Laurie Winters – Laurie Winters in Asia – Malaysia 1

Today was a first! A first look at a tropical rainforest, that is. Our friend and colleague, Malcolm, kindly drove a group of us to a park in KL which contains a large old stand of rainforest. Known as FRIM, the Forest Research…Institute of Management, or something like that, it was a lovely close look, smell, and feel of the rainforest. The day was perfectly cool and overcast, with an unusual light rain en route. Thus we didn’t suffer from the heat as we climbed 500 meters to 1000 kaki (kilometers) above sea level on a stair-stepped trail through the forest. We met our first wildlife early on: a huge centipede. Second wildlife were the many leeches that stand vertically on their way to an inch-worm like motion, from which they quickly grab onto any surface they can fall over onto. Thus we scooted many of them off of our tennis shoes and socks. One on Lori’s leg, that had attached itself, needed our special attention: a sprinkling of salt that cause it to drop away immediately. Ultimately, only our dear driver had his blood sucked by one of these stick-thin creatures, leaving a fresh blood stain on his sock. The anticoagulant that is part of the leech process means you bleed for a minute even after they have had their fill and fallen off. Sounds gross, but they seemed far less intimidating than I thought originally, and mostly an irritation. I will look for some kind of sock, though, that might repel or otherwise discourage them. They can take the focus off your other discoveries. Primarily, today, our discovery was of a fragrant, noise-filled jungle, with small creeks, a canopy walk that was closed for the day (made of ladder surrounded by mesh on both sides), a little shelter built of small sapling sized trees, and green, everywhere we looked. Large leaves, strange conifers, many palms, and unfolding ferns, delicate but not small, greeted us. Our third wildlife sighting: the biggest ant we’ve ever seen, and the last: rainforest squirrels! The mist or clouds of moisture that wafted among the trees made the environment surreal and mysterious. Also mystifying: the cicadas that would turn their songs on all at the same time, with no apparent cue. The noise could be quite striking, squawks and screeches, and cooing from some corner of the forest. Then it would just die away. This was our first venture into Malaysia’s natural environment, and it has been overdue for these tired travelers.

Posted from Malaysia:
does not exist
posted Sunday September 2007