Days 13 and 14: Finishing the Journey In the following days, I met up with my college friends in Kuala Lumpur for lunch, bought a few souvenirs in the downtown markets, and prepared for the long journey home. David, Dennis, Paul, and I had a final supper together in which a bottle of wine was opened to celebrate the culmination of the successful trip. I left Kuala Lumpur the following day and made it safely back home.
Malaysia has certainly changed
significantly since my trips in the 1990s.
What I had suspected would happen is
unfortunately coming to pass very quickly
now. There are more palm plantations, and
the clearing of the few remaining swamps
Betta stigmosa is popular for its shimmering blue ladder markings on the caudal fin.
the day. Dennis also found some crypts,
which he gave me due to his knowledge of
my interest in plants.
We arrived at Taiping at 3 p.m. and
found a nice hotel to stay in. We checked in
our fish and luggage and went off in search
of the betta person who Dennis’s friends in
Gerick had mentioned. The Taiping Lake
Gardens are a sight to behold even from
a distance and definitely worth a visit.
Dennis mentioned that arowana can be
found in the lake there. Of course, no one
knew anything about the person who kept
bettas. Eventually we gave up and returned
back to the hotel.
Day 12: Peat Swamps
We headed out of Taiping at 9 a.m.
toward the peat swamps in North Selangor.
We arrived there close to noon, and I was
struck by how dismal the site had become.
The water levels were low, and the trees,
being shorter, did not provide as much
shade as they did during my visit in 1996.
Palm plantations surrounded the area,
and it seemed to me that the area would
eventually disappear like other peat swamp
areas we had visited.
Dennis stayed in the car, and David,
Paul, and I went into the site. We had to
work harder for fish here, and I was happy
to collect a couple of B. livida, shrimps,
a goby, and a few clown rasboras, which
I returned back to the water. The water
levels and mosquitoes started increasing
as I went deeper into the forest. I did not
want to go into deep water, so I headed
back in the direction of the car after an
Coming from blackwater habitats, Betta hipposideros should be provided soft water and
cover in the form of caves and plants.
hour of fishing. David and Paul decided
to fish for another hour, so Dennis and I
took off to the shade of some nearby trees
where I watched kingfishers and hawks
flying over a huge nearby river. It was
apparent that there were lots of fish here
in this river habitat. Dennis and I returned
back to pick up David and Paul who had
collected lots of fish in the extra hour: B.
livida, P. harveyi, C. bankanensis, B. bellica,
and even a few gobies.
We packed the fish and then headed out
to Kuala Lumpur, making it just in time for
rush hour. It took a great deal of patience
and skill to navigate the heavy traffic and
find a decent and inexpensive hotel.
could mean the loss of several native fish
species in the next few years. The species
most at risk (vulnerable to extinction)
are the peat swamp species, such as the
small Parosphromenus and the Betta species,
which are not found anywhere else in the
world. We aquarists know about them, but
at present they are not given the protection
they need from habitat destruction.
I want to thank Dennis Yong for taking
the time to show a party of three fish
tourists some of the aquatic marvels that
still exist in Malaysia. And I want to thank
David and Paul for their company on a
short but exciting trip—this is one trip I
would not have missed for anything! D