Cycling in Malaysia, The Cobra
Although I am living in Sitiawan in Perak, one of the states on the west coast of Malaysuia, I don't see many cobra's. I do a lot of cycling in Malaysia and when this story happened it was time to leave. My 3 months tourist visa was ending and I had to leave. Thailand is the nearest country so I decided to cycle to Butterworth, take the train to Hat Yai and then cycle back via Yala and Betong (elsewhere I have described what to see on that road).
By the time this story starts, I was already a while on the road (I had taken my time). The day had started in Kuala Kangsar. Now it was time to leave the Royal City and go back home, another 90km or so away.
The road swindles around the hills to Manong and further towards Bruas. It's a very pleasant ride. When I was approached Bruas I decided to take a shortcut.
I had a local Perak provincial map which I had bought in Ipoh. The map showed me a road parallel from the usual I took from Bruas down south.
According to the map the road seem to be good enough for cycling, maybe a small path, but a path.
So I took it. And it was a very good road, at least for the first 5 km and with another 20 to go I knew it would be hard on dirt paths. But I had little luggage with me so what the heck! I went into the hills and in no time I was lost in a cluster of dirt paths and sand holes. Obviously there were no signs, houses, no people, no NOTHING except sand paths and hills surrounding me. It was beautiful and I really enjoyed every moment of it.
And in that moment I wasn't paying attention. At the very last moment I saw it! A brown cobra. My front wheel ran over it. Immediately the cobra jumped up. His (or her?) neck swell up and I could see very clear the "eye" in his neck.
The cobra came at least half a meter from the ground but fled away in the bush. The whole thing had not taken more then a few seconds. By the time the rear wheel could have run over the cobra, the animals had already disappeared, unhamred.
A few years later I would have a similar experience with this amazing animal, only that time the snake would be driven over by a car and still escape! Don't forget, snakes have no bones (except in the head), it's all muscles.
Cobra's and other snakes like Boa's) are common in Malaysia but rarely seen unless you move to rural areas. Sometimes they can be found in villages and towns too but, as a I said, it happens seldom. It was a rare luck to see one here in the wild. But that said, you CAN find them on lesser used roads and drit paths or in plantations.
Monitor lizards or Biawaks are common,
I made this photo in a living area in Penang
Meanwhile my problems were not over. On the contrary, I was lost in the Bruas Forest Reserve. Paths were all over but I had clue which one to take. So choose the biggest following the rule that the biggest path usually the main path is.
I choose the wrong one and for a while I was drifting through the hills, sometimes walking and even carrying my bike. I had no choice, go back. But again, that was easier said then done.
Luck is always there when you need is, it seems. I found the main trail back (but not the cobra!) and cycled back to the main road. In an abandoned village I found water. I showered (yes, literally) which gave me fresh energy and cycled to the main asphalt road. Done about 25 extra kilometers in the wild and nothing further, that was the conclusion. However, it was beautiful there.
I went straight to Bruas, followed the road straight south for 20 km. Nice and quiet until this road met the main road that connects Ipoh and Sitiawan. What it means? Busy! But from here it was only 17 km more back home and with the wind in the back it wasn't a problem.
A few years later I would try again to cross the hills, now I was able to find a path that would cross the hills but it wasn't an easy path and certainly not legal (I had to cross into a private plantation).
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Near Taiping, north west Malaysia are still charcoal factories. I had a look and found it very interesting.
River cruise and river trekking
Early June I did a river trekking in Taiping and a river cruise in the nearby Mangrove forest in Kuala Sepetang. It was spectacular