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,
My ratings: 4 stars out of 5, absolute value for money.