Raining battery-size hail in Loagan Bunut National Park (Travelogue Day 7)

Looking out to Loagan Bunut lake from a chalet.

By D’Drift Team

MIRI, Oct 17: In Loagan Bunut National Park, it did not rain cats and dogs, but hail the size of lithium batteries.

This was the personal experience by Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) park warden Anthony Chong one afternoon back in the year 1995, he recalled.

He said the Berawan villagers here had had a big catch of fish that particular day, so he was called to the river to take some of the capture back.

Then suddenly one of the local folks shouted, “We’re going to die!”

Surprised by the sudden remark, Chong and others looked around and saw hail as big as cylinder lithium batteries dropping from the sky. Seemingly huge, the frozen rain droplets melted quickly when they held one in the palm of their hands for a while.

Though the ice cube rain lasted only for several minutes, Chong said it was something very peculiar in the national park. That was the only time he remembered the weather being that unusual, even for a place where drastic climate change is rather common.

Loagan Bunut National Park park warden Anthony Chong.

Like yesterday (Oct 16), as soon as D’Drift Team arrived at the dock following a three-hour boat ride around the Loagan Bunut lake, rain with giant droplets started to fall, but only for the first one or two minutes.

It soon turned into a downpour, and thereafter a drizzle. The half-an-hour rain was indeed refreshing after an entire day of unbearably hot weather.


Sweltering, but quiet afternoon following power cut

Four hours without electricity would be plain torture for urbanites. Not to mention fans and air-conditioners that are not working at noon hours when the weather is the hottest.

Like clockwork, electricity supply in Loagan Bunut National Park would be cut off from 1pm to 5pm, and another round at night from 11pm to 5am the next morning.

So, D’Drift Team had to endure at least an hour of no cooling equipment in our chalet before the next schedule out on the lake.

There was little discomfort when the clock struck 1 and the power was interrupted immediately, as we tried to find the perfect posture or spot in the house to sit through the wait.

Sweaty and sticky, nonetheless, it was great opportunity for city people to take a break from urban life and enjoy the nature.

It was not as hot as we thought after about 15 minutes of much-effort ‘meditation’ with minimum movement. As our chalet was just beside the Loagan Bunut lake, we had the privilege of enjoying the deep serene of lush green peat swamps within the Bunut River.

A chalet just beside the Loagan Bunut lake.

The power interference at night was not as bad because the weather was cooler. But, if you ever need to make a trip to the washroom at midnight, a torchlight or lamp would be necessary because it was pitch dark in the room, and everywhere else in the national park we believe.


Lapok ‘Cowboy Town’, but no cowboys or cowgirls

Since learning the nickname of ‘cowboy town’ which the locals give to Lapok, D’Drift Team had to pay this small township, that was located about 25 minutes from Loagan Bunut National Park, a visit.

At 8am this morning, we said our goodbyes to the national park and stopped by Lapok for breakfast, at one of the coffeshops there. The only other cafe providing air-conditioning services was just a few shoplots away from where we were.

A quick breakfast then led us to the corner market where we saw two stalls selling coin-shaped fried fritters (‘cucur’) which we later learned were ‘cucur mengkuang’. RM1 for two pieces, so we got four for our afternoon snack.

Like any other ‘cucur’, the fried mengkuang fritter is a salty street snack with sufficient mengkuang fillings in between deep-fried batter. It was crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside.

From the market, we also got ourselves some dried fish snack (‘ikan salai’) to pair with the fritters and some cold drinks.

We had that after we arrived at Lambir Hills National Park at 10.45am and checked into our chalet.

Our next schedule, a hike around the park, was at 1pm so we decided to rest our feet and have some refreshment before heading out again.

Energy boosted following afternoon snack of ‘cucur mengkuang’ with ‘ikan salai’.

By the time of writing of this travelogue, D’Drift Team had experienced two of Sarawak’s national parks in just two days. Lethargy was expected to set in especially after trekking a 5.65km jungle trail today which took us two hours and 50 minutes.

This shall end D’Drift’s Travelogue Day 7. With three more days to go before we conclude the trip, where do you think the team will be visiting next? — Dayakdaily

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Travelogue, Day 2 – Headless coconut ‘pillars’ of Maludam

Travelogue, Day 3 – Pan Borneo Fury 1060 – ‘best’ coaster ride in Sarawak Theme Park

Travelogue, Day 4 – Spooky Mukah: Hanging coffins, burial totems and human sacrifices

Travelogue, Day 5 – A salty post-funeral cleansing ritual

Travelogue, Day 6 – Doleful-looking horse pile of rubble