02.12.2011 - 02.12.2011 30 °C
To Kuala Selangor or not to Kuala Selangor, with KS being a 2hour plus trip away from KL and difficult to move onwards to the Cameron Highlands, we debated much on as Piers would say “the effort vs reward’ of seeing the endangered and enigmatic fireflies of KS. The river that runs through KS is home to a strange insect that resembles a small wasp but comes out only during the night. Instead of a painful sting at the tail end, this bug emits a yellow light from the abdomen which it uses in courtship behaviour. The phenomenon created by large numbers of these fireflies, flashing randomly along the river mangroves is a rare sight as usually only one or two can be seen in other tropical areas.
So, we boarded a hair raising local bus heading east to the coast. A precursor to this was the inevitable contradictory (or sometimes just plain wrong!) information from officials; the chap at the bus information counter advised us that the bus would be leaving in an hour; so we headed to a nearby Art materials shop. Sophia had a hunch that we should return early just in case and sure enough our bus was waiting to depart just 15mins after our conversation with our well informed friend!
After a few games of Rummy (to Sully’s amended rules), Soph 5 – Sully 3, and a good laugh at the slippery PVC seats that Soph kept flying off; we finally reach K Selangor town centre. A brisk 20min walk later, we reached our guesthouse and made plans with a Dutch couple (Jaap and Emaralda) to see the famed fireflies.
After a dry, sunny day the rain decided to come down cat and dog style as we jumped into the car. The owner of the hotel gave us a lift to the river where we would embark on a traditional Malay boat in complete darkness – creepy! The spooky boat ride was the least of our worries as we straddled both sides of a dark narrow road in the rain. Little did we know that our Lady driver practiced rally driving on this road and in these particular weather conditions. Some respite was achieved as she pulled into McDonalds drive through to get herself a Burger (she promised it was for her friends, but we know her secret), whilst we plotted with our new European allies to stage a coup should the driving get any worse. After some rain bashing through a pitch black lane, we arrived at a serene river. There was a line of local fishermen waiting in their traditional boats, miraculously it stopped raining and so we quickly jumped onto the boat. There was an eerie silence around the river which was exacerbated by how dark it was. The fisherman pushed us along Venetian style and singing a song to himself in Malay. As we got further along the river we saw a series of bushes on the banks flashing as if they had been decorated with lots of little fairy lights (in modern UV blue colour!). This was immediately followed by gasps of breath as we realised that we were witnessing another miracle of God and the tiny little fireflies were flashing their lights in a synchronised manner.
On our way back the fisherman crashed the boat into one of the bushes (and although he should not have one this) it created a magical moment where we were surrounded by little lights flying around us. A little like flashes from a bonfire. These fireflies are endangered and human development is a big threat to them. This type of action is not good but there is a paradox that the reason why these fireflies are being preserved is due to the tourist demand for them. We were a little sad to leave the little fellas behind but as soon as we stepped off the boat it started to rain heavily again.
The next morning we woke up early to trek up a nearby hill to see some local historical sights called Bukit Malawati. At the top of the hill we found that the most interesting discovery was the Silver Leaf Monkeys! We met an Indian vendor who had worked around the monkeys for 12 years and knew most of the gangs as wells as certain individuals. He gave us some sweet bread and beans to feed the monkeys and told us lots about them. The monkeys took the food with their little black hands and were very confident around humans. They were also very friendly and did not look threatening at all, although he warned us about the macaques. Apparently, thy can get a bit vicious with humans when food is on the cards.
We had lots of fun playing with the Monkeys and it was then a quick march down the hill in time for Friday prayers. Sully loved the traditional Islamic dress of the Malay men here, still a very similar cut to other Kurtas, Jubbas, Kafnis etc but a lot more vibrant in colour. This was whilst Soph made friends with two girls running a dessert shop and had a good chinwag about life in England and their lives in Malaysia. We felt very fortunate; being from the west and the ability to easily access other lands, for people from other countries it’s not so easy regardless of the cost.
We jumped on a bus back to KL for our final night there before we headed off North to the cold Cameron Highlands the following day…Sully managed to level the card game score to 5-5 but he did enlist the help of a local lad to shuffle and deal the cards (suspect there’s some dodgy dealing going on). Soph showed some college girls pics from our travels who were interested in what we have been up to.
In KL we caught up with our laundry, carrying bags each through 1km through the rain whilst dodging through touts and ladyboys. We spent our last night at the lovely Sky Bar in KL taking in views of the twinkling skyline (see KL blog).