Discover Royal Belum
Few months before I registered myself to Discover Royal Belum whereby participants pay RM150 for 2 days 1 night exploration of Royal Belum Rainforest which was recently introduced as Malaysia’s best kept ecotourism secret. On 22.2.2014, Erma (my ex-colleague), Baby (my sister) and I left early morning to Royal Belum Rainforest.
We had a detour to Kampung Beng as we wanted to show Erma the homestay area we did a month back. Read full story on Kampung Beng Homestay HERE.
Continuing our journey, we drove to a small town by the name of Gerik for breakfast and to stock up food especially those we wanted to donate to the aborigines who reside in Royal Belum Rainforest. By chance, we found a morning market which was worth to experience. From local food to fruits to fresh fishes, the market was most alive and interaction with local was at its maximum.
Royal Belum Rainforest is an untouched forest complex which is believed to have been in existence for over 130 million years. It was said that Royal Belum Rainforest is even older than the Amazon and Congo rainforests. 3,000 sq km complex is home to over 3000 species of flowering plants and 14 of the world’s most threatened mammals including the Malayan Tiger, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Asiatic Elephant.
The road to Royal Belum Rainforest was winding up the hilly terrain. With our mobile network disconnected, we relied entirely on the signboard leading to Royal Belum Rainforest. Once in awhile, we passed by road signs alarming us on the possibility of approaching group of elephants and the do’s and don’ts if there is an encounter with elephants.
As soon as we arrived at Tasik Banding, the meeting point for Discover Royal Belum, we reached just on time for the houseboat to undock. All we needed to do was to be on the look out for a houseboat with Discover Royal Belum banner. There were few houseboats docking at the berth.
There were about more than 50 people on board the houseboat when we left the berth. One outdoor group from Kedah, one Couchsurfing group from Ipoh & KL, one group from Malaysian Backpackers Club (is it Backpacker Buddies Malaysia?) and small groups like ours. We first headed to the Rafflesia site to see the world’s largest and heaviest flower on earth. To learn about Rafflesia in Royal Belum Rainforest, you may wish to read HERE.
The trail at Xray Site to see the Rafflesia was uphill ascending for about 10-15minutes. Although there were marked trails and natural steps, caution must be exercised and please grip the rope for balance.
When it comes to nature, you really have to count on your luck. In this case, whether the rafflesia bloomed or not. You can’t force a flower to bloom just because you want to come and see it, right?
We were not lucky on our trip but we managed to see damaged and immatured rafflesia.
Orang Asli Village (Kg. Chuweh 2)
For the next two hours, our houseboat cruised along the Temenggor Lake. According to the history, decades ago before Banding and Temenggor Lake existed, a number of rivers from the mountain flowed into the Temenggor lowlands and gorges creating a huge catchment area which became the central food and water supply for the communist terrorists.
In 1974, the late Tun Abdul Razak built a dam and filled the Temengor catchment area with water to flush out the communists. Thus, the existence of Temenggor Lake and Banding Island.
The pristine mirror like surrounded by the old rainforest exudes nature wilderness in Royal Belum. As we sat at the edge of the houseboat with our legs down splashing the water, we made new friends and changed ideas. All under the glory shine of the sun.
When we reached Kg. Chuweh 2, we immediately walked to the village area where we started to interact with the aborigines or orang asli. They are in general shy.
As we brought some sweets and biscuits, we started to distribute the food for the kids and the family. One of the participants, Raja Ila brought a plastic bag of dolls and toys. Boys and girls, raced to get the dolls.
Solar lamp found in Kg Chuweh 2.
We were told we were to dock at Kg Chuweh 2 for the night. We had the whole afternoon to mingle with the orang asli. I joined the foreign travellers for sunset outing. We literally hunted for sunset by boat. After 30 minutes of the boat ride, we still did not manage to capture good photo of sunset. We gave up and went back to the houseboat. Here’s the best shot I had for the day with a little bit of Photoshop touch up.
At night, we had BBQ dinner. The food was delicious.
Then, we had a briefing on Royal Belum Rainforest. Some of the participants camped out on the aborigines ground and some hung hammocks to sleep in. We were more than happy to sleep on the floor on the upper deck.
As for the facilities, there are two bathrooms/shower on the houseboat from which you could take a shower and clean up. On the upper deck, there are two bedrooms which could fit 4-5 people each. It is first come first serve basis. On the open area which is where I slept, you could spread the mat and sleep in your sleeping bag or hang hammocks across the pillars to sleep in.
Our own corner :-
In conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014, Discover Royal Belum is having a promotion of RM150 per pax for 2D1N stay in the houseboat. To know more, visit HERE
I went to Lembah Belum last weekend. I took the houseboat, mingled with the Orang Asli and stayed in the village for a few days. I will blog about this wonderful trip in my forthcoming entry.