The snake slithered through the undergrowth. Pausing, flickering its tongue and rearing its head, slowly….
Startled, I took a step back. I peered closer at the small snake basking on the forest floor.
It had longitudinal reddish orange stripes, with bits of greenish lateral stripes on a black background.
Was it a Banded Malayan Coral Snake? Or was it the Striped Kukri Snake?
I found out later, it was actually the striped kukri snake (Oligodon octolineatus).It is non-venomous, but if provoked they would bite to defend itself.
They are known as kukri snakes due to the shape of the snake’s teeth at the back of the mouth resembling knives (Kukri knife) used by Gurkha soldiers.
At the time, it was merely basking under the sun on the floor of the Lambir Hills National Park, where I was taking a stroll to the Latak waterfall. Apart from the occasional snake, the park is teeming with flora and fauna.
The famed Lambir Hills National Park is located along the Miri-Bintulu road, 36 km south-west of Miri town in Sarawak, East Malaysia. It was gazetted as a park in 1975, and covers an area of 6,952 hectares.
It is best to visit the park in the morning, as there would be ample time to go along the various trails in the park. The main attraction of the park is its beautiful waterfalls, the nearest just a mere 0.18 km is Latak Waterfall. It is a 20 minutes walk from the Park office. If you stop to look at the wonderful forest flora and fauna along the way, it would probably take longer.
Before entering the park, register yourself at the Park office where the guide will explain some necessary safety rules before entering the park. If you are going to the waterfalls further ahead, it is best to go early in the morning as the journey will take several hours. The guide will also advise that visitors to the park exit the park grounds by 5 pm as the gates to the park will be closed at this time.
Latak waterfall is popular, due to its proximity to the park office. There is a legend that surrounds the Latak waterfalls, a tale of seven princesses who used to lure young men who bathed in the pools. However, it is considered safe now as the princesses are believed to have found their own partners.
Although this is the case, there are still safety signs posted around the waterfall warning visitors to observe safety procedures at all times while in the pool.
It has a 25 metre plunging waterfall, and is often crowded during the weekends, when families will bring along their children for picnicking or barbequing. Barbeque pits are readily available at the park.
The cooling, green water in the pool beneath the waterfall is refreshing. If you decide not to swim, you can sit at one of the benches here and listen to the majestic roar of the waterfall. There are a variety of small fishes here, too. There are many insects around the place, but there are also mosquitoes so make sure you wear a generous amount of insect repellent.
Other waterfalls in the park are ones on the Pantu trail such as the Pantu and Nibong waterfalls. It takes up to two hours journey to reach the falls. Then there are the Pancur, Tengkorong and Dinding waterfalls along the Bakam Trail. The other primary trails are Main and Lepoh-Ridan. There are other trails in the park, of which further information can be obtained from the park office.
The forest here is composed mainly of dipterocarps and kerangas. There are also a variety of palms such as the licuala species and the stilt rooted Eugeissona or known as the ‘walking palm’.
Here you can find the walking palm, which fascinatingly actually “walks”! Its roots grow above ground, and when the roots in front die, the others take place of the front roots and the cycles goes on. This interesting natural phenomenon makes it look as if the tree is actually walking!
If you happen to go now, there is another interesting natural occurrence in the mixed dipterocarp forest of Lambir Park. The dipterocarp trees produce winged fruits, which when it falls, flutters gently to the forest floor.
The winged fruit looks very much like an upturned shuttle-cock, and litter the forest floor. This event is known as dipterocarp mast-fruiting. It is during this period, a phenomenon that occurs every 2 to 10 years in the forests of South-East Asia that the dipterocarp mast-fruiting (flowering) occurs.
Mixed Dipterocarp trees found in the park include kapur, meranti, kempas, selangan batu and other plants. Other forest types found are Kerangas Forest with smaller and shorter trees like rhu bukit and selunsur melaban, low shrubs, picther plants and orchids as well as secondary forests.
There are also a variety of ferns, pitcher plants, herbs and other flora found here, making it an ideal place for research, educational and conservation efforts.
There are around 1,173 tree species in the park alone, with 286 genera and 81 tree families making Lambir one of the more diversified forests in Malaysia. Wild animals can also be found in the deeper parts of the park, especially monkeys, sun bear, pangolin and bats.
If you keep still, you may chance upon the odd squirrel running about the trees searching for food, or spot a bird or two fluttering about. Accordingly, 157 species of birds have been recorded at the park.
There is even a 22-metre Tree Tower is situated on the Pantu Trail, about a kilometre from the Park Office. Visitors can climb and view the scenic Dipterocarp forest profile. It is also an excellent place for bird watching.
Come visit Lambir Hills National Park and experience one of nature’s best natural wonders!
How to get there:
Lambir Hills National Park is about a 30 minutes drive from Miri Town, via the Miri-Bintulu road. There are public transportations to the park from the city. Visitors can also opt to take the commercial buses en-route to Batu Niah, Bintulu, Tinjar, Bakong or Bekenu bazaars. The buses depart from Wisma Pelita Tunku in Miri.
Visitors may opt to join organised trips from travel agents departing Miri city early in the morning, and returning to Miri after lunch.
For further enquiries, contact:
Lambir Hills National Park Contact Number:
Tel No: (6) 085-491030
Fax No: (6) 085-491030
Admission to the park is RM 10. The park office opens from 0800 am till 1700 pm. Facilities available at the park are: AV room, Hall, Kitchen, Overhead projector, Sound system, Mineral water pot, public toilets, canteen and information centre.
Visit the park website at: http://www.forestry.sarawak.gov.my/forweb/np/np/lambir.htm