Friday, May 08, 2009

Kuala Gandah

A rogue elephant's skull being displayed at the information centre.

Elephant's Sanctuary

KUALA GANDAH is located within two hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur in the vicinity of the Krau Forest Reserve in Pahang. If you a back-to-Nature adventure, especially if elephants are your favourite animals, this is definitely a not-to-be-missed place on your tour itinerary. There are quite a number of tour operators that provide day trips to this place, so call them.

If you are planning to go there on your own, unless you are familiar, we suggest you hire a chauffeured car. It will be easier for locals to navigate.

Elephant Conservation Efforts
Kuala Gandah gained its famed via its elephant conservation efforts and the elephant conservation center was established in 1989 by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

An elephant relocation team has been operating from here since 1974, relocating pachyderms displaced by development, rehabilitating elephants injured by traps, as well as bringing up abandoned baby elephants.

There is an information center here to promote awareness on its activities, especially public awareness of the Malaysia elephants as well as to conduct and support research into elephant and subsequently environment conservation

With guided tours, you will get an idea of hos the place operates and what it is for.

Among activities conducted at the center are feeding and bathing elephants as well as elephant rides. The centre is very popular during school holidays catering to school groups.

NOTE: Opening times have been revised from 8.00am to 5.00pm daily. Activities with the elephant start at 2pm daily and at 2:45pm on Fridays to allow Muslims to conduct their prayers. Visitors can book elephant rides and bathe the elephants. However, participation is limited to 120 persons daily. For details, call 09-2790391.

Che' Wong Orang Asli Village at Kuala Gandah

The Che Wong tribe is one of the smallest Orang Asli groups.

Within walking distance from the elephant sanctuary is a small Orang Asli village inhabited by the Che' Wong tribe, one of the smallest groups of indigenous people living on the perimeters of the Krau Forest Reserve in Pahang.

There are about 25 houses here, simple and built on stilts with bamboo, rattan, attap and hard wood as the main components of the structure. Some of the houses house more than one family unit while others support only one.

You will see some fascinating handiwork of the orang asli, utilising jungle produce in their day-to-day living.

Some of them still live off the jungles, collecting forest products such as rattan and barks. However many, especially the younger generation, have found work in the plantations and factories nearby the settlement.

On special occasions, the villagers make handicraft for sale such as head gears and other small souvenirs.

The orang asli villagers here are quite shy. The elders may be more chatty than the womenfolk or the children.

If you were to visit this place, please mind your manners. Their customs may vary from yours vastly and could be offensive. It helps to have a local take you around, though.

Check with your guide on this if a tour is conducted here.

Pulau Ketam

Crab Island - Village on Stilts

Pulau Ketam or Crab Island is on the itinerary of most major city tour companies. But if you decide to go at it alone, then it is really not diffcult.

You can either drive to Port Kelang and take the ferry to Pulau Ketam from there or use the more convenient KTM Komuter train.

Pulau Ketam got its name from crabs - or rather the main activity there (crab catching) in the 1800s.

The village on stilts was believed to have been set up by crab catchers in the swamplands that is now the island proper.

Actually, there are two islands here - Pulau Ketam and Sungai Lima which are divided by mangrove swamps.

The population is almost entirely Chinese, comprising a majority of Hokkiens, Teochew and some Hainanese. There are also Malays on the island.

Villagers are mostly fishermen and some of them traders dealing in marine products. There is also a police station, bank and numerous seafood restaurants.

Pulau Ketam is well-known for its seafood and floating fish farms. The latter attract scores of anglers during weekends. There are also some hotels on the island and even the floating fish farms have rooms for rent.

There are several seafood restaurants but shop around if you are looking for bargains. If money is of no restriction, then any will do. Simple rule of thumb is to head for the more popular ones.

There are also many shops selling marine produce such as dried shrimps, fish and prawn crackers, and the likes.

Pulau Ketam residents travel on bicycles and motorcycles. Some use motorised bicycles. Keep an eye out for them when exploring the island.

There is a lovely temple about 300 metres from the jetty.

Getting there:
The KTM Komuter operates from Sentul Station to Port Kelang end-to-end. Train fare from Sentul costs RM9.60 (adult/return fare) and half for children below 12. If you board the Komuter train from KL Sentral, the fare is cheaper.

Take this train till Port Kelang. Then walk to the jetty to Pulau Ketam located about 100 metres from the train station.

Travel to Pulau Ketam is by 'jet ferry' which services the mainland and the island at regular intervals of about 40 minutes.

The ferry is airconditioned and quite comfortable if you don't mind the noise and some boneshaking.

Fare is RM6 per adult one-way (half price for children below 12) and tickets are sold on board.