public transportation. Our beds per night came with a complimentary breakfast and the cost for a bed per night was RM30 (Thirty Ringgit). 

The warm lightings in the dining hall and the quietness of the night with only a handful of guests were just what I wished for; a perfect dinner ambiance. I love those classic, simple wooden tables, stools and chairs that made the entire place matched with the feel of the jungle. There were tables under the roof and outdoor dining area. We went for the outdoor dining area where we sat under the stars. Also, we were attracted to the tables which were reused wooden cable reels.  
Dining hall and reception (below), lounge (above) and outdoor dining area at night
An outdoor dining table was a wooden cable reel. Cool, heh? This image was taken from
Yus, our friendly receptionist wore a different hat now by being our server, brought us the menu and took our orders. In a hospitality industry, every staff must wear more than one hat. For the staff here, they wore more hats than any other staff in a luxury resort and this made them multi-skilled. I know because I was once there; been there done that!   

Their reasonable priced menu came with a selection of Asian and Western cuisine. Yus told us that during the peak season, this place will be full and we must be patient with the chef and the servers. We were lucky that we came at the right time. After filling up our tummy, we went up to the lounge to discuss our plan for the next day. 
Another section of dining area below

Aida spoke about how she was impressed with the owner on his designs and the construction of this place. Anton Ngui, the owner, constructed some sections of this place by recycling wood taken from an an old school in the 60s and an old barn. Another bonus point to Paganakan Dii for their commitment to conserve the natural resources as much as they can. Another reason to why Aida was impressed with this concept because she has her dream to build a tree house using recyclable items like plastic bottles. She was close to achieving that a couple years ago but... Perhaps, Aida will realise her dream in Sabah and not in Langkawi. I wish Aida a better luck the next time and working with the right people with a genuine heart for conservation. 

We walked around Paganakan Dii before mid night to see if we have any luck on owls. No owls, no night birds and it was "good night" for us. Catch me again on my next blog post on our morning in Paganakan Dii and to the exact spot where the Man of the Forest gathers...

1. Amidst The Foliage of Sepilok (Read more on the stories of Paganakan Dii Tropical Retreat)
2. Paganakan Dii Tropical Retreat (Official website)
2. More great comments from a blogger... (I didn't take any picture of toilet and bathroom, so please click here for more pictures of the interiors)

... Read full post ...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mangroves Flora of Langkawi

The long awaited guide book on mangroves flora of Langkawi is now made available to the public.  

When Dr Wan Juliana handed me a copy of her first newly published book, I was ecstatic.

Starting from the definition of mangroves to the botanical name of plants species in Langkawi's mangroves. A total of 76 species in 58 genera and 35 families were recorded by Dr Wan Juliana and her team, which made Langkawi the highest mangroves diversity of plants in Malaysia. 

All plants were arranged according to the scientific names and the best of all, this book was written in English. Local or Malay names are also included for each species of plant.

Congratulations to Dr Wan Juliana and her team. And of course, many thanks for this wonderful New Year gift, Dr Wan. 

With the help of this book, I hope I will not bug Dr Wan so much now in asking for the mangroves flora identification. What I really love to see in future would be a complete mangroves flora and fauna of Langkawi.

... Read full post ...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...