AsiaFlux participants’ excursion to Maludam National Park off to a ‘muddy’ start

The AsiaFlux 2022 participants have to go through the mud before climbing up the riverbank of Maludam National Park.

By Nur Ashikin Louis

SRI AMAN, Sept 24: Environmental scientists and stakeholders participating in the AsiaFlux 2022 event organised by Sarawak Tropical Peat Research Institute (TROPI) started off their excursion to Eddy Covariance Tower in Maludam National Park with a ‘muddy’ start yesterday (Sept 23).

Usually, tourists will go on a boat cruise which encircles the peat swamp forest, admire the flora and fauna, and perhaps spot the red-banded langur, a primate species endemic only to Borneo.

However, the AsiaFlux 2022 group, comprised of about 70 delegates from foreign countries such as Japan, South Korea, China, Estonia, India, Germany, and the United States of America, had the chance to land their feet in ‘the real deal’.

Departing from Sri Simanggang Hotel at 6.30am, the 70-member delegation took a one-hour ride via two buses to Lingga.

After listening to a safety briefing by Sarawak Bomba Assistant Director for Operations Division Henderi Ardimansyah near the Lingga jetty, the delegation hopped onto nine boats and took a 30-minute boat ride to the Maludam National Park riverbank.

TROPI research officer Nur Azima Busman (left) showing the thumbs-up while United States participant Bai Yang (standing right) shows his hand covered in mud in a group photo with two other AsiaFlux 2022 participants during the walk to the Eddy Covariance Tower in Maludam National Park.

What lies upfront upon reaching the riverbank was quite surprising, at least for this DayakDaily writer, because there was no man-made structure for people to walk up the riverbank, only an unpaved mud path due to low tide.

The best footwear to use during this sort of trip would be rubber boots, but since most delegates have come unprepared, many of them were advised to take off their shoes and walk barefoot on the mud and climb up the riverbank.

Since the participants’ mission was to get to the EC Tower, which is a 4,460-metre walk into the Maludam National Park and thus, they had to wear their shoes back. Some cleaned their muddy feet with the little water they had before putting their shoes back on.

Despite the discomfort, many participants, especially the ones from foreign countries, were enjoying themselves as they informed the writer that the journey would be a memorable one and it was a blessed opportunity for them to be in a peat swamp forest which cannot be found in other parts of the world.

A participant waving to the camera while walking on the concrete pathway.

Fortunately, the walk from the riverbank to the tower was not challenging as there is a concrete pathway with a rough estimate of 30cm in width.

Once in a while, some participants stumbled off the concrete pathway as they struggled to enjoy the scenery and keep walking simultaneously.

The signage by TROPI shows the distance to the significant areas in the Maludam National Park.

After about an hour’s walk, the participants reached the TROPI Camp at a distance of 3,450m from the riverbank, where they had a quick meal served by TROPI staff at the camp before continuing their journey to the EC Tower for another 1km. — DayakDaily