Sunday, July 31, 2016

Night Herping and Bird Watching @ Awana Genting

During dinner that evening, my friend Irene was expressing how excited she was for our next activity at Awana Genting. Her enthusiasm seemed more like a guarantee that if I were to miss the fun, I would endure the biggest regret. I looked at her with the most doubtful eyes. Yes Irene, I believe you but we are talking about snakes and lizards night! She still insisted that it would open my eyes to a magnificent realm plus she promised to be by my side all the time. I trusted her and I am glad I did!
Are you ready for night action?!
We always think people flee at the sight of a snake or a lizard. Yours truely is was one of them. Little did I know, that there is a group of people who deliberately hunt for them. Nope, not poachers who hunt for profit. They are called herpers. They seek out reptiles and amphibians purely for appreciation. If you cannot sleep at night or still have a tonne of energy to spare at the end of the day, be a herper!
Night Herping
Night herping is the act of looking for and observing reptiles and amphibians. We went in a group, led by an extremely passionate and knowledgeable herper Steven Wong. We were given briefing before heading out to the other world. Steven hopes to ward off the negative stigma that is attached to reptiles and amphibians by educating the public about them.
Program is conducted at night by Steven Wong, head coordinator of the Herpetofauna Special Interest Group of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Selangor branch. 
Adventure starts at Awana Park
The warmth of being in a group of friends did expel the fright and phobia of encountering a creepy crawly. Steven's presence was a huge relief for me as he is in control of the situation with his extensive knowledge of reptiles' and amphibians' habits and characters. A good guide is vital.
Herping in groups where there is lots of company and safety
Our guide has exceptionally sharp eyes and hearing. Steven's trained senses can pick up the slightest twinkle of a frog's eye and the most camouflaged lizard's tail. He imparted some tips on how to spot a subject which some were very quickly assimilated with participants and resulted in some extra spotting by participants themselves! Respect for nature is very much required in herping.
Steven spotted our first subject!
The Twin-spotted Gecko (Gekko monarchus)
Our second subject spotted
The Siamese Pit Viper (Trimeresurus fucatus)
The Four-lined Tree Frog (Polypedates leucomystax)
Look what we found next!
Pink-headed Reed Snake (Calamaria schlegeli)
Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella)
That night, I took a big step forward to face my fright of creepy crawlies. It taught me to not judge a book by its cover. Most of us are afraid of reptiles and amphibians because of how they look. As much as we are afraid of them, they too would scoot when they sense us. It makes me feel that they understand the meaning of 'world peace' more than us humans.

My nervousness disappeared the moment we spotted our first subject. I actually enjoyed the session. Every finding did excite me instead of make cringe like I thought I would. The fact that the findings were shared with friends and photographed like a treasure was memorable and fun. 

Bird Watching
They are willing to wait for days, expect to be disappointed and are attentive at all times. What creature are they waiting for for them to put up with such high level of tolerance? I found new respect for bird-watchers and birders after my own experience of bird-watching at Awana Genting Important Bird Area (IBA). Birds are what they are waiting for and all for just a few moments of appreciation. 
Bird watching at the IBA- Important Bird Area
The Awana area has always provided a comfortable temperature for morning walks (or walks at any time of the day in fact). I woke up early for a bird-watching session and it was truely refreshing.
Eddie facilitating the session
To bird-watch, it is best to come with binoculars or high performance lenses as we can only observe the birds from afar. If you are a novice, going with a knowledgeable guide makes all the difference as he/ she can educate you along the way as to what are you watching through the lenses. When you know what you are looking at and the birds' significance, you will learn to appreciate them and even get hooked!
Watch closely among the trees
Avid bird watchers come with extreme lenses
On my way, I only got a brief sight of the birds as I was not quick enough and did not have powerful enough lenses in hand (lesson learnt). These are the beautiful birds that I have missed on my camera. And only now I come to realize that most of us have taken photographs of animals for granted! These beautiful photographs require not only great lenses but also patience, timing and resilience. They are definitely not captured on the first try. So hats off to all these photographers!
The Great Hornbill can be found in the Fashion Forest
photo credits to
The Black Browed Barbet was what I saw but could not capture
Photo credits to
The Velvet Nuthatch calls Awana/ Genting its home
Photo credits to
Orange Breasted Trogon is very colourful
Photo credits to
The excitement of catching sight of the hornbill was one of a kind. You may know it is beautiful but that is an understatement until you step into the forest and actually watch them. 
It is time to hear and follow the chirps
And when you catch sight of one, you'll understand what and why bird watchers do
The valley from the IBA bird watching area
Fashionably soaking in nature
Chatting with Eddie about his experience
The incumbent President of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Henry Goh is an experienced birder himself explaining educating us about the different types of birds
Turn towards the sun and the shadows fall behind you
Even if you do not catch sight of birds, take a nature walk to soak it all in

For a herping or bird-watching session, contact

Eddie: 011-26573070/ 012-3076821
Pat: 012-3083748
Bernadine: 012-6725262

Friday, July 29, 2016

Pitcher Plants at the English Garden @ RW Genting

What do Angelina Jolie, Ning Baizurah and Pitcher plants have in common? Nope, it is neither their voices nor their singing career but their thick luscious lips! Nepenthes or the Pitcher plant is a unique plant that takes shape of a pitcher (jug) and thus its name. This plant which they call periuk kera in malay is carnivorous which means it eats other smaller animals that gets trapped in its cup. It was enough to pique my curiosity and so up the mountain I went.
Pitcher plants can be very colourful
The next time you go to Genting Highlands, don't just settle for the occasional exposure to the chill near the hotel lobby door. YOLO! Put yourself out in the mist and enjoy the cold. Hang out at the English Garden just next to the Theme Park Hotel. Other than being a charming little place to relax, the English Garden is also a place for Pitcher plant cultivation by Treks.
While going up to Genting Highlands, observe the home of Nepenthes below the cable car 
It was beautifully misty
The trees that you catch sight of at Genting is from the Chocolate Forest (Montane Ericaceous Forest, 6000 ft above sea level) Because of its altitude, its temperature is low enough for the Pitcher plant to thrive. The temperature of the Chocolate Forest is due to the clouds. So literally, it is a walk in the clouds!
Reached the Chocolate Forest
When there is a landscape that looks like a place in Switzerland, you can bet that there was no stopping at photo taking! So we clicked and selfied to our hearts content! Every corner was perfect for a profile pic backdrop.
Feeling close to heaven with scenery like this
Need a hug hug
Brown is beautiful in the Chocolate Forest
While the scenery was breathtaking enough to nearly distract from the main purpose of the visit, the Pitcher plants did not lose its allure.

Interesting facts about the Pitcher plants:
  • If you peer into the belly of the Pitcher plant, there is liquid inside. It is called nectar- a sweet-smelling juice that attracts little animals and insects. 
  • Once the insect/ animal has fallen inside, it is difficult for it to climb back up due to the structures of the pores on the wall. Small frogs, lizards and snakes can fall victim of the seemingly harmless plant.
  • The nectar dissolves and digests the prey trapped inside. The plants draw nutrients from it.
  • The leaf that looks like a detached lid is used to control the amount of rain entering the plant.
  • These plants are so beautiful that it is made the national flower of a province in Canada- Newfoundland and Labrador
  • The pitcher plant is also been used to cook lemang lately in Ramadhan bazaars in Malaysia and has become a big fashionable hit.
  • Pitcher plants will not eat humans.
Arranging the pitcher plant at the trellis
Peering inside the stomach of the Pitcher Plant
Pitcher plants that were cultivated from the wild
And the photo taking at the English Garden continues...
Pretty English Garden
Romantic bench
When Genting starts to plant human heads
Frosty and beautiful
Every corner is a good backdrop at the English Garden
Perambulating at the garden
The English Garden is a hidden gem that is worth a visit. It is the sort of place that you may have chanced upon but unaware of its significance. Its romantic and beautiful landscape will make you want to linger a little longer outdoors, appreciating the chill all together. Getting up close and personal with the Pitcher plants on the trellis is something that even I did not know I enjoyed until I came face to face with it. A rare sight and even more extraordinary, its beauty.
Getting up close and personal with Pitcher plants- unique moment
Pitcher plants adopted from the forest and thriving at Treks' base at Awana Genting
Precious plants
3 main species of the Nepenthes that create other vibrant colours through natural hybridization
Colourful Pitcher plants found in the highlands as a result of natural hybridization
One more look of the Chocolate Forest
Back down again to Awana Genting above the Skyride Forest
Entrance to the English Garden is FREE!

For more information, contact
Treks Fashion Forest

Eddie: 011-26573070/ 012-3076821
Pat: 012-3083748
Bernadine: 012-6725262