mandag 9. mars 2009

The Rafflesia-expedition

So now I have seen the biggest flower in the world, the Rafflesia. It grows in the rain forests in both West and East Malaysia. Before I came I had heard that it smells like h.... but I learnt that the ones growing in West Malaysia doesn't smell at all. So my idea to all males – give your woman a Rafflesia and she will never ask for flowers again – just counts for the ones growing in the Borneo part of Malaysia.

I have not just seen the Rafflesia. For the second time in my life I have been jungle trekking. And for the first time in tropical climate. And I can thank my cs friends, Natasha and Shafril, for this. I arrived at Sha Alam outside KL half an hour too late for our appointment after half an our on the most crowded train I have ever travelled with (I have travelled with more crowded buses though – many years ago). Again I experienced this great Malaysian hospitality, and that counts for both Natasha and Shafril and their parents on both sides which we visited on our way to their house.

Early next morning we were sitting in their car on the way to the Goteng resort and later Penang. After some hours drive on the highway and a little more time on narrow roads which reminds of some of the roads in the rural areas at home, we came to the resort. Then onto the back of a pick-up car and another half hour into the rain forest before we came to the little village where we started the trekking. We got a little briefing by one of the “urangs” (local people), who told us we did not have to go so far to see it today. The Rafflesia takes 9 months to bloom and then it blooms for just a week or so. So sometimes you will have to walk for hours to find one blooming. It is in fact a parasite growing on a certain kind of trees. 

In the briefing we were also told that we might meet different kind of snakes on our way, both poisonous snakes and constrictors (different types of pythons), and leeches. Then we marched along with our hiking boots and the two young guides in their crocs... Well we did not see any snakes, but sure a lot of leeches. I believe those creepy bastards are good at cooperating, because when one of them distracted me by posing in front of my camera, some others attacked me. The result you can see on one of the pics.

As you also can see I have a pic of the Rafflesia too, so our expedition succeeded. And after that walk in the heat and humidity we had a good lunch, with a really tasty fruit called nangka or jackfruit for dessert. And oooh... that shower afterwards I really needed....

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