Saturday, 13 August 2011

Shine On For The Fireflies of Kampung Dew

I attended the inaugural Malaysian Nature Society Firefly Festival at Kg. Dew, Taiping, to support the conservation and environmental education efforts of our counterparts in Perak. I also had to reconnoitre the event for the purposes of Selangor Branch's very own Firefly Conservation Festival to be held this October.

Kg. Dew is located along Sg. Sepetang, around 20 minutes away from Taiping Town, where firefly-watching activities on a limited scale are being carried out by some boatmen from the nearby villages.

I managed to persuade CovertMum and CovertDad to join me. I told them:
"There's nothing you won't like about this trip. There's nothing dangerous, difficult or dirty about it. There will be fireflies. There won't be any leeches, snakes or crocodiles (Disclaimer: As long as you follow our safety instructions). I won't make you hike, swim, climb or camp. I will take care of you. Trust me."

And so we had an idyllic and enchanting weekend away from the city at Kg. Dew and Taiping Town. I trust ecotourism events such as this Firefly Festival will bring a glimmer of hope to firefly populations and encourage local communities and the authorities to conserve firefly habitats, maintain cleanliness and eliminate threats to firefly populations. Like birds, frogs and many other specie that are frequently taken for granted, fireflies are a good indicator of the environmental health of an area. A healthy and thriving ecosystem will benefit human, animal and plant populations.

Kg Dew is a tiny village mostly planted over with oil palm.

Booths and a banquet tent in the middle of the little village.

Display materials with natural history information.

Samples of mangrove flora at the exhibition booths. The local community also took the opportunity to produce handicrafts and local snacks for sale.

The local community took the opportunity to set up refreshment stalls.

A mangrove charcoal kiln! This is the first time I have ever been in one!

Charcoal is traditionally produced in these beehive-like charcoal kilns. It smells awesome. Like a combination of hashish, opium and mesquite barbecue. I feel sorry for the poor charcoal-maker's lungs. All that soot.

Kg. Dew jetty with its little passenger boats. It is commendable that MNS decided to carry out its ecotourism project here. The river was rather polluted with litter, and the local community needs to be educated on waste management and sustainable tourism. They don't know the gold mine that they are sitting on.

CovertDad and me at the jetty, waiting for the safety briefing and our lifejackets after the official opening ceremony.

Moon River / Wider than a mile / I'm crossing you in style / Some day.

CovertDad and CovertMum finally get their lifejackets. What an awesome boat ride it was. The firefly population at Kg Dew is at least 3 times denser than that of Kg Kuantan, Sg Selangor. There are over 133 Berembang trees along the 6km stretch and the trees lit up like parade floats when the fireflies did their synchronised flashing. From afar, the trees looked like they were generating lightning. All the participants and passengers agreed that it was a magical experience and expressed surprise at the density of the firefly population. Let's hope it stays that way.

We checked out the Taiping Lake Gardens the following morning. Our hotel was located within the Lake Gardens. Here I am, walking purposefully in search of vegetarian food, surrounded by majestic raintrees (Samanea saman). Inexpensive and nutritious Chinese vegetarian food is widely available at the food courts in Taiping Town.

The branches of the raintrees formed a natural tunnel for motorists through the Lake Gardens.

Taiping Lake Gardens, with the Titiwangsa Mountain Range in the background.

Paddleboats for rent. Look at the reflection of the mountains in the lake.

An old-timey snack stall on wheels at the Lake Gardens parking lot. Makes me feel like buying a cold garishly-coloured cordial drink, a box of DingDang (a new toy every week!) and a packet of "potato chips" that doesn't have very much real potato in it. Please raise your hand if you know what I am talking about!

Traveller's Palms at the Lake Gardens.

The view from our hotel room window. Love the midday shadow of that tree over yonder.

A colonial building with neoclassical features and nature-inspired Art Novveau plaster mouldings in Taiping Town.

Another colonial building with neoclassical features in Taiping Town. Note the Art Deco horizontal banding and the Deco archways, which suggest at an inchoate sunburst motif.

Interested in visiting Taiping and Kg Dew? Click on the links or follow the contact information below:

Kg Dew Firefly Ecotourism
Contact person: Khairul Salleh Ahmad
Mobile Phone Number: 012 514 5023

Flemington Hotel, Taiping Lake Gardens
Address: No. 1, Jalan Samanea Saman, 34000 Taiping, Perak Darul Ridzuan,
Telephone: +605-820-7777
Fax: +605-808-0177
My ratings: 4 stars out of 5, absolute value for money.


Unknown said...

You beat me to watching the fireflies! Must be so magical.Glad you enjoyed my dear hometown,Taiping and the Lake Gardens. The Lake Gardens was my playground and no Taipingite will ever not mention or reminisce about it. The next time get on the jeep to experience the 180 degree sharp bends up Bukit Larut!

Ellen Whyte said...

Sounds like fun. I'll do this when my brother comes over. Thanks, Ee Lynn!

Pat said...

Thank you for the brilliant pictures, darling, E! I love trees and find their shapes and graceful arms too beautiful for words!!!

Thank you for the two addresses as well. I would love to go see this for myself... well, maybe when Larnee and William are here.

Did I tell you I saw fireflies in my garden? Does two constitute the right to say, 'I have fireflies in my garden'?! ;(

Brilliant post!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Wow! But where's the firefly pix? We were at a resort in Cherating that offers firefly viewing boat ride as well. Unfortunately the trip was short on next time perhaps. purrrr *giggles*

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Keats,
Yes, this is one of the few things that I have beat you to, isn't it? You really must go to Kg Dew for the fireflies -- it looks like what Sg. Selangor used to be 10-20 years ago!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Ellen, Au and Target,
Let me know if you need a chauffeur and (an admittedly talkative and opinionated!) local guide! I will be at your service!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Pat,
I agree, the beauty of the trees cannot be described in words. You just want to sit quietly under the trees and soak in all their serene energy.
I am glad there are fireflies in your garden. Whatever plants you guys have in your garden -- you are probably planting the right kinds of plants in there somewhere!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Kitties-in-Sydney,
The light of the fireflies cannot be captured on camera. It all came out black.
I didn't know there were firefly watching activities in Cherating. I just go there to surf.

Whisppy said...

I have both hands raised and waving! I've been to Taiping several times and love the trees at Lake Gardens. Never been to the fireflies place though.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks for the support, Whisppy! Kg. Dew is still a little-known nature tourism destination. But the trees of the Taiping Lake Gardens are really something, aren't they?

Khairul firefly said...

Dear Covert,
Thank you for your story and beautifull pictures about Kg Dew & Taiping.
Good luck for Selangor firefly festival.
Please come again as we can organize a charcoal eco-challenge for you troops.