Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Kebun & the Rafflesia

A bit of Internet searching turned up a little accommodation gem for us - the Kebun (pronounced along the lines of "k'boon").  An organic farm about 20km out of Kuching city.  The are plenty of goats, ducks, poultry, bees and vegetables being grown.  

The owner has 2 houses for larger groups and also constructed a longhouse with 5 rooms, where we stayed.  The longhouse is a local living model that is exactly what it sounds like. A long central covered veranda, off which there are the 5 individual apartments.  Originally the "longhouse" was a goat shed, but the tourists live there now.  Lots of ethnic pieces and photographs decorate the space, which creates a interesting illusion.  Living was simple, but easy.  There were two other couples there whilst we were there, and we had three nights in the Kebun. 

kebun

kebun2

With our room came a car fitted with a GPS.  We only had to pay for the petrol.  As well as a GPS the car had a name - "the green bunny". A great little 1980s car that was comfortable at about 70km p/h max.  We were told the highest speed clocked on it's GPS was 130km p/h.  There must have been a downhill stretch and a really good tail wind that day!

Green bunny

But the crowning glory of the green bunny is the purple fur on the dash and the big “P” sticker on the windscreen.  P for "provisional".  Yep,  learner drivers: don't get too close to that green car.

Green bunny 2

Our 1st day excursion was to the Gunung Gading National Park.  The park was mainly established to protect and promote the Rafflesia flower native to this area.  The flower is the biggest in the world growing to 1 metre wide.  It's a long road to the actual flowering with 18 months for the flower bud to appear, nine months for the flower to develop and then after all that time it flowers for a maximum of 6-7 days.  With a slight smell of rotting meat, it attracts carrion flies to effect pollination. There is no definite flowering season so it is matter of luck as to whether one is in bloom.  Our hosts told us there was a flower in its 3rd day of bloom - so we obviously made the trip.

We arrived at the park and hired our guide - almost compulsory if you want to see the flower - and headed up another hill in the heat.  Along the way we came across 2 Austrians without a guide who joined Andrew and I, thereby halving our 30 ringgit fee (nzd 12). We had also paid 20 ringgit per person to enter the national park.  The Malaysians have a good system of charging fees for every national park.
We saw Rafflesia buds, the 3rd blooming day flower and one at 6 days, so an effective mission.  

Below (top left) are the buds growing on a host vine, top right (a bud, many months away from flowering) and the bottom 2 are the flower on it’s 6th day flowering

raffelesia


The flower in it’s 3rd day of flowering measured 72cm across…

raffelesia2

We headed to a nearby beach, but as it was raining and the tide was out we limited ourselves to a walk and paddle.  Off to Lundu for lunch and then a cruise afternoon & evening.

Sign at the entrance of the Kebun

Kebun sign

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