Back to our Roots – A Walk in Nature I’d Never Taken… until Now

It was 13th June 2014 when I woke up early in the morning to embark on another nature adventure; this time, to Tioman Island. Not knowing exactly where it was on the map of Malaysia, I’ve signed up on this trip (organised by Berjaya Hotels and Resorts) to give support to a friend and fellow committee member, Pelf, who’d be giving a talk about turtle conservation the very next day.

Upon arriving at the island, after a delayed ferry ride, we were ushered to the resort – a very beautiful, scenic, and serene place with lots of trees and breeze. Welcomed with some juice and flower garlands, with accompanying kompang, we took some photos and got checked-in. A few hours later, we got to enjoy the sunset while sipping some mocktails (cocktails, for some) under some tall and shady coconut trees at the beach bar. It was a pleasant and relaxing feeling. What more, I actually met people who are truly passionate about the environment (we even talked about why the ‘frontline’ coconut trees lean towards the sea, and not the rest), and who actually cared enough to do something to save it!

Later on that night, we had a little sharing session where the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society gave short talks about nature conservation. Honestly, it was that very session that made me realise I didn’t know that Malaysian tigers exist only on this side of the country! I’ve always thought they’re in forests all over, and of course, mostly in Sarawak ‘cos the forests there stretch from one end to the other end of the state – well, that was what I thought! >_<

Then, comes the rafflesia; everyone knows you can see this in Sarawak as a huge flower that smells. I’d never seen one before that, but hey, it’s been found to live on Tioman Island! Question: how did it get there in the first place? And, why only on this island in the southern part of Peninsula Malaysia? (Apparently, they can be found up to the middle part of the Peninsula. The answer beats me.

Saturday 14th June was when we had the opportunities to trek into the jungle and see for ourselves the wonders of nature. Look at the image below and spot the rafflesia that’s on a wild grapevine (ancestors of domesticated grapes, perhaps), the fern-like plant that’s the wild version of the domesticated paku we find in the markets. Ladies and gentlemen, what we eat had their origins here, in the wild!

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We were also brought to MNS’s ROAR project site. To me, it’s really meaningful because here we are, while at an international level talking about climate change and coral bleaching and still debating about it, doing the real work of trying to save the marine environment – I look forward to diving into the water and look at this beautiful creation, maybe 10 years down the road and look back in time all the work done now. Albeit a small project, it’s a big step towards re-building the ecosystem. Too bad the society isn’t getting all the support it should have been given.

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This trip had definitely brought a deep realisation in me that though born here, I don’t know much about what it; what’s this land’s story? What’s hidden deep inside those tropical forests? What other untold stories to be discovered?

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