06 November 2013

Pengerang - Holding Back the Forest

Date of Exploration : 28 Oct 2013

During a recent cycling trip in Pengerang from Sungai Rengit to Tanjung Balau, I had a new appreciation of nature. Not of it as aphrodisiac for an out-of-city getaway, but of its destruction. The adage that "you don't appreciate something until it is gone" was the case here.

Compared to my first visit three years ago, more deforestation is evident along this southeastern-most coastal district of Malaysia. A furry of excavation and construction works are taking place in Pengerang as well as the coastal stretch linking Sungai Rengit to Desaru. Already, a massive plot spanning several villages near Tanjung Penglih Ferry Terminal has been marked for development into oil refineries and petrochemical plants while private residences and bungalows are sprouting out along the highways near Tanjung Punggai and Desaru.

Thankfully, there are still enough pockets of lush vegetation, for now, for that rustic countryside feel which I come for. But once the residential sites are built up, traffic volume will increase, making it even more dangerous and challenging for bicycle tours. Yet, compared to pedaling in the city, I think this place will continue to be a magnet for long-distance cycling enthusiasts.

A tug-of-war between the red and green team. A long distance ride along the highway reveals a landscape alternating between stamp-sized villages, huge lalang fields, endless plantations, untamed forestry, quarries and upcoming private estates. Heavy vehicles passing by stirs up choking smoke and dust that stings the eyes, increasing the risks of road accidents for cyclists. Wear sunglasses or cycling goggles and face mask to combat the dusty road conditions near construction sites.

The logo on my weatherproof Timberland trekkers paid homage to a single tree left standing in the middle of a quarry. I wonder why the tree was spared.

Perhaps it was to serve as a toothpick to prick the green conscience of developers?

We rode past a vast site with striking red sand. It looked as if Ayers Rock had migrated to Malaysia! Red is the colour of flesh when the skin has been stripped away.

Mother Nature with her skin on.
Highway of Exotica

This next section of the post contains macabre images of dead animals I came across on this cycling trip. Some of them are roadkills while others seemed to have died of other causes but chose the road side as their graves. As ongoing developments continue to clear out forests, more exotic creatures are fleeing their homes and crossed paths with urbanization, sometimes with fatal outcomes.

I've seen quite a number of roadkills on previous trips but not as many in terms of body count and species compared to this time. And the dead animals I encountered previously were usually flattened or all dried up, which were unlike the fresh carcasses I saw on this ride.

Some of the images are graphic and disturbing so carry on reading at your own discretion. I won't be held responsible for your nightmares. Or food cravings.

Pengerang is generally safe for cycling during the day as traffic is still sparse but a moment's negligence could still cause cyclists to become tyre carpet.

The smallest of the roadside remains I came across was this unusually large dragonfly. I've not seen such a huge one in a long time.

The half-dead dragonfly was lying by the side of the road under the scorching sun. So I moved the insect to a nearby bush for it to have a more comfortable passing under some shade. Was really mesmerised by its large compound eyes. RIP.

Eternally frozen in flight.

Squirrels are usually too far and fast to photograph. Rare chance to see such a colourful specimen upclose.

It seem to have died from a puncture wound at its lower left abdomen. Probably inflicted by a predator.

Not sure how this monitor lizard died as it didn't look like it had been ran over. But it was lying in the middle of a road lane.

Moved the carcass to the side in case cars get into accidents trying to avoid it. Awesome to see a monitor lizard face-to-face. I remember my grandmother telling me that people make stews from monitor lizards during her kampong days.

The worst roadkill I've ever come across was this squashed yellow dog whose death I smelt before I saw. It's a horrific reminder of the dangers on the road.

An immaculate white hibiscus shot at Sungai Rengit for all the dead creatures I encountered on this trip. In some cultures, these exotic animals are considered a delicacy.

The power that stands between heaven and earth is us. We have the power to both build homes and destroy habitats.
This cycling tour had been a very eventful ride with the changing scenery, verdant landscapes and bizarre encounters with dead critters. While I encountered quite a number of lifeless lay on this trip, there were many more birds, bugs, monkeys and wildlife too quick or far to photograph.

Hopefully the development of the Pengerang countryside will strike a balance between retaining the district's rustic charms and urbanism.

Related Post :

Cycling from Sungai Rengit to Tanjung Balau

1 comment:

  1. very nice photos! i am planning a cycling trip from singapore to tanjung punggai and your blog posts have been very helpful. it will be a solo trip for me so just wanted to check if it would be safe to do so. i am female btw. thanks.


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