Time travel in Malaysia: Ulu Muda offers glimpse into distant past
Recently I travelled to Malaysia with my wife and teenaged children, spending two days in search of elephants (and other animals), while staying at the Earth Lodge in Ulu Muda.
The cities, villages and popular beaches of Malaysia may be littered with rubbish and plastic bottles but visiting Ulu Muda is like time-travelling to a distant, debris-free past. A lack of phone and internet coverage only gives credence to the fantasy.
Situated in the country’s northern peninsula state of Kedah, the 160,000 hectares of forest are contiguous with Thailand’s San Kala Khiri National Park, forming a vast tract of protected land (at least on the Thai side).
My story is about the efforts of conservationists Hymeir Kem and Ahmad Zafir to promote eco-tourism in the region, while also guaranteeing its protection from potential logging.
The back-to-basics accommodation leaves a very small environmental footprint, being operated intermittently for short periods, with a limited number of guests.
While we didn’t see elephants, 10 were spotted just days after we left. It’s the luck of the draw. Nothing in nature – especially in the Malaysian rain forest – reveals itself unless it wants to. In this often-shadowy world, people – especially overseas tourists – are as out of place as visitors from Mars. This is the domain of the wild.