MALAYSIA’S CLOUD FORESTS
de Silva Wijeyeratne, G. (2008). Malaysia’s Cloud Forests. Real Travel. November 2008. Page 108. Volume (?), Issue (?).
Mammals watching in Maxwell Hill.
Clouded Leopard would be nice. Very, very nice. But I knew the chances of coming across one, would be one in a million. Nevertheless it was a good enough incentive to walk the road in Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut) the oldest hill station in Malaysia. It does not have a network of trails so one uses the road used by the government operated land rovers which takes visitors up the hill. Maxwell Hill is a fragile eco-system with gibbons and a host of plants, birds and other animals confined to higher elevations. We stayed at the Buki Larut Rest House which was run down, but had superb views over the town of Taiping which glinted and shimmered like an amber sea as the light was drained from the sky. There was no cloud leopard but the weak red light from our modified torches caught a pair of gleaming eyes traversing the forest canopy. It was a Masked Palm-civet, not a rare mammal, but all the more exciting to see in its natural habitat. A pair of Brown Wood-owls hunted using a dead tree as a perch. The amber street light gave us a road show of these ghost-like animals. We returned to the rest house at midnight where I spent another two hours photographing moths. Huge Atlas moths had entered through the open balcony doors and were draped on the curtains.
At the base of Maxwell Hill is a small, modern hotel, the Kamal Lodge. This may be a better option for travellers who need a little more comfort than the more austere self catering accommodation up the hill. Land Rovers ferry visitors up and down throughout the day but are un-forgiving to visitors who do not make it on the scheduled departure times. Despite Malaysia’s good network of roads, Maxwell Hill is considered remote and the infrastructure for visitors is modest. This is perhaps not too bad a thing as Bukit Larut remains a precious reservoir of Malysia’s cloud forests with an ambience of remoteness. But it is not too difficult for those willing to make the effort.
Birdwatchers, naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts may find Fraser’s Hill, another hill station more easily accessed from Kula Lumpur, a two hour ride away. Taman Negara National Park is the largest protected lowland rainforest. A boat ride, to Lata Berkoh, about forty five minutes through lowland rainforest was a highlight for us. We also visited Kula Selangor Nature Park, less than two hours from Kula Lumpur where Silvered Leaf Langurs bounded away from the entrance, before we entered the mangrove forest.