I might have been to Cameron Highlands countless times but i have never once participated in the hike to see the world's largest single flower, the Rafflesia.
According to the tour guides, you would have to trek through untamed jungle for hours at times and there's no assurance you would see a blooming rafflesia. Hence, i jumped at the opportunity when the guide for my recent Kinabalu Park and Poring Hot Spring Tour asked if we would be interested to check it out.
Even though there was a top-up payment of RM 30 per person, the walk would not take you more than five minutes and sighting the rafflesia was a 100% guarantee!
No one was interested except for me! While the rest of my tour mates sat comfortably in the air-conditioned mini coach, i braved the heat and continued on foot with Priscilla, our guide.
The guide had a mini guide whom i believed to be the daughter of the villager who owned the plot of land for which the rafflesia had taken root.
A person who wandered aimlessly would find it hard to navigate without a person familiar with the route. Who the hell would know walking through the above dry leaves patch will bring you to the rare flowers?!
My body automatically moved to the left and i quickened my footsteps when i noticed the tall bamboos on my right. The Lau sisters had done a fantastic job resulting in these automated motor functions; they informed me, on quite a number of occasions, that bamboo woods are hot spots for snakes!!
An abandoned hut that reminded me of my days in the village. I might be a kampong boy but i sure love the modern amenities like a sitting toilet bowl and water heater!
About to reach soon, i think, as i seemed to have walked for quite some time. Truth was it was no more than four minutes since we started on foot. Darn, i feel old.
Arrived with much anticipation! From the above photograph, i can see not one but two five-petal flowers! It must have been my bloody lucky day!
Ta-dah! Numbering about 28 species (information that i only found out when i was googling about the flower), this wasn't the one said to have a diameter spanning more than a meter.
I was notified well beforehand that the ones here were about 85 centimeters across but it was still a sight to behold. They were about three days old and could last for another four more days.
Have you ever wondered why pictures of rafflesia always show them on the ground, like a watermelon, and aside from the flower head, there aren't the usual leaves and stem? Answer being it is a parasite flower and depends on the vines for survival.
Above was a photo of a Rafflesia flower bud; I can so imagine villagers of the past using it as a soccer ball for recreational activities.
Honestly, i was initially under the impression i could be cheated as the flowers appeared perfectly shaped and i could not help feeling the texture had that plastic touch to it. That thought was dispelled with the existence of numerous flies that were likely attracted by the supposedly foul stink emitted!
I could not detect anything although rafflesia was known as 'corpse flower' in the local community. Of course i didn't manage to push my nose within centimeters from the flowers but Priscilla did clarify that this particular species doesn't have infamous smell.
Sighted another flower bud.
With a purpose built platform and a fence surrounding the small plot of land, i suspect these are 'farmed' rafflesia! By charging curious visitors RM 30 each, it's frankly very good money!
Especially when i spent less than ten minutes taking photographs.
In the mind of a man who took finance as his major, the short time i used may not be worth the money. However, in real life situations, many factors would determine the worth of an investment. I gained by seeing something i have never seen before but cutting short my journey would mean my companions would be able to continue their tour without wasting their time.
For the summarised itinerary of my 7 days, 6 nights Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) trip, please click here.