Thursday, December 25, 2008

Malaysia: A Tropical Paradise

It is a lush green wonderland. Not far away from the cities, dark green wooded hills pattern the landscape like clumps of broccoli tops! Not a speck of dust on any leaf thanks to the daily dose of convectional rain. With its staggering biodiversity, every corner of Malaysia seems to be teeming with life. It was here that I had a close brush with a deadly viper out in the wild, held a fabulous stick insect on my arm, and acquired my personal pet insect-hogging pitcher plant! Without further ado, let me share some highlights from this trip. The complete collection of captioned photos are available here


A 13 km long bridge connects Pulau (island) Penang to mainland Penang. Pulau Penang is home to some magnificent temples including the Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple, the Snake Temple, the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple, and the Wat Chayamangkalaram Thai Buddhist Temple

A massive incense stick burns at the entrance to the Snake Temple. Inside the temple, deadly vipers deemed sacred roam free.
Vipers on their perch next to the altar at the Snake Temple
Kek Lok Si Buddhist temple,Penang
At the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple, Penang
Colossal dragon at the Burmese temple
The towering Buddha inside the Burmese temple
Wat Chayamangkalaram Thai Buddhist Temple, Penang
The 33m long Reclining Buddha at the Thai temple


Langkawi, an archipelago of some 99 islands, is a hub of some spectacular biodiversity. It boasts a crocodile farm with a formidable collection of those deadly behemoths, the Langkawi Underwater World, which houses myriads of exotic marine species, and the Kilim Geoforest Park, where a boat takes you along the Kilim river to mangrove forests, the Bat Cave, the Fish Farm, and much more! It is here that my real adventure began. It included a close brush with a deadly viper lurking on a mangrove tree!

Langkawi literally means reddish-brown eagle (lang is derived from the Malay word for eagle while kawi means reddish-brown). 

The stylish Langkawi Sky Bridge at the peak of Gunung Mat Chinchang, which can be accessed by a cable car ride 
A multitude of crocodiles basking in the sun at the Langkawi Crocodile Farm
Those deadly jaws!
The Langkawi Mangrove Tour is a scenic boat ride along the Kilim river through the Kilim Geoforest Park
Pneumatophores - upright breathing roots of mangrove trees
Fruit bats suspended from the ceiling of the Bat Cave - a stop on the Mangrove Tour
Taking a close look at a live horseshoe crab at the Fish Farm - another stop on the Mangrove Tour
Can you spot the green viper on the branch? We had a close brush with this venomous beast while trying to snatch a mangrove fruit from our boat!
A fabulously exotic fish at the Langkawi Underwater World. I do not recall the name of this species. If you do, please let me know. I would be immensely grateful!   
Leafy sea dragon
A lionfish
A hermit crab trotting around with its pilfered conch (the motion-induced blur was unavoidable)

Cameron Highlands

The Cameron Highlands are an expansive stretch of hill stations with numerous tea plantations, strawberry fields, flower nurseries, and butterfly farms. This region alone happens to be the largest producer of fresh flowers in Malaysia. The green terraces looked pretty as a picture. The fresh strawberries were tantalizing. I had never before witnessed so many different species of flowers in one place. But my most memorable experience here was at a butterfly farm where I made friends with some exotic creepy-crawlies that made my day!
Terrace farming in Cameron Highlands
At a butterfly farm. Yours truly offering a fabulous stick insect its perch. Such a brilliant camouflage!
And now a leaf insect right on my palm! Yet another spectacularly camouflaged creature.
A Rajah Brooke's Birdwing butterfly, supposedly the national butterfly of Malaysia 
Bee farming - extracting honey fresh from the hive
Tropical flowers at a flower farm in Cameron Highlands
A typical flower shop in Cameron Highlands very own pitcher plant, the insect-eating Nepenthes mirabilis!

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