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A day with the jungle teacher- Part I

Raman explaining the usage of some of the plants we say during the walk

I enjoy organizing groups to Raman’s place in Gombak. I now consider him as my jungle teacher. A person who knows his jungle well enough to rely on it for most of the things he and his family needs. Raman suggested a short jungle walk, so I recruited some friends who I know will be interested for the experience.

Everyone arrived early that day. It is a stress free trip for me because most are my friends and there’s no money collection involved. I asked everyone to tip Raman for his time and expertise. The money is to be handed over to him (Raman) directly. The funds goes to help support Raman, his family and his efforts working on the small plot of land he calls his second home.

Raman’s children playing by the pond he built on his small patch of kebun

We started off the day by getting to know each other. Some of them were meeting each other for the first time. It was durian season and what better way to break the ice than having a durian to share around. Raman was very generous in sharing with everyone the few durians from his orchard. My Canadian and British friends seems to be very pleased with the experience…though I cannot say they really liked the taste of durian.

Raman showing how he uses a parang to open the durian from his orchard

While everyone was busy chatting and enjoying that good tasting durian, some of us were busy checking out the jungle trail, keying it into their GPS to confirm their hunch on the trail. Of course when my friends gather together, we would have some toys (including knives and parangs) to show around.  Particularly JC’s self wood handled Norwegian Helle blade  is very impressive. What else can one expect from a guy who is an artist and designer.

JC did an excellent job putting a wood handle on this Helle blade

With the durian, knives and parangs aside, we are set to go on our hike. A few of us stayed behind with Raman’s wife, preparing some meat and rice for lunch. The rest headed off on a jungle walk.

Raman’s wife preparing bamboo for cooking rice

Along the walk, Raman stopped and shared with us some of the names and uses of certain plants. It is interesting how he can identify the plants as to an untrained eye, everything looks almost just the same.

The trail was a mix of terrains. There were steep stretches that just got more and more slippery as more people pass by. There are sections of rocky saddle paths that is just too scary too think if someone fell off the ledge.

It took us about 2 hours to complete the trail. It is a nice trail but I personally would not recommend it to anyone. Simply because the locals from the village nearby still rely on this part of the jungle for hunting and collecting jungle produce. Outsiders going in there to walk, hike or worse still camping will result in negative impact on the area. Too much activity and human presence will make it harder for the locals to collect produce from the jungle. While our intentions may be good, the effect onto the locals way of life is otherwise. Nevertheless, I think activities in and around Raman’s place, under his supervision would be a great experience for anyone looking to learn jungle skills from a native Orang Asal (Asli) at a place so near to Kuala Lumpur.

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